Clever, independent, and born to dig. This about sums up this spunky little breed. Jack Russell Terriers have been around for over 200 years, originally bred to hunt foxes and are not a dog for the faint of heart. They are quite a handful and need a lot of work to be shaped into the best companion dog possible. With the right parents, they can be great companions, but with the wrong parents, they can be quite destructive, even for their small stature.
Want to know if you’d be a good fit for a Jack Russell Terrier? Here’s everything you need to know about the breed.
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Meet The Jack Russell Terrier
Weight: 13-17 pounds
Height: 13-14 inches at the shoulder
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Fur type: Jack Russel Terriers can either have a smooth or a broken coat, both types come with a double coat and coarse texture. The biggest difference between the two is that broken coats are slightly longer. Jack Russell Terriers are not considered hypoallergenic.
Color: Jack Russell Terriers can be white, white with black or tan markings, or tricolor (a mix of black, white and tan).
Jack Russell Terriers contain lots of lively energy in their small bodies and have strong, independent, spunky, and spirited personalities. They are intelligent, devoted and amusing and are always known to be at the top of their game.
As mentioned, Jack Russell Terriers are not the best breed of choice for the faint of heart or for first-time dog parents. That is because of their high tendencies towards bad and/or destructive behavior. They love to dig, it’s bred into them. They can also be very vocal and exhibit aggression towards other dogs or animals that resemble prey (small critters, cats, etc.). Their strong-willed natures can also make them difficult to train. They can even be a challenge for highly experienced dog parents.
Jack Russell Terriers thrive on structure and love to know what’s going on. They also like to feel like they have some control over their own decisions or activities. They are very alert, never shy, and can be exceptionally fearless little dogs. On the flip side, they can also be incredibly affectionate and love a good cuddle session. They seek adventure and do best with good amounts of exercise and mentally stimulating activities.
Jack Russell Terriers are people dogs and don’t often like spending too much time alone. This is something to keep in mind if you’re not home for a good majority of the day. Their barking tendencies also make them unsuited for apartment living. You may get calls from annoyed neighbors.
Jack Russell Terriers are high energy dogs. Don’t mistake their small size for a simple lapdog. They’d much rather be darting around the yard hunting and exploring or going on jogs, walks, and hikes.
Good With Children
Jack Russell Terriers can do very well with older, more mature children who know how to handle and respect their space. With that said, they’re not the best option for young children and can especially be a handful if you are trying to raise a family while simultaneously taking on the challenge of a Jack Russell Terrier. Not to mention their rambunctious nature can be overwhelming for smaller children.
Good With Other Dogs
Jack Russell Terriers are not known for being good with other dogs. They actually have a reputation for showing aggression towards other dogs, especially other dogs they don’t know. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you socialize them from a very early age to help avoid these aggressive tendencies as they grow older. If you have more than one dog, make sure they get used to having that other dog around from the moment you bring them home as well.
Jack Russell Terriers have moderate levels of shedding, but if you stay on top of their grooming, their shedding can be kept under control.
Jack Russell Terriers aren’t high maintenance when it comes to grooming. They do best with a quick brush a couple times a week to help handle their shedding. If you stay on top of their brushing, they should rarely need a bath. They need their nails trimmed once or twice a month (if you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, they’re too long).
Beyond that, they just need their teeth brushed 2-3 times a week, daily is best to help prevent tartar buildup and the risk of disease.
Tips: start handling your Jack Russell Terrier’s paws, tail, ears, and mouth from a young age to avoid them developing any sensitivities over time. To help with the dental care, treat the toothbrush like it’s a game when they’re young and then add the toothpaste once they get used to it. Also make grooming a fun, rewarding experience for them so that it can be something for them to look forward to, rather than something to dread.
Jack Russell Terriers have a high tendency to bark. They like to be very vocal and are typically rather shameless about it. It is possible for you to teach them when it’s okay and not okay to bark, though just remember that it may take time, persistence and patience.
As mentioned, Jack Russell Terriers have a strong-willed, independent and often stubborn personality that can make training challenging. It takes consistency, patience, a firm hand and also some strategy. They need to know what you expect and that behaving otherwise is unacceptable.
Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent and capable of beginning their training from the moment you bring them home (typically around 8 weeks). They do best with short training sessions and positive reinforcement – they typically will respond negatively to harsh correction. Also, get your Jack Russell Terrier on a routine as they do much better with structure.
Because of their tendency to be aggressive towards other dogs and animals, it’s important to start socializing them when they’re young. They also need to be leash trained as they can rarely be trusted off leash when not at home. For example, when they see a squirrel or want to confront another dog, etc., they likely won’t hold back unless restrained. They also need to have a securely fenced in yard as they can develop the habit of escaping if the opportunity presents itself. They are high jumpers, avid diggers, and have even been known to climb trees or chain link fences to make their escape. A secure yard and supervision are the best courses of action for when they’re out in the yard.
If you find you’re having struggles training your Jack Russell Terrier, it’s suggested that you seek help and assistance from a dog training professional.
