HomeNewsAug 27, Jack Russell Terriers: Dogs on Steroids or Perfect Family Pet?

    Aug 27, Jack Russell Terriers: Dogs on Steroids or Perfect Family Pet?

    Last Updated 08-26-2021

    Jack Russell Terriers are incredibly cute, curious and
    always ready for a new adventure.  But
    don’t let their clever antics and friendly appearance deceive you.  They are independent minded with energy to
    spare and those traits coupled by high intelligence makes these dogs a
    challenge to own. 

    They love having fun and if their activity is restricted or
    they do not get enough exercise, your fun loving Jack will turn destructive,
    aggressive or highly vocal.

    The Jack Russell Terrier
    Breed Traits Rating

    Affection Level

    Friendliness Towards Strangers
    Good with Children

    Good with Other Dogs
    Exercise Needed

    Ease of Training

    Watch Dog Ability

    Grooming Requirements


    Cold Tolerant

    Heat Tolerant

    Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
    Here’s a little help in understanding them

    • Playfulness:   Most Playful = 5    Least Playful = 1
    • Affection:  Most Affectionate = 5   Least Affectionate = 1
    • Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5  Least = 1
    • Good With Children:  Great= 5    Not Good with Children = 1
    • Good With Dogs:  Great = 5   Not Good Around Dogs = 1
    • Exercise Required:  Extensive Daily Exercise = 1  Minimal = 1
    • Ease of Training:  Very Easy = 5     Difficult = 1
    • Watch Dog:  Excellent Watch Dog = 5  Minimal = 1
    • Grooming:  Time Consuming = 5   Minimal = 1
    • Shedding:  Heavy Shedder = 5     Minimal = 1
    • Cold Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5   Poor Tolerance = 1
    • Heat Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5  Poor Tolerance = 1

    Here are more Quick Jack Russell Terrier Facts

    Jack Russell Terriers are terriers through and through.  Their coat colors and textures may vary, but
    in general, they have strong forelegs, a tail that is set high and carried
    slightly over the body, and small triangular ears that drop forward.

    Unlike two very similar breeds, the Parson Russell Terrier
    and the Russell Terrier, Jacks are somewhat more diverse in appearance.  They are bred more for their hunting ability
    than their appearance and therefore are not registered with the American Kennel

    Quick Facts

      Height (inches & cm)  10-15

      Weight (lb & kg) 13 – 17 pounds

    Coat Type:   Smooth, Rough or

    Colors:  White with tan, black or
    brown markings

    Country of Origin:  England

    Activity Level:  Very energetic

    Life Expectancy:  11-15 years

    Good with Children:  Yes

    Good with other pets: 
    Varies:  They cannot be trusted
    around small pets such as guinea pigs and males may be somewhat aggressive
    around other males.  Otherwise, they do well with other dogs.

    History of Jack Russell Terriers

    The Jack Russel Terrier and the other two breeds, the Parson
    Russell and the Russell can all be traced back to one person, the Reverend or
    Parson Jack Russell, born in 1795. 

    First called Fox Terriers, the name was changed in the late
    1800s to honor the person most responsible fore creating the new breed, the
    Reverend John Russell of Dartmouth, England. 
    As a young man, Russell had a keen love of fox hunting and developed an
    interest in dog breeding. 

    Jack Russell TerrierJack Russell Terriers love to play. Be sure to keep plenty of balls and other toys handy. Play is one method of exercising these high energy dogs.

    In the early days, the fox terrier breed did not resemble
    today’s Jack Russell Terriers.  It was taller,
    slender and lanky and the coloring was predominantly black, tan and reddish
    brown.  Using a dog like this on a fox
    hunt was risky because they resembled the foxes they were hunting.

    He wanted a great hunting dog with colors that would not
    confusing the dog with the prey and started his new breed with a young female
    white terrier with dark spots over her eyes, ears and tail. 

    Using this first dog, “Trump,” along with
    other British White Terriers (now extinct)  he carefully bred generations of dogs.  The British White Terrier was considered a
    lap dog because they ranged in size from 10 to 20 pounds and rarely used for
    much other than companionship. 

    The breed
    was also prone to deafness.  After 12
    years, Russell was able to create a new line of dogs that were popular with
    hunting enthusiasts and British aristocrats. 

    Russell was known at the time as “the Sporting Parson” and
    many of his close friends called him Jack. 

    After Russell’s death, the dogs remained popular and at times may have
    been crossed with Dachshunds, Corgis, and other small terriers which resulted
    in major variations in size, shape and type. 

    At the time, the Kennel Club in England would not accept the breed due
    to this variability.  Enthusiasts found
    their own Jack Russell Terrier Club in 1974. 

