First bred in the mid-1800s just south of England, the Parson Russell terrier excelled at fox hunting. The Jack Russell terrier is reportedly a mix between the Parson Russell terrier and various other terrier breeds, although "Parson" and "Jack" are often used interchangeably.
Above all else these feisty little terriers are hunting dogs and will voraciously go after smaller animals and sometimes other dogs. The Reverend John Russell who first bred them created a small dog that was so fearless it would chase foxes into a den and then flush them out for the hunter. Because of his fearlessness, the Jack Russell will take on anything that stands in its way despite its smaller size. If left unattended, he will actively search out anything to hunt.
These active little dogs will not do well in a sedate apartment setting; they need room to run and roam while enjoying the company of their humans. If you do keep them in a small, confined home, it's imperative you give them daily outdoor exercise that both releases their energy and keeps their attention. Living in a rural setting can be somewhat detrimental because of their strong urges to hunt.
Bold and determined, the Jack Russell also has a sweet and gentle side. Like many terriers, the Jack Russell may not be fond of children and won't put up with even the slightest unintended abuse by an unknowing child. Well-behaved children, on the other hand, are often accepted by the terrier and may form special bonds. Smaller animals or other dogs may cause the Jack Russell's hunting past to come forth and create problems.
Clever, determined and extremely athletic, the Jack Russell excels when trained in various activities such as agility trials. Their bold-headed nature requires firm training; basic obedience will help keep them safe from roaming and hunting. Your Jack Russell will benefit thoroughly from being allowed to work and being trained to do special tasks.
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