Good for Novice Owners:
- Average Size: Small
- Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Registered?: aca, akc
Jack Russell Terrier Dog Breed Information
Did You Know?
The Jack Russell Terrier, or Russell Terrier, can trace its origins to the UK. Although a distinct breed now, they were developed in the United States from the Parson Russell Terrier lines of the mid-1800s that were originally developed in England and in Australia for fox hunting.
The Jack Russell may share a history with the Parson Russell Terrier and is often confused with other small terrier breeds, but they are in a class of their own. They are often known for their robust personality. They are also one of the most popular dog breeds.
The stocky and athletic Jack Russell still has a strong yearning to be a hunter in its bloodlines and will be happiest in a lifestyle that allows them to be more active. They are by no means a lazy lap dog even if they enjoy some relaxation and cuddles every now and then.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a loyal and affectionate companion. In fact, they are one of the most affectionate dog breeds and thrive on being near their favorite humans. Well-socialized, they get along well with children and other dogs within the family.
As a terrier with a hunting background, Jack Russell Terriers do have a high prey drive and an urge to chase. Although they can sometimes do well with small animals within the family that they have been raised and socialized with, they are generally not a good fit for households with prey-type animals and will still retain that urge to chase animals outside of their family.
They can be territorial and protective, so may not be a fan of other dogs they don’t know, especially if they are not well-socialized. The Jack Russell will also tend to be wary of strangers, which makes them a good watchdog, but also makes socialization early and often even more important.
Once introduced, they tend to warm up quickly. They can also be prone to barking a lot if you don’t work with them on it, so it’s not a bad idea to train your dog to stop barking to keep it to alerts and not a nuisance.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a highly adaptable dog breed. Although they are a better fit for homes with fenced yards where they can run, they can adapt to apartment living. You will just need to dedicate plenty of time every day to giving them enough exercise, mental stimulation, and affection.
Although Jack Russells are one of the most independent dog breeds, they still don’t like to spend long periods of time alone. While they are very capable canines, they do enjoy being near their favorite humans and require fulfillment. They get bored easily and will be stir-crazy if they don’t get enough attention or exercise.
These little terriers do well in moderate climates. As with any dog, they are sensitive to heat. But, they can handle the cold better than many other small dog breeds. They still aren’t a snow dog breed, so they may still need some winter dog products to stay warm and comfortable while out on very cold winter walks.
Potential health concerns to be aware of in Jack Russell Terriers can include eye disorders, like cataracts, patellar luxation, and deafness. Good breeding practices make a big difference in the health of Jack Russell Terrier puppies.
Reputable breeders will screen their dogs to make sure they are not passing preventable issues to puppies. Make sure you ask the breeder about the health and genetic history of the parents. You can also ask about any health tests or clearances that have been done. The national breed club recommends a patella evaluation, BAER testing, an ophthalmologist evaluation, and a Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) DNA test at a minimum.
The Jack Russell is an extremely bold and intelligent breed. You might assume this would make them easy to train, but think again. These small dogs are as stubborn as they are intelligent, which makes them a better fit for more experienced owners and a challenge for novice owners without the help of puppy training classes.
Once you have established clear expectations and the fact that you are the confident leader, the Jack Russell will prove to be one of the most trainable terrier breeds. With patience, consistency, firm expectations, a strong bond, and plenty of praise and reward, Jack Russells tend to excel at any task put before them.
The Jack Russell Terrier coat comes in three different types – smooth, broken, and rough. Regardless of coat type, Jack Russells will shed moderately year-round and a little heavier as the seasons change.
The smooth coat is short and dense and requires weekly brushing. A grooming glove and/or a soft round brush are good types of dog grooming brushes to have on hand. The rough and broken coats need to be combed weekly with a brush or comb, but are kept mostly natural. Bathing is on an as-needed basis, which may be more often than you think since Jack Russells tend to be active outdoors and may get dirty often.
In addition to coat care, you will also need to take care of your Jack Russell Terrier’s nails, ears, and teeth. Trimming nails once or twice monthly is usually enough to keep them from growing too long and causing issues. Checking ears weekly, and carefully cleaning them as needed, can help prevent ear infections.
As a small dog breed, the Jack Russell is even more prone to developing dental diseases later in life. This makes good dental care for dogs early and throughout your dog’s life even more important. Daily brushing and cleanings at the vet, when needed, are a good start.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a miniature action hero. They are high-energy dogs and will make every attempt to run themselves ragged, which will not be easily achieved. Daily walks plus playtime and time to run are a good start, but these little balls of energy will likely always be up for more activity if you are.
You do want to keep things low-impact while they are puppies to avoid damaging developing bones and joints. But, once they finish growing and the vet clears them for more, you can try a lot of different activities with these little athletes. Not only are they one of the dog breeds that make good running partners, but they are also a good fit for dog sports and plenty of other outdoor adventures.
A fully-grown Jack Russell Terrier usually stands 10-15 inches tall and weighs 9-18 pounds.
Jack Russell Terriers generally live for 12-14 years on average.
One of the facts about Jack Russell Terriers is that although they are similar to the Parson Russell Terrier and there may be some overlap in bloodlines, there is enough of a distinction for separation. While the Jack Russell Terrier breed standards range from 10-15 inches tall, the Parson Russell Terrier breed standards range from 12-14 inches.
The Parson Russell Terrier originated in England in the mid-1800s as a hunting dog. When the dog breed was brought to the United States, breeders began calling it the “Jack Russell Terrier”. Because “Jack Russell” was so often misused to describe a variety of small white terriers and to avoid confusion with the U.S.-based Jack Russell Terrier, Britain’s Kennel Club and other parent societies of the Parson Russell Terrier have distanced themselves from the Jack Russell Terrier name.