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Jack Russell Terrier: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

The Jack Russell Terrier is a dog breed recognized by the FCI (Fédération Cynélogique Internationale) that originated in Australia and Great Britain. According to the FCI standard, Jack Russell belongs to group 3: terriers and to section 2: short-legged terriers.

Jack Russell Terrier Dog Breed

Size: 28-30cm
Weight: 08/05/2017 kg
FCI Group: 3: Terriers
Section: 2: Short Legged Terriers
Country of origin: Great Britain
Colors: black and white, white and light brown
Life expectancy: 13-16 years
Suitable as: Companion, family, sports (hunting) dog
Sports: agility, dog diving
Personality: Vocal, Stubborn, Intelligent, Athletic, Energetic, Fearless
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling potential: low
The thickness of hair: medium
Maintenance effort: medium
Coat texture: smooth, rough, bristly, and weatherproof
Child-friendly: rather yes
Family dog: yes
Social: yes

Origin and breed history

The breed was started by an English clergyman and hunter, John (Jack) Russell. He bred the dogs out of the fox terriers. His bitch Trump, which he acquired in 1819, later became the progenitor of the breed. The idea behind the breed was to breed small, compact dogs for hunting prey such as foxes or other smaller wild animals that reside in underground burrows. The dog should be able to track the animals and herd them outside or follow them into the burrow.

Around 1850 the red fox spread to Australia and fox terriers were imported from England to hunt the foxes. A little later the direct descendants of John Russell’s bitch were brought to Australia. They were favored as hunting dogs because of their smaller size and short legs, making it easier for them to follow wild animals into the burrow. The Jack Russell was now specifically bred and in 1972 the first official Jack Russell Terrier Club was formed in Australia.
Over time, two breeding lines emerged, which differ in the size of the respective dogs. So today there is the long-legged Parson Russell Terrier and the short-legged Jack Russell Terrier. Until 1999, the two breeds were combined under the name of the Jack Russell Terrier. From 2000, a standard was set for each breed individually.

Today, however, there are still numerous breed clubs not affiliated with the FCI that breed a high-legged type of Jack Russell Terrier and recognize and sell it under the same name. The Jack Russell is currently a widespread dog breed, especially in Europe. However, he is now mainly kept as a companion dog and not as a hunting dog.

What types of Jack Russell are there?

Two breed lines have evolved over the years: the short-legged Jack Russell Terrier and the long-legged Parson Russell Terrier. Basically, the only difference between them is their size.

Nature & Temperament of the Jack Russell Terrier

The breed was originally bred and used as a hunting dog. The Jack Russell Terrier used to be a pure workhorse. Today, however, he has found his place as a companion dog in countless families. The characteristic features of a hunting and working dog are nevertheless firmly anchored in the nature of the breed. The Jack Russell Terrier is a very active dog that is bursting with energy. He has a strong hunting instinct and can also be described as alert and intelligent. He doesn’t generally lack self-confidence, which is why he is also considered fearless.

The Jack Russell Terrier is very playful and fond of children. However, he has a low frustration tolerance. In the event of intolerance with other four-legged friends, he can therefore quickly become short-tempered and react with loud barking. If you decide to get a dog from a shelter, some test walks should be done. Here, the essential character traits of the dog and its reactions to environmental stimuli can be recognized quickly. Depending on past experiences, a shelter dog may respond to people, animals, or certain situations with unexpected behavior. The selection of the right dog should therefore be considered and approached with patience.

The appearance of the Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is one of the small dog breeds and can reach a height of 25 to 30 centimeters at the withers. Its weight is 5 to 6 kilograms depending on its height. Its body shape is compact and elongated. In length, this dog breed can reach about 30 to 40 centimeters. Jack Russell’s snout is also narrow and elongated. The ears are V-shaped and folded down.

Jack Russell Terriers come in different coat types. The fur can be short and smooth or slightly longer and rough-haired. The fur color is predominantly white and tainted with brown, tan, or black markings.

Training & keeping the Jack Russell Terrier – this is important to note

Since the Jack Russell Terrier is very self-confident and active, it needs consistent training with clear rules from puppyhood onwards. Positive reinforcement and praise are key when training this terrier. Don’t forget the treats. The breed is known for wanting to test its limits. Aggressive or too strict training of these dogs is therefore counterproductive because Jack Russells are stubborn. Before the puppy moves in, the family should clearly agree on what the dog can and cannot do. From the time he moves into his new home, the four-legged friend should then receive clear commands and instructions.

It is also important to know that the Jack Russell Terrier’s hunting instinct is still very strong. The dog should therefore master the basic commands before being let off the leash in the forest. It is best to train the dog to recall in advance on a fenced-in meadow. If you decide to adopt a dog from an animal shelter, it should be discussed with the animal shelter staff beforehand whether the dog can be let off the leash or not.

The Jack Russell is a small dog that can also be kept in the city apartment with the necessary workload. But it is important to give him the opportunity to work out every day in the forest or in other green spaces. A Jack Russell who doesn’t get the exercise and exercise he needs can quickly exhibit hyper-hyped behavior around the home. Dogs of this breed should also not be left alone for too long, because then they get bored quickly.

How Can I Raise a Jack Russell?

