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Posts Tagged ‘Rev. John Russell’

The Rev. John Russell was a parson in the Church of England. He had studied at Oxford and was given a parish in North Devon.

He was a fox terrier enthusiast and a founding member of the Kennel Club– yes. he was in the fancy.

But he was never fully comfortable there. Even though he helped write the standard for the smooth fox terrier, he never showed his own dogs.

He just wanted a good little fox bolter.

And he would later describe how he would create a fox bolting terrier, and this strongly suggests that the fox terriers, including the terriers which would eventually be given his name are partially derived from the bull-and-terrier types– pit bulls, if you will.

Russell describes the best way to create a fox terrier in this fashion:

“The process,” replied Russell, “is simply as follows: they begin with a smooth bitch terrier; then, to obtain a finer skin, an Italian greyhound is selected for her mate. But as the ears of the produce are an eyesore to the connoisseur, a beagle is resorted to, and then little is seen of that unsightly defect in the next generation. Lastly, to complete the mixture, the bulldog is now called on to give the necessary courage; and the composite animals, thus elaborated, become, after due selection, the sires and dams of the modern fox-terriers. This version of their origin,” continued he, “I received from a man well qualified to speak on the subject.”

The bulldog blood thus infused imparts courage, it is true, to the so-called terrier; he is matchless at killing any number of rats in a given time; will fight any dog of his weight in a Westminster pit; draw a badger heavier than himself out of his long box; and turn up a tom-cat possessed even of ten lives, before poor pussy can utter a wail. But the ferocity of that blood is in reality ill suited—nay, is fatal—to fox-hunting purposes; for a terrier that goes to ground and fastens on his fox, as one so bred will do, is far more likely to spoil sport than promote it; he goes in to kill, not to bolt, the object of his attack (A memoir of the Rev. John Russell and his out-of-door life, , by Edward William Lewis Davies, 1902 ed., pg. 54-55.)

So Jack Russells and other fox terriers likely do have some bulldog and bull-and-terrier blood.

And when you see someone who loves Jack Russells excoriate “pit bulls,” keep in mind that the acorn didn’t fall that far from the tree.

Who knows how much a Jack Russell is actually a bred down “pit bull’?

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