Does the AKC Recognize Jack Russell Terriers?

Does the AKC recognize Jack Russell terriers?


Jack Russell Terriers are known for their lively and spirited personalities, making them a popular choice among dog lovers. However, when it comes to official recognition and registration with dog breed organizations, particularly the American Kennel Club (AKC), there has been some controversy surrounding Jack Russell Terriers. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Jack Russell Terriers and explore “Does the AKC recognize Jack Russell terriers?”

The Origin of the Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is named after the Reverend John Russell, a 19th-century English clergyman who had a passion for fox hunting. He wanted a small, agile, and tenacious dog that could assist in hunting foxes by digging them out of their dens. To accomplish this, he selectively bred dogs with the characteristics he desired, creating a breed known for its work ethic and boundless energy.

This original breed, known as the Parson Russell Terrier, remains distinct from the modern Jack Russell Terrier. It’s important to note that the breed we now call the Jack Russell Terrier has undergone several changes and variations over time, which contributes to the confusion about its recognition by organizations like the AKC.

AKC Recognition

The American Kennel Club is one of the most well-known and respected dog breed organizations in the United States. The AKC officially recognizes and registers purebred dogs from various breeds and holds them to specific breed standards. These breed standards include details about a breed’s appearance, temperament, and other characteristics.

Historically, the AKC did not recognize the Jack Russell Terrier as a separate breed. Instead, dogs of this type were considered variants of the Parson Russell Terrier or simply Terriers. This lack of recognition stemmed from the breed’s emphasis on working ability over conformity to a particular standard. However, in recent years, the AKC has made adjustments to its stance on the Jack Russell Terrier.

The Russell Terrier Controversy

The Jack Russell Terrier, as it is known today, faced a significant division within the dog breeding and showing community. This division led to the emergence of two distinct breeds: the Parson Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier. The AKC eventually recognized the Parson Russell Terrier, but this was not without some controversy.

The Parson Russell Terrier, recognized by the AKC, is expected to conform to certain breed standards. These standards include specific height, weight, and coat type requirements. The breed’s working abilities, which were so highly valued by Reverend John Russell, became secondary to physical appearance.

The Russell Terrier, on the other hand, was developed as a more “working” type of Jack Russell Terrier. Breeders of Russell Terriers sought to preserve the breed’s original working characteristics, and the emphasis was placed on function over form.

This division caused confusion among dog enthusiasts, with some preferring the working abilities of the Russell Terrier and others favoring the AKC-recognized Parson Russell Terrier for its appearance and show potential.

The AKC’s Recognition of the Parson Russell Terrier

In the early 2000s, the AKC officially recognized the Parson Russell Terrier as a separate breed. This recognition came with its own breed standards, which focused on appearance and conforming to a specific look rather than working ability. While this move pleased many in the dog show community, it further distanced the breed from its original working roots.

The Russell Terrier’s Continued Role

The Russell Terrier, which emphasizes working ability, remains distinct from the Parson Russell Terrier recognized by the AKC. Many enthusiasts of the breed prefer the Russell Terrier due to its ability to perform in hunting and various dog sports.

For those who value the working characteristics of the original Jack Russell Terrier, the Russell Terrier is the preferred choice. These dogs are often used in activities like earthdog trials, agility, and other sports that showcase their abilities.


In summary, the American Kennel Club officially recognizes the Parson Russell Terrier, a breed that has evolved from the original Jack Russell Terrier. This recognition is based on specific breed standards that emphasize physical appearance rather than working abilities. However, there remains a distinct working type of Jack Russell Terrier known as the Russell Terrier, which has not been recognized by the AKC.

The recognition of the Parson Russell Terrier by the AKC has brought about both advantages and disadvantages. While it has allowed the breed to compete in dog shows and gain more visibility, it has also caused some controversy and division among enthusiasts who prefer the working characteristics of the Russell Terrier. Ultimately, the question “Does the AKC recognize Jack Russell terriers?” depends on which branch of the breed you are referring to and whether you prioritize appearance or working ability in your choice of dog.

Also Read: Why Is a Jack Russell Not Pedigree?

Is a Jack Russell Terrier a Purebred?

Why Are Jack Russells Not in the AKC?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *