Jack Russel Terrier
- AKC recognized in 2000
- Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
- Size: small
- Energy: high
- Recommended Crate Size: 24” dog crate*
Return to main Dog Crate Size Breed Chart.
Table of Contents
This dog is small, spunky, and can jump like nobody’s business. Originally bred for hunting fox, the Jack Russell is quite the energetic character.
Compact and muscular, his agility and speed with amaze you. He’s very athletic and friendly. When his energy is exhausted, he might just crawl up in your lap for a nice, long nap.
Oh, he’s a handful alright. He’s a digger, explorer, hunter, and sometimes...a barker. He’s got a mind of his own so he’s not recommended for novice dog owners. But for the right pet parent, this dog will jump right into your heart.
The Jack Russell Terrier (JRT), also known as the “Sporting Russell”, is a small, strong, and smart dog breed with a compact and muscular body. They were originally developed in southern England during the 1800s for the purpose of hunting fox and other similar creatures.
This breed is a real go-getter. They require a lot of exercise and have tons of bounding energy which was quite useful when hunting and chasing down fast fox.
The name of the breed was taken after the avid hunting enthusiast, Reverend John Russell, who is credited with developing them in the early 19th century. Although there have been several changes that have taken place over time, the Jack Russell has Fox Terrier roots and actually goes back to the now extinct English White Terrier.
The goal John had in mind for the breed standard was to begat a dog with tempered aggression, able to get fox but capable of working with his owner and handler as well. The dog needed to be predominantly white too so it could be differentiated between the creature it was giving chase to.
John purchased a white dog with tan patches on her eyes and ears and on the root of her tail from a milkman in 1819, during his final year at Exeter College in Oxford.
He named the dog Trump and was so impressed with her personality and skills, he used her as a basis for his special breeding program that would entail bringing out the best of the best in Terrier traits that were ideal for fox hunting like determination and the tenacity and drive to pursue the chase, no matter what.
He dreamed of a dog that could bolt so quickly, the foxes would be pushed out of their burrows and one that was full of courage as well. His dream was realized by the time he passed away in 1883. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to live to see that in the 1850s, the dogs were recognized as a breed all their own.
Both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Fox Terrier are descendants from John’s dog, Trump. No documented pedigrees have been found that were around before 1962 but there is no doubt of the connection.
In 1875, the Fox Terrier Club was founded. As the breed progressed to its modern alternations and characteristics, the old style of Mr. Russell’s Terriers remained unchanged and became recognized as the modern Jack Russell we know today.
The Jack has many breeds within his roots, it is believed, such as Rat Terrier, Brazilian Terrier, Japanese Terrier, Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz, and Miniature Fox Terrier.
This breed became known in the U.S. in 1930 and has become the favorite of many sportsmen ever since. Club recognition was complicated initially because many felt that showing the Russell would take him further from his heritage as a hunting dog.
So it wasn’t until 2001 that the Jack Russell Terrier was formally recognized into the American Kennel Club. Due to the breed being opposed by some of its parent societies, the Parson Russell Terrier (named after Parson John Russell) came into a spot all his own too which is now separate from the Jack Russell.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a hunter among hunters. He has extremely strong hunting skills and will bound after small animals in a heartbeat. He can’t be trusted off-leash when there are little creatures around or he is likely to go hunting. One thing that should be noted is that throughout the Jack’s history, he was never to kill the critter he was hunting. Today, there are no promises, however.
Jack Russells are athletic sportsmen but they are lovers of people too. And it is clear that people love them back. They are the 11th most popular pooch in the United Kingdom and he’s quite a star in the rest of the world too, especially with avid horse fans who love his spirit, willingness to work, and his ability to keep up with running horses.
Commonly referred to as the “RCA Victor Dog”, Nipper was a Jack Russell Terrier (or close to it). He was the inspiration for a painting called “Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph” (“His Master’s Voice”). The painting was behind the creation of the “RCA Victor Dog” commercials and many other ads too.
The modern day Wishbone kid’s show features a Jack Russell. Gene Hackman’s 1995 movie “Crimson Tide” had a smooth-coated Jack and there was one in the movie Scholastic who played a doggie detective. Uggie, a Jack Russell Terrier, was elected to have the honor of being Nintendo’s spokesdog, the first ever of its kind. The cartoon strip Mutts placed a Jack Russell named Earl in the starring role.
The Jumping Jack can easily fly up to five feet in the air with a single bound. That’s pretty amazing for a dog who stand about 12 inches tall.
