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  • Temperament: Alert, Inquisitive, Lively
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 90 of 192
  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 9-15 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Terrier Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Russell Terrier sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Russell Terrier head and shoulders facing left
Russell Terrier standing outdoors in sunlight
Russell Terrier coat detail
Russell Terrier

Find a Puppy: Russell Terrier

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Russell Terrier is a strong, active, lithe, predominately white bodied working Terrier of character with a flexible body of moderate length and rectangular profile. The overall dog must present a balanced image with no one part exaggerated over another. The Russell Terrier is full of life, and moves with confidence that matches his keen expression. Coat may be smooth, broken or rough and may have tan and/or black markings with no preference for coat type or markings. Tail docking is optional.

HEAD

Ears – Small V-shaped button or dropped ears carried close to the head of good texture and great mobility. The points of the ears are even with corner of the eye and pointed downward. The fold is level with the top of the skull or slightly above and forms a straight line when alert. Disqualification – Prick or semi-prick ears. Eyes – Dark, almond shaped with a keen expression of alertness. Eyes must not be prominent. Eyelid rims are to be fully pigmented black. Disqualifications – Blue eye or eyes.

BODY

The body of the Russell Terrier is proportioned marginally longer than tall, measuring slightly longer from the withers to the root of the tail than from the withers to the ground. The overall presentation is a compact, harmonious rectangular silhouette, in sound athletic condition. From the withers to the bottom of the brisket should represent 50 percent of the distance from the withers to the ground. The brisket should never fall below the elbow. The loins are short, strong and well muscled. The tuck up may be described as moderate. Scars incurred while hunting are not to be penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs are straight in bone from the elbows to the toes whether viewed from the front or the side with a slight angle to the pastern from the side. Legs are moderately well boned. The depth of the body from the withers to the brisket should equal the length of foreleg from elbows to the ground. Severe Faults: Benched or bent legs, leg length either less/more than the depth of body.

HINDQUARTERS

Muscular and strong; when looking down on the dog, the width of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the shoulders. Angles are equal and balanced front to rear. The hind legs, when viewed from a rear standing position, are parallel. The stifles and low-set hocks are well angulated, allowing for good driving action.

COAT

May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof: all coat types have an undercoat and a harsh outer coat. Coats are preferably natural and unaltered. The conformation underneath is the same with no preference being given to any particular coat type. The belly and underside should be well covered. The terrier is shown in its natural coat with minimal grooming. Sculpted furnishings are to be severely penalized.

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About the Russell Terrier

These jaunty little fellows pack lots of personality into a compact, rectangular body standing 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes and mobile V-shaped ears bring out the keenly intelligent expression—an endearing hallmark of the breed. All three coat types are mostly white with markings that are tan or black, or both. Russells move with a free, effortless gait that announces the breed’s innate confidence.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Russell Terrier

Find a Puppy: Russell Terrier

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Russell Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Russell Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Russell Terrier’s rough and ready appearance is easily maintained. Coats come in three types: smooth, broken, and rough. The dense, short, smooth coat can be kept looking great with an all-over rubdown with a soft brush or a hound glove once a week. The rough and broken coats will require going over with a brush or a dog comb weekly but are kept mostly natural, with minimal grooming. The Russell’s nails should be trimmed monthly, and his ears checked weekly for debris or excess wax and cleaned as needed.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

The Russell Terrier is not a breed for a couch-potato family. High energy levels and a robust personality make this an excellent choice of breed for an outdoorsy family who takes lots of hikes, bike rides, and long daily walks. Finding games he loves to play will help keep his brain and his body exercised. A tired Russell Terrier is a good RT. With an almost limitless supply of energy, this makes a great companion dog for children who understand dogs. The breed has retained a strong prey drive so should be very well socialized early on to circumvent any problems that might result from that trait.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Needs Lots of Activity

TRAINING

The first tool one must have when training a Russell Terrier is a good sense of humor. They are extremely intelligent and love to work on problems and play games. They bore easily, so training sessions must be kept entertaining if you want them to learn. They master tricks easily and love entertaining people by performing. They throw themselves into any job or activity with the same dedication they were bred to have for hunting purposes. They are great choices for canine sports such as agility, flyball, obedience, rally, and even lure coursing.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

The majority of Russell Terriers are happy, healthy little dogs. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), deafness, and eye disease, and are dedicated to preserving the genetic health of the breed by doing health testing on all their breeding stock.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • BAER Testing
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • PLL DNA Test
Russell Terrier - Care
Russell Terrier
Russell Terrier
Russell Terrier
Russell Terrier

History

The Russell and Parson Russell terriers share a common heritage as fox-working dogs from the kennels of Rev. John “The Sporting Parson” Russell of the mid-1800s. Since the parson’s day, the lines of the two terriers have diverged and are now recognized as two distinctly separate breeds. Russells were bred to be swift enough to run with the hounds and tough but compact enough to go to ground and bolt prey.

Did You Know?

The ancestry of the breed combines the ultimate size, instinct, and construction for the working earth terrier.
The Russell Terrier originated in England and was developed in Australia.
The Russell Terrier has been assigned the Terrier Group designation.
The Russell Terrier is considered the ultimate working earth terrier never bred for bench.
The Russell Terrier has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since October 2005.
The Russell Terrier is AKC’s 175th breed.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Russell Terrier is a strong, active, lithe, predominately white bodied working Terrier of character with a flexible body of moderate length and rectangular profile. The overall dog must present a balanced image with no one part exaggerated over another. The Russell Terrier is full of life, and moves with confidence that matches his keen expression. Coat may be smooth, broken or rough and may have tan and/or black markings with no preference for coat type or markings. Tail docking is optional.

HEAD

Ears – Small V-shaped button or dropped ears carried close to the head of good texture and great mobility. The points of the ears are even with corner of the eye and pointed downward. The fold is level with the top of the skull or slightly above and forms a straight line when alert. Disqualification – Prick or semi-prick ears. Eyes – Dark, almond shaped with a keen expression of alertness. Eyes must not be prominent. Eyelid rims are to be fully pigmented black. Disqualifications – Blue eye or eyes.

BODY

The body of the Russell Terrier is proportioned marginally longer than tall, measuring slightly longer from the withers to the root of the tail than from the withers to the ground. The overall presentation is a compact, harmonious rectangular silhouette, in sound athletic condition. From the withers to the bottom of the brisket should represent 50 percent of the distance from the withers to the ground. The brisket should never fall below the elbow. The loins are short, strong and well muscled. The tuck up may be described as moderate. Scars incurred while hunting are not to be penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

Forelegs are straight in bone from the elbows to the toes whether viewed from the front or the side with a slight angle to the pastern from the side. Legs are moderately well boned. The depth of the body from the withers to the brisket should equal the length of foreleg from elbows to the ground. Severe Faults: Benched or bent legs, leg length either less/more than the depth of body.

HINDQUARTERS

Muscular and strong; when looking down on the dog, the width of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the shoulders. Angles are equal and balanced front to rear. The hind legs, when viewed from a rear standing position, are parallel. The stifles and low-set hocks are well angulated, allowing for good driving action.

COAT

May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof: all coat types have an undercoat and a harsh outer coat. Coats are preferably natural and unaltered. The conformation underneath is the same with no preference being given to any particular coat type. The belly and underside should be well covered. The terrier is shown in its natural coat with minimal grooming. Sculpted furnishings are to be severely penalized.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
Brown Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 022
Cream Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 044
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
Tri Color Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 024

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