Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Jack Rat Terrier

Oliver Jones

The Jack Rat Terrier is also called the Jack-Rat and the Jersey Terrier. She is a mixed medium sized breed the result of breeding the Jack Russell Terrier with the Rat Terrier. She is multi-talented participating in activities such as guarding, retrieving, agility, tracking, jogging and hunting. She has a life span of 12 to 16 years and is often used for pest control. She is a great working dog as well as a good family pet.

Here is the Jack Rat Terrier at a Glance
Average height 13 to 18 inches
Average weight 20 to 26 pounds
Coat type Double, Long and short, smooth
Hypoallergenic? No
Grooming Needs Moderate
Shedding Moderate
Brushing Daily
Touchiness Fairly high
Tolerant to Solitude? Moderate
Barking Occasional – can include barking at the TV!
Tolerance to Heat Very good
Tolerance to Cold Moderate
Good Family Pet? Good
Good with Children? Good with socialization and when raised with them
Good with other Dogs? Good with socialization
Good with other Pets? Has a high prey drive so again socialization is key
A roamer or Wanderer? Fairly high
A Good Apartment Dweller? Good to very good
Good Pet for new Owner? Moderate to good
Trainability Moderately easy but has a stubborn side sometimes
Exercise Needs Very active
Tendency to get Fat Above average
Major Health Concerns Incorrect bites, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, deafness, eye problems
Other Health Concerns Allergies, demodectic mange
Life Span 12 to 16 years
Average new Puppy Price $200 to $600
Average Annual Medical Expense $460 to $550
Average Annual Non-Medical Expense $750 to $850

Where does the Jack Rat Terrier come from?

While this breed, also known as a hybrid became popular sometime between 1990 to 2000 not much else is known about him. In the last 2 to 3 decades designer dogs as they are also usually disparagingly referred to have become a very popular thing to have. Those that want to keep up with trends have the right car, the right T.V and the right trendy dog. A designer dog fits that profile right now. Since we do not know why or who first deliberately bred him we look to the parents to get an idea of looks and personality, though keep in mind that can vary even amongst the same litter.

The Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier was bred and developed to be a working dog, hunting foxes along with hunters on horseback and hounds in the mid 19th century. He quickly became a very popular dog amongst hunters and went to the US around the 1930s. Some used him in shows and some felt he should retain his working ability.

Today he is still very energetic and loving life and enthusiastic. He is the typical example of a small dog with a big personality, he loves his family and is very loyal and makes a great family dog. He does love to chase things though and while he can be amusing he can also be aggravating! Though he is friendly he can be aggressive to other dogs and pets if he has not been properly socialized. He is brave but training needs to firm and kept short and interesting.

The Rat Terrier

This is an American bred dog bred probably from such dogs as the Old English White Terrier, the Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier and the Bull Terrier. He was bred to be a working dog, acting as a hunter and a farm dog who had to hunt pests like rats and other vermin. He was bred with Italian Greyhounds and Whippets in the Midwest to create a dog who was fast and able to catch jackrabbits who were a big problem. In the South and Central America though he was bred to Beagles to create a dog who was more a pack animal. There is a story that President Roosevelt named them though this is not a fact everyone agrees on. He was on most farms between 1910 and 1940 but when farmers started to use poison they became less common until the late 1970s.

Today the Rat Terrier is a stubborn but intelligent dog who is wary of strangers and is lukewarm at best with strangers. While they will be good with a family even if not properly socialized they may be aggressive to other pets and strangers. They have a lot of courage and are very good at detecting the mood you are in. They want to please and are affectionate and like your company. He needs a lot of exercise or he can become poorly behaved.


The Jack Rat Terrier is loving and affectionate with her family, can be gentle and is a clever dog too. She has a stubborn side but is brave and energetic and full of life. She is good at sensing your moods, like the Rat Terrier in her but she is a little less intense. What is quite amusing about this dog is she has so much energy and when she is outside she loves physical activities. But indoors she is quite happy being a lazy dog, chilling in your lap, curling up on the couch or your favorite chair. She is a good sense of humor and still retains the hunting instinct from her parents. Her zest for life is infectious to be around and she can also be used as a working dog as well as a companion.

What does a Jack Rat Terrier look like

The Jack Rat Terrier is a medium dog weighing 20 to 26 pounds and measuring 13 to 18 inches tall. She has ears that are triangular and almond shaped brown eyes. She has a muscular body but a small chest. Her coat is double layered with short and long hair and being smooth to touch. Common colors include black, tan, blue and brown.

Training and Exercise Needs

How active does the Jack Rat Terrier need to be?

She is a very active dog and will need plenty of exercise each day, at least an hour consisting of two long walks and some play time. She loves to play games, run, chase things and is a very nimble, strong dog. It is important to give her the exercise she needs to avoid boredom which can lead to behavioral problems. Ideally she has access to a medium sized yard to play in too though she can adapt to an apartment if given enough exercise still.

Does she train quickly?

Usually she is moderately easy to train. She is clever but can have a stubbornness that may interrupt the training now and then. Keep positive with your methods, and be firm and consistent. It might also be more effective to make training sessions short and interesting so that she does not lose attention and become bored. Early socialization and training are important to see her become the best dog she can. It also helps in her interactions with strangers, other dogs and other pets who she may lean towards chasing otherwise as she sees them as prey.

Living with a Jack Rat Terrier

How much grooming is needed?

She will shed to a moderate degree so you need to be prepared to clean up after her and you may want to have her trimmed or clipped in the summer months. When it comes to bathing just do it when she is especially dirty and needs one. Over bathing can lead to skin problems. Use a dog shampoo only. Her teeth should be cleaned two to three times a week using a dog toothbrush and paste. Her ears need checking once a week and wiped clean using a solution or water. Finally her nails will need clipping if they get too long.

What is she like with children and other animals?

If not socialized she is not the best breed to be left alone around young children. She is better though if she is raised with them and this goes for other pets too. These she might like to chase as prey! It is important to note that rough play with her is not a good idea so teach your children how to interact with her so that she does not feel threatened or teased.

General information

She is an alert dog and will bark to alert if someone enters the home making her a great watchdog. She otherwise barks occasionally and will need to be fed ¾ to 1 /12 cups of high quality dry dog food divided into at least two meals. She can adapt to apartment living though access to a yard would make her happy. She can deal with warmer climates much better than very cold ones and should be watched carefully should you have cold winters.

Health Concerns

To avoid the heartache, frustration and costs of having a sick puppy or dog buy from trustworthy sources and ask to see health clearances. She has the small potential of having the same health issues her parents have. These include Incorrect bites, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, deafness, eye problems, Allergies and demodectic mange.

Costs involved in owning an Jack Rat Terrier

There are several costs a responsible owner needs to be able to cover to own a dog. First of all once you spend $200 to $600 on the puppy she will need a crate, collar and leash, carrier bag, deworming, shots, blood tests, spaying and micro-chipping. These will cost between $455 to $550. Recurring medical costs on an annual basis for things like emergency health savings, vaccinations and flea prevention will fall between $460 to $550. Recurring non-medical costs each year for things like food, treats, toys, license, long hair grooming and training fall between $750 to $850.


Looking for a Jack Rat Terrier Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

She is a great dog, a funny mix of lazy and energetic and will make a good companion or family dog. She does need regular exercise, she is certainly not a dog for those who are looking for a low activity lap dog only. In the right family with the right training she will certainly brighten up your days.

Featured Image Credit: Nick Chase 68, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.