Let's talk Jack Russell Terriers

When it comes to energy, the small but mighty Jack Russell Terrier might have cornered the market. Their liveliness is matched by a smile-inducing confidence that seems to say, “Move over world, I’ll take it from here.” Originally bred for the hunt, the breed still boasts a keen intelligence, making them easy to train if you know what you are doing. Jack Russell Terriers form strong bonds with their human family, especially the person taking care of their needs on a daily basis. If that is you, you’ve got a friend for life. Albeit one that doesn’t sit still for long.

Official name: Jack Russell Terrier

Other names: Jack Russell

Origins: England

Black and white portrait of a sitting Jack Russel
 Drooling tendencies

Very low

Warm weather? Low
 Shedding level Low
Suited to apartment living?  Medium
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)* High Family Pet?* 
High
 Compatibility with other pets Very high
Can stay alone?* Very low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Jack Russel
Male
25 - 30 cm Height
5 - 6 kg Weight
Female
25 - 30 cm Height
5 - 6 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age 10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

1/7

Get to know the Jack Russell Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

There is nothing quite like that Jack Russell Terrier attitude. It is perfectly encapsulated by the expression “Big dog energy”. It just happens to be housed in a little dog’s body.

With all the boldness, exuberance and yes, energy, of a far larger animal, the Jack Russell Terrier struts through life with a lively joy. Loyal and devoted, they will be more than pleased to have you along for the ride.

While Jack Russell Terriers can make great family pets, especially when socialised as puppies, they are known to be a bit “nippy” and as such are best suited to families with slightly older children able to understand how to behave around dogs. A Jack Russell isn’t a good fit with toddlers or very young children.

Originally bred to accompany hunters, the Jack Russell still has the stamina and temperament that are part and parcel of a working dog’s personality, including the high prey drive for which they were prized. You might be less enthused to discover your Jack Russell Terrier taking off after anything that moves so keeping them on a lead when out and about is always a good idea.  

Two things to note about the breed: In spite of their small size, they do need a lot of exercise – you will likely tire long before they do – and mental stimulation. And they really don’t take well to being left alone. The breed’s separation anxiety can actually affect their overall health. Luckily, with that early socialisation and training – perhaps with a professional familiar with the Jack Russell Terrier’s particular brand of smarts – they will be more than ready to accompany you as you go about your day.


Jack Russel in the nature

2/7

2 facts about Jack Russell Terriers

1. Did you say something?

It has been said that the Jack Russell Terrier likes the sound of his own voice. Perhaps a kind way of saying that the breed can be a bit barky. Excitable by nature, they will not hesitate to let you know if they are upset. Or content. Or hear something. You get the idea. Calm, but firm training can help get this tendency in check early.


2. How much exercise exactly?  

They may be small, but this feisty, lively breed needs to expend their considerable energy every day. A walk around the block twice a day is not going to cut it. Think one hour of exercise a day minimum for your Jack Russell Terrier. Off-leash time nourishes their independent spirit – just make sure they are in a well-enclosed space. As a true terrier, if they can dig their way out, they will escape!

3/7

History of the breed

Originating in England sometime in the mid-to-late 1800’s, the Jack Russell Terrier was bred by the Reverend John Russel - funnily enough, not the John Russell Terrier - to accompany the good reverend on his beloved fox hunts. Mostly white so as not to be confused with the animals being pursued, they were low to the ground to be close to their quarry, fast enough to keep up with the hunt and plenty wriggly to follow foxes down narrow burrows to flush them out. And they were noisy enough to sound the alarm for all to hear when they’d found something, never harming their prey in the process.

In any event, these hardy terriers were bred to do a job and, while current Jack Russells are unlikely to be traceable to the parson’s originals, the breed is still driven to work, a fact that surprises nobody considering the breed’s high energy reserves and prey drive. Now a popular companion animal, sprightly Jack Russell Terriers still require toom to explore and their smart minds occupied. 

No reason to bore you with all the to, fro, and discussion around the breed’s official recognition. Suffice it to say that they were finally recognised by the AKC in 2001, with their name changed to Parson Russell Terrier. The Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association followed suite, becoming the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America. Interestingly, the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) and the New Zealand Kennel Club (NZCK) are among kennel associations that register both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier as different breeds.


Black and white portrait of a sitting Jack Russel

4/7

From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Jack Russell Terriers

1. Eyes

Dark, almond shaped eyes with expression of alertness.

2. Nose

Black, fully pigmented nose.

3. Skull

Flat skull gradually decreasing in width.

4. Body

Lithe, predominantly white body proportioned slightly longer than tall.

5. Tail

High-set tail may be straight or with slight forward curve.

5/7

Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Jack Russell Terrier
Inline Image 4

A skip and a jump

A pretty healthy breed overall, Jack Russell Terriers can be prone to a few select joint problems - all that constant movement might be to blame – from hereditary Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) disease, which can be corrected surgically to, most commonly, luxating patellas. Basically, their knee-caps can move out of position. You can spot symptoms of the latter early, including limping, skipping, and a sitting position that seems as though they are compensating. A good vet can help you decide if your pooch needs surgery or not. 

Inline Image 13

Yawn… the breed bores easily

While training the Jack Russell Terrier can be a relatively easy endeavour thanks to the breed’s inherent smarts, they are known to get bored rather quickly and lose interest. Not good for training! So on you to keep those sessions entertaining, changing up here and there to make sure your Jack Russell Terrier stays engaged. If you do, they will learn fast and the training will stick. They were bred as a working dog after all.

6/7

Caring for your Jack Russell Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

While Jack Russell Terriers come with different coat types, none are particularly high maintenance, much like the breed itself. Brush comb your dog’s coat weekly to remove loose hairs, prevent matting or knots and to help distribute their natural skin oils for a cleaner, shiny coat. Trim nails as needed and check ears for wax or dirt regularly. When it comes to exercise, the robust Jack Russell Terrier needs a lot of exercise. Head into nature for long walks, hikes and bike rides. Tired Jack Russell Terriers are a good thing! The breed does have a high prey drive – early training will help avoid problems. As we have said elsewhere on this page, with patience and a firm hand, training headstrong Jack Russell Terriers can be a breeze – as long as you keep it interesting to offset the breed’s natural short attention span.

All about Jack Russell Terriers

One of the most popular breeds worldwide, Jack Russell Terriers are lively, fun, smart and thoroughly entertaining. These small dogs with big personalities are, however, not for everyone. They need lots of exercise, mental stimulation, a decent amount of attention – this is not a breed that can be left alone much – and early training and socialisation. Gather all the pros and cons and see if you think the breed is right for you.

Do birds fly? Bred to hunt and burrow into holes, the Jack Russell Terrier has a strong prey drive and a very keen sense of smell – while they might be digging out of boredom or, let’s be honest, because it’s fun, they might also be picking up the scent of something scurrying around underground. Training can help offset the trait, but not entirely. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/