jack russell terriers breed information

Jack Russell Terriers: Small and Energetic With Lots of Love to Give

The Jack Russell terrier is a very popular dog breed that has made it onto the big screen many times. You may recall Milo from The Mask, a classic Jim Carrey comedy, Skip in My Dog Skip, Jack from The Artist, and many more. Jack Russells are not new to the red carpet either, with some having attended award shows and even won awards!

Why are Jack Russells in so many films? Because they are easy to train and very smart! But more on that later. Let’s get to know this adorable, athletic and popular breed.

What is a Jack Russell Terrier?

 Jack Russell Terrier
Image by Oldiefan on Pixabay

As the name suggests, Jack Russell terriers belong to the terrier breed. Terriers are a hunting breed. They can hunt many things as are usually fast and very brave. Terriers can be further split into various subcategories (5 to be exact), and each group possesses different traits and come in different sizes.

You may also see them go by the name Parsons Russell terrier or Parsons Jack Russell terrier, and the difference between them lies in the height. The shorter terriers are the Jack Russells and the Parsons Russell terriers are a couple of inches taller and larger. 

Where Did the Jack Russell Terrier Originate From?

Jack Russell Terrier Originate From England
Image by Plank on commons.wikimedia.org/

The JRT, or Jack Russell terrier originates in England, and they are the namesake of Reverend John Russell. They were considered the same before branching off into two distinct breeds, the Parsons Russell terrier and Jack Russell terrier in the modern day.

What Was the Jack Russell Terrier Bred For?

Although originating from England, the Jack Russell Terrier was developed in Australia. The breed was bred for hunting vermin and working. They run very quickly and would shoot after rabbits, mice, and other creatures.

What Does a Jack Russell Terrier Look Like?

Jack Russell Terrier With A Smooth Coat, Which Is Shorter Fur
Image by Zachary Appel via Flickr

Jack Russell terriers are quite a diverse breed with different coat types, colors, and markings. You can find ones with a smooth coat, which is shorter fur growing in the same direction and is smooth to the touch. This is the easiest type of coat to care for compared to the longer rough and broken coats. A broken coat Jack Russell is the hybrid between the smooth coat and the rough coat. Rough coat Jack Russells have longer fur, and each strand can look wiry with an unkempt look over all like your Jack Russell has a permanent bedhead. Your Jack Russell will be adorable whichever coat you decide to go for.


What’s really cool about this breed is its markings can change over time. They will always be mainly white with a piebald look, but the shade of fur can gradually change over time as well. Many dogs will lighten up as they mature. So, for example, you may have a puppy with a very dark brown mask, but the markings around its face lightens up to a paler shade of brown as your dog grows.

As we said, Jack Russells will primarily be white, but they can have spots and markings in black, tan, chestnut, tri-color (white, brown, and black), lemon, and red.

Tan Jack Russells are a darker shade of beige than the lemon, which is a buttery yellow type of color. Red Jack Russells have a deep rich brown with a red tinge, and chestnut is a darker shade of brown.

Unique Physical Characteristics

1. Eyes

Jack Russells will typically have brown or dark brown eyes with dark rims. JRTs can have blue eyes too, but this is quite rare and is definitely sought-after.

2. Tail

JRTs have straight tails that are unfortunately docked sometimes for aesthetics. You can find tails on these dogs that are a few inches long. The docking isn’t ideal, but it is done on many Jack Russells in order to protect them from tail injuries. This type of injury is more common in these guys because of their shorter stature and level of activity. 

You will have dog owners advocating for both sides of the argument. Just do due diligence before you decide what is best for your Jack Russell.

3. Ears

Jack Russells have larger ears in proportion to their heads that are almost bat-like. Some are erect while most JRT ears fold downwards. You can also have a dog with one folded ear and one completely standing up. We find these ones to be extra cute!

4. Snout

You can find longer snouts on JRTs with very wrong jaws that may homage to the lineage of their ancestors. Jack Russells have black noses regardless of the type and color of their coats.

How Big Does a Full-Grown Jack Russell Terrier Get?

Slender Looking Jack Russell Terrier
Image by Lilly M via commons.wikimedia.org/


Jack Russell terriers are considered small dogs and are definitely smaller than their taller and more slender-looking counterparts, the Parsons terriers. JRTs can typically grow to around 10-15 inches.


As we said, these are considered small dogs and typically come in at around 13-17 pounds.

Male vs Female

Males are usually larger than females and are closer to 15 inches in height and 17 pounds in weight. Females are typically around 10-13 inches in height and 15 pounds.

Different Types of Jack Russell Terrier 

A Different Type Of Jack Russell Terrier
Image by Alexa from Pixabay

As we mentioned, the Jack Russell terrier and Parsons Russell terrier are now two distinct breeds. They don’t look too different from one another other than their height and size. The latter breed is a little larger and heavier than the JRT. In terms of coat and color, they can exhibit similar appearances.

