Jack Russell Terrier Dog Breed

Lace up your sneakers, Jack Russell Terriers absolutely fizz with energy! Always wanting to move, chase, hunt, jump, swim, bark and dig, their energy reserves seem absolutely boundless. In fact, you’ll struggle to tire out these energetic pups. Ideal for active, experienced dog parents with the time to train and exercise them, Jack Russells don’t play nicely with cats and are known to be barkers. But their sweet looks and playful nature will soon win you over.

Jack Russell Terrier Facts

Small dogs, Jack Russell Terriers stand around 25 to 38cm tall and weigh up to 8kg. Don’t let their small size fool you, they’re highly playful, fun and energetic! They might have a smooth coat, a rough double coat which includes wiry fur or be broken-coated, which is a combination of both.

  • Breed Group: Terrier
  • Height:Female: 25-38cm, Male: 25-38cm
  • Weight: Female: 6-8kg, Male: 6-8kg
  • Life Span: 13-15 years
  • Coat: Smooth (short and flat), rough (double including thick wiry fur) or broken-coated (combination of both)
  • Colour: White with patches

Jack Russell Terrier

Breed Characteristics

Exercise needs
Health issues
Medium High
Barking tendencies
Grooming needs
Shedding level

What Does a Jack Russell Terrier Look Like?

Chances are you’ll hear a Jack Russell Terrier before you see one - these small pups have big voices! Glance down and you’ll be treated to a very sweet-looking small dog. Bright, almond-shaped inquisitive eyes and a black button nose combine with v-shaped floppy ears and strong, sturdy and speedy (somewhat short) legs to create an absolute bundle of energy.

A Jack Russell Terrier proudly wears a white coat (designed so they would stand out from the foxes they were originally bred to hunt) with brown, tan or black patches on their tail, belly, face and ears. This coat can either be smooth (short and flat), rough (a double coat of dense fur underneath and thick, wiry fur on top) or broken-coated (a combo of both).


Jack Russell Terrier

Breed Facts

Breed group:
Female: 25-38cm, Male: 25-38cm
Female: 6-8kg, Male: 6-8kg
Life span:
13-15 years
Smooth (short and flat), rough (double including thick wiry fur) or broken-coated (combination of both)
White with patches

Jack Russell Terrier Temperament: Pocket Rocket

A Jack Russell Terrier’s small size packs a lot in - a lot of noise, energy and speed, especially! Always raring to go, Jack Russell Terriers absolutely love stimulation, from chasing and running to fetching and digging, so their pet parent needs to devote plenty of time to keeping them entertained and happy. Be prepared to strap on your sneakers and pound the pavement to help wear them out.

Jack Russell Terriers make good family pets, although great training and socialisation from an early age is key. They can learn to live happily alongside other dogs, but they’ll need to be introduced and socialised properly. They probably won’t ever live happily alongside cats. With their in-built high prey drive, cat companions are way too tempting to chase.

As well as a desire to chase anything that moves, Jack Russell Terriers love to dig. This urge came in handy when tunnelling after vermin, like mice, rats and weasels. It’s not so handy if you have a garden you’re proud of. With their tunnelling prowess, they can be miniature escape artists too with fences not providing much of a challenge.

Best suited to experienced dog parents as you’ll need to train them extensively to channel their natural urges (to bark, chase and dig), feisty Jack Russell Terriers with their exuberant energy and butter-wouldn’t-melt looks make fun and charming companions.

Keeping Jack Russell Terriers Healthy: Issues to Watch Out For

Originally bred as working dogs capable of hunting foxes, Jack Russell Terriers are traditionally hearty and healthy. In fact, any health issues they might experience are similar to what other dogs might. By keeping an eye out for these issues, you can help your pup live a long and healthy life.

Patellar luxation

Patellar luxation happens when the kneecap ‘floats’ in the joint so it slips out of the groove that normally holds it in place. It can be easy to spot - your Jack might skip or hold up a leg when walking. It can be treated with medication or surgery, in severe cases.

Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease

Another health condition that affects the leg, Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease affects either one or both hip joints. Jack Russell Terriers with this disease may limp or show they are experiencing hip pain. They might not like you stroking or touching them near their hips. If it’s not treated, it can cause the joint to collapse. For mild cases, pain medication helps with surgery needed for more severe ones.

Compulsive Behaviours

Jacks are smart dogs who need a lot of exercise, stimulation and social interaction. Without these, they can develop boredom and anxiety which can lead to compulsive behaviours. Think barking, licking, chewing and tail-chasing. You can avoid these by sticking to a regular exercise schedule and ensuring your pup has a lot of activity during the day. This might be doggy daycare, engaging toys and food puzzles.

If these behaviours keep going, pop to the vet so they can rule out any underlying health problems. Anti-anxiety meds can also help.

Eye Issues

Jack Russell Terriers can experience eye problems, especially lens luxation. This is when the lens moves out of position which can lead to glaucoma (an increase in eye pressure) and pain, redness and blindness. Surgery can fix lens luxation. Signs to watch out for are red, sore eyes that begin to look cloudy.

Caring for Your Jack Russell Terrier Dog

Thanks to Jack Russell Terriers’ short fur, you’ll swap the groomers and a brush for time spent training, running, chasing and swimming in an attempt to tire out your energetic pup!


Grooming is a breeze with Jack Russell Terriers. Their coat doesn’t need much special attention and they won’t shed that much either. You might find that a deshedding tool is better than a brush, at untangling the short (and possibly wiry) fur and removing dead hair. Because their coat is so short, a groom with a brush or deshedding tool every six to eight weeks should be fine.

Their short, low-shedding coat also doesn’t need a regular bath (unless they’ve been turning your rose garden into a mud kitchen). Aim for once a month or as needed. Bath time is a good opportunity to clean those floppy ears and clip those nails.


With their need for (almost constant) speed, Jack Russell Terriers thrive on high quality commercial dog food that’s packed with calories, protein for their muscles and healthy fats for energy. Healthy fats can come from animal sources, like chicken and salmon oil. Because it can be quite a balance to make sure your Jack Russell Terrier is getting the best mix of goodness to meet their nutritional needs, try the breed-specific Royal Canin Jack Russell Terrier Adult Dry Dog Food or ask your vet for dietary advice.

Training is a lot easier with treats but keep an eye on how many you’re giving as they count towards their daily calorie intake.


    You’ll need to be high energy to keep up with your Jack Russell Terrier - they need plenty of vigorous exercise every single day. They thrive on being walked at least a few times a day, for around an hour in total - others will want even more than this.

    Jack Russell Terriers love running and hiking, although always keep them on a lead because of that high prey drive. A securely fenced garden or dog park where they can run around is also their idea of a good time. They’re great swimmers too, especially if you introduce them to water early on.

    As well as walking and running, Jack Russell Terriers love playing - and daily playtime counts towards their exercise time. A bored Jack Russell Terrier can spell trouble for your ears (barking), garden (digging) and your wellbeing (searching for your little escape artist) so it’s important to provide plenty of toys to ward off boredom. They love a huge variety of toys, from ones that squeak and bounce to ones that hold tasty treats.

    If you’ve got the time, Jack Russells’ enjoy dog sports, including obedience and agility. As well as tiring them out, you’ll enjoy plenty of quality time together.

    Training Your Jack Russell Terrier

    Training a Jack Russell Terrier isn’t about reigning in their natural instincts, like chasing and digging, but redirecting them towards more positive outlets. Jacks benefit from early and regular training which provides a good channel for their energy and intelligence.

    To help them learn your prized veggie patch isn’t for digging, create their own sandbox that they’re allowed to dig in. Securely fence it and use different soil to what’s in the rest of the garden so they learn what’s acceptable to dig in and what isn’t.

    Keen to learn new things and for mental and physical stimulation, Jack Russell Terriers are easy to train. Positive reinforcement works well, especially training treats.

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