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  • Writer's pictureErin Schwartzkopf

The JRTCA Jack Russell vs the AKC Variants

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

There can be big confusion surrounding this little is a word from the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (founded in 1976 by Ailsa Crawford) that may help clarify a bit.

"The JRTCA Jack Russell vs. AKC Russell Variants

When the AKC began to register the first variant of the Jack Russell Terrier it changed the breed standard and called it the Parson Russell Terrier. The changes depicted a terrier with specific conformational attributes including a size of 12-15 inches, specific markings, coat types, etc. with no relation to the terrier’s working ability. A couple of years later they began to register the Russell Terrier. It has a newly developed standard also that is meant to standardize this variant into a shorter legged, unbalanced terrier that would not meet the JRTCA standard in most cases. As an example, the description of the Parson Russell in Wikipedia begins with…. “The Parson Russell Terrier is bred to conform to a conformation show standard.”

These AKC registered dogs are variants of the TRUE Jack Russell Terrier; they are now different breeds that are likely to change dramatically as the years go on and their standards are revised to suit the whims of the show ring – with no regard to their original purpose. Form follows function.

The JRTCA, and their parent club the JRT Club of Great Britain (JRTCGB) use the original breed standard developed for the true Jack Russell Terrier many years ago in England. This standard allows for a wide variety of styles and types suited for earthwork, with a height span of 10 inches up to 15 inches at the shoulder. It allows for a variety of coats – smooth, broken or rough – and any combination of black, white and tan provided the terrier is 51% or more white. This broad standard is what makes the Jack Russell Terrier the unique working dog that it has been for more than 200 years – any size, type, coat or color that fits within the standard can be the Jack Russell Terrier that works for your preferences and/or type of earthwork.

The Jack Russell has generally been considered a “type of working terrier” rather than a pure breed, although it has been mainly bred exclusively within the breed in the USA for many years. The JRTCA still does not reject a terrier for having another working terrier in its lineage, provided it is at least three generations back before registering. The JRTCA limits inbreeding to 16.5%, no father/daughter, brother/sister, etc. in the best interest of aiding the control of genetic defects.

The JRTCA does not accept registration of the AKC variants, nor does it consider them Jack Russell Terriers. JRTCA members may not own, breed or show the kennel club variants. The reason for this is that it represents a major conflict in the JRTCA’s principles for, and dedication to, the true Jack Russell Terrier. The TRUE Jack Russell Terrier can do everything that is available for it to do, particularly the earthwork is has been bred to do for more than 200 years.

Join us and support the TRUE Jack Russell Terrier!"


I hope this helps clarify the differences for you just a bit. They are not all the same thing and it is important to understand that. So when somebody tells you that they have a Jack Russell Terrier, please do not argue with them and tell them it is a Parson Russell. They know their breed and chose to have a Jack Russell Terrier for a reason. It is also important to understand that this is pertaining to American clubs and breeds.

If you have further questions, I am always happy to help navigate the muddy waters. I know it is quite confusing on the surface and at a glance.

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