In any case, the Jack Russell Terrier should be trained consistently and with the help of positive reinforcement. The physical and mental workload of the dog also plays a major role in the training of these dogs. It should therefore be ensured that the dog does not feel bored.

Diet of the Jack Russell Terrier

Opinions differ on whether wet or dry food is better for the dog. A mix of both is probably the best alternative here. Feeding a Jack Russell is no more difficult or expensive than feeding any other breed. The diet should definitely contain meat. Vegetables and fruit can also be fed from time to time. As with other dog breeds, the amount of food should be adjusted to the activity level of the dog. Since the Jack Russell Terrier is a very lively dog, it should also be given a sufficient supply of energy.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

The life expectancy of Jack Russell is 13 to 16 years. Overall, the breed is rather robust against diseases. Nevertheless, care should always be taken when choosing a breeder. Parents should be fit and free of any hereditary diseases.

Ataxia and myelopathy are diseases that are more common in Jack Russell Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, and Fox Terriers than in other breeds. It is a degeneration of the central nervous system in the spinal cord. Ultimately, this also affects the legs of the dog. The disease usually occurs in affected dogs in the first few months of life and manifests itself with symptoms such as muscle tremors, among other things. Damage to the auditory nerve can occur, which can ultimately lead to deafness. The disease cannot be cured and can lead to dogs no longer being able to stand on their own. The breed is also more prone to eye problems, such as lens displacement or glaucoma.

How Old Do Jack Russell Terriers Get?

Jack Russell Terriers have a long life expectancy. They can be between 13 and 16 years old.

Grooming the Jack Russell Terrier

The short coat of the Jack Russell Terrier does not usually require much care. Nevertheless, the dog should be brushed at least once a week. He should also be trimmed from time to time as dead hair does not automatically fall out in this breed. Trimming should be done up to twice a year, especially with rough-haired fur. Dogs with straight hair generally shed more hair and therefore need trimming less often.

The dog’s eyes, teeth, and ears should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. It is best to get the dog used to this procedure from puppyhood so that grooming does not become a stress factor for the dog. Terriers are prone to tartar, which is why it makes sense to check your dog’s teeth from time to time. To support dental health, the dog should always have chews available. In this way, the tartar is removed naturally.

Jack Russell Terrier Activities and Training

Like any dog, the Jack Russell Terrier loves long walks in the woods or fields. However, this is often not enough to properly exercise the dog. Because Jack Russell is a real whirlwind. Jogging, jogging, or dog sports are good ways to keep the Jack Russell happy.

This small four-legged friend is also suitable for numerous dog sports. He is quick and agile. For this reason, he particularly enjoys agility and disc dogging (Dog Frisbee). But he is also enthusiastic about flyball or dog dance. In addition to these physical activities, tracking is also an ideal opportunity to engage the terrier cognitively. He is also happy to learn tricks or commands. On the other hand, boredom should be avoided at all costs with Jack Russell. Because in that case he can get stupid ideas and look for his own job.

Good to know: Peculiarities of the Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is no stranger to film and television. In 2012, the Jack Russell Terrier “Uggie” was considered the star of the Oscar-winning silent film “The Artist”. He walked numerous red carpets and even got to leave his pawprint in cement in Hollywood. He is dubbed as one of the most famous dogs in film history. Among other things, Uggie also had a role in the film “Water for the Elephants”. Here he stood in front of the camera alongside big stars like Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz. An autobiography was also published in Uggie’s name.

Also in the US series “Frasier”, which was broadcast in 1993, a Jack Russell as a serial dog. He starred in a total of 192 episodes and also published his autobiography through the screenwriter.

How Much Does a Jack Russell Terrier Cost?

A well-bred Jack Russell costs around $1000.

Disadvantages of the Jack Russell Terrier

There are many disadvantages of the Jack Russell Terrier not to mention. However, anyone interested in this breed should be aware that they are bringing a small hunting dog into their home. The character of dogs ranges from cheerfully alert to exhausting and short-tempered. Dog beginners could quickly be overwhelmed with this breed. In addition, the dog tends to bark. He should be disturbed from the beginning in case of undesirable behavior. Positive behavior, on the other hand, must be encouraged. So the challenge with this breed is to keep the dog busy enough so it doesn’t develop any undesirable behaviors.

Is the Jack Russell Terrier right for me?

Although small and sweet in appearance, the Jack Russell Terrier, like all terriers, is not a lap dog. The breed remains extremely lively and active into old age. The Jack Russell is a dog that needs a lot of work and exercise. Otherwise, it can quickly become exhausting. So he needs a lot of attention and wants to be exercised both physically and mentally. The Jack Russell is a great dog for sporty and active families. Although this is a small breed, the ideal home for this dog is a house with a yard. Buying a dog from an animal shelter or from a breeder should always be well thought out.

It is also important to note that the Jack Russell Terrier can live up to 16 years of age. This should also be taken into account in advance. The Jack Russell is, therefore, less suitable for older people due to its high urge to move and the high life expectancy.

In the past, the breed was used for hunting small animals. If you own rabbits or rats, you should be careful and test how the dog reacts to the animal roommates. In the worst case, the animals should be kept separate from each other.

Is a Jack Russell Terrier good as a family dog?

If the Jack Russell Terrier is kept busy and given enough physical and mental stress, then he definitely makes a great family dog.

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