The adrenaline junky pup that was designed to master the art of hunting foxes has achieved all the he was designed to do...and then some.
Jack Russells are a small guy with a compact body and athletic build. He stands about 10 to 15 inches high on average but there are actually two sizes of Jack Russell groups when it comes to showing. One is 10 to 12 ½ inches while the other is 12 ½ to 15 inches. Can you believe such a short stack is capable of jumping up to five full feet into the air?
Thirteen to seventeen pounds is the norm for both groups with females running a bit on the smaller side. They don’t weigh much but it’s all muscle.
His chest is small, a characteristic that was intentionally bred in so he could fit into foxholes and rodent burrows and his forelegs are straight, long, and muscular. The shoulders of the Jack are clean and strong.
Each and every part of his body is flexible which allowed him to get into compromising, impossible-seeming, positions to perform his job as a fox, rats, raccoon, and even woodchuck hunter. If it was a moving critter, this guy could catch it.
His tail sits high (but not too high) and is carried with pride.
The JRT skull is flat-like between his ears and tapers a little. There’s a well-defined stop but it’s not abrupt at all. His eyes are dark and almond shaped, very expressive and kind (unless you’re a fox). His teeth meet in scissor bite form.
The Jack has two varieties of coats. One is smooth and one is broken. The broken coat is a tad longer than the smooth but both are coarse to the touch with the broken one being coarser.
Jack Russell Terriers have a weatherproof double coat, in either variety and is given to shed just a bit. His coat color is white with black, solid white, white with tan, or can be tri-color.
The Jack Russell resembles a Fox Terrier in a number of ways but, he’s a breed of his own who has his own uniqueness about him. Everything about the Jack, including his physical attributes and appearance, are all about his fox hunting background.
Jack Russells are in a league all their own and should be fed accordingly. It is recommended that pet parents provide feed formulated to small-sized breeds with a high energy level and the protein to fuel it.
It’s advised that you speak to your veterinarian or breeder for input and advice on the quantity and frequency of feeding. Be sure that the food you choose is high-quality in order to help ensure your new best friend has the best chance at a happy, healthy, long life.
You may need to feed your puppy small meals throughout the day initially and then cut down the number of feedings as he grows and can hold more food in his tummy.
Jacks love to eat. Be sure to limit his treats and in between meal snacks so he fills up on the food that is the healthiest for him. He does burn a lot of calories but keep a watchful eye on his caloric intake versus his exercise. Sometimes he’s not given the chance to go out and burn the calories he’s capable of burning.
As with all pets, it is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.
The Jack Russell does shed lightly all year round. No matter the coat type, smooth or broken, a weekly brushing will keep the hair neat and clean and will prevent fly-away hair from landing on furniture or carpet. Plus, it will keep his coat shiny and mat and tangle free and his skin will be healthier too.
Only bathe a Jack as needed, which, with regular brushing, shouldn't be very often. More often will dry out his coat. Be sure to use a hypoallergenic shampoo that is dog-friendly.
The broken coated Jack Russell requires stripping twice a year to maintain the proper coat texture if you are going to show him. Otherwise, you may prefer to just trim him as needed. That choice is up to you as his pet parent.
Be sure to check your Jack’s ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean his ears gently and regularly with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal.
His ears are apt to collect dirt, debris, and bacteria so keep then not only clean but dry as well. If he is pawing at them, take him in to be checked. Ear problems that are not addressed can warrant surgery or can even lead to deafness.
His teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Using a dog toothbrush is helpful and administering a yummy dog-flavored toothpaste may assist in gaining his full cooperation.
Trim his nails monthly if he does not wear his toenails down naturally outdoors. He’s a digger so be sure to keep them dirt-free and also check for any signs of chips, cracks, or splits so you can tend to them immediately.
For the Jack Russell Terrier, plenty of physical exercise is imperative. He simply cannot live a happy and healthy life without it. If you live on a farm or ranch, he’ll be perfect there if you bring him in at night. But, in a house with a yard or a small apartment, this guy is going to need a workout every day in order to fit in. If he doesn’t get his excess energy out, he’ll be sure to let you know in ways that will not please you.
A brisk walk of at least an hour per day is recommended for this high energy working terrier. You can, if you wish, break his walks into two thirty minute ones. When you are walking him, be sure he’s on a leash so he doesn’t give chase to small creatures or kids on bikes.
