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Jack Russel Terrier: Breed Guide, Info, Pictures, Care & More

jack russel terrier in the grass

Height 12 – 15 inches
Weight 14 – 18 pounds
Lifespan 13 – 16 years
Colors White, white with black or tan, or tricolor
Suitable for Active families, homes with a large fenced-in backyard
Temperament Loving, active, quirky, fun

Jack Russel Terriers are one of the most popular dog breeds to own as a pet because they are super energetic, love to play, and have funny personalities. Active families especially enjoy Jack Russel Terriers because they are active, love to dig, and will run along with you.

Of course, these high energy and stubborn dogs aren’t right for everyone. If you don’t have a fenced-in yard or don’t look forward to rigorous activity with the Jack Russell, you probably want to go with a more easygoing and relaxed dog.

Nevertheless, Jack Russel Terriers make great pets for many families. To find out if Jack Russel Terriers are right for you, keep reading.


Jack Russel Terrier Puppies – Before You Bring One Home…

jack russel terrier puppies
Image Credit: OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock

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3 Little-Known Facts About Jack Russel Terriers

1. Jack Russells were developed in the mid-1800s.

Even though Jack Russel Terriers are one of the most popular dogs today, they only date back to the mid-1800s. During this time, Parson John Russell developed these dogs in southern England. It is after this man that the Jack Russel Terrier is named.

2. Jack Russel Terriers are terrific hunting dogs.

Parson John Russell originally developed the Jack Russel Terrier as a working dog. More specifically, they were bred for hunting foxes. How it worked is that the terrier would chase the fox from their den so that they could chase the fox to be hunted.

By the 1930s, Jack Russel Terriers became one of the most popular dogs for hunting. In the United States, Jack Russel Terriers became especially popular, and several breed clubs sprung up as a result.

Today, Jack Russel Terriers aren’t often used as hunting dogs, but they still retain a lot of their hunting instincts. As a result, pet Jack Russells are often energetic and eager to chase smaller animals around the yard.

3. Their name was changed in 2000.

Although most people know these dogs under the name Jack Russel Terrier, the dog was renamed in 2000 to the Parson Russell Terrier. Once again, the dog is still named after the original breeder.

The reason for this name change is a technical one. The Jack Russel Terrier Club of America acts as an independent registry. This registry views the dog completely as a hunting dog. In comparison, the Jack Russel Terrier Association of America wanted to be recognized by the American Kennel Club, which it was in 2000.

So that the Jack Russel Terrier Club of America and Jack Russel Terrier Association of America were not confused, the American Kennel Club renamed the dog the Parson Russell Terrier. There is no difference between a Jack Russel Terrier and a Parson Russell Terrier.

jack russell terrier
Image Credit: Pixabay

Temperament & Intelligence of the Jack Russel Terrier

Jack Russel Terriers are loved for their intelligence and high energy. These small but active dogs fit in great with families because they love to play. In fact, Jack Russel Terriers often become depressed when they are left outside or away from humans for too long.

Jack Russel Terriers often make great family pets for slightly older children because of their loving but fun nature. At the same time, they are not ideal for families that already have other animals in the home because Jack Russel Terriers are known to be aggressive to other animals.

Training is a must with Jack Russel Terriers. Because of their willful nature, these dogs can get into real mischief. Although Jack Russel Terriers are intelligent, training can be difficult because they are stubborn. If you are a first-time dog owner, you might want to go to a dog training school to get some tips for getting your Jack Russel Terrier under control.

jack russell terrier dog in a whelping box
Image Credit: DasyaDasya, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Jack Russel Terriers are often selected as a dog for families with slightly older children. Because these dogs are so energetic, they love to play and get along with the family. Exercise caution if your children are very young. Because these dogs are so energetic, they can accidentally scrape or nibble without meaning any harm.

Make sure that your child is old enough to know how to behave around a dog and play with such an energetic little beast. Most children that are in elementary school are mature enough to handle Jack Russel Terriers, but it is up to you to determine if your child is ready for one of these energetic dogs.

If you are welcoming a Jack Russel Terrier into your home, early socialization and training is a must. Because these dogs can be so unruly, training can go a long way in making the dog more acclimated to indoor living and people.

If you have an active lifestyle or a fenced-in yard, Jack Russel Terriers will fit in perfectly with your family. Unfortunately, underground electric fences aren’t enough to hold these dogs because they are so eager and ready to run.

jack russel terrier on grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

One of the major downsides to owning a Jack Russel Terrier is that these dogs do not get along with other animals well. Originally bred as hunting dogs, Jack Russel Terriers are prone to chasing cats, squirrels, and other small animals.

Jack Russel Terriers don’t particularly get along well with other canines either. Whenever these dogs see other canines, they are likely to start barking and growling loudly. With early socialization, it is possible for a Jack Russel Terrier to get along with other dogs, but the socialization must start from a very early age.

Because of these reasons, Jack Russel Terriers are best in homes without other pets. If you want to get another dog, it’s best to get them together. Getting the two puppies at once ensures early socialization and often leads to bonding between the two dogs.


Things to Know When Owning a Jack Russel Terrier:

Although Jack Russel Terriers aren’t particularly sickly or large, they still require a lot of attention and care. They are super energetic and need a lot of exercise and training as a result. If you do not have the time, resources, or willingness to train these unruly dogs, you will want to go with a different breed that is more relaxed and easygoing.

