Dog breed characteristics and care for the Jack Russell Terrier

A Jack Russell Terrier running in a park

Small but sturdy and spirited, the Jack Russell terrier is a breed. These canines are tiny a foot or two tall, but they have a lot of personality and spirit of exploration. The JRT, as it's commonly known, is a playful family pet as well as an agile hunting dog. Despite their little size, these dogs have amazing stamina and determination, making them difficult for inexperienced dog owners to handle.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 10 to 15 inches

WEIGHT: 13 to 17 pounds

COAT: Short coat that can be smooth or rough

COAT COLOR: White with black, tan, or brown markings

LIFE SPAN: 13 to 18 years

TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, fearless, clownish, quirky, athletic, energetic


ORIGIN: England

Characteristics of the Jack Russell Terrier

Despite the fact that Jack Russell terriers frequently make wonderful family companions, it's crucial to teach both the dogs correct obedience and the kids suitable boundaries. But because they are energetic and lovable, these dogs make wonderful pets for families with busy children. However, homes with other tiny pets, like as cats, may find their high hunting drive to be bothersome. For a well-balanced pet, it's crucial to socialize your JRT early and frequently.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Jack Russell Terrier

The requirement for a tiny yet tenacious fox led to the creation of the Jack Russell terrier in England in the mid- to late 1800s. A preacher by the name of John Russell saw the need for a little terrier that could chase the fox into the ground while foxhounds had grown in favor among England's nobility for horse-and-hound hunting. He started a selective breeding program as a consequence, specifically to create a fierce yet little hunter.

The historical records of Russell's breeding initiatives are few. The pastor appears to have been an enthusiastic hunter who sought to develop a fox hunting partner without anticipating that he would go on to become the creator of a completely new breed. The most plausible conclusion is that selective breeding of English foxhounds with now-extinct white terriers led to the development of JRTs. The outcome was a breed of canines that were first known as fox terriers, the designation that was used to all fox hunting dogs of the time.

With a name derived from the breed's creator, the Jack Russell terrier rose to prominence fast. The swift, little dogs could outrun horses in a chase because they were bred for speed. They were also constructed with the characteristic terrier aggressiveness. These canines were effective at pursuing small wildlife such as foxes, raccoons, woodchucks, and rabbits. They particularly found a market when combined with bigger foxhounds. The tiny JRT might flush the fox from its hiding place and the pursuit could go on while the larger hunting dogs could chase a fox until it withdrew into its lair.

Hunters frequently carried this little hunting dog in their saddlebags when traveling long distances. It's hardly surprising that Jack Russell terriers quickly established themselves as a distinct breed given how much they can offer in such a little body. The JRT was eventually transported to America. Although the precise history is unknown, it seems that by the 1930s the breed was well-known in the United States.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America was established in 1976 when a passionate and devoted group of JRT owners emerged. The group continues to manage the breed's official register and was founded to support and safeguard the breed. The JRTCA vehemently opposes AKC or any other kennel club registration in favor of preserving the breed's working background.

However, not all breed aficionados have agreed with the JRTCA's strategy. AKC recognition was favored by certain JRT owners. The was a new breed that was approved by the AKC in 1997. Jack Russell terriers that satisfied a particular set of requirements for the new breed standard may register with the AKC. In 2012, the AKC officially recognized the smaller Russell terrier, a JRT ancestor.

Purists of the Jack Russell terrier support the JRCTA, their breed standard, and their registry. The club holds tournaments all through the year to provide terrier owners the chance to showcase their dogs' best qualities and get respect from the terrier community. Conformation, go-to-ground, tracking and locating, racing, agility, and obedience are some of the trials.

Jack Russell Terrier Care

If you're considering bringing a Jack Russell terrier into your home, be ready to put in the effort required to keep this energetic dog content and in good health. Although Jack Russell terrier puppies are almost too adorable for words, as they develop into energetic, athletic dogs, they demand a significant investment in terms of training, mental stimulation, and physical activity.


Without sound guidance on exercise, no discussion about Jack Russell terrier care would be complete. Despite being little, these dogs require a lot of activity. The JRT is not the same as your typical lap dog. Although they make wonderful family dogs and adore human company, they were developed to hunt. You may get a sense of the kind of release these dogs need via action by looking at a dog that is just 10 to 15 inches tall but was bred to gallop with horses.

Depending on age, aim to give your JRT around 90 minutes of rigorous exercise every day; this should include multiple long walks. The little Jack Russell terrier is an excellent running buddy, which will surprise any runners searching for a canine partner. Additionally, having a yard for your little terrier to run around in is almost a need. The JRT can leap up to five feet in the air, which is an outstanding vertical. Therefore, be sure that any cage is high enough to prevent escape. Additionally, bear in mind that these dogs have a reputation for being legendary diggers, so be careful to prevent digging misadventures from developing into a great terrier escape.

