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


Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Jagdterrier is a fairly new German purebred, developed in the early 20th century to be a versatile hunter. It can not only hunt den and burrow animals like rabbit and badgers below and above ground, it can also help drive larger prey from dense surroundings. Other names it is called include German Jagdterrier, Deutscher Jagdterrier, German Hunt Terrier and German Hunting Terrier. It is a small dog with a life span of 12 to 15 years and is known to be fearless, hard working and loyal.

The Jagdterrier at a Glance
Name Jagdterrier
Other names German Hunt/Hunting Terrier, German Jagdterrier, Deutscher Jagdterrier
Nicknames Jag
Origin Germany
Average size Small
Average weight 15 to 25 pounds
Average height 13 to 16 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Plain, dense, coarse smooth/hard rough
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, grayish-black, dark-brown, yellow-red markings, small white markings
Popularity Not recognized by the AKC
Intelligence High – this is certainly a smart dog
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle some heat but not too hot
Tolerance to cold Good – can handle some cold but nothing extreme
Shedding Moderate – will be some hair around the home
Drooling Average – may be more when drinking
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Occasional
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Moderate to difficult – experience helps
Friendliness Good but needs to be more than just a companion
Good first dog No – experience needed
Good family pet Good to very good with training and socialization
Good with children Good to very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Good to very good – requires training and socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – has high prey drive
Good with strangers Good but wary and socialization is needed
Good apartment dog Moderate – size means it is fine but its too active, it needs at least a small yard
Handles alone time well No – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include eye problems, deafness, Legg-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and PLL
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for toys, miscellaneous items, license and basic training
Average annual expenses $705 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $650
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Jagdterrier’s Beginnings

This is a fairly modern breed having been developed in between world war I and II in Germany by breeders wanting a distinct, versatile, small but supreme hunting dog. They wanted a dog that was fearless, rugged, had good sight and scenting, obedient and bold. There should be no hesitation when taking on dangerous and fierce game like bear or wild boar, and also able to get to small den animals like rabbit or fox or badger above or below ground. The name in fact Jagdterrier which is actually pronounced Yahk terrier, means hunt master.

These breeders had been members of the Fox Terrier Club, but split from them to achieve heir objective. Among these fanciers and breeders were people such as Walter Zangenberg, Herbert Lackner, Carl Erich Grunewald and Rudolf Frieb. The group were given 4 black and tan hunting dogs that were descendants of Fox Terriers and these became the dogs the Jagdterrier were bred and developed from, along with crosses with the English Wirehaired Terrier and the Welsh Terrier.

At the time the country were very focused on things like purity and perfection and that became a kept component to the development of this dog bringing focus back from looks to working function. After a decade of strict procedures which included shooting any dog that did not turn out as desired, the Jagdterrier started to breed true. In 1926 the German Hunting Terrier Club was formed (The Deutscher Jagdterrier Club) and in 1927 the public first got a look at it. As well as used to hunt with it became a popular working dog in other areas such as the police, search and rescue and in the military. However like many dog breeds after world war II it faced severely reduced numbers, and with the anti German sentiment that existed, it was in some trouble.

New Lease on Life

Enthusiasts of the breed worked hard after the war to try to restore its numbers and raise its popularity once more. In 1951 32 puppies were registered, by 1956 that had gone up to 144 and the breed continued on this trend. Also in 1951 a German called Max Thiel, a Jagdterrier owner until the war when he lost everything, went with his family to the US and brought with him two new females, one of whom was pregnant. These puppies were the first of this breed born in the US. However being hard to pronounce and German they did not immediately gain popularity. Also a factor was that American hunters had developed their own dogs and were happy with how things were.

In 1956 nine owners in the US joined together and started the JTCOA (Jagdterrier Club of America). However the club fell apart in the 1970s. In the 1980s some tried to reform it but there were arguments and little happened. In 1968 it had been recognized by the FCI and in 1993 it was recognized by the UKC. In 2009 the breed club was finally restarted with success and is now more committed to preserving the dogs working ability and character, rather than joining the AKC and creating show dogs. There is now more interest in terriers in general and that has been a good thing for the Jagdterrier but since it is not a dog that can just be a companion this limits it to sports people and hunters. International interest has also grown across Europe.

The Dog You See Today

The Jagdterrier is a small dog weighing 15 to 25 pounds and standing 13 to 16 inches tall. It is a compact but well proportioned dog that is almost squared with it being just a little longer than it is tall, athletic looking and also noble too. It is deep chested and has a fairly long neck that is strong and slightly arched. Its legs are well proportioned and the front ones are parallel and straight and the back ones are straight, strong and muscular. The back is strong too and underneath there is a little tuck up from the belly. Its tail is docked in some places where that that is still allowed and is held raised a little. When natural it is held sabre form like or horizontally. The feet are round or oval shaped and the toes are close together. Underneath the pads are hard and thick.

It has tight thick skin and coats that are thick, coarse, smooth and hard. Colors can be browns, black, grey, fawn and sometimes white. This dog has a somewhat long head that is wedge shaped, a strong jaw line and flat wide skull. Those jaws have a scissor bite and the lips are tight. It has a clear chin and the muzzle is just a little shorter than the skull’s length. Its eyes are oval shaped, dark and small, with eyelids that are tight. Its ears are on the small side and are set high, semi dropped and thick. The nose is most commonly black but some dogs can have brown ones.

The Inner Jagdterrier


The Jagdterrier is an intelligent, brave, bold, tenacious and relentless dog. It is friendly but is not suited to being just a companion. It needs to be a hunter too, or kept and trained in doggy sports and competition. When it is on a hunt it truly known no fear, it will not be called back, and will keep going no matter what game and threat level is there. It is absolutely loyal and devoted to the owner that takes it out hunting or sporting, and it can be friendly to others but its preference and bond will be for that one owner.