    This group split in 1980 into two camps, one who wanted to
    impose a breed standard that would allow them to gain admittance to The Kennel
    Club and the other group who preferred the qualities of temperament and working
    ability over appearance. 

    The first group
    formed the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club and was recognized by The Kennel
    Club in England in 1989.  The American
    Kennel Club later accepted the breed in 1997 and placed it in their Terrier

    The other group continued as the Jack Russell Terrier club
    in both England and the U.S.

    Personality of Jack Russell Terriers

    The High Energy Jack Russell TerrierJack Russell Terriers can be amazing high jumpers.

    If you are considering a Jack Russell Terrier, the first
    thing to keep in mind is their history and why they were developed in the first

    Farmers and Sportsmen needed a
    small hunting dog that could follow a scent, bark to alert the person of their
    find, dig down under ground to flush out foxes or other small animals. 

    To do these jobs, the dog needed to be
    fearless, assertive, and tireless.  Their
    skills included running and chasing, digging, barking, and the show of

    Most of these traits that
    come naturally to them are not behaviors that the average pet owner wants to
    deal with. 

    They think of themselves as a big dog in a little body and
    will let everyone around know who’s boss if permitted to do so.  For these reasons, this little dog may not be
    the best choice for a first time dog owner.

    Do not think that
    the cute little Jack Russell you saw in photos, movies or other types of media
    is the type of puppy you will be getting.  

    (Remember Wishbone from the PBS Children’s
    Show or Eddie on the TV Series Frasier?)

    These dogs have been trained to do
    certain tasks and can perform them on command for short periods of time.  Off the set, they are a typical terrier:  energetic, independent, and assertive. 

    Jack Russell Terriers are very loyal and affectionate.  They want to be with people all the
    time.  They are also keenly alert and
    will alert you to every new person, animal or thing encroaching on their

    As hunters, they are also
    barkers, but some of the nuisance barking can be trained out.  With all that love that they bestow on their
    family, they also come equipped with some behaviors that may not be as

    They are extremely intelligent and clever and will continue
    to test their limits.  Training is
    important, not only in puppyhood, but throughout the life span. 

    They have been known to train their owners
    through assertive and even aggressive behaviors.  Socialization is very important both with
    people and other animals, especially other dogs.

    They may bond to one
    person in the household and show signs of possessiveness if given the

    They may show their dislike
    in having to share their favorite human through displays of aggression.  Controlling this behavior needs to begin in
    puppyhood and maintained throughout the life. To avoid problems. 

    Energy to Spare

    Two Jack Russell Terriers are Digging in the Sand

    These dogs are very energetic and require a great deal of

    Consider them a working dog
    that must have a job to do and not a suitable match for a couch potato.  They are not going to cuddle on your lap and
    watch television all day. 

    Jack Russell Terriers were bred
    to work, whether it was keeping a stable free of rats, digging after quarry or
    chasing small prey.  If they are to be a
    companion dog, they will need daily walks or jogs, playing fetch, or
    participating in a dog sport. 

    Apartment Life?

    This is one small breed that may not be appropriate in an
    apartment.  The ideal home would be in a
    rural or suburban setting with a large securely fenced yard. 

    A fence is a must and remember that Jack
    Russell Terriers love to dig, jump, or even climb, so the fence must prevent all those
    forms of escape.

    Live in an apartment or condo and have your heart set on a Jack Russell?  There is no doubt about it, this breed thrives in places where it can run, chase and just have fun.  But there are plenty of examples where they have also done fine living in small apartments. 

    The trick is to be able to provide the necessary exercise these dogs need.  Expect to spend at least an hour a day exercising your Jack Russell Terrier. 

    Jack Russell Terriers and Other Pets?

    Jack Russell Terrier

    These dogs cannot be
    trusted around other small pets such as cats, birds, hamsters or simple pocket
    pets due to their strong prey drive. 

    Some breeds can co-habitate with cats if raised together but not
    necessarily the Jack Russell Terrier. 

    If you do have a small pet, protect him/her and do not permit your Jack Russell Terrier to even enter the room where you little pet lives.

    Jacks do relatively fine with other dogs.

    Children and Jack Russell Terriers?

    Jack Russell Terriers do best with older respectful children who have been taught how to handle a dog without teasing, or mistreating them.  They are likely to be too much for children
    under 6 years of age. 

    Grooming Jack Russell Terriers

    Grooming the Jack Russell Terrier

    Jack Russell Terriers come in
    one of three different coat types: 
    smooth, broken, and rough.  The
    type of coat will determine the amount of grooming required. 

