How much do you know about the Jack Russell Terrier? The Jack Russell Terrier has a whole lot of personality in a small dog. They are feisty, strong-willed working dogs originally bred in England to hunt. If you’re interested in adding a Jack Russell Terrier to your home, here are a few things you need to know.

white and brown short coated dog on brown field during daytime

Where Does The Jack Russell Terrier Come From?

The Reverend John Russell first bred the ancestors of the Jack Russell we know today in 1795. A hunting enthusiast, the reverend sought to turn the now-extinct English White Terrier into the perfect hunting dog. By the 1850s, John Russell’s dogs were recognized as a distinct breed. Though Englishmen hunted many animals, foxes were the ideal quarry. Hunters wanted a dog that had the aggression and drive to pursue game. They also had to be small enough to pursue foxes and other animals down into their burrows.

The fox-hunting dogs were ideally white so hunters could easily distinguish the dogs from the animals they hunted. John Russell’s dogs led to two different dog breeds: the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier, though today they are essentially one breed.  

What Does a Jack Russell Terrier Look Like?

Jack Russell Terriers have looked more or less the same for the last 200 years. Jack Russells are compact, sturdy dogs with bodies that are slightly longer than they are tall. This breed is predominately white with black, brown, or tan markings. Their double coats can be smooth, rough, or a combination of both, which is known as a “broken” coat. They have small, dark, almond-shaped eyes and alert, forward-facing ears.

The Jack Russell Terrier is a small dog that packs a lot of punch. They weigh between 13 and 17 pounds and stand 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. Their size isn’t nearly as important as is their ability to fit into fox holes during a pursuit.

short-coated white and brown dog standing near green grass

What Is A Jack Russell Terrier’s Personality Like?

Like most terriers, Jack Russells are strong-willed, confident, independent, and energetic. This breed is loving and devoted to their people but will pursue anything that catches their eye. These dogs are smart but incredibly willful. They are brave to a fault, willing to take on animals much bigger than their small stature, and aggressive towards any animal that resembles prey, including cats. This is a rambunctious breed with plenty of energy, endurance, and affection. Jack Russells love to play, but their high energy and rambunctious nature can be too much for small children. 

Husky, Jack Russell Terrier, Dogs

How Hard Is It To Train a Jack Russell Terrier?

Socializing and training a new puppy are essential tasks for any dog owner, and the Jack Russell Terrier is no exception. As we’ve discussed previously, this breed is willful, intelligent, and independent. They exhibit the epitome of a terrier’s stubborn streak. As long as you bring plenty of patience and consistency to your training, training your pup can be an enjoyable pastime for you both.

During training, try to avoid methods like shouting or punishment, as these harsher techniques will cause your terrier to shut down. Instead, use positive reinforcement and keep your training sessions short and fun. A great-tasting training treat doesn’t hurt either, especially if your dog is food-motivated. If you begin to feel frustrated, end your training session as quickly as possible, preferably on a positive note. 

How Much Exercise Does A Jack Russell Terrier Need?

Despite their small size, Jack Russell Terriers require plenty of regular exercise to dispel some of their energy and maintain a healthy, happy weight. In fact, these small terriers require more exercise than many dogs double their size. This breed is a working and hunting dog, requiring at least 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. Many Jack Russell owners come to find that their dogs make excellent jogging companions. 

They also have a high prey drive due to their breeding, so make sure to keep your Jack Russell leashed whenever you are out and about. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are prone to boredom, leading to destructive behavior; we all eventually learn that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

In addition to adequate exercise, it’s essential to follow serving-size recommendations from pet food manufacturers or your veterinarian, no matter how much they flash you those hungry puppy dog eyes!

Jack Russell, Terrier, To Play, Meadow

Do Jack Russell Terriers Have Health Problems?

As with most purebreds, Jack Russell Terriers can suffer from a couple of inherited health issues.

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: a disease that generally affects small breeds, it is often mistaken for hip dysplasia. This condition is caused by a deformity of the ball in the hip joint that leads to arthritis. It can be repaired with surgery.
  • Glaucoma: Jack Russells can be susceptible to glaucoma. Glaucoma is a painful disease where pressure builds up in the eye and can cause damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma presents as red, teary eyes that are tender to the touch. The pupil won’t react to light and the eye will exhibit a whitish-blue cloudiness.

A Jack Russell’s life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years.

white and brown short coated dog on green grass during daytime

How Do You Groom a Jack Russel Terrier?

If you choose to bring home a Jack Russell Terrier, you’ll be happy to hear that their grooming needs are low maintenance and their short coats shed infrequently. For best results, give your terrier a weekly thorough brushing to remove dead and loose hair. If your dog has a broken coat, they will need to be stripped twice a year. Jack Russells don’t need baths often, but if you need to freshen them up, you can bathe them with a gentle, allergen-friendly dog shampoo.

The Jack Russell Terrier: A High-Energy Pet For A High-Energy Home

Jack Russell Terriers aren’t for everyone. They are friendly and loyal, but their high prey drive and extensive exercise needs won’t suit just any household. These dogs need a job, whether that job is hunting or participating in some other kind of canine competition. With the right owners, a Jack Russell Terrier can make an excellent canine companion. Before bringing one home, be honest about whether your household is the right fit for a Jack Russell Terrier.

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