Posts Tagged ‘Border terrier’

They aren’t just earth dogs. These are Border terriers in Germany.

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Smooth border terrier

I asked for the identity of this dog’s breed a while back, but because of little interest in the answer, I held off answering it.

This dog is a smooth or very “lightly broken-coated”  border terrier.

This coat type is not normally found in border terriers today, and I have never seen one with a coat like this.

Now, border terriers originated in the Cheviot Hills of the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.  They are only a relatively recently standardized breed, which was recognized by the Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) in 1920 and by the AKC in 1930.

Before that, it was the landrace of working terrier of the mountainous regions in the North of England and South of Scotland. These dogs were also found in mountainous parts of Wales, which suggests that these originally were more or less blue collar terriers. Those regions were not as suitable for great mounted fox

Several breeds of note originated here, but the terriers of this region were called “fell terriers.”  They typically differed from the similarly conformed fox terriers of the South of England by being solid colored. Some authorities even go as far as to call them “coloured terriers” to differentiate these dogs from the mostly white fox terriers.

These fell terriers have standardized into several breeds. But the breed that most strongly resembles the working border terrier is the Patterdale, with which it does share a common ancestry. These dogs share recent Patterdales come from Cumbria, the county just to the west of Northumberland.

One can actually find dogs that look very similar to this smooth border terrier within the Patterdale breed.

The similarities between border terriers and Patterdales becomes even more evident when one takes a look at a Patterdale of this color with wire hair.

Here’s a modern border terrier for comparison:


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JRTCA Jack Russell terriers get a lot of attention.

They have a unique registry system. They are almost entirely bred for their working characteristics, and they have really strong protocols against inbreeding.

However, that type of Jack Russell isn’t really the whole story.

There a whole host of other Jack Russells that aren’t like the JRTCA dogs at all.

They are not necessarily useful as working terriers.

But they are still Jack Russells.

Bruce Fogle, in The Encyclopedia of the Dog, actually categorized these dogs as being different from the standard, long-legged and mostly white dogs.

Now, here I’m alos not talking about the AKC Parson Russell terrier.

I’m talking about dogs that really vary in appearance and show the characteristics of both Jack Russells as we know them and also some traits of other dogs.

The first JRT’s that I ever knew were black and tan tricolors named Chloe and Cabbage. Chloe was out of registered JRTCA stock and could have been registered herself. Cabbage was mostly JRTCA breeding, but she could not be registered.

Both of those dogs were very game.  Even as puppies, I never saw dogs that so relished a good fight.  They were very quick to arouse.

If they weighed forty pounds when fully grown, they would have been absolute terrors. Cabbage wasn’t very big at all. She probably weighed 12 pounds. She could lived to grapple with groundhogs underground.

Cabbage was bred to a short-legged Jack Russell, and she produced three puppies. One of which became the much celebrated Timmy.

Timmy was mostly white with brown around his ears and the base of  his tail.

When he matured, he was short-legged like his father. His legs were a bit crooked and his ears were more like a greyhound’s than a Jack Russell’s. He was big– maybe 18 pounds when fully grown.

In many ways, he resembled a Sealyham terrier, except for his ears and smooth coat.

He was very soft and gentle in temperament.

His littermate named Chester was very different. Chester was about the same size, but he had long legs. He had much of his mother’s looks and temperament as he matured.

He didn’t trust most people, but for some reason, he and I hit it off.

Timmy was used at stud a few times. A female JRT was purchased to be his mate.

She was very different from the JRT dogs.

She came from a breeder in Arizona, and she was mostly sable brown in color. She had black markings around her lips, and she reminded me of a smooth-coated border terrier.

This dog is still alive. Her name is Maddy. She had an eye removed from glaucoma recently:


When Timmy died of kidney failure, another JRT of this type entered the picture. This would be the famous (or infamous) Willie:


Willie is more like a bantamized JRTCA dog.

He’s a mixture of German JRT and South African JRT lines.

He’s actually super biddable for JRT. He pays very close attention to your voice, almost in the same way that retrievers and border collies do.

Now, none of these dogs are real Jack Russells according the JRTCA.

In fact, they may have other terriers crossed into their gene pools at some point.

I’m sure that Timmy had Sealyham in him somewhere, just as much as I’m sure Maddy has a touch of border terrier. These are odds and ends terriers that get to have a more heterozygosity than other strains of dog. Because people expect JRT’s to vary greatly in appearance and type, they can get away with it. You can sell odds-and-ends terriers as JRT’s with no problem at all.

And that’s fine.

Temperament-wise all of these dogs are far more appropriate house pets that the really super game dogs that common in the JRTCA type.

I don’t know for sure if any of these odds-and-ends dogs are really derived from Parson John Russell’s fox terriers.

I’d like to know who actually cares.

Because I’m pretty sure in the grand scheme of things, these odds-and-ends JRT’s are going to be around a lot longer than the super game dogs.

And a dog like Willie, who has obvious aptitudes in the sports of fly-ball and maybe agility, is more in keeping with the way these dogs are going to evolve.




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Maddy is a 13-year-old Jack Russell. She is Willie’s “mom.”

Maddy has had three litters, and when Willie arrived, she decided that he was a baby she needed to protect.

I once saw Maddy thump another Jack Russell that was picking on little Willie.

She developed Glaucoma this winter, and she had to have her eye removed. She looks like she’s been in a heck of a fight. It certainly gives her some street credit. I know lots of Jack Russells would love to look like they’ve been in that kind of scrap.

She is a Jack Russell. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve often entertained that she has some Patterdale, Fell, or even Plummer terrier ancestry. However, for lack of a better description, she is more like a smooth-haired border terrier. Her coat is much thicker than any other smooth Jack Russell I’ve seen.

Miley and Maddy get along fine, but Maddy had to make it clear that she was not a puppy. Miley tends to think small dogs are puppies, and she tries to mother them. Maddy didn’t much like that attention.

But things are fine now.

Just don’t mess with Willie.

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