Russell Terrier

"Life's an Adventure"

Photo of Russell Terrier


The Russell Terrier is one of several breeds to emerge from the working kennel of Parson John Russell in England in the 1800s. There is sometimes a bit of confusion about which breed is which; the Russell Terrier breed came from the same ancestors as the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier, but was further refined in Australia. Their small size made them ideal to be carried on horseback in terrier bags over rugged outback terrain, while their sense of adventure and prey-drive meant they were up for anything. These are feisty working terriers bred to keep the world safe from vermin.


Confident, fearless, and incredibly devoted, Russells have become a very popular companion. They need a lot of exercise so they do well in active households who enjoy being outside. But they also enjoy comfort and will happily cuddle up to you on the couch or in your lap when it’s time to read or watch TV. Most Russells do great with kids who have been taught to be respectful and not tease, but should be supervised around younger ones who could be too rough or fall on the dog. They love to chase, explore and dig, and need outlets for these natural behaviors.


A small, muscular dog, the Russell Terrier stands bewteen 10 and 12 inches - the shortest-legged of the three breeds descended from Parson Jack Russell's kennels. They have a smooth or rough coat that is coarse and weatherproof, and are mostly white with black and/or tan markings. Their small, drop ears come to a point, and they usually carry their tails upright. They have a keen and lively expression that clearly shows their love of life.


Russell Terriers are highly intelligent, but need a firm and consistent trainer who will be a confident leader. As long as they are well exercised (no easy feat with these little firecrackers!) and provided with outlets for their canine instincts, they will be happy to learn manners, obedience and tricks. Consider crate training and home-alone training so your Russell will learn to feel secure on his own.

Grooming & Care

Whether smooth or rough, their double-coats are pretty low maintenance. Comb out and brush with a bristle brush regularly to remove loose hairs and dirt. Bathe only when necessary.

Health Concerns

Russells are a generally healthy and long-lived breed, but they can be prone to patellar luxation (dislocating kneecap) and deafness, though both are rare.

Famous Russell Terrier

Columbus, the first-ever best of breed Russell Terrier at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 6
Home 44
Children 49
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 13
Exercise 60
Challenges Likes to hunt small animals.
Height 10 to 12 inches
Weight 14 to 18 pounds
Life 15 to 16+ years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 21
With Strangers 91
Availability 23

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.