Meet Britain’s Surprising New Pedigree Dog Breed – The Jack Russell Terrier

Kennel Club recognises the Jack Russell Terrier which, despite being a popular pet, has never been officially recognised as a pedigree breed in the UK

The number of pedigree dog breeds officially recognised in the UK is set to go up to 216, as the Kennel Club, the UK's largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs, recognises the Jack Russell Terrier as a pedigree breed.

The Jack Russell may be a common sight in the streets and parks of Britain, has seen out and about with celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Sarah Jessica Parker and has starred in films such as The Artist, but it has previously not been recognised as a breed, but rather identified as a 'type' due to the wide diversity of dogs that can be described as Jack Russell Terriers. 

To protect the heritage of this popular dog, and to help prospective dog owners who are choosing which dog is most suited to their lifestyle, the Kennel Club will begin recording Jack Russell births through its voluntary registration system from next year. It will also draft a Breed Standard for the breed, which describes the various characteristics of a breed and how they are likely to be in terms of their size, exercise, temperament and grooming needs. 

This will help promote the responsible breeding of Jack Russells and ensure that the level of predictability seen in other recognised dog breeds is duplicated in registered Jack Russell Terriers.

The breed is one of just six new dog breeds to have been recognised since 2008. Most recently the Kennel Club recognised the Hungarian Pumi, Griffon Fauve de Bretagne and Picardy Sheepdog in 2014, having recognised the Turkish Kangal Dog and the Portuguese Pointer in 2013. Prior to that, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was the last dog breed to be recognised, back in October 2008.  The recognition of the Jack Russell Terrier will take effect from 1st January 2016.

Many of these new breeds, in addition to old favourites, exotic foreign breeds and those native to the British Isles which are considered to be vulnerable by the Kennel Club due to dwindling numbers, will be at the Kennel Club's Eukanuba Discover Dogs event, taking place at ExCeL London this weekend (17th and 18th October).

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "Many people think that the Jack Russell Terrier is already a recognised breed, because they have seen one in their local park or doing the school run with parents, but there are so many varieties of Jack Russell that until now it has not been officially recognised by the Kennel Club.

"By recognising the Jack Russell as an official breed, we can help cement its heritage and protect its future as a much-loved traditional working dog and popular pet. By encouraging the bulk of the population of these dogs to fit a Breed Standard we can help to ensure that puppy buyers get a dog with predictable characteristics that is suitable for their lifestyle and that they are bred to be healthy, with good temperament and are fit for function.

"We have such a diverse and interesting range of dog breeds in this country that there is truly 'something for everyone' - people can meet around 200 different breeds at our Eukanuba Discover Dogs event taking place this weekend at ExCeL London." 

Joining other well-known breeds such as the West Highland White Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Jack Russell will be the 27th breed in the Terrier group of pedigree dogs.  The Terrier group includes breeds that were originally bred and used for hunting vermin; bred to be brave and tough, and to pursue vermin above and below ground.  Many of these breeds are still used for working today, including the Jack Russell, and still have many of the characteristics of a traditional hunting dog, ensuring that they are fit for the purpose they were originally bred for.

Geoff Corish, from Preston in Lancashire, owns six Jack Russell Terriers.  He said: "The Jack Russell is a lovely breed; very fun-loving and happy and they make great pets for the right owner.

"Jack Russells were originally bred as working dogs and this is a huge part of their character still, which means they are very energetic little dogs and always on the go, so anyone considering owning one would need to make sure their lifestyle is suited to this.  They are happy living either in the countryside or in a town or city, so long as they are given the proper exercise.  The Jack Russell is equally happy running around a decent sized garden or being taken on long walks.

"Jack Russells always like to keep busy and they don't particularly enjoy being left on their own for long periods of time, so anyone owning this intelligent breed would not be able to go off to work and leave them at home all day as they would get very bored.  As with any dog, owning a Jack Russell does require a good deal of commitment, but it is certainly a rewarding experience to own this lovely breed."

The Jack Russell Terrier, a breed native to the UK, originated from the fox terrier type dogs owned and bred by Parson John Russell in Devon after he acquired his first terrier between 1815 and 1819.  Interest in these types of terriers grew over the years, with the Jack Russell being developed as a small under 12" terrier, and the larger Parson Russell to around 13"-14". Both had good hunting ability, the smaller for vermin, and the larger types for going to ground after foxes.  From its early 19th century beginnings, to the recognisable dog commonly seen in the UK's streets and parks today, the breed is still strongly in tune with its working instincts.

When the first ever Kennel Club stud book was produced in 1874, just 43 breeds were listed.  As breeds were developed for different functions and purposes, the number of pedigree dog breeds in the UK increased which has seen today's breed list reach 216 different breeds of dog, each with their own individual traits and characteristics.

A breed can be recognised by the Kennel Club upon an application being made to the Kennel Club and getting the support of an existing breed club. A Breed Standard is then developed and a number of factors considered, including whether there are a significant number of dogs that meet the type described in the Breed Standard and details of any genetic predisposition to inherited health conditions, or any illnesses or other known problems that are prevalent within the breed.

For more information on Eukanuba Discover Dogs, where visitors can meet around 200 breeds and find out which one might be right for their lifestyle, visit

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