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Jack Russell Terrier

Other names: Jack Russell

Jack Russell Terrier
Adult Jack Russell Terrier © Shutterstock
Jack Russell Terrier
Puppy Jack Russell Terrier © Shutterstock
Puppy

The Jack Russell Terrier is a typical Terrier; lively, alert, active, fiery, and intelligent. They are bold and fearless, friendly, but confident. As a very playful and sociable dog, they are extremely energetic and often hyperactive, with a need for a lot of exercise. They enjoy long walks, though it is advised not to let them off the lead in a forest, unless you want to find them digging into a burrow!

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Key facts about the Jack Russell Terrier

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 16 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent, Hunter
  • Size : Small

Physical characteristics of the Jack Russell Terrier

Adult size

Female dog Between 10 and 12 in
Male dog Between 10 and 12 in

Weight

Female dog Between 11 and 13 lb
Male dog Between 11 and 13 lb

Coat colour

Their coat is predominantly white with black and/or tan markings (ranging from light to dark fawn).

Type of coat

Their coat can be smooth, coarse or wiry.

Eye colour

Their eyes are dark.

Description

The Jack Russell Terrier is a working Terrier that is robust, active and agile, with a strong personality. Their flexible body is of medium length, and longer than it is tall. Their eyes are small and almond-shaped, with a lively expression.

Temperament

Affectionate

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Despite their strong hunting instincts, these working dogs remain very good companions, affectionate and tender towards members of their adoptive family.

Playful

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A little mischievous, Jack Russells like to entertain and spend time playing with their friends, and even more so with children.

Calm

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Fearless, lively and very alert, this Terrier is anything but calm. Although Jack Russells know how to juggle both their job and companionship perfectly, they remain very energetic and should never be considered solely as a dog for pleasure.

Intelligent

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The Jack Russell Terrier is very clever and has a lot of potential, both for hunting and other dog sports. Although they aren’t "easy" to train, when a good bond is established between the owner and dog, very good results can be achieved.The Jack Russell Terrier is a hunter, to say the least. They have an incredible sense of smell and impressive determination when it comes to the search and pursuit of prey. They can hunt both underground (fox, badger, coypu) and on land (wild boar, rabbit). In this respect, they make the perfect companion for hunters. On the other hand, the Jack Russell will not kill; they are chosen for their bark rather than their bite.

Hunter

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The Jack Russell Terrier is a hunter, to say the least. They have an incredible sense of smell and impressive determination when it comes to the search and pursuit of prey. They can hunt both underground (fox, badger, coypu) and on land (wild boar, rabbit). In this respect, they make the perfect companion for hunters. On the other hand, the Jack Russell will not kill; they are chosen for their bark rather than their bite.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Naturally kind and friendly, the Jack Russell Terrier can be distant if he feels a certain animosity from someone. On the other hand, they aren’t commonly aggressive or bitey. If this is the case, it is because the dog is either the result of a bad breeding (often due to the popularity and high demand for the breed since its official recognition), or because they did not socialise enough during their early months as a puppy.

Independent

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Although Jack Russells love family life, their hunting instinct means they are naturally independent.

Behaviour of the Jack Russell Terrier

Tolerates solitude

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Loneliness is not generally a problem for Jack Russells, as long as they were progressively exposed to the absence of their owner as a puppy, to which they responded positively.

Easy to train / obedience

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Like any good Terrier, this dog has a hell of a temperament. They are not easy to handle and both their docility and ability to concentrate can be very fragile. Nevertheless, as long as their trainer’s attitude is firm, clear and rules have been established early on, the Jack Russell will be obedient. The most important thing with this working dog is to acknowledge their working capacity. Being very dynamic, this small dog can have difficulties concentrating. In fact, the optimum training sessions should be short and always end positively. In addition, positive training, through play and reward, has proven to be very beneficial to this playful and greedy breed.

Barking

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When hunting, this dog uses barking to signal when they are close to prey. At home, they may bark when they are bored, when they are left alone for too long, when guests arrive or when they are excited.

Tendency to run away

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If they live in the countryside, their familiar environment must be fenced off to prevent them from following tracks without turning around. Their hunting instinct is so strong that they could spend hours tracing the smell of an animal that was previously there. Similarly, during walks in the forest, for example, it is advised not to let them off the lead if they are bad at responding to their name. On the other hand, even if they are usually good at responding, there is no such thing as zero risk with a dog, particularly a hunting one.

