Jack Russell Terrier: The Ultimate Guide


The Jack Russell Terrier is proof that good things really do come in small packages and that you shouldn’t always judge a pup-shaped book by its cover. While a lot of small dogs are content to while away the hours of the day sitting on their owner’s laps, the Jack Russell doesn’t subscribe to that particular philosophy.

Granted they’re not averse to falling asleep while cuddled up and being made a fuss of on their favorite human’s knee, but Jack Russell’s know that there’s a time and a place for everything, and laps can wait until the day’s adventures have all concluded, there’s nothing left to chase and all the sniffs that can be sniffed have been well and truly sniffed. 

Jack Russel Terrier

A non-stop dynamo that doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit, the Jack Russell Terrier is the working dog that loves to divide its time between sleeping on the sofa, playing games with, and being made a fuss of by its family, and exploring every inch of the big, wide world.

They don’t believe in wasting time and cram as much as they can into every second and make sure through the sheer force of their larger-than-life personalities that their families enjoy life just as much as they do. 

If you’ve ever wondered why Jack Russell’s are such wonderful canine companions, then you’ve come to the right place, as we’re about to take a deep dive into all things Jack Russell. Are you ready to find out everything that you ever wanted to know about the busiest dog in creation? Then let’s begin… 

Jack Russell Terrier Key Facts

If you’ve had your heart stolen by the Jack Russell Terrier (and who amongst us hasn’t felt that way?), and are looking at every possible and different way that you welcome one into your home, and to your family, then there are a few things that you’ll need to know before you get too carried away. 

You’ll need to know how long the Jack Russell will get to spend with you and how many years you’ll have to devote to your dog’s well-being, how much exercise he’ll need to stop home climbing the walls and driving you crazy, how much he’ll cost to house, feed and look after properly and how much time you’ll need to devote to grooming his distinctive coat. 

Average Lifespan

The good news is that like all little dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are hardy, and have a lot of miles on their biological clock, and have an average lifespan in the region of twelve to fifteen years. 

Minimum Exercise (per day)

They may be small, but they’ve got more energy than the Hoover Dam, and you’ll need to devote a couple of hours a day to ensuring that your soon-to-be best pal gets all of the exercise that he needs. 

Coat Length

This is where it can get confusing, as Jack Russell Terriers have three different types of coat. They can have a smooth, short-haired coat, a rough wiry, longer coat, or a combination of the two (where their fur is longer on their heads and tails) that’s known as a broken coat. Whatever type of coat they have, Jack Russell Terriers always come in a near-infinite variety of three colors. White, brown, and black. 

Minimum Cost Per Month

Just because they’re small, it doesn’t mean that they’re cheap, and by the time you’ve added up the cost of insurance, food, and the endless supply of tennis balls that you’ll need to keep them entertained on your long walks together, a Jack Russell Terrier should leave an eighty dollar dent in your bank balance every month. 

Appearance

Jack Russell Terriers are small, strong, tough hunting dogs with a long muzzle, small(ish) floppy ears, and a tail that never seems to stop wagging. 

Size

We’ve already made a pretty big thing of emphasizing how small they are (their size is deliberate, as it originally allowed them to chase rabbits into burrows and badgers into their sets), and the American Kennel Club is completely in agreement with us, as they classify the Jack Russell as a small dog. 

Average Height

We’re going to defer to the collective wisdom of the Kennel Club, which states that the Jack Russell Terrier should be between ten and fifteen inches tall at the withers, or in layman’s terms, the shoulder. 

Average Weight

Small in stature and small in weight, we’re going to take the Kennel Club at their word again, and their word states that the Jack Russell Terrier should weigh between twelve and seventeen pounds. 

Temperament

Jack Russell Terriers are fearless, highly intelligent little bundles of energy. They need the right level of stimulation, and like all working dogs have a stubborn, independent streak that needs to be handled properly with the correct training, and they benefit greatly from both obedience and socialization classes. 

Apartment Living

Given the size of the breed, the natural assumption that almost everyone makes is that they’re perfectly suited for apartment life.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the Jack Russell’s extraordinary levels of energy and low boredom threshold, mean that they need long, involving walks.

