Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier
Written by The Best of Breeds

Jack Russell Terriers are one of the most well known breeds of dogs and known for their endless energy and great personalities.

Originally bred to be hunting dogs Jack Russell Terriers are happy chasing around after anything that moves.

Due to their endless energy and escape artist tendencies Jack Russell Terriers may not be suitable for first time owners or owners who are not in a position to be able to run after their dog.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier Key Information

Height: 10″ to 15″ at shoulder
Weight: 13 to 17 pounds
Life span: 10 to 15 years
Breed family: Terrier Dogs

Exercise requirements: Medium
Good with children: Yes
Area of origin: England
Also Known As: Parson Russell Terrier


During the 1800’s a member of the clergy in England called Parson John “Jack” Russell decided that he wanted a hunting dog to suit his needs so began to breed what is now known the Jack Russell Terrier.

Parson John Russell wanted a new breed of dog that he could take along on hunts with him. They should be able to keep up with the horses but also they should be able to go into the foxes den and flush them out, allowing the hounds to chase after them.

Parson John Russell devoted his life to both the church and perfecting the breeding of Jack Russell Terriers for fox hunting.


Jack Russell Terriers are strong-willed dogs and respond best when they are given consistent rules and routines. Jack Russell Terriers get bored very easily. If you don’t play with them they will find their own entertainment, which you may not like.

Jack Russell Terriers are the sorts of dogs that like to run around through the house, chase other animals and can generally be a bit mischievous.

Overall Jack Russell Terriers are very devoted dogs, that are never shy and will always come across as happy with their jumping around and playfulness.

Interaction with Children

While Jack Russell Terriers are great fun and full of life, they can be a little overwhelming for young children as they always want to run around and play. They also don’t take well to being man-handled by children and can snap, which won’t be a pleasant experience for the child. As children get a little older they can keep up more with the energy of the dog.

As Jack Russell Terriers like to jump up on people, which can be very intimidating for children who aren’t familiar with the dog and its behaviors.

Interaction with other pets

While Jack Russell Terriers are friendly towards humans they can be aggressive towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex, and will actively chase anything that they consider could be prey. It would therefore not be a good idea to introduce a new pet like a cat to a home with a Jack Russell Terrier already living there. It might be possible to introduce a very young Jack Russell Terrier to a home with a cat in it already, just make sure to get the Jack Russell Terrier used to the cat as soon as possible.

To try and avoid them being aggressive towards other dogs it is worth getting them used to being around other dogs at a young age.


It is recommended to feed your Jack Russell Terrier two times a day. Jack Russell Terriers respond best to defined meal times as part of their routine compared with some other dogs where it is find to leave food out for them all the time. In total they will eat between 1.25 and 1.75 cups of good-quality dog food every day.

The actual amount they eat will obviously vary between dogs. The amount they run around (and Jack Russell Terriers love to do that), how old they are and what their metabolism rate is will make a difference.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on the best feeding schedule for your Jack Russell Terrier that you might be interested in.

Food Allergies

As a breed, there are no specific foods that Jack Russell Terriers are allergic too beyond the usual foods and substances your dog shouldn’t eat. Jack Russell Terriers are prone to having allergies so it is worth keeping an eye on them for any signed that they may be allergic to something.


Jack Russell Terriers are lovely dogs that if you look after them will be a great joy in your life.


Jack Russell Terriers can get away with only needing a weekly brushing, though it can help with the bonding to you if you do it more frequently than that.

Jack Russell Terriers nails tend to need trimming between once and twice a month. This will help to keep their feet healthy but as they also like to jump up on people this can help prevent them scratching you. As a general rule if you can hear your dogs nails on the floor then they will likely need a trim. It is worth ensuring you get your Jack Russell Terrier use to you holding their feet and trimming the nails early on as they can be a bit touchy about it otherwise.

As far as how frequently to brush their teeth, it is recommended to brush them, at least, two or three times a week. This will help keep their mouths healthy and prevent decay or disease. If you’re able to brush them daily then this is preferable.


Jack Russell Terriers need at least 30-45 minutes of decent exercise every day but don’t expect that to mean they’ll lay down and rest for the rest of the time, they’ll still be jumping and running around for the rest of the day. Ideally they should have access to a yard where they can have a fair amount of play, off the leash.

Jack Russell Terriers heritage of being a hunting dog means they are a great choice if you want a dog to go on runs with you.

Due to Jack Russell Terriers prey drive they will take off after any small, and sometimes not so small, animal they perceive to be prey. It is therefore advisable to keep your Jack Russell Terrier on a leash whenever you’re not in a completely fenced area. If you want to let your Jack Russell Terrier off the leash then you need to be really sure that they will return when you call them, they are known for their selective hearing when they’ve found something of interest.


