The Russell Terrier is a white working Terrier with an innate instinct to hunt prey underground. The breed was derived in the 19th century from the Reverend John Russell’s working terrier strains used for fox hunting. The breed originated in England, but was developed in Australia.
The following are breed standards according to the American Kennel Club (2010). This is a strong, active, predominantly white working Terrier with a flexible body that is moderate in length, and has a rectangular profile. The average height of the Terrier is between 10-12 inches. The weight should be proportionate to its height. Its body proportions is minimally longer than it is tall, and the side view represents a distinct rectangle when it is measured from the point of its shoulder to point of buttocks from the withers to the ground. The skull is flat and is moderate in its width, gradually decreasing in its width to the eyes, and then tapering to a wide muzzle. The muzzle narrows slightly to the end and maintains very strong jaws. The muzzle length is slightly shorter that the length of the skull, from the occiput to the stop. The nose is black. The breed has small V-shaped dropped ears that are carried close to the head and should have good texture and great mobility. The ears are pointed downwards, and the points are even with the corner of its eyes. The eyes of the Russell Terrier are dark and almond shaped, with black pigmentation. The bite is a scissor bite. The dog’s tail is set high enough so the spine does not slope down to the base of the tail. Docking is optional. The coat of the Russell Terrier may be smooth (dense short, coarse smooth hair with an undercoat), broken (intermediate hair length, between smooth and rough, usually with facial furnishings, and possibly a slight ridge down its back) or rough (Harsh and dense with an undercoat. Not thin, woolly, silky, or curly), and white is the predominant color with black and/ or tan markings.
This is an alert, active, keen, and lively Terrier type that has a very intelligent expression. They are curious, loyal, affectionate, and playful. He is obedient and spirited, yet fearless. Stable Russells are friendly and generally kind to children, however children should be taught not to tease or hit the dog. This is an intelligent breed and will try to take a mile if you give them an inch. He needs to be given rules, and limitations and if early training is not done, may lead to Small Dog Syndrome. This is where he believes he is the pack leader to humans and behavior problems such as guarding, snapping, obsessive barking, and separation anxiety can occur. The breed is highly trainable. As he has the strong instinct to hunt, it needs to be socialized early as it will chase, explore, dig, and bark, and cannot be trusted with other small animals. This breed needs sufficient exercise otherwise he may become a nuisance.
The life expectancy of the breed is 15+ years. While the breed is generally healthy some issues like patellar luxation, deafness, and eyes diseases may arise.