Breed GroupTerrier
Life Span10 to 15 years
Height10 to 15 inches (24-40cm)
Weight13 to 17 lbs (5-8kg)
OriginGreat Britain
Best ForVery active households, or working dogs.

Jack Russell Breed Guide

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Jack Russell Overview

Dog Breed:
Jack Russell
Breed Group:
Originally used for hunting. Energetic, clever, bold!
10 to 15 inches (24-40cm)
13 to 17 lbs (5-8kg)
Life Span:
10 to 15 years
Coat Colors:
Combinations of white with brown, black, or tan
Area of Origin:
Great Britain
Best For:
Very active households, or working dogs.

Jack Russell Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Jack Russell

  • Confident, adventurous, and energetic

  • Intelligent and highly trainable with a committed owner

  • Not a suitable choice for families with young children or people who work a lot

The Jack Russell Terrier is a lively and friendly little dog. Like a true terrier, Jack Russells love to dig, run, play, bark, and chase. Jack Russells are high-spirited dogs with boundless energy, and will be happiest with active owners who are willing to commit time and effort to proper training and enough exercise. Originally bred for hunting, the Jack Russell Terrier has a high drive for prey—this means he will instinctively chase and dig given the opportunity, so owners must be able to keep him secure and out of trouble.

While Jack Russells are feisty and independent, they are also very friendly and affectionate dogs. They were bred to work alongside humans for hunting and so they enjoy human companionship. They will crave the company of their family and will especially enjoy going on adventures with you. However, spirited and boisterous as they are, Jack Russells may not be suited to households with small children or other, smaller pets.

Jack Russell Breed History

  • Bred to hunt foxes in 19th century England

  • Resulted in an athletic, highly trainable dog

  • Favored by animal trainers in television and film for his intelligence and boldness

The Jack Russell Terrier was the result of Reverend John “Jack” Russell’s mission to develop the perfect hunting dog. The Reverend (or “Parson”) developed the quick, clever, and determined terrier to aid with fox hunting in England in the mid-1800s. His drive and agility enabled him to flush out foxes or other prey from their burrows, and his compact stature made him ideal for transporting around the countryside for hunts. His small chest and flexibility allowed him to maneuver into burrows underground and fit anywhere the fox could fit.

Reverend Russell also developed a breed with similar characteristics, the Parson Russell Terrier. The Parson Russell Terrier is recognized by the American Kennel Club, whereas the Jack Russell Terrier is not. This is because the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) did not want breeders to place more importance on image than working ability. The JRTCA has maintained the breed status of the Jack Russell Terrier based on its working dog status. However, because they’re not being bred to look a certain way, this means that the visual characteristics of Jack Russells can vary broadly.

While his agility and drive have made him a favourite of sportsmen, his entertaining behaviour has also made him a popular choice for film and TV work. Jack Russells are highly trainable, confident, and spirited – making them the perfect fit to star on the big screen. With many accolades, you may have seen the lovable breed in Frasier, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and Hotel for Dogs.

Jack Russell Size & Weight

  • Small breed dog

  • The size of Jack Russell Terriers varies because they were used for a range of terrains

  • Small but mighty – may not be suitable for homes with less space

Known to be friendly little dogs, don’t expect your Jack Russell Terrier to grow beyond 15 inches (40cm) tall and 17lbs (7.7kg). Jack Russell Terriers are considered to be a small breed of dog, as they typically weigh under 20lbs.

Jack Russell Personality & Temperament

  • The Jack Russell Terrier is feisty, adventurous, and entertaining

  • People-friendly, but may show aggression towards other dogs or animals resembling prey

  • Jack Russells are also a loving and faithful breed

Jack Russell Terriers are incredibly energetic, and have an intense desire for exploration and adventure. He will delight in long walks, games, and learning tricks with his family. Since they were bred for long days of tireless chasing and hunting, Jack Russells need a significant amount of exercise and stimulation to keep them happy. This means that if not given enough exercise or if left alone for too long without something to keep him occupied, he will find his own fun. He may become rowdy and destructive, or may use his wits to escape.

If you can dedicate enough time and patience to a Jack Russell Terrier, you will be rewarded with an affectionate and devoted dog. Jack Russells love human company and will be very loyal to their pet parent.

Although they are people-friendly, they might not be suitable for households with young children or other pets. The Jack Russell Terrier may be too boisterous with small children, and he won’t be able to resist chasing anything that looks like prey, including cats or rabbits. They should get along with most other dogs but should be watched carefully around other terriers.

Training and early socialization are essential for Jack Russell Terriers. He needs to be shown strict boundaries so he learns to rein in his mischief. Jack Russells should be socialized as early as possible. This means exposing them to many experiences while they grow such as children, other dogs and animals, and stimuli such as traffic or household noises. This helps them be familiar with many things so that when they are older they don’t get too excited, vocal, or aggressive.

