Jack Russell Terrier: Breed Information

The Jack Russell Terrier is a small and spirited breed, originating from England in the mid-19th century. Named after the Reverend John Russell, the breed was initially developed for fox hunting due to their compact size, intelligence, and agile nature. These energetic dogs typically weigh between 13 and 17 pounds and stand about 10 to 15 inches tall. Their coats can be smooth or broken (a mixture of smooth and rough hair), and they are predominantly white with patches of black, tan, or brown.

These dogs are highly energetic and require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent behavioral problems. They are intelligent, fearless, and assertive, which can sometimes translate into stubbornness. Hence, they require consistent, positive reinforcement training methods from an early age. Jack Russells are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families but can be wary of strangers. Their strong hunting instincts make them less suitable for homes with small pets like rodents or birds. Despite their small size, they are hearty and generally have a long lifespan of 13 to 16 years.

History Of Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier originated in England in the early 19th century. The breed was named after the Reverend John “Jack” Russell, who was an enthusiastic fox hunter and sought to develop a terrier that could keep up with hounds yet be small enough to flush out foxes from their burrows. The breed’s small size, agility, and tenacity made it perfect for this role.

John Russell’s first terrier, named Trump, is considered the foundation of the Jack Russell breed. Russell was not interested in standardizing the breed’s appearance as much as its ability to hunt. Hence, there’s considerable variability in the physical traits of the breed even today. Post Reverend Russell’s death, the breed was maintained by hunting enthusiasts, primarily in England.

It’s worth noting that in the late 20th century, there was a split among enthusiasts over the breed’s size and purpose, leading to the recognition of the Parson Russell Terrier (slightly taller) by the Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club. Meanwhile, the smaller, original “working” Jack Russell Terrier has been maintained by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America and Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association, among other organizations, to preserve its hunting abilities and broader standard.

Jack Russell Terrier.

Personality And Temperament

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their bold and energetic personality. They are smart, fearless, and eager to explore their environment. As a breed originally developed for fox hunting, they are endowed with strong instincts, agility, and a high degree of alertness.

Despite their small size, Jack Russells have a big dog attitude. They are independent and can sometimes display assertiveness or stubbornness, which can be a challenge for first-time dog owners. These terriers require consistent, firm, yet kind training from a young age to establish boundaries and acceptable behavior.

On the positive side, they are incredibly loyal and often form a strong bond with their families. They are also generally friendly and playful, which can make them excellent companions for older children. However, due to their high energy levels and natural hunting instincts, they may not get along well with smaller pets.

In summary, the Jack Russell Terrier is a spirited and lively breed, requiring a good deal of physical exercise and mental stimulation. With the right training and environment, they can be a fun and affectionate addition to a suitable home.

Size And Weight

Jack Russell Terriers are small dogs, but they pack a lot of energy into their compact frames. Males and females are similar in size, usually standing between 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. This height range is representative of the “working” Jack Russell Terriers, who were bred for their hunting skills, especially their ability to chase small prey into burrows.

As for weight, Jack Russell Terriers typically range between 13 to 17 pounds, though some can be slightly lighter or heavier. Despite their small size, they are sturdy and muscular, known for their agility and speed. Keep in mind that, like all dogs, individual Jack Russells may vary, and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for their overall health and wellbeing.


While Jack Russell Terriers are generally a healthy breed with a long lifespan, like all breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health conditions. Below is a list of some health issues that can potentially affect this breed:

  • Patellar Luxation: This condition is when the kneecap dislocates or moves out of its normal location, which is a common issue in small dogs. It can lead to lameness or an abnormal gait.
  • Deafness: Jack Russell Terriers may be predisposed to congenital deafness. Testing is available to identify this condition in puppies.
  • Eye Conditions: Various eye issues can affect the breed, including glaucoma, cataracts, and lens luxation (when the lens dislocates from its normal location).
  • Ataxia: This is a degenerative disease affecting the nervous system and can lead to loss of coordination and muscle strength.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This condition affects the hip joint and can cause lameness and joint problems.
  • Skin Allergies: Jack Russells are known to suffer from various skin allergies, which can cause discomfort and itching.
  • Dental Disease: Like many small breeds, Jack Russell Terriers can be prone to dental issues due to the size and positioning of their teeth.

Regular vet check-ups and preventative care can catch many of these issues early or help manage them effectively. It’s also important to obtain a puppy from a reputable breeder who tests their breeding dogs for inherited diseases. Always remember that a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good dental and coat care are essential for the overall health of any dog breed, including Jack Russell Terriers.


Caring for a Jack Russell Terrier requires commitment and understanding of their specific needs. They are energetic and lively dogs that require ample exercise to stay healthy and content. This means they need daily walks, active playtime, and ideally, access to a safe outdoor area where they can run freely.