The Jack Russell terrier excels at agility work and go-to-ground trials. The latter are timed trials that test the speed and agility of this working breed as it completes a tunnel course.


Taking care of a Jack Russell terrier is rather easy. The short coat is simple to comb to get rid of stray hair, and a periodic wash will keep dirt and dander in check. A Jack Russel terrier might have a silky coat or one that is rough and looks wiry. Broken is the name given to a third coat, which consists of both smooth and rough areas of fur. To maintain this dog happy and healthy, offer frequent attention to ear cleaning and nail clipping, as with all dogs.


Due to its high intelligence, the Jack Russell terrier is simple to teach. They pick up tricks easily, but they can also be very mischievous. You must establish boundaries inside the home and develop the right group hierarchy in your dog's thinking from an early age. The JRT's head and heart may be greatly tested through obedience exercises. However, this kind dog won't respond well to a harsh touch or an overpowering attitude. Instead, teach your JRT to work with you, not against you, by holding brief, frequent training sessions and by using positive reinforcement.

Common Health Problems

The breed of Jack Russell terriers is robust and healthy. They typically have few health issues and have extended lifespans of up to 18 years or more. There are a few health issues, nevertheless, that you should be aware of. The bulk of illnesses that the JRT is known for developing revolve on concerns with the eyes or the joints, movement, or ataxia.

  • Patellar Luxation: Knee caps that slip out of place
  • : Potentially prone to congenital deafness
  • : Opacity of the eye lens
  • : Causes pressure inside a dog's eye
  • Primary Lens Luxation: The eye lens detaches completely, leads to loss of vision
  • : Rods and cones in the eyes are either undeveloped or deteriorated leading to blindness
  • : Uncoordinated and abnormal movement caused by a central nervous system issue
  • : Congenital orthopedic disorder that causes degeneration of the hip joint

Finding a breeder that can offer CERF clearances for a dog's eyes and OFA clearances for the dog's knees is advised. Of course, it's great to learn about a dog's genetic past and to find out how the puppy's parents are doing. Meet the litter's parents, if at all feasible.

Diet and Nutrition

Jacks are energetic dogs who require a healthy diet to support their most recent and exciting activities. They will profit from a balanced and proportionate feeding plan, just like other dogs. They can be persistent beggars, and don't overlook their amazing capacity to leap and steal a food off of tables, countertops, and other surfaces. You should keep a careful check on your JRT's weight since an overweight dog is more likely to have a variety of health issues.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Jack Russell Terrier

Do you believe you have what it takes to incorporate a JRT into your life? If you do, you'll have a vivacious and knowledgeable friend for many years to come as compensation. The Jack Russell terrier is adored for its temperament and remarkable skills.

Consider welcoming a rescue into your house if you're thinking about getting a JRT for your family. Many of these lovable yet tenacious canines end up in rescues as a result of ignorant or uneducated dog owners.

Make important to choose a reputable breeder with excellent standards for the health and welfare of their dogs if you decide to purchase a puppy from a breeder. One resource that might assist you in finding devoted and excellent breeders is the JRTCA. If you decide to purchase a JRT from a breeder, budget between $800 to $1,500 for a puppy or adult; however, some breeders may charge up to $2,500 for a dog that will be shown. Your JRT dog may have received greater socialization than a rescue dog, which is an advantage of purchasing a dog from a breeder.

Begin your search for a Jack Russell terrier by contacting the following organizations:

  • Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Rescue Links
  • Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Breeder Listing
  • Russell Terrier Rescue

Jack Russell Terrier Overview

  • Very intelligent

  • High stamina

  • Relatively healthy with a long lifespan

  • Strong prey drive

  • Prone to excessive barking

  • Requires vigorous daily exercise

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you're interested in the possibility of bringing a Jack Russell terrier into your life, you might also be interested in these similar breeds which you can check into:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • What is the difference between the Jack Russell and the Parson Russell terrier?

    The distinction between the Jack Russell and Parson Russell terriers is not often clear. Although the two breeds originated in a similar way, they have diverged recently, mostly because of disagreements over AKC registration and breeding criteria. The JRTCA (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America) registers Jack Russell terriers, and they are only required to follow a working breed standard. Physically, the Parson differs from the Jack Russell by having longer legs and a squarer body as opposed to the Jack Russell's shorter legs and more rectangular frame.

  • Are Jack Russell terriers aggressive?

    Jack Russell terriers can be violent when not running, digging, or leaping, but usually just toward other animals. They have a history of becoming dog aggressive, especially among other JRTs of the same sex. If not, there may be a lot of commotion on the JRT.

  • Will a Jack Russell terrier be a good dog for kids?

    The JRT is recognized for being a little too boisterous and snappish with smaller, younger youngsters, despite the fact that it usually doesn't act aggressively against adults. Keep in mind that this dog enjoys jumping at a height equal to or greater than that of toddlers, which might scare a smaller child. All things considered, this breed makes a great playmate for older, more energetic kids who are usually more tolerant with dogs.