How to Take Care of a Jack Russell Terrier?

Nicely Groomed Jack Russel Terrier
Image by Jade from Pixabay

How do you know if a JRT is a suitable match or if it will take a significant change to your lifestyle? You can do this by looking at the amount of care a breed needs.


Don’t let their size fool you, JRTs are small but pack so much energy! You will need to give your Jack Russell a good amount of exercise each day (around an hour). They love to run around and play, so be aware that sometimes a walk around the neighborhood may not be enough. Schedule some extra done during the day for some 1-on-1 playtime!


As with many short-haired dogs, JRTs don’t require regular trimming. However, you may notice a lot of stray hairs or unkempt-looking strands on your dog’s face that you can take some scissors to, as long as you do it carefully.

Dogs require trimming on their feet or the fur will get too long past their toes, covering their nails and foot pads, and this is the same with JRTs. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and baths once a week to once per month are also necessary for Jack Russells depending on how dirty they get.


Make sure to feed your JRT, or any dog for that fact, high-quality and balanced dog food packed with protein and nutrients. There are various types of diets such as the raw BARF diet, regular commercial kibble, wet food, and fresh food. 

Whichever you decide to feed, you should make sure the food is crafted from very high-quality ingredients and free of artificial additives and preservatives. If possible, look for organic and non-GMO products.

1. How much to feed

How much you feed your dog will depend heavily on its size and energy output. You can start by following the feeding guidelines on the food package and see how your dog does. If it is an extra energetic dog and you find that your pooch is still hungry after feeding, then maybe increase the amount a little bit. On the other hand, if your dog rarely finishes what’s in its bowl, then reduce the amount.

2. How often to feed

Adult Jack Russell terriers should be fed at least twice a day. If you practice free-feeding, then make sure you put a day’s worth of food in the bowl and take it away at a certain time so it doesn’t spoil. 

As puppies, JRTs need to be fed less but more frequently throughout the day. This can be said for all puppies because smaller portions are easier to digest. You can start around 4 times a day and gradually decrease the frequency as your dog ages. Around 1-2 years old, your dog should be okay with 2 meals a day.

3. Common food allergies

Jack Russells can have grain allergies. If this is the case, make sure to find “grain-free” food. Otherwise, the allergies JRTs can suffer from are similar to other breeds. Ingredients that are more likely to cause allergic reactions will include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn

The latter three are typically recommended against by many vets. Your dog may not be allergic to anything on the list above but something more uncommon can set off allergies as well. Determine whether or not it is a food allergy, then attempt an elimination diet to figure out what exactly is causing your dog to itch or have an upset tummy.

Are Jack Russell Terriers Easy to Train?

Jack Russells are pretty easy to train and they are very smart. They were bred to work and hunt alongside humans, so they are very trainable. In fact, they are so close to humans that they are a breed more likely to develop separation anxiety and isolation distress.

Aside from embarking on regular training routines such as potty and crate training, make sure you also train your dog to be left alone.

Are they Easy to Potty Train?

Speaking of potty training, how fast can a Jack Russell Terrier learn where to eliminate? Quite quickly! Because they are pretty easy to train overall, potty training won’t be extremely difficult. However, every dog is different so no matter your experience, training needs to be done with love, patience, consistency, practice, and lots of positive reinforcement! 

What is the Jack Russell Terrier Temperament?

Energetic Jack Russell Terrier Playing With Husky
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

In general, Jack Russells are great dogs to have in any circumstance. They have an even albeit energetic temperament with a ton of personality. They can have a stubborn streak sometimes but they are more eager to please than anything.

Does this breed do well with children?

Their size, temperament, and energy level make JRTs an excellent match for homes with kids! Let’s be honest, parents can use a break sometimes from their energetic and hyper kids and dogs. But having a Jack Russell in the home can help your children expend their extra energy and JRTs are very gentle, loving, and affectionate pets!

Does it do well with other pets?

Jack Russells can do very well with other pets, but they can also be a little aggressive towards them and strangers in their territory. You can try to prevent the latter from happening by socializing your dog well at a young age.

What is socialization? It is allowing your dog to meet new people and see and experience new things. The more you do this from a young age, the better adjusted your dog will be.

Are Jack Russell Terriers Aggressive?

In general, no. Jack Russell terriers are not known for their aggression, but it is still possible in an unsocialized dog. It’s worth it to note that these dogs can be territorial and weary of strangers, which is why early introductions and socialization are very important.

What Environment is Ideal for the Jack Russell Terrier?