Luckily, Jack Russel Terriers aren’t particularly demanding when it comes to food, grooming, and health. So, there are some upsides to owning a Jack Russel Terrier over other breeds. Nevertheless, Jack Russel Terriers are not a good dog for the faint of heart.

It is important to note that Jack Russel Terriers make terrible outside dogs. If you want a dog to be kept outdoors, you need to get a dog more comfortable with a solitary life. Jack Russel Terriers must be kept indoors where they are happiest with their family. At the same time, you need a large fenced-in yard for your Jack Russel Terrier to burn off some energy safely.

jack russell terrier on log_dezy, Shutterstock
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Because Jack Russel Terriers are so small, you don’t have to feed them a lot of food. The average sized adult Jack Russell needs between 1.25 and 1.75 cups of dry dog food a day. We recommend dividing this food into two meals.

Whenever you go to pick out dog food for your Jack Russel Terrier, select a food that is specific to your dog’s age, size, and activity level. This ensures that the food you select nourishes your Jack Russel Terrier’s unique body and needs.

Provide your Jack Russel Terrier constant water as well. Because these dogs are so active, you might find yourself needing to refill their water bowl more than you might expect.

Exercise 🐕

One of the most difficult parts of owning a Jack Russell is their extensive exercise requirements. Because these dogs were bred for hunting purposes, they have a lot of energy, and they love to run. Jack Russel Terriers need at least 35 to 45 minutes of exercise everyday. More than that, this exercise time needs to be rigorous.

In addition to the 30 to 45 minutes of rigorous exercise, provide your Jack Russel Terrier outside play time throughout the day. This will keep the Jack Russel Terrier entertained and out of mischief throughout the day.

Whenever your Jack Russel Terrier is playing outside, make sure to keep an eye on it. Jack Russel Terriers are known to bolt up trees, climb under fences, and do anything they can to leave their outside area. Watching your Jack Russel Terrier ensures that the dog is safe inside your yard.

jack russel terrier playing tennis ball
Image Credit: Piqsels

Training 🎾

Another difficult part of owning a Jack Russel Terrier is that they need intense training. Jack Russel Terriers are very intelligent, which means they can pick up on commands and tricks quickly. The trick is getting them to listen.

Because these dogs are so unruly, they often have a mind of their own and have trouble listening to their owner, even if they understand what is expected of them. You will want to use positive motivation such as food, play, and praise to get your dog to listen.

The worst thing you can do during the training period is to be negative or harsh when trying to train your Jack Russel Terrier. These dogs notoriously become even more stubborn than they already are if you force harsh corrections on them. So, positive reinforcement is a must with these dogs.

At the same time, make sure you are straightforward, clear, and consistent when training your Jack Russel Terrier. Being stern is not the same thing as being harsh. It’s important to find a balance between sternness and positive reinforcement to get your Jack Russel Terrier to listen to you.

Grooming ✂️

Jack Russel Terriers come with two different coat types, broken and smooth. For both types of Jack Russell, the coat has two layers and a coarse texture. Their coat will be white, white with black or tan, or tricolor.

No matter what coat type your Jack Russel Terrier has, you need to brush it out once a week. If you brush your Jack Russell frequently, you likely won’t need to give your dog a bath. Rough coats need to be stripped once or twice a year as well.

The only other guaranteed grooming requirement is dental hygiene. Brush your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week. If you want to really protect your dog’s oral health, brush its teeth daily. It’s best to get your Jack Russel Terrier used to a toothbrush as soon as possible.

You might need to trim your Jack Russel Terrier’s nails as well, but this is not necessary for all. If you can hear your dog’s claws clicking on hard floor, they need to be trimmed. Because Jack Russells love to dig, their front paws may not ever need to be trimmed.

jack russel terrier sitting on grass
Image Credit: Sabrina St., Pixabay

Health and Conditions 🏥

Jack Russel Terriers are considered a healthy breed. Because of their small size, they are prone to certain diseases found in nearly all small dogs. That being said, selecting a Jack Russell Terrier from a reputable breeder increases the healthiness of your dog dramatically.

Minor Conditions
  • Deafness (often found in all white coats)
  • Glaucoma
Serious Conditions
  • Legg-calve-perthes disease
  • Patellar luxation
  • Lens luxation

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Male vs Female

There isn’t much difference between a female and male Jack Russel Terrier. Both are really active and need a lot of attention.

The main difference between male and females is their size. Females will be slightly smaller, but male Jack Russel Terriers aren’t that large either. If you are looking for a smaller dog, the female Jack Russel Terrier will probably be more ideal for you.

Additionally, female Jack Russel Terriers tend to be slightly calmer than their male counterparts. Female Jack Russel Terriers are still very active and need a lot of exercise.


Final Thoughts

Jack Russel Terriers are a great breed if you are looking for a small and active addition to your home. Be ready to exercise your Jack Russell quite a bit and spend a lot of time training it. Because of their high energy and stubbornness, you are in for a ride.

Before getting a Jack Russel Terrier, make sure to fence in your backyard. Once again, an electric fence will do you no good with a Jack Russel Terrier. If you are not able to provide enough exercise or attention that the Jack Russell needs, we recommend looking for relaxed dogs that are more content chilling out on the couch.

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Featured Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock

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