Breed Highlight: Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers

“Born to dig” is the rallying cry of the Jack Russell Terrier. This breed is super-active, super-smart and, without proper training, super-destructive. Jack Russells do best when they are busy hunting rats on a farm, going riding with their owner or competing in terrier races and earthdog tests. We will discuss this breed to help you determine if it is ideal for you and your family.

The Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers - Vital Stats

Vital Stats of Jack Russell Terriers

Vital stats of this breed include the following:

  • Dog breed group: Terrier
  • Height: 13 to 14 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 13 to 17 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

Physical Characteristics of Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russells are small, agile, hunting terriers. His body is slightly longer than his height. This breed has a compact body and short tail. The chest is his most important feature, it is shallow and narrow, with the front legs not too far apart. This gives him an athletic rather than a heavy chested look.

The coat of the Jack Russell Terrier can by wiry or smooth. However, it is always a dense double coat. The coloring is typically white, or white with tan, brown or black markings. His head is broad and flat, with a powerful jaw containing a scissor bite, and straight, slightly large teeth. Jack Russells move with a jaunty, confident gait that portrays the character of the breed.

Care for Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers - Care

This breed is a people lover who should live indoors with the family. However, it is ideal to have access to a fenced yard where he can burn off some of his abundant energy. The fence should bro tall and sturdy enough that he can’t climb, dig under or jump.

Jack Russells require 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, as well as plenty of off-leash play in the yard to keep him tired and out of trouble.

Health of Jack Russell Terriers

Similar to any other breed, the Jack Russell Terrier is prone to specific health problems. Common health problems that affect this breed include the following:

  • inherited eye diseases and deafness
  • Legg Perthes
  • dislocation of the knee caps

History of Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers - History

In the 19th century, Reverend John Russell was a parson with a passion for fox hunting. He developed a strain of fox hunting terriers from the now extinct English White Terrier, a breed that was bred to be white in color so they could be distinguishable from the quarry they were pursuing. Eventually, this breed broke off into the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier.

After World War II, the need for hunting dogs began to decline drastically. Therefore, Jack Russell Terrier numbers decreased as well. At this point, the breed increasingly was kept primarily as family and companion dogs.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America was formed in 1976 by one of the first Jack Russell Terrier breeders in the U.S., Alisa Crawford. The AKC moved to recognize the Jack Russell as an official breed in the 1990s. However, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America opposed this move as they wished to keep the breed’s working characteristics intact. In show, Jack Russell Terriers are not judged for their worthy physical characteristics the way non-working breeds are, but rather for the characteristics that make them excellent work companions.


For more information on the Jack Russell Terrier or other dog breeds, don’t hesitate to contact us here at All Pets Veterinary Medical Center with the link below!

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