In between his walk, you’ll want to make sure he has ample activity time. Tossing the ball to him in the backyard or taking him with you on a hike are excellent ways to get some of his pent up energy out.
Be sure to exercise his brain too. He’s a super smart breed that is given to solving problems like, “Where did that fox run off to?” He’ll be bored if you don’t give him some mental stimulation. Brain games are superb for the Jack. He is sure to amaze you each and every time.
Pet Crates Direct recommends 24” dog crates* for most adult Jack Russell Terriers.
This energetic pup is a working dog if there ever was one. But, he’s also adapted well into being a companion and family dog. He’s very smart and spunky and is self-confident too.
While the Jack seems to have it all together, he hates being left alone. Oh, and don’t think he won’t let you know about it because...he will! He’ll dig, chew, bark, and everything else within his power to protest being “abandoned”. Crating him while you are gone for a short period of time is an excellent idea and you might also want to leave the television or radio on for him. Yes, his separation anxiety is that extreme.
He’s a loyal dog who will protect his family at all cost. He makes a great watchdog because he will certainly bark when a stranger approaches (or...the mailman).
Being a worker, he thrives on having a job to do. If you don’t have one for him, don’t let him in on that fact. Create one. Have him fetch your slippers or put a doggie backpack on him. He’s got to feel useful.
The Jack is perfect in a family where he can run and roam the land by day and sleep in a comfy house by night. But, if you don’t live on a farm or ranch, that might be a problem. He’s a roamer, a digger, and...a barker (well, more of a bay than a bark!).
He will likely dig is way free of a backyard fence and if not, he’ll bark and bay until your neighbors are not very happy with him (or you). This dog is not for everyone. If you don’t live on the wild open land, you will need to exercise him to the fullest and then, he’s a great roomie.
While the Jack Russell is a loving family dog, he’s certainly not suitable for extremely young or rambunctious children. He is really best in a family with older kids or none at all. He’s not given to love all pets either. His dominant personality can turn snippy and assertive with other pets in the house and children too. If he grows up with a dog or cat from puppyhood, there is a good chance he’ll do well.
Keep in mind, some dogs can be trained to ditch their working or hunting instincts. Although highly trainable, the Jack Russell is not one of those dogs. His insatiable need to work and hunt runs through his very blood and some of those traits have become so ingrained, you’ll not be able to change them. Then again, why would you? The Jack is a charming dog, just the way he is.
When training your Jack Russell, it is imperative to keep his heritage in mind or you’ll never be successful at it. Working with the traits that are bred into him will help the process immensely.
You’ll need to establish your role as his pack leader from the minute he comes into your home. This will be your saving grace as far as his training classes go. You’ll also want to tailor classes to meet his needs as a hunter and all the other characteristics that go along with the Jack. The more you custom make your lessons to correlate with the things he is naturally given to love, the more success you’ll have.
Potty training a Jack Russell isn’t usually difficult. He’s very intelligent and will most likely just need to be shown the ropes. Take him out to his spot frequently as he is a small dog with a small bladder. Be sure and never raise your voice as he will buck immediately.
Instead, offer him praise and maybe a treat or two every now and again. He does love for his people to be proud of him and loves to be proud of himself as well. Use that to your advantage and you’ll have a star student.
Socializing your Jack is a must. The sooner you can expose him to a multitude of people, places, and things, the better. Make sure you take him around noisy people and to busy places and let him be around other animals too although you’ll need to keep tight reins on him. Proper socialization will make the difference between your dog being a good boy or one who is apt to get out of control when new situations arise.
Obedience training is imperative when it comes to this breed. He can be a handful but if you are patient and persistent, you’ll be victorious. He needs to learn to obey you without question to prevent unwanted situations such as him giving chase to an animal, car, or child. This type of training is for his safety as well as for the safety of animals and humans around him.
Trick training is super fun with this dog and he’s good at it too. Once you capture his interest, he’ll be mastering great tricks in no time. He loves to twirl, dance, and jump so be sure to include all his favorite moves in the trick time. Oh, and he loves to show off too.
Agility training is training you should definitely employ if you have a Jack. It will help him get his energy out and is something he was bred to do, be agile, quick, and to jump through hoops just like he jumped in burrows chasing critters in the days of old.
Brain training is another thing the Jack is excellent at. He’s smart and needs to be mentally stimulated and challenged or he’ll get very bored. There are a number of books and dog sites where you can learn of brain games he will adore. He’ll amaze you when you give him the opportunity to show you what he’s got “upstairs”.
