Why Are Jack Russells Not in the AKC?

Why are Jack Russells not in the AKC?


The American Kennel Club (AKC) is one of the most prominent and well-respected organizations when it comes to dog breeds and breed standards in the United States. Established in 1884, the AKC has recognized and registered hundreds of breeds, from the popular Labrador Retriever to the lesser-known Otterhound. However, there is one breed notably absent from the AKC’s list of recognized breeds, the Jack Russell Terrier. But why are Jack Russells not in the AKC?

The Jack Russell Terrier is a beloved and well-known breed that has a strong presence in the world of dog enthusiasts. These energetic and intelligent dogs have a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century when they were first developed by a clergyman named Parson John Russell. However, despite their popularity and long history, the Jack Russell Terrier has not been granted AKC recognition. There are several reasons for this, and understanding them sheds light on the complexities of breed recognition in the dog world.

Divergent Breed Standards

One of the primary reasons why are Jack Russells not in the AKC is the divergence in breed standards. The AKC has stringent criteria and standards that a breed must meet to be eligible for recognition. These standards encompass various aspects, including physical characteristics, temperament, and breed history.

The Jack Russell Terrier, however, has two distinct types with different breed standards. The Parson Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier, also known as the “Shorty Jack,” each have their own set of breed standards. This division in breed standards has created a challenge for AKC recognition, as they typically prefer a single, unified breed standard. Without a clear consensus within the Jack Russell Terrier community, it becomes difficult for the AKC to decide which set of standards to adopt, if any.

Terrier Type vs. Working Dog

Another reason for why are Jack Russells not in the AKC is the debate over its classification. The AKC typically divides breeds into various groups, such as the Terrier group, Hound group, and Working group. Jack Russell Terriers are known for their strong hunting and working instincts, which align more closely with the Working group. However, the AKC has long classified the Jack Russell Terrier as a Terrier breed, a decision that has sparked controversy and resistance among enthusiasts.

This classification issue has led to a disconnect between the AKC and the Jack Russell Terrier community. Many breed enthusiasts argue that their dogs should be reclassified as working dogs and not just as terriers. The debate over the breed’s classification further complicates the path to AKC recognition.

Parent Club Challenges

For a breed to be recognized by the AKC, it typically requires a dedicated parent club that can represent the breed’s interests and meet the AKC’s criteria. The parent club must establish breed standards, maintain breed records, and promote responsible breeding practices. In the case of the Jack Russell Terrier, the lack of a unified parent club has been a significant hindrance to AKC recognition.

The division between Parson Russell Terrier enthusiasts and Russell Terrier enthusiasts has prevented the formation of a single parent club that could advocate for the breed’s recognition. Without a unified voice to represent the Jack Russell Terrier, it becomes challenging for the AKC to engage with the breed’s supporters in a meaningful way.

Breed Purity Concerns

The AKC places a strong emphasis on breed purity, and this has been another obstacle for the Jack Russell Terrier. Over time, there have been instances of crossbreeding within the Jack Russell Terrier community, which has led to concerns about the breed’s purity.

The AKC’s strict stance on breed purity means that any breed seeking recognition must have a well-documented lineage that demonstrates consistent adherence to the breed standard. The Jack Russell Terrier community’s history of crossbreeding, combined with the two distinct types of the breed, has raised doubts about the breed’s ability to meet the AKC’s requirements.

Future Prospects

While the path to AKC recognition for the Jack Russell Terrier may seem challenging, it’s not entirely impossible. Many breed enthusiasts continue to work towards a unified breed standard and parent club, which could potentially lead to recognition in the future.

In the meantime, it’s essential to remember that AKC recognition isn’t the only measure of a breed’s worth or popularity. Jack Russell Terriers have a strong and devoted following, and they continue to thrive as beloved pets, working dogs, and show dogs outside of AKC events. The absence of AKC recognition does not diminish the breed’s unique qualities or its historical significance.


The absence of the Jack Russell Terrier in the AKC is a complex issue rooted in divergent breed standards, classification disputes, the absence of a unified parent club, and concerns about breed purity. While the path to AKC recognition remains challenging, the breed’s enthusiasts continue to work towards a resolution. In the meantime, the Jack Russell Terrier remains a popular and cherished breed, both within the dog community and among pet owners who value their intelligence, energy, and loyalty. The question of whether the Jack Russell Terrier will ever join the ranks of AKC-recognized breeds remains open, but its place in the hearts of dog lovers is well-established.

Also Read: Why Is a Jack Russell Not Pedigree?

Is a Jack Russell Terrier a Purebred?

Does the AKC Recognize Jack Russell Terriers?


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