Dog Breed Guide – Jack Russell Terrier

Dog Breed Guide - Jack Russell Terrier

Everything you Need to Know about Jack Russell Terriers


The Jack Russell terrier is also known as the Parson Russell Terrier. It’s over 200 years old and originated from England. It was bred as a hunting dog especially for hounds by John Russell.

They were recognized as a specific breed in the 1850s.

Physical characteristics

Jack Russell terrier’s are short, sturdy dogs standing at a length of between 12 to 14 inches tall at the shoulders. They weigh approximately 13 to 17 pounds.

They have 2 coat types; smooth and broken. 

The broken type has slightly longer hair with a hint of eye brows and a beard.

They have a double coat which protects them from adverse weather. It is white in color with patches of black, tan or a mixture of the three.

They have small triangular ears and almond shaped eyes that twinkle with excitement

His tail when not docked also has patches similar to its body coat.

Personality and Temperament

Jack Russell’s are alert and always aware of their environment. They are also intelligent, stubborn, independent, affectionate and charming.

They love adventure and like to run off to explore new places. When outside always keep them on a leash. Their sense of adventure may at times land them in trouble especially when they challenge big dogs or may be run over by a car.

They are pretty playful. You will find him running around the house multiple times. He can get pretty bored and destructive if not stimulated mentally and physically.

They are a ball of energy and need to be taken for walks a couple of times a day to wear them out. If not, several games at the yard or 30 to 40 minutes of vigorous daily exercises. They make excellent companions for joggers or campers.

They also like to bounce and jump on people. He can jump up to 5 feet high.

They are friendly to people and new faces but might be aggressive towards other dogs especially his sex. He therefore requires early socialization to be able to interact with other dogs.

Jack Russell’s makes excellent companions for older children who understand how to handle dogs. They may not tolerate rough handling (pulling of the ears and tail) by small children. They might snap or bite and therefore interaction should be supervised.

They appreciate structure and routine but have a short attention span. Always keep them entertained especially during training.

They also like to bark a lot. This may not your ideal dog choice if you love some peace and quiet. They have prey drive which causes them chase after small rodents and cats. In case you have a cat at home getting a jack Russell may not work. Introduce them while young though its not guaranteed that they will get along.

They like to dig, chew, climb trees and chain links owning to their sense of adventure therefore require supervision while outdoors.


As described above, Jack Russell terriers are energetic dogs that need a lot play time and space. For this reason they are not suited for apartments but a house with a yard will do. This gives them ample space to run, chew, jump and hunt.

You may however need to have a fence around your home that he can’t climb over to go explore. Chain links won’t do much here. They will definitely also dig under electric fences as their itch for adventure surpasses the fear of an electric shock.

If you also have a lush garden, you may not want them around your home. Jack Russell’s are known to dig and burrow in the soil during their hunting escapades.

They are also recreational barkers as stated above therefore not advisable in homes with shared spaces.

They are also prone to separation anxiety and can become pretty destructive when left alone. They love the company of family. They also do not do well in kennels or sleeping outdoors.

Though they make excellent family dogs they do not get along with small children. They are not tolerant being roughed up. Always teach them how to approach and handle a dog before bring one at home especially during meal times or when asleep. 

They however get along with older children especially if they can match up to their energy and love for adventure.


Jack Russell terriers are highly trainable. However, they can be stubborn, independent and dislike boredom. One requires a lot patience and consistency. 

For a successful training session make sure you keep it short and interesting. They also do well with positive reinforcement and can be difficult once you become harsh towards them.

They do well with agility and obedience training or anything that stimulates their sense of adventure. Always keep the sessions entertaining.


Jack Russell’s are not expensive to maintain. They require minimal grooming. Hair brushing once or twice a week is sufficient to keep their coat clean, glossy and to remove any dead and loose hair.

They however shed hair at least once or twice a year.

Observe dental hygiene and brush their teeth 2 to 3 times a week using dog tooth paste. This helps keep off dental tartar and periodontal disease.

Ear cleaning is also essential during bath times to keep off dangerous bacterial and fungal infections.

Health Issues

Jack Russell’s are pretty much healthy dogs.

That being said they are predisposed to infections just like other dogs.

Always make routine checkups with your veterinarian a norm. This enables early diagnosis and treatment in the event of an infection. They should also be vaccinated and should not be exposed to unvaccinated dog until they have had all their shots.

They are however known for some genetic diseases which owners should look out for. When adopting or buying a puppy always ask for their health history and that of their parents/siblings. This will help give you a rough idea of what to expect.

Patella luxation, glaucoma, cataracts, deafness and hip dysplasia commonly affect them.

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