How To Feed My Jack Russell
Jack Russell Terriers do best with a consistent feeding schedule for their own comfort as well as to avoid them having issues with weight gain. If you’re ever concerned about your Jack Russell Terrier’s weight, you can consult a veterinary professional or follow this rule of thumb: you should be able to feel, but not see their ribs without pushing too hard and be able to see their waistline when looking down at them.
You want to be sure you are giving your pup raw, natural food. They are living beings with digestive systems that stem from their “wolf” heritage. Processed foods do more harm than good for them over time.
Raw food tastes better to them. Its ingredients are simple, it is good for their health and helps keep their coats nice and shiny, it keeps them satisfied and happy and ultimately it saves you money – a pretty good perk! For more information on how to provide your dog a good, safe, raw food diet, check out our page here.
For dog food in general, especially if you insist on sticking to bagged, kibble food, you want to be sure healthy meats are the highlight ingredient and that the food is not stuffed with additives or chemically created ingredients. You especially want to avoid grains and artificial flavorings. Just as you want to be careful with what foods you are putting in your body, so should you also be for your little furry companion.
In general, when your puppy is 8-12 weeks old, he likely will be needing to eat at least 3-4 times a day. You want to be sure you are feeding your puppy the amount he needs, but also not too much. Again, you should be able to feel, but not see their ribs and they should have a visible waist when you are looking down at them.
Feeding Your Adult
By 6 months you will want to start reducing the amount of food you feed your Jack Russell Terrier to fit an adult feeding plan (about 2 meals a day). Make it a routine, feeding your Jack Russell Terrier around the same times every day. You should be feeding your Jack Russell Terrier 1.25 – 1.75 cups of food a day, split between the two meals. It is recommended that you avoid giving them table scraps and “people food,” as this can cultivate begging habits and a tendency for weight gain or health problems. This is a rule that should be implemented from the very beginning and be understood by everyone in the family and members of your social circle who spend time around your Jack Russell Terrier.
The amount of food you feed a dog ultimately depends on their size, weight, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Be sure you know your Jack Russell Terrier and his individual needs, especially when it comes to feeding.
Health Concerns For Jack Russel Terriers
Every breed of dog is prone to its own health concerns and issues. Though generally healthy dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are no different. If you give them the proper attention and care, however, most health problems can be avoided. Some of the most common health concerns for Jack Russell Terriers include:
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease – This is a common condition in smaller breeds. It is a deformity of the ball and hip joint that can often be confused for hip dysplasia. It causes wearing and arthritis and can sometimes require surgical attention.
- Patellar Luxation – This is also a common problem in smaller breeds. It’s when knee joints on the dog slide in and out of place and cause pain. In severe cases, it can often need surgical attention as well.
- Glaucoma – This occurs when there is abnormally high pressure in the eye that ultimately causes pain. It can potentially cause damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and blindness.
- Lens Luxation – This is when the lens of the eye becomes displaced due to the degeneration of the ligament holding it in place. It typically needs to be treated through medication and/or surgery. Severe cases, unfortunately, can result in the removal of the eye.
If you ever have questions or concerns about your Jack Russell Terrier, be sure to consult a veterinary professional. If you take the proper care of your Jack Russell Terrier and make sure to get him frequent medical examinations though, many of these health issues can be prevented.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jack Russell Terriers
Q. Can Jack Russell Terriers be black?
A. Jack Russell Terriers can be white with black markings but are rarely entirely black.
Q. Can Jack Russell Terriers swim?
A. Yes, Jack Russell Terriers are capable of swimming. Whether or not they like it can vary depending on the individual dog. Some don’t enjoy swimming while others can’t get enough. They may also need some assistance in learning how to swim properly. If this is the case, it’s recommended that you seek out some professional guidance.
A. Due to the hunting instincts, they have been bred with, Jack Russell Terriers are not great with cats. They have been known to chase, harass, injure and even kill cats on some occasions.
Q. Will my Jack Russell ever calm down?
A. Jack Russell Terriers are naturally high energy dogs and require good amounts of exercise. If your Jack Russell Terrier seems overly hyper, he may need some additional exercise than what you’re already providing him.
Q. Why are Jack Russell tail’s docked?
A. Initially Jack Russell Terrier tails were docked so that they wouldn’t get caught, injured or cause issues during hunting. Now it’s more to maintain the fashionable look of the breed.
Q. Are Jack Russell Terriers good apartment dogs?
A. Due to their high energy and tendencies to bark, they are not suited for apartment living.
Q. When will my Jack Russell stop growing?
A. Jack Russell Terriers are typically considered full grown by 1 – 1 1/2 years old.
Though they may be a challenge, Jack Russell Terriers are truly adorable, fun-loving, spunky little dogs that just want to be a part of the right family. Make sure they know who’s boss, and you can have yourself a spirited, devoted, fearless, adventurous companion for many years to come.
Have any additional questions? Let us know, we would love to hear from you and help you out however we can.