The Jack Russell Terrier Dog Breed in Brief:
Height: 10 – 15″ (25.4 – 38.1cm)
Weight: 12 – 18 lbs (5.4 – 8 kg)
Exercise Needs: High
Grooming Needs: Minimal (Lots of dirt removal, though! 🙂
Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years
Good With Kids: Yes
Trainability: Easy to Medium Difficulty
Common Misspellings: Jack Russell Terrior, Jack Russell Terriors
Other Names for The Jack Russell Terrier: JRT, Dirt Dog
Jack Russell Terrier History
The Jack Russell Terrier is a fox hunting dog, developed in England in the 19th century. There were terriers of all descriptions hunting earth dwelling creatures for hundreds of years before the Reverend John (Jack) Russell developed his particular “strain” of hunting terriers. The Reverend lived in the mid-1800’s in Devonshire. He maintained his dogs with a certain body style and temperament best suited to do the job of fox hunting. Our present day Jack Russell Terriers came to be solely by the efforts of this fox hunting parson.
The conformation of the Jack Russell Terrier follows it’s original function. Early British fox hunters used a black and tan type terrier, rather than the Fell or Welsh Terrier, whose colouring was too similar to the quarry it was hunting, namely, the fox. Difficulty in telling the terrier from the creature it was bolting out of it’s den brought about the desire for a more white-bodied dog. In all probability the English Black and Tan Terrier was crossed with the Old English White Terrier (both now extinct) to achieve the type of coat and coloring we have today in our Jack Russell Terriers.
The Jack Russell Terrier of today is still able to perform the functions it was originally bred to do. It has longer legs which allow it to travel on foot, it has a light flexible body that allows it to squeeze into underground dens, and it has an engaging terrier temperament that allows it to be both a wonderful companion and an excellent hunter.
Jack Russell Terrier Appearance
Coat: There are two varieties. The Jack Russell Terrier can be either smooth-haired or rough-haired. They are usually white with tan, black, or lemon, or with markings in three colors. Markings restricted to the head and base of the tail are preferred.
Jack Russell Terrier Temperament
Character: This dog is brave (sometimes excessively so), boisterous, watchful, a self-starter, and very self-confident.
Temperament: This dog gets along well with children, other dogs, and any household pets. It is however, still a hunting dog, so it sometimes can’t resist the urge to chase the family cat. It may try to be dominant over other dogs, regardless of size. Visitors will always be announced with a distinctive bark
Jack Russell Terrier Exercise Needs
This breed has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. It must be given many opportunities to burn it off. It needs to run and play, and enjoys agility skills and playing catch. Digging is among its favorite activities. It is happiest on a farm or a home with a large backyard where it can frolic.
Jack Russell Terrier Grooming Requirements
Minimal. A regular brushing will keep the coat clean and free of dead hairs.
Jack Russell Terrier Health Concerns
As with many pedigreed breeds of dogs, there are a variety of hereditary conditions that may affect your pet, as well as other various health issues that are more common amongst the Jack Russell Terrier dogs. These are not limited to, but may include the following:
Is the Jack Russell Terrier the Right Breed For You?
Energetic and tenacious, intelligent and eager to “do stuff”, “chase stuff” and “dig, dig, dig”, the Jack Russell Terrier makes for a lively and fun canine companion. While the Jack Russell Terrier’s antics are charming and amusing, this is not the breed for everyone. If you are a high energy person who loves to get out and enjoy fresh air and sunshine, a Jack Russell Terrier is a good match for you.
However, if your butt is basically tied to a piano and you love to loaf on the couch eating chips, then you may want to consider another breed, say an English Bulldog. Jack Russell Terriers need lots of exercise and playtime every day and can suffer (and make you and your belongings suffer) if said activity is not offered regularly. Just because this breed is small, doesn’t mean that his needs are in keeping with his size. The Jack Russell Terrier was bred to “go to ground” after foxes and other small animals and that strong drive to chase and conquer prey has not diminished despite the breed’s change in job duties.
Jack Russells are not a good choice if you have cats or other small pets in your home – even small toy dog breeds can pique the Jack Russell’s “chase and kill” instinct. Jack Russells also do not do well in situations where they need to be left alone at home for long periods of time. If you work long hours and have nobody at home to care for and provide companionship to your Jack Russell Terrier puppy, then you should consider either a doggie daycare service or regular visits from a dog walker or pet sitter.
Jack Russell Terrier enthusiasts engage in a wide range of sports with their tiny terriers – all of which provide both dog and owner with fun, exercise, and a sense of community with other Jack Russell Terrier dog owners. You can find out more about Jack Russell Terrier dog sports and activities on the JRTCA web site.
Buying a Jack Russell Terrier Puppy
Now that you have decided that the Jack Russell Terrier is the right breed for you, it’s time to start the process of finding a responsible Jack Russell Terrier breeder from which to buy a healthy, well-socialized puppy. Not all breeders are alike; there are good breeders – and bad breeders. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the first Jack Russell Terrier puppy you find at the cheapest price available!
To buy a puppy from a responsible Jack Russell Terrier breeder, you may need to pay more and wait longer. The additional money and waiting time will be well worth it. Buy a puppy in haste from a newspaper ad, pet store or “backyard breeder”, and you’ll likely also purchase a great deal of additional expense and heartache, since you will likely end up falling in love with a puppy with health and behavioral problems that will likely need special care, plenty of veterinary visits, regular medication – or even euthanasia.
But do your homework and find a responsible, caring Jack Russell Terrier breeder who home-raises their puppies with love, screens their breeding dogs for health problems, offers a health guarantee and post sale support, and who genuinely loves the Jack Russell Terrier breed and is in it for the love of the breed, rather than profit, and you can be fairly well assured of getting a healthy, happy, long lived and affectionate family companion that will provide you and your family with many years of joy, laughter and companionship.
Further information about choosing a responsible dog breeder…