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The Russell Terrier Character

Russell Terrier jumping in Agility.

This article was originally published in Showsight Magazine, April 2017 issue.

 

The Russell Terrier Character

The Russell Terrier character is described in the opening paragraph of the Breed Standard. “He is full of life and moved with confidence that matches his keen expression”. Regarding his temperament: “He is an alert lively keen Terrier with a very intelligent expression. The sporting character of the Russell Terrier is that of a spirited and game hunter. Their intensity for life is one of their most endearing traits. They are playful, curious, loyal and affectionate.” The above descriptions of the Russell are never more accurate. Anyone who does or has owned the Russell knows full well of his indomitable spirit and athleticism. It must be remembered the Russell’s original purpose was as a vermin controller as well as to service the local fox hunt to bolt the fox out or to stay until one does. His purpose, character and conformation are essential elements of his being.

Puppies are adorable as well as mischievous, ever manipulative and conniving. Most chose to ignore training or discipline until totally convinced of the owners’ convictions, depending heavily on his ever present cuteness. With training and maturity, owners are ever amazed with the Russell’s enthusiasm for sport and his innate instinct and creativity for same. Game as they come, he has the natural instinct for chase. In the hunt field, he is a natural, requiring little in the realm of training, except an exercise in reservation. He will rush headlong to danger without regard to safety. So caution is required herein. His heritage is born of a history of service to his master and his function is to rid the farm side of vermin and pests.

Agility is a natural endeavor as the Russell’s conformation is suited for the necessary twists, turns and speed necessary for success on the agility course. He is lithe, smooth of muscle, compact yet flexible. He is as game as they come. The only thing holding him back is sheer stubbornness. Terrier, isn’t it? Racing is most entertaining for a Russell. He’s always up for competition and ever ready to give chase even for a fuzzy piece of cloth. Always ready! The enjoyment for owners is most rewarding, seeing the intensity and enthusiasm coupled with sheer abandonment of the dog is quite exciting. Earthdog® is also a viable option for this Terrier and much easier on the owners.

Owner and dog stroll through the countryside to discover the den, the dog enters the tunnel to discover his quarry, baying in mock work (never actually touching quarry) is indeed satisfaction for both owner and dog. For the most part Russells are amiable with other breeds, even other Terriers. On occasion jealousy can get in the way of playful fun but for the most part the breed is malleable but does require supervision. The Russell is ever ready and requires an outlet for his energy. He is not a dog for everyone, but his affection and energy is reward enough for those who truly understand his nature, spirit and courage.