Jack Russel Terrier With A Lot Of Space To Run
Image by Nick Trumble from Pixabay

Jack Russells would thrive more with a lot of space to run, but they can still be good city dogs due to their size. As long as you give your pooch adequate exercise, it will be okay even living in apartments.

Dogs are domestic animals so they don’t always need a rural environment. Jack Russells can adapt very well in the city, but make sure to give them enough exercise! We can’t stress this enough because they are pretty hyper.

In terms of weather, Jack Russells do better in slightly warmer weather compared to colder climates. If you live in a city that gets cold and snows during the wintertime, make sure to keep your pooch warm with a stylish sweater!

What Is the Average Life Span of a Jack Russell Terrier?

Average Life Span Of A Jack Russell Terrier Is 13-16 Years
Image by Melanie from Pixabay

Jack Russells can be your companion for 13-16 years! Smaller dogs tend to live a little longer, and JRTs are definitely small dogs. Of course, it also depends on its genetics (what hereditary issues does it have?) and how you care for it.

While many owners may not feel it is necessary to purchase top-of-the-line items and food for their dogs, good care can really save money on medical care. 

Jack Russell Terrier Common Health Issues

Jack Russell Terrier With Common Health Issues
Image by Annabel_P from Pixabay

Jack Russells commonly suffer from the below conditions:

  • Dental issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Patella luxation and other joint issues

In general, Jack Russells are pretty hardy dogs!

How Much Does a Jack Russell Terrier Cost?

Jack Russells can range from a few hundred dollars up to $1,500. There are some purebreds or maybe from a famous lineage that can run up the price to close to $2,500. Adoption prices at shelters could be a lot lower than that, but be aware of breeders who charge exorbitantly low or high prices.

Other Similar Dog Breeds

Aside from their cousin the Parsons Russell Terrier, here are some other dog breeds you can consider if you’re interested in this breed.


Originally posted to Flickr as Cody alias Fez delle Caserosse

The Basenji has a similar face to the Jack Russell Terrier, but it is a bit larger. Basenjis are a few inches taller and are on the borderline between small and medium dogs. They are a hunting breed as well and have a lot of energy just like the JRT.

Border Terrier

Border Terrier
Image by Marilyn Peddle via commons.wikimedia.org/

The border terrier has a wiry coat similar to some Jack Russells. Also bred for hunting vermin, the Border Terrier is also quite popular and closer to the size of Jack Russells.  

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier
Image by tiarescott via commons.wikimedia.org/

Often mistaken for a Jack or Parsons Russell Terrier, the rat terrier is another very similar breed. From the appearance to the coloring and coat type the rat terrier is another great choice if you are a fan of the JRT.

Although they are close in height, the rat terrier tends to be a little heavier than the Jack Russell.

Finding the Right Breeder 

Jack Russel Terrier And A Breeder
Image by Sabrina St. from Pixabay

When you are looking for a breeder, there are a few questions you need to ask to get you started on the right foot. But before we talk about that, asking your vet about a breeder they recommend is generally safer as well. Going with AKC-registered breeders will be your safest bet.

There are a few steps to take and questions to think about when you’re narrowing down breeders. Don’t only look at the puppy because how the puppy came to be and is raised is important as well.

  1. Is the breeder shifty and won’t answer questions or reveal to you the kennel environment?
  2. How many litters do they produce a year? Do they use the same parents? If yes, stay away! Those are puppy mills that should be shut down and the poor dog parents need to be rescued right away.
  3. Do they have a waiting list? If so, it’s less likely they are a puppy mill and only breed at optimum times to give the moms and dads a break.
  4. What do they know about the breed? The breeder should be able to answer all your questions about the breed and more.
  5. How does the breeder treat the pups before sending them off to you? They should be socialized and some even do early potty training.
  6. When do they let you take them home? No dog should be taken away from its mother before 8 weeks at the very least.
  7. Do they have a reputable vet they work with?
  8. Do they engage in responsible mating?
  9. What does the internet say? Look for references, reviews, etc.
  10. Are they asking you the right questions? A good breeder should be concerned about where their puppies end up. They should ask you questions too.
  11. Do they keep in constant contact with you and are always available for advice and help for the duration of your pup’s life?
  12. Is there a contract? Does it stipulate returning the pup rather than giving it up to a shelter? Is there a health guarantee?
  13. Does your pet come with necessary papers stating the pedigree, etc., if applicable? 
  14. What does your gut say? If you’re not comfortable and something feels off, trust your instinct!

Conclusion: Is the Jack Russell Terrier Right For You?

If you love a small but energetic dog that is easy to train and has a pretty good temperament (sounds almost too good to be true!) then the Jack Russell is a great choice for you! Remember that even though they are intelligent canines, training can still take a while and require a lot of love, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Don’t forget to visit the breeder and ask the right questions before committing to a puppy! 

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