Overall, Jack Russell Terriers will bring a lot of entertainment and fun into your life. They are full of energy, big-hearted, faithful, and adventurous.  However, a Jack Russell owner must be ready to provide enough exercise and activity for their dog to keep them happy, or else he may become destructive or prone to escape.


Jack Russell Health & Grooming

  • Two different coat types – rough or smooth

  • Expect a lot of shedding in the spring and fall

  • Jack Russells are generally healthy, but may be at risk of joint disease and eye disease

Jack Russell Terriers come in two coat types – rough and smooth. Smooth-haired Jack Russells will shed their hair heavily all year long, especially in the molting seasons (spring and fall). Rough-haired breeds also shed, but the fallen hairs are trapped in the wiry coat instead of dropping out. Rough-haired Jack Russells will seemingly shed less, but will require more brushing. Both coat types need brushing at least once a week. If you brush him regularly, you will not need to bathe him often.

As with every dog breed, there are certain health conditions that Jack Russell Terriers are more prone to. If you’re buying a puppy, look for a breeder with health clearances for the puppy’s parents. This should include DNA tests for neurological, eye, and other conditions that can occur in Jack Russells. The DNA tests should be carried out before breeding, to ensure that any puppies produced from the parents are not likely to develop any genetic conditions.

The most common conditions affecting Jack Russells are patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, primary lens luxation, glaucoma, late-onset ataxia, and spinocerebellar ataxia. Deafness is associated with the white coat color and can affect some Jack Russell Terriers from birth.

Jack Russell Training

  • Jack Russells are more suited to experienced and committed dog owners

  • He is a clever and bold dog that needs training early on to keep him out of mischief

  • Their instinctive drive to catch prey means they respond well to reward-based training

The Jack Russell Terrier is an amusing and tenacious breed of dog but can be a handful to manage. He is best suited to an owner who can fully commit to providing consistent training and exercise. These dogs were bred for hunting work, meaning they have an intense drive to catch prey. Combined with their boundless energy, Jack Russells need to be trained early on with strong boundaries to prevent their enthusiasm from getting them into trouble.

With their size, athleticism, and tendency for mischief, Jack Russells are good escape artists and may find themselves in danger when chasing prey if let loose. There is a significant risk for Jack Russell Terriers to be involved in road traffic accidents if they manage to escape. Thorough training and secure fencing are essential to keep them safe from their own instincts.

His intelligence and drive will make him quick to learn tricks and commands, but the famously stubborn breed will require consistent training and rewards to keep him well trained and obedient. Jack Russells can be feisty, so it is best to start training early so he knows he’s not in charge of your household.

While it may take some extra time and patience to train a Jack Russell Terrier, the results can be impressive. Jack Russells have excelled in many performance sports and competitive events such as flyball and agility.

Jack Russell Exercise Requirements

  • Jack Russells are more suited to experienced and committed dog owners

  • He is a clever and bold dog that needs training early on to keep him out of mischief

  • Their instinctive drive to catch prey means they respond well to reward-based training

Jack Russell Terriers are known for never running out of energy. He is best suited to a pet parent who enjoys being active and the outdoors just as much as he does. Jack Russell’s have a high exercise requirement. As well as daily walks, he will relish playing games with his family: throw a ball for him to chase to satisfy his prey drive, or engage his mind by teaching him new tricks.

Providing enough exercise for a Jack Russell Terrier is essential for their physical and mental condition. He needs at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Without sufficient exercise, the spirited Jack Russell will find other outlets for his energy. He will run, dig, jump, climb, or even become destructive and rowdy to keep himself busy.

To prevent him from escaping, ensure any outdoor enclosure is secure and keep a careful eye on him. His instinctive prey drive makes him likely to chase wildlife given the opportunity.  Always keep your Jack Russell on the leash while walking to protect him and other animals.

Jack Russell Diet & Feeding

  • Their diet will depend on his age and activity level

  • Feed twice a day with good quality food

  • Don’t forget to take treats into account for training

The diet your Jack Russell needs will vary depending on his age, body condition, and level of activity. It is always a good idea to ask your veterinarian to discuss your dog’s dietary needs and recommend a high-quality diet that provides all the nutrients that he needs.

In general, 1.25-1.75 cups of food are recommended as the daily amount, depending on the food. Divide this into two meals per day rather than leaving food out at all times. Jack Russell Terriers are very reward-driven, meaning that treats can be used to help train them.

Be careful not to exceed his daily food needs when using treats for training. Instead, set aside a portion of his total daily food to be used for training exercises.

Jack Russell Rescue Groups

Jack Russell Terriers are a much-loved and popular dog breed. However, his exercise and training requirements are sometimes underestimated by owners. Many Jack Russells are rehomed as a result.

The details of dog shelters with Jack Russells needing a new home can be found here:

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