    All coat types will shed! Smooth coats shed the most year
    round. The rough coat sheds, but the dead hairs remain within the coat
    requiring stripping, brushing, or clipping several times a year.  The broken coat is considered to be somewhere
    in the middle between the rough and the smooth coat. 

    The broken coat is very comparable to a smooth coat but has
    whiskers around their face and extra hair on their legs or body. It is not soft
    or smooth but rather harsh to repel rain, snow and other weather conditions.

    The rough coat has the most hair all over the body and it
    can be straight or wavy.  This coat
    requires the most grooming.

    The smooth coat and broken coats are the easiest to
    maintain.  Brush these coats about once a
    week to cut down on the amount of shedding in the home.  If brushed regularly, frequent bathing is not
    normally needed.  Dried dirt or mud can
    often be removed through brushing but you can also bathe them if they get dirty
    (and they will). 

    The rough coat will need brushing too and stripping several
    times a year to remove dead hair. 

    can be done professionally or you can learn to do it yourself at home.  Some owners opt for clipping the coat.  For those Jack Russell Terriers that are not involved
    in showing, clipping may be a less expensive option. 

    The hair that results after being clipped is
    softer and may even appear lighter in color. 
    This method does not remove the dead hair, just shortens and makes the
    dog look more attractive.

    Their nails will need to be trimmed or filed down using a
    nail grinder about every two weeks. 

    It is also recommended that their teeth be brushed several times a week to
    prevent tarter from forming.

    Health Concerns of Jack Russell Terriers

    Health Concerns of the Jack Russell Terrier

    The breed is considered to be healthy with a life span of
    between 11 and 15 years.  Many live
    longer than that if given proper nutrition and care. 

    There are some conditions that have been
    identified as having a genetic component, some of which may have genetic tests
    that can be performed on the parents before breeding. 

    The list of heritable conditions of this
    breed is extensive on the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America website, but
    despair.  Some breed clubs are more
    conscientious at identifying problems with the goal of eradicating them.


    Cataracts may occur due to heredity or caused by diabetes,
    old age or injury.  The lens of the eye
    hardens and appears cloudy.  Vision is
    blurry and can eventually be lost entirely. 
    Cataracts can be removed and vision restored.

    Lens Luxation

    Ectopia Lentis or
    Lens Luxation occurs when the lens becomes dislocated.  There are two types There are two types, posterior
    luxation (where the lens slips to the back of the eye) and anterior luxation
    (where the lens slips forward). Anterior luxation also has a high probability
    of causing glaucoma which can lead to partial or complete blindness.

    Patellar Luxation

    Patellar Luxation or
    luxating patella is an hereditary problem that affects the knees.  The kneecap slips in and out of the groove
    where it would normally sit.  When it
    slips out, the dog may hold the leg up until the kneecap goes back into
    place.  It can eventually lead to
    lameness and arthritis.

    Read more

    Cerebellar Ataxia

    This is a neurological disorder
    resulting from degeneration of the cerebellum’s cortex. The degeneration can
    progress steadily and cause a stagger in the dog’s gait. If your terrier
    appears wobbly or disoriented from time to time, this disorder could be the

    Myasthenia Gravis

    This malady affects the motor nerves and causes weakness in the

    A dog with this condition can have difficulty in rising from a sitting position
    and will sway and stagger when walking. So this covers some of the inherited
    Jack Russell Terrier health problems.

    It must be noted that dogs that are affected with these disorders should not
    be bred from.

    vonWillebrand Disease

    vonWillebrand Disease
    (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder caused by an insufficient vonWillebrand
    factor, the blood protein that binds platelets to blood vessels.  

    This problem is often observed when the dog
    bleeds more than normal during estrus or after surgery. 

    Bleeding can also be observed from the gums,
    nose or in urine.   Cutting slightly into
    the blood vessel of the nails can cause profuse bleeding that requires much
    time to clot.


    The disease is caused by the ball and socket joint in the hip
    degenerating, leading to pain, stiffness and reduced movements.

    Read more

    Skunk problems

    Being a hunt-driven dog, the Jack
    Russell will usually pursue most creatures that it encounters. This includes
    the and the
    breed is prone to skunk toxic shock syndrome.

    Pros and Cons of the Jack Russell Terrier


    • Friendly,
      Affectionate, Playful
    • Smooth coats
      require little grooming
    • Good around older
    • Healthy Breed
    • Great Stamina


    • Intense energy needs
    • Training is ongoing
      and can be challenging
    • Not good for people in apartments or condos
    • Bad habits including
      digging, chewing, chasing, barking

    Books Worth Reading

    Before you get your first Jack Russell Terrier, you should spend just a little bit more time researching the breed.  Here are a couple of good books that Small Dog Place recommends.

    Just For the Jack Russell Terrier Lover

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