Destructive

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Should your Jack Russell not be given the opportunity to use up his energy, expect some troublesome behaviour. Due to their size, they are often considered as companion dogs, though they are in fact working dogs that need a daily dose of physical, mental and olfactory stimulation.

Greedy / Gluttony

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Food is a very important source of motivation for this Terrier, and thus highly useful when it  comes to their training.

Guard dog

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Although they are friendly with guests, they make good guard dogs if they feel a threat approaching.

First dog

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A lack of education is one of the main causes of abandonment. In fact, it is not advisable to adopt such a stubborn dog if you do not have at least some experience in dog training.

Lifestyle

Jack Russell Terrier in a flat

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Although they can live in a house with a garden or in an apartment, these hunting dogs need to go out several times a day in order to adapt to this environment. They are not naturally designed to live in an urban environment, even though some become very comfortable with it.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Being a hunter, sporty, very dynamic, and with a high endurance, this dog undoubtedly needs a lot of exercise to fully develop. Simple neighbourhood walks are obviously not enough for them! They need long daily walks, with sports and mental stimulation as regularly as possible (agility, tracking, intelligence games, search mats, etc.).

Travelling / easy to transport

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Their small size enables them to join their owner on their travels, as long as they are well trained to remain calm during transport.

Compatibility

Jack Russell Terrier and cats

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Their strong hunting instinct makes it difficult for them to live with other small pets, including cats.

Jack Russell Terrier and dogs

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The Jack Russell’s intrepid and hyperactive side can, for some dogs, be likened to an attack or a threat. In fact, they do not generally get along very well with their fellow creatures. They require regular opportunities to socialise with other dogs in order to reinforce acceptable behaviour.

Jack Russell Terrier and children

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As a very playful dog, they like to spend time with children, though it should be noted that they are not the most patient dog, and they cannot stand a lack of respect.

Jack Russell Terrier and the elderly

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Jack Russells are not suited to quiet families or elderly people. They need a dynamic and active owner.

Price

The price of a Jack Russell Terrier varies according to their origins, age and sex. On average, the price of a pedigree dog is around £400, but can go up to £700. It will cost on average £18/month to meets the needs of a dog this size.

Grooming

As a simple dog, their short coat does not require any particular maintenance, except a few regular brushings to maintain the beauty and protective quality of it. It is necessary to inspect their skin after a walk, especially in the forest. Their eyes and ears should be cleaned regularly.

Hair loss

When moulting you will need to brush your dog daily.

Nutrition of the Jack Russell Terrier

This breed is not difficult to feed; their greedy nature means they would eat anything. Premium quality kibbles, adapted to their weight, age and daily activities are all they need. Owners who have the time can also offer them typical household food (raw or cooked). One meal a day is enough. It is important to offer them their daily ration at a more or less fixed time to prevent self-service. Stomach reversals can be expected in very active breeds, including the Jack Russell.

Health of the Jack Russell Terrier

Life expectancy

The estimated lifespan is 14 years.

Strong / robust

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Like many Terriers, the Jack Russell Terrier is a robust dog with a long life span.

Withstand heat

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They are not particularly sensitive to heat, but they should avoid working too hard when temperatures are high.

Withstand cold

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When active, the cold does not affect this reckless dog. No matter the weather, they are keen to go out and use up their excess energy. On the other hand, be careful not to leave them outside at night during the winter season.

Tendency to put on weight

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The Jack Russell often becomes overweight due to being mistaken for a companion dog rather than a working dog. In fact, they rarely use up enough of their energy and the calories they consume are hardly burned.

Common illnesses

  • Lens dislocation
  • Cataract
  • Deafness
  • Dislocation of the kneecap
  • Ataxia (nervous system disorder)
  • Myasthenia
  • Legg-Perthes-Calvé disease
  • Von Willebrand Disease

Good to know

Although robust, this dog is not immune to hereditary diseases which are sometimes the result of inbreeding. It is also important to pay attention when choosing your pet, as some Jack Russells are predisposed to hyperactivity and can be more difficult to handle.

Origins and history

The Jack Russell Terrier originates from England in the 19th century, where Reverend John (Jack) Russell selected a type of dog that could run like the Foxhound and go underground to hunt foxes and other game. He thus developed two breeds: one with longer legs, the Parson Jack Russell, and the other with shorter legs, the Jack Russell. The breed was only officially recognised in 2016.

Names

Good names for a Jack Russell: Boogie, Cookie, Gaby, Milo.

Find out more dog name ideas here