That, coupled with the fact that they’re extremely vocal dogs who bark a lot, which would invariably sour your relationship with your neighbors, makes Jack Russell Terriers unsuitable for life in a high rise. 

Good For Novice Owners

Jack Russell’s are incredibly loyal dogs, and tend to imprint with one “special” person who they regard as being theirs and theirs alone. Providing they’re properly socialized and trained, Jack Russell Terriers can be a perfect companion for first-time owners. 

Sensitivity Level

Smart and intuitive, Jack Russell’s are sensitive dogs who can tune into their owner’s emotional wellbeing and state of mind and act accordingly. They’re also acutely aware of, and incredibly sensitive to any form of threat and will instinctively react to it.

And the myth about them enjoying being picked up is just that; a myth. Some Jack Russell’s like it, but a lot don’t and are particularly sensitive about it, and can become aggressive if anyone tries to lift them off the ground. 

Tolerates Being Alone

While they enjoy spending as much time as they possibly can with their families, Jack Russell Terriers can be left by themselves.

If you do intend or have to, leave your dog alone, gradually get them used to the idea by leaving for a short period of time at first, and then gradually increasing the amount of time that you’re out and away from them on a daily basis.

Jack Russells are bright dogs and your pal will soon realize that it doesn’t matter how long you’re out and away for, you’ll always come back.  

Tolerates Cold Weather

Jack Russell’s don’t do well in colder climates, and when winter hits and the snows arrive, if they’re going to go outside, a Jack Russell will need to wear a coat that will keep them warm.

Tolerates Hot Weather

As long as there’s some shade for them to cool down in, or they can find somewhere to get out of the worst of the heat when they’ve had enough of it, Jack Russells are fine with, and in, hot weather and warmer climates. 

Affectionate With Family

They’re incredibly affectionate little dogs, and love to spend time cuddled up with their owners and their families. Jack Russell’s are also known for their desire to constantly seek the approval of, and please their owners, and will often follow their “chosen person” from room to room because they want to be near them.  

Kid-Friendly

In a Jack Russell’s mind there’s a fine line between what they will tolerate and what they perceive to be abuse, and they can and will punish the latter by nipping.

This means that heavy-handed toddlers and Jack Russells aren’t the best of combinations and that they’re only really safe around older children who know how to show a little decorum. 

Dog Friendly

Jack Russell’s can be aggressive toward other dogs, and the only way to prevent and combat the behavior is by making sure that they’re properly socialized around, and spend time with, other dogs when they’re young. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

  As long as those strangers aren’t accompanied by strange dogs, then most Jack Russells will be fine around them and will more than likely approach them and ask to be fussed, stroked, and smoothed. 

Health & Grooming

A hardy little dog, the Jack Russell Terrier isn’t subject to a lot of the same health issues as some other breeds are, but that doesn’t mean that the breed is completely problem-free, it isn’t and we’ll discuss some of those problems a little later.

That doesn’t, however, mean that your Jack Russell will suffer from any of the breed-specific conditions, it just means that there’s a possibility that he might. 

Shedding

As the majority of Jack Russell’s tend to have short fur, they shed throughout the year, a process that increases exponentially in Summer and Spring as the days get longer and warmer. 

Drooling

Jack Russells aren’t droolers, they never have been and they never will be. Well, except for when they’re asking for a cookie or waiting for their dinner, but then all dogs do that, don’t they? 

Grooming

Smooth-haired, broken coat and rough fur Jack Russell’s are all easy to groom. As they’re all relatively short-haired dogs, and they’re small, it won’t take long to brush and groom your Jack Russell, and most of the time, they’ll probably enjoy being brushed. 

General Health

They are, for the most part, a generally healthy, strong dog that isn’t stopped by a lot and refuses to slow down and stop enjoying life until old age forces them to.  