The Jack Russell usually enjoy a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years. He’s a healthy breed in general but there are some hereditary and non-hereditary issues you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Amazingly, the Jack Terrier has managed to skirt around many hereditary medical problems that are common with purebreds. Here are some issues to still be aware of, however:
Lens Luxation is a displacement of the lens of the eye. It is a disease known to be hereditary and is not uncommon to the Jack Russell Terrier, unfortunately. There are four kinds of Lens Luxation - Subluxation, Primary, Secondary, and Congenital.
The problem occurs when the lens capsule actually separates from the zonules that keep the lens in its place. The eye actually comes forward. This condition generally shows up in adult dogs that are from four to nine years of age although the Secondary type can surface at any time.
This abnormality can lead to blindness, especially if it is left untreated. Sometimes the condition can be successfully treated with surgery but it depends upon what type it is and other factors as well. If you suspect your pup has this problem, it is wise to take him into the vet clinic as soon as possible.
Patellar Luxation is the displacement of the kneecap, which is also a concern and is something to watch out for.
Obesity is an issue among many Jacks because they love to eat. Just as it is in humans, obesity is dangerous to the health of dogs. It can lead to heart disease, Diabetes, and other medical problems. If your JRT is putting on the pounds, your vet can help you incorporate a diet and exercise plan that very well may save his life.
Deafness is another malady that Jack’s sometimes are prone to. The reason is usually an inherited gene but can also be due to environmental factors like being injured around the ear area or from having an ongoing, untreated ear infection.
If your dog is experiencing ear infections, ear pain, redness, swelling, or irritation or if he seems to have trouble coming when called, speak to his health care provider immediately. Tests can be run and in the event he is having a hearing problem, treatment can be sought.
Legg-Calve- Perthes is a disease of the hip joint that small dogs seem to suffer from more than larger breeds. This condition involves a disorder where the hip’s blood flow is hindered at the head of the femur.
Due to the lack of proper blood flow, the bone begins to deteriorate and ceases to grow and then eventually dies which is refered to as osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis. The problem will surface with the difficulty of walking and then can end in total lameness. It is imperative to take your Jack Russell in to the clinic to be checked thoroughly if you feel he may be showing symptoms of this inherited.
Dislocated knee caps are seen in Jacks which is a hereditary ailment but can also be caused and/or aggravated by the fact that the breed tends to jump a lot and also because they jump so high.
It is upon landing that the knees take a heavy impact. The condition is quite painful and can impair or prevent your dog from being able to walk. If you feel your Jack has a dislocated knee cap, take him to his veterinarian right away.
While it may seem there is a long list of potential problems the Jack Russell may be inflicted with, the breed is generally free of most or all of them. By getting your dog from a responsible and reputable breeder, you increase the likelihood that your pup will live a long, healthy life because the parents will have been tested for many hereditary issues. Greedy, irresponsible breeders don’t care about testing and oftentimes fudge records in order to make a quick and profitable sale so avoid them at all cost.
Is a Jack Russell Right for Me?
Fearless and fast, the Jack Russell is an amazing creature. He has many unique characteristics and excels as a hunting dog. If you are wishing to take those traits from him and conform him into a lap dog...it’s not happening. You and he both would be better off with you passing him up.
Are you up to taking him for long, brisk walks every day? Can you accommodate his need and desire to exercise fully? If you are looking for a couch potato, this is not your guy. But, if you want an awesome athletic dog to accompany you on long hikes or steep mountain treks, this might be your new best buddy.
Do you have small children in the household or other dogs that might pick fights? This breed is known to not back down when he feels threatened. A challenge by another animal or an accidental hair pulling from a youngster may warrant more aggression that you are prepared for. This breed is best with no children or older children and only certain situations where other family pets are involved.
Can you deal with some barking, independent stubbornness, and digging? These things naturally go along with this Terrier. Although he is able to be trained, only some of his mannerisms will be within the realm of change. Some of these traits are instinctive and come as natural to him as breathing does.
Acceptance is part of the Russell Terrier game. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to train him, he’s an excellent candidate for training. But, you’ll need to balance being the pack leader of him and also be willing to accept those things you cannot change. If you are truly cut out to be a Russell parent, there will be many characteristics of him that you wouldn’t change even if you could.
If you’ve gone through the list of qualities the Jack Russell Terrier possesses and you still feel that you have what it takes to bring one into your life, jump on the chance. Your life will not be boring with this lively, loveable character around.
* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.