This is a dog with a great deal of energy and needs to be kept busy, to have work and jobs and focus. It needs experienced owners, this is not a breed for new dog owners. It can be quite a handful that needs strong and confident leadership. As good a hunter as it is, it is not aggressive unless it is being challenged or there is a threat. It is wary with strangers but should not attack unless there is a real threat. It is alert and makes a good watchdog, it will bark to let you know if someone is trying to break in, it does bark occasionally otherwise, some may lean towards more often than that.

Living with a Jagdterrier

What will training look like?

This is a willful, strong willed, confident and dominant dog. It can be stubborn and though intelligent and eager to please its owner it can slow things down sometimes when it wants to do things its way. Be firm and consistent with it, set rules and make it clear you are the boss at all times. Keep sessions short and interesting so it does not get repetitive and boring. Be patient and positive though, offer it treats to motivate, encourage it and reward it. Early socialization is a big must with this dog, introduce it from a young age to different people, animals, places, sounds and situations so it learns the right responses. It does not respond well to harshness or physical punishments.

How active is the Jagdterrier?

The Jagdterrier is very active and if you are not going to be very active with it, take it out hunting or spend a great deal of time daily with it to burn of some energy and give it mental stimulation, this is not the dog for you. On days where it is not out hunting it will need an hour to two a day walking, physical play time with you, and even off leash run time somewhere safe. It needs at least two hours a day in total. If it does not get that it becomes hard to live with, restless, unhappy, anxious and even destructive. It does do well in sporting competitions so if you are not a hunter but want to take it down that route that is a great way to give it mental challenge, physical exercise, fun and a great bonding experience too. Its size can live in an apartment but it needs space outside it can play in. It is also best suited to rural living rather than city. Due to its high prey drive when taking it for a walk make sure it is kept on a leash or it will give chase.

Caring for the Jagdterrier

Grooming needs

The Jagdterrier’s coat is good at repelling dirt so does not need a huge amount of care and attention. It does shed so expect some hair around the home. Brush once or twice a week to remove loose hair and bathe only as needed to avoid drying out its natural oils. Only use a proper mild canine shampoo too and in between baths give it a rub down using just a damp cloth as needed.

Other grooming and maintenance include checking its ears weekly for infection signs and then giving them a careful wipe clean (without inserting anything into them). It will also require some tooth brushing, at least two to three times a week and clipping its nails when they get too long. Some very active dogs do wear down their nails outside but if this is not happening with yours use proper dog nail clippers only and take care not to cut too far down. There are blood vessels and nerves in the quick of the nail that will hurt the dog and bleed if nicked. If you are unsure have a groomer or vet do it.

Feeding Time

The Jag will eat about 1 to 2 cups of a good to excellent quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. The amount varies from one dog to another as it depends on level of activity, age, health, metabolism and build. Make sure it has access to water and it is also worth mentioning that very active dogs like this out hunting all day do better on a diet higher in fat and protein.

How is the Jagdterrier with other animals and children?

With this dog socialization and training is essential to ensure it gets on better with other animals, other dogs and children. Being raised with the Jagdterrier really does help but if you have small children and other pets in the home, this is not the best breed to bring into that. With older children it can be more playful and lively but the children need to be taught how to properly interact with it. It has a high prey drive and as with most terrier type dogs it is not good with other non-canine pets around it. It can be good with other dogs but will pick fights with dogs that are lot bigger than it is so supervision is needed.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This dog has a life span of about 12 to 15 years and is quite a hardy breed but some issues to be aware of include eye problems including blindness, deafness, hip dysplasia, Legg Perthes disease and hypothyroidism.

Biting Statistics

When looking at dog attack reports against people that did bodily harm in the US and Canada in the last 35 years there is no report of attacks by the Jagdterrier. However it is not common there so it is less likely to appear in such stats. This dog can be aggressive, and driven and it needs strong leadership, a lot of exercise and mental stimulation and plenty of attention, good socialization and great training. There is no dog that is 100% safe all the time, all breeds have that aggression potential so make sure you supervise your dog when it is out and it is on a leash when it needs to be.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Jagdterrier puppy from a decent breeder that has a good reputation producing pet quality dogs will likely cost about $650. For a top breeder or show quality puppy you can expect to pay even more than that, double or even more. If having a purebred is not required please consider looking at your local shelters where a lot of dogs are waiting for great owners like you to take them home. Adoption fees range from $50 to $400. Avoid places like puppy mills, backyard breeders and make sure you take the time to do some homework on the breeders you are looking at.

When you have your dog coming home to you there will be some initial costs for medical needs and for items. Neutering or spaying, chipping, shots, blood tests, deworming and so on will cost about $260. Things it will need such as a crate, carrier, leash, collar, bowls and such will cost about $120.

Then there are annual costs that come with being a pet owner. Feeding it a good quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost about $75 a year. Its miscellaneous expenses for things like license, toys, basic training and miscellaneous items come to about $195 every twelve months. Basic medical costs each year for check ups, shots, flea and tick prevention and pet insurance come to about $435. This gives an annual starting figure cost of $705.


Looking for a Jagdterrier Name? Let select one from our list!

The Jagdterrier is a dog that is hardworking, highly energetic, driven and intelligent. It needs to be with firm and experienced owners who are also very active and have time to be very committed. It is a are breed and it is important to take the time to get one from a decent breeder. Without good socialization and training they can be even harder to deal. It needs to live in a rural setting and get lots of attention and does best in homes that are non-canine pet free.

Featured Image Credit: Oksamutnaya, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts by email whenever there's a recall.