These terriers are intelligent and quick learners but can be somewhat independent and stubborn. Therefore, they benefit from consistent training using positive reinforcement techniques. Early socialization is also important to ensure they interact well with other animals and people.

In terms of grooming, Jack Russells have a short, dense coat, which can be either smooth or broken. They shed moderately, so regular brushing will help manage this and keep their coat in good condition. As part of their grooming routine, their teeth should be brushed regularly, their ears checked for signs of infection, and their nails trimmed.

Their diet should be balanced and suited to their size, age, and activity level. Since they can have a tendency to put on weight, portion sizes should be monitored and adjustments made based on their activity levels. Regular vet check-ups are crucial to ensure they’re maintaining a healthy weight and to spot any potential health issues early.

Although Jack Russells can adapt to different living environments, they’re typically happiest when they have access to a secure outdoor space due to their high energy levels and natural instincts to chase and dig. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for this breed, given their intelligence. This can be provided through training sessions, puzzle toys, and interactive games.

At their core, Jack Russells are sociable, family-oriented dogs. They form strong bonds with their human family members and enjoy being involved in daily activities. While they can be independent, they don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods. The commitment to owning a Jack Russell Terrier means providing not only for their physical needs but also for their emotional well-being.

Jack Russell Terrier.

Jack Russell Terrier And Children

Jack Russell Terriers can make excellent family pets and generally get along well with children, especially when they are raised together. However, there are some important factors to consider.

Firstly, these dogs are high-energy and spirited, which can match well with equally active and playful older children. They can enjoy participating in games and family activities, and their loyalty and protective nature can create strong bonds with family members.

However, due to their feisty nature and small size, Jack Russell Terriers might not be the best fit for very young children. Toddlers and young children may unintentionally provoke a terrier with rough play or by disturbing the dog while it’s eating or sleeping. As a result, interactions between Jack Russells and young kids should always be supervised to ensure the safety of both parties. It’s also important to teach children how to approach and touch dogs appropriately, and to always respect their space.

Socialization from a young age can help Jack Russells to be more comfortable and gentle with children, and vice versa. Regular training and the establishment of boundaries can also ensure that the dog learns to behave appropriately around the younger members of the family.

Remember, every dog is an individual and their tolerance and behavior around children can depend on their personality, training, socialization, and past experiences. It’s always recommended to spend time with a dog before bringing it into a home with children.


Feeding a Jack Russell Terrier properly is essential for maintaining their health and vitality. These energetic dogs require a balanced diet to fuel their active lifestyle, but care must be taken to avoid overfeeding, which could lead to obesity.

Jack Russells should be fed high-quality commercial dog food that is appropriate for their life stage—puppy, adult, or senior. The food should be specifically formulated for small breeds, as they have different nutritional needs compared to larger dogs. A diet rich in protein is beneficial for muscle development and maintenance, while carbohydrates provide the energy they need for their active lives. The diet should also include appropriate levels of fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Portion size and feeding frequency are important considerations. Typically, an adult Jack Russell Terrier might eat up to a cup of food each day, divided into two meals. This can vary based on the dog’s age, size, metabolism, and activity level. Puppies usually require more frequent feedings.

Avoid giving your Jack Russell too many treats, and be cautious about offering human food, as many common foods can be harmful to dogs. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water.

It’s also important to monitor your Jack Russell’s weight and body condition regularly. If you notice any sudden changes or if your dog appears to be underweight or overweight, it’s a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any potential health issues and to ensure that you’re feeding the right amount.

Keep in mind that every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s always best to consult with a vet for the most accurate feeding guidelines for your specific pet.


In conclusion, the Jack Russell Terrier is a lively, intelligent, and loyal breed that can make a wonderful addition to the right home. They pack a lot of personality into a small package and are known for their boundless energy and spirited character. While they can present challenges due to their high activity level and independent streak, with the correct care, training, and socialization, they can be rewarding companions. They thrive in an environment where they are given plenty of opportunities to exercise both their bodies and minds.

Potential owners must consider the responsibilities of owning a Jack Russell Terrier and ensure that they can meet the breed’s specific needs. This includes providing ample exercise, consistent training, proper nutrition, regular vet care, and lots of love and attention. Remember, owning a dog is a long-term commitment that should never be taken lightly. If you can provide for their needs, Jack Russell Terriers can offer years of companionship and add a whole lot of fun and joy to your home.

About The Author

Marc Magny is a seasoned dog owner and breeder, lending his expertise to captivating and informative articles. His deep understanding of dogs and their behavior, health, and breeding practices enriches his writing, offering invaluable insights to readers.

With his practical experience and passion for dogs, Marc’s articles serve as a comprehensive guide for dog lovers. His work resonates with the joy of dog ownership, positioning him as a trusted voice and resource in the pet parenting journey.