Common Health Problems

That doesn’t mean that the breed doesn’t have its own set of health issues, it does. And these can include arthritis, deafness, glaucoma, and lens luxation, which occurs when the ligament that holds the lens of the eye in place becomes old and weak and the lens detaches – it can be treated surgically, and even though it’s extremely unlikely to happen to your dog, it’s worth insuring (and protecting) him against the possibility that it might happen, as the procedure is incredibly expensive. 

Potential For Weight Gain

Even though the breed isn’t prone to obesity, as he gets older and his energy levels begin to dip, your boy might pile on more weight than he can lose by running around. It’s worth keeping an eye on your terrier as he gets older and monitoring his diet if he starts to get a bit chunky. 

Trainability

Just like all working dogs, Jack Russells are bright and benefit greatly from feeling like they have a purpose and something to do. That’s why it’s important to begin to train your boy and enroll him in both obedience and socialization classes as early as possible. 

Easy To Train

As they’re intelligent dogs with a desire to please their owners, Jack Russell’s are usually fast study’s and learn quickly. They’re also, because of their high level of energy, ideally suited to agility and obstacle courses. 

Intelligence

Jack Russell’s are incredibly intelligent dogs, and they’re ranked eighty-fourth out of the one hundred and thirty-four breeds of most intelligent dogs. They would probably place even higher than that if it wasn’t for their independent streak and stubborn nature. 

Potential To Bite

Despite their reputation to the contrary, Jack Russell’s aren’t biters, and will usually only nip someone if they refuse to listen when the dog warns them to keep away or stop doing what they’re doing by growling.  They might nip, but ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, they won’t bite. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Jack Russell Terriers bark a lot. They were bred to bark to alert their owners to the fact that they’d caught what they were chasing, and their high prey drive makes sure that they bark at anything that moves within their field of vision.

They bark, it’s what they do, so if you enjoy peace and quiet, they might not be the terrier for you.  

Jack Russell Terrier History

Jack Russell Terriers were first bred in England by the Reverend John Russell, who was a hunter and a parson, in seventeen ninety-five. He wanted to create a dog that could chase foxes into their dens and lead a pack of lof hounds to the prey that they’d been chasing down.

And he succeeded in doing just that. 

The breed has remained largely unchanged since it first appeared more than two hundred years ago, as the traits that Russell sought to imbue in the dog are considered to be the breed standard, and most modern breeders still pursue them. 

The Jack Russell Terrier first became popular in America during the early nineteen-thirties and has remained a beloved family pet ever since.

But under the affectionate surface of the Jack Russell beats the heart of a hunting lion, and if they’re given the opportunity, almost every dog in the Russell lineage would chase a fox or rabbit until they caught it. 

Costs

If you are thinking of buying a Jack Russell puppy from a reputable breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere between eight hundred and two and half thousand dollars for your new dog.

That’s an incredible amount of money, especially when you consider that there are Jack Russell Terriers in shelters and rescues all over the country, most of whom won’t charge you more than two hundred dollars for a dog. 

Our advice? Adopt, don’t shop. There are too many Jack Russells already looking for a good home, so if you’re serious about adding one to your family, call your local shelter or rescue and pop down to see them. Your new best friend could already be there just waiting for you to come along, pick him up, and take him home. 

Jack Russell Terrier Fun Facts 

Even though the breed began in England, as they were originally classed as working dogs, Jack Russell Terriers didn’t become eligible to be show dogs in their native country until two thousand and sixteen. 

Despite the fact that they’re small, Jack Russells are notorious escape artists and need a fenced yard. Not only are they master diggers who can tunnel their way under wire fences, but they’re also capable of jumping more than five feet in the air. 

A Jack Russell named Nipper was the dog whose portrait became famous the world over in the painting known as His Master’s Voice.

The painting would later become the logo of the music store HMV, a brand famous in both the UK and Europe. 

In the sitcom Frasier, the title character’s father, Martin Crane owns a Jack Russell called Eddie who refuses to listen to or pay any heed to Frasier.  Eddie was actually played on screen by a pair of Jack Russells, Moose, and Enzo, who were father and son in real life.

The canine acting dynasty would later go on to play Skip in the film My Dog Skip.  

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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