Russell Terrier

Russell Terrier looking forward

Quick Facts


9 to 15 pounds


10 to 12 inches at the shoulder

Average Lifespan:

12-14 years

Known For:

Look like a plush toy come to life, very confident and intelligent dogs.


Joy and vivacity are the essence of the Russell Terrier, a breed known for its energetic spirit and loving nature. Originating from England, the Russell Terrier has captured the hearts of pet enthusiasts around the globe, with its infectious energy and charming demeanor.Β 


Revered for their intelligence and versatility, these small-sized canines have historically been the companions of hunters, showcasing an inherent tenacity and alertness. According to the American Kennel Club, their popularity has been consistently on the rise, positioning them as a favorite among dog lovers seeking a spirited and affectionate companion.

History and Origin

The story of the Russell Terrier is as captivating as its lively nature. The breed’s inception can be traced back to the early 19th century in Southern England, where it was primarily developed by Reverend John “Jack” Russell.Β 


Reverend Russell aimed to create a small, agile, and energetic terrier capable of accompanying hunters on horseback and bolting foxes out of their burrows. The Russell Terrier, initially known as the Jack Russell Terrier, swiftly gained popularity among hunting enthusiasts for its tenacity, courage, and hunting prowess.


Throughout the years, the breed has witnessed several modifications and distinctions, giving rise to different variations, including the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier. The Russell Terrier, as recognized by the American Kennel Club, is characterized by its smaller size and distinct physical attributes, setting it apart from its close relatives.


Historically, the Russell Terrier has not only been a remarkable hunting companion but has also showcased its versatility in various canine sports and activities. Its energetic nature and keen senses have made it a star in events such as agility, obedience, and earthdog trials.


One of the most famous Russell Terriers, Uggie, gained international acclaim for his performance in the Academy Award-winning film “The Artist” in 2011. Uggie’s talent and charm showcased the breed’s versatility and endearing personality, making him a beloved figure in popular culture.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

The Russell Terrier is the epitome of charm, showcasing a compact, yet athletic build. These little dynamos typically stand between 8 to 12 inches at the shoulder and weigh approximately 9 to 15 pounds, presenting a balanced and proportionate appearance.Β 


The breed exhibits a distinct rectangular shape, with the body length being slightly longer than the height.


One of the defining characteristics of the Russell Terrier is its coat, which can be smooth, broken, or rough. Regardless of the coat type, it is always dense and weather-resistant, providing ample protection against the elements. The coat predominantly features white, with markings in black, tan, or a combination of both, adding to their appealing aesthetics.


The breed’s head is proportionate to its body, with expressive, dark, almond-shaped eyes that sparkle with intelligence and curiosity. The V-shaped ears fold forward, and the tail is typically docked to a length that accentuates the rectangular body shape.


With their lively gait and energetic demeanor, Russell Terriers radiate a sense of purpose and zest for life, making them a delightful sight whether they are exploring the outdoors or enjoying playtime with their families.

Personality and Temperament

Russell Terriers are renowned for their vivacious and spirited personality. These small, but mighty terriers are packed with energy and enthusiasm, making them an endless source of joy and entertainment for their families. Always up for an adventure, they are keen explorers and love to be involved in family activities.


Despite their small stature, Russell Terriers are known for their bravery and tenacity. They are alert and intelligent, making them excellent watchdogs who will not hesitate to alert their owners of any unusual activity. However, their friendly and affectionate nature means they quickly warm up to new friends, both human and furry.


Russell Terriers are characterized by their high intelligence and eagerness to learn, making them responsive to training. They thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy problem-solving games and activities. Their playful and mischievous nature can sometimes lead to cheeky behavior, but with consistent training and positive reinforcement, they are quick to learn the ropes.

Health and Lifespan

Russell Terriers are generally a healthy and robust breed, with an average lifespan of 13-16 years. However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Being knowledgeable about these potential issues will help owners ensure their furry companions lead a happy and healthy life.


Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) is a hereditary condition that can affect Russell Terriers. It involves the displacement of the lens in the eye, which can lead to glaucoma and loss of vision if not treated promptly. Regular eye check-ups can help in early detection and management of this condition.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is another condition that can affect the breed. It involves the degeneration of the femoral head in the hip joint, leading to arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial in managing this condition effectively.


In addition to these conditions, it is essential for Russell Terrier owners to maintain a balanced diet for their pets to prevent obesity, which can lead to various health issues. Regular exercise, routine veterinary check-ups, and a nutritious diet are key to ensuring the overall well-being of these lively terriers.

Care and Maintenance

Russell Terrier grooming

Taking care of a Russell Terrier is a rewarding experience filled with fun and love. These active and energetic terriers require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Daily walks, playtime in the yard, and interactive games are excellent ways to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.


Grooming needs of the Russell Terrier depend on the coat type. Smooth-coated terriers require minimal grooming – a weekly brush will suffice to keep their coat healthy. Broken and rough-coated terriers may need more frequent brushing and occasional trimming to prevent matting and keep them looking their best.


Dental care is vital for maintaining the overall health of Russell Terriers. Regular brushing of teeth, along with dental chews and a balanced diet, will help in preventing dental issues.


With consistent care, regular exercise, and plenty of love, Russell Terriers will thrive and bring endless joy and companionship to their families.

Training and Behavior

Training a Russell Terrier is an engaging and rewarding endeavor, thanks to their high intelligence and eagerness to learn. These spirited terriers are quick learners, responding well to positive reinforcement and consistent training methods. It’s essential to start training early, focusing on basic commands and socialization to ensure they grow into well-mannered and adaptable adults.


Russell Terriers are known for their playful and sometimes mischievous behavior. They may exhibit a strong prey drive due to their hunting heritage, so a secure yard and leash training are vital. Addressing any behavioral quirks promptly and reinforcing good behavior will help in molding a well-behaved companion.


Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for these intelligent terriers. Incorporating puzzle toys, agility training, and interactive games will keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Russell Terrier and Families

Russell Terrier with people

Russell Terriers are delightful family companions, bringing joy, energy, and affection into the household. They form strong bonds with their family members and are known for their loyalty and protective nature. Their playful and spirited demeanor makes them a great match for families with older children who can interact with them in a gentle and respectful manner.


While they get along well with children, it’s important for parents to teach kids how to approach and handle dogs to ensure harmonious interactions. Russell Terriers can also coexist peacefully with other pets, especially when introduced properly and socialized early.


Their compact size and adaptable nature make them suitable for both apartment living and houses with yards, as long as their exercise needs are met. The joy and companionship that Russell Terriers bring to a family are truly unmatched, making every day brighter and more exciting.

Adopting a Russell Terrier

Adopting a Russell Terrier is a wonderful journey filled with love and excitement. If you’re considering bringing one of these energetic and affectionate companions into your home, it’s important to research and find reputable breeders or rescue organizations.


Consider adopting from a shelter or rescue, where many Russell Terriers are looking for loving homes. Organizations like the Russell Rescue and local animal shelters often have Russell Terriers available for adoption, providing a second chance for these delightful dogs.


Before adopting, ensure that your lifestyle aligns with the needs of a Russell Terrier. Consider factors such as available time, living space, and the presence of other pets. Once you’ve made the decision, prepare your home and heart for the boundless joy and love that a Russell Terrier brings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the temperament of a Russell Terrier?

Russell Terriers are bold, energetic, and friendly. They are known for their intelligence and fearless nature, often showing boundless energy and enthusiasm for life.

How much exercise does a Russell Terrier need?

They require a lot of exercise to manage their high energy levels. Daily vigorous activities and play sessions are essential for their well-being.

Are Russell Terriers good with families?

Yes, they can make great family pets for active households. They are good with children and enjoy being involved in family activities.

What health issues are Russell Terriers prone to?

They are generally healthy but can be susceptible to common terrier issues such as patellar luxation and deafness. Regular health screenings are advised.

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