Jack Russell Terriers take time and patience to train and can be a great choice if you want a dog that you can teach to do tricks. It is worth ensuring that training sessions are kept short though, as Jack Russell Terriers tend not to have a great attention span and are likely to get bored quickly.

As they can be aggressive  towards other dogs it is worth socializing your dog with others early in their life to help ensure they don’t show aggression towards other dogs.

Recall training is an area that is worth focusing on with Jack Russell Terriers. Their love of running after anything they might consider to be prey means you’re likely to find you’re having to call them back frequently.


One of the traits that made Jack Russell Terriers a great hunting dog is that they would very happily dig after prey that had gone down a hole. While this is a great trait for chasing rabbits and other animals, this does mean that your garden might develop some holes when you bring one of these home. One approach for dealing with this is to teach your Jack Russell Terrier to dig in only one area of the garden. This allows you to minimize the damage to the overall garden and gives you one area to focus on cleaning up. This approach is far easier than trying to teach them to stop digging which is in their nature.

Jack Russell Terriers are one of nature’s escape artists. They will try to find any opportunity to escape and go exploring. This means that if you’re letting one out in your yard you should ensure that it is securely fenced the entire way round.

Some Jack Russell Terriers have been known to use trees, chain link fences and anything else near the fence to climb/jump off to escape the yard. Jack Russell Terriers have been known to jump more than 5 feet in the air, while extremely impressive this does mean you have to be careful.


Jack Russell Terriers are known for enjoying a good old bark throughout the day. This means they are not particularly well suited for living in apartments. They also like to run and jump around a lot. This is best done in a yard where they are less likely to break anything valuable.

Dog Houses / Kennels

Jack Russell Terriers love being around their family, which means they’re not suited for living outside, away from the family. Another good reason to avoid having your Jack Russell Terrier outside overnight is they love trying to escape, the last thing you want is to wake up to find that they’ve escaped overnight and you have no idea where they might be.

Leaving them alone

As mentioned before, Jack Russell Terriers are social animals and like to be around their family. Ideally you should try to ensure you don’t leave them alone for too long. You can also try leaving the TV or radio on to help prevent your dog from becoming anxious about being separated from you.

Another good reason for minimizing how long you leave them at home alone for is their boundless energy. You don’t want to leave them running around the house for too long. 


Jack Russell Terriers are a generally healthy breed of dog but are more prone to certain conditions. Obviously, not all Jack Russell Terriers will face the below conditions but they are worth you being aware of.

Deafness – While Jack Russell Terriers can sometimes experience selective hearing, especially when they’re chasing prey the breed does have a higher proportion of dogs that will experience deafness.

Glaucoma – Similar to the human condition, glaucoma is where there is abnormally high pressure in the eye, which causes damage to the optic nerve. This damage to the optic nerve can result in your dog going blind.

Lens Luxation – This condition is where the ligaments holding the lens of the eye in place deteriorates. In extreme cases it may require the eye to be surgically removed but if identified early enough it can be treated through medicine or surgery.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease – This disease is where there is a deformity in the hip joint and the ball of the socket causes unusually high amounts of wearing to the joint and can result in arthritis. It is a condition that is unfortunately pretty common in small breeds of dogs. Surgery is required to resolve this and will likely mean your dog will take some time to be able to walk easily again.

Patellar Luxation – Another condition that is common for small dogs, Patella Luxation is a condition that can result in Jack Russell Terriers having an unusual gait, this can look like they’re skipping. This is caused by the bones in their leg not lining up properly. This is a condition that they are born with but may not be noticeable until later in life. This can result in arthritis in the leg. 

Older age

One of the main afflictions that older Jack Russell Terriers have is poor eyesight. This is why you will regularly find when visiting someone with an elderly Jack Russell Terrier one of the first things they will say is to be careful around them as they can’t see very well. 

As Jack Russell Terriers are prone to deafness this can also get more pronounced as they get older. Thankfully as they get older they slow down so are less likely to be running off and needing to be called back but their hearing can start to go before when it will be hard to keep up with them.

As they get older they can also find it harder to jump up. Thankfully as Jack Russell Terriers are smaller dogs it can be picked up if you want to bring them into bed with them but it will mean they won’t be able to jump onto seats to join you like they could do when they were younger.


Jack Russell Terriers are prone to allergies, both to foods and other potential irritants. Usually the allergies will show as rashes, spots on the skin or hair loss.

If your dog starts to show symptoms of allergies it would be worth taking your dog to your vet to get them properly tested.

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