"Jack Russells are genetically programmed to react to small animals that make high pitched noises and jerky movements -- the exact stimuli associated with very small children."
A December 14, 1991 article entitled "Dogs That Bite" in the British Medical Journal, reports on 146 patients referred for primary treatment of dog bites.
Authors P.C. Shewell and J.D. Nancarrow found that that 54% of their patients were under age 15, and that males and female humans were about equal in their chance of being bit.
The two most common biting dogs were Staffordshire bull terriers (15 cases) and Jack Russell terriers (13 cases).
Of the biting dogs, 85% were male. Most bites occurred in the owner's home or in a friend or neighbor's home. Over 40% of the bites were judged "unprovoked." Of the 146 bite cases, 32 bites were identified as severe, and 11 attacks as sustained.
Conclusion: Most victims are bitten by male dogs which they either own or have had frequent contact with, and the bite occurs in the dog's home.
The injuries consisted of 76 puncture wounds and 304 lacerations, 81 of which involved loss of tissue. One hundred and twenty six of the 146 patients had injuries to their face or head.
Though no explanation is given for the relatively large number of Jack Russell bites, the reason is not hard to tease out if you know very much about small children and working terriers.
The simple fact is that our dogs are genetically programmed to react to small animals that make high pitched noises and jerky movements -- the exact stimuli associated with very small children.
Parents often see a Jack Russell terrier and think "safe poodle-sized dog" without having any knowledge that in fact these are hunting dogs bred for several hundred years to tackle wild game head-to-head.
Almost all Russells are fine 100% of the time with children, but a small number of ALL dogs have a genetic code for fear or prey that is so strong they cannot control it when certain stimuli are cued. The result: a child with a facial laceration. It is not surprising that Jack Russells, a relatively common small breed with a very high drive for prey and hunting, is a frequently-cited dog-bite offender.