Jack Russell Terrier – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Do you think that a small Jack Russell Terrier could be your next dog? Make sure that you check this guide first before you get a terrier, just to be sure that you can meet this dog's needs. Read on.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder
13 to 17 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Among small size dogs, the Russell Terrier is probably one of the most famous breeds.

With only 12 inches in height and between 9 – 15 pounds, this small dog is perfect for city life. Don’t let their size fool you, because they are very active and lively.

Friendly Russell Terrier was developed by England’s “Sporting Parson” for one purpose mainly – to use them in foxhunts. They may look like a real-life toy, but they are in fact tireless working animals.

They are compact, well-built, and surprisingly strong for a small size dog.

Just one look at this breed is enough to see just how strong their confidence is. They move effortlessly and free. Maintaining this breed is easy and fast.

Coats come in three types: smooth, broken, and rough. If you are not sure how to handle the care of the dog’s coat, talk to your veterinarian or a professional groomer.

Before you bring Russell Terrier home, be sure that you can invest enough time into training this breed.

They are highly intelligent, but they love playing games and solving problems – even those that they have created.

Russell Terriers are bored easily, so make sure that there is someone always around to keep this dog entertained, next to proper toys, of course.

Quick Facts

Real name: Jack Russell Terrier
Other names: Jack Russell, JRT, Jack
Origin: England
Breed type: Terrier Dogs
Weight: 13 to 17 pounds
Height: 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Litter Size: The average litter size is 6 puppies
Color: White, black and white, white with markings
Coat: Smooth, broken and rough

Jack Russell Terrier History

Among terrier breeds, the small but sturdy Jack Russell Terrier is known as one of the best working terriers.

Named after Reverend John Russell, a famous breeder of this breed, these dogs are even today one of the finest terriers for working fox England and beyond.

Their skills, temperament, and agility were so appreciated among hunters that in the early 1800s this small size dog has been strictly bred for hunting.

Dog historians believe that the creation of Jack Russell Terrier included breeds such as the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier.

Some claim that even treats of Bull Terriers and Beagles can be seen in this breed, but it is yet to be confirmed.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) was formed in 1976. The AKC recognized the Russell Terrier breed in 2012.

Jack Russell Terrier Physical Appearance

The Jack Russell Terrier may have been developed centuries ago, but their look hasn’t changed a bit ever since.

In fact, even those who have difficulty naming dog breeds can usually guess the famous Jack Russell Terrier when they see one.

They have face markings mostly around their eyes, a small size body, and a short and always wagging tail.

This small size dog usually varies in size. Why? Different types of this breed were used for different purposes and terrain.

As result, some may have more developed stronger front legs than others, some may be longer than others, and so on.

Still, as a globally recognized breed, certain standards of the breed are respected by responsible dog breeders.

That being said, Jack Russells are usually between 10 to 15 inches and between 13 to 17 pounds. Those that are longer than taller, and have 10 to 12 inches are named Shorty Jacks.

In appearance, they look more like Corgis or Dachshunds. Overall, these dogs are sturdy, compact, and well-balanced.

They are mostly white, with black and/or brown and/or tan markings. As for the coat, they may have a smooth or rough coat or even a combination of these two.

All coat types should be dense double coats and never silky nor woolly.

Jack Russell Terrier Personality

No matter how big or small they might be, terriers will always be terriers.

In practice, this means that you can expect your Russell Terrier to be energetic, highly playful, and devoted. They are also passionate diggers.

If given a chance, this sturdy dog will try to run away, to get over or under the fence, and chase down the streets to a first buddy that he sees. This is why keeping him on the leash all the time is a must.

Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent and easily bored. This means that training him will be challenging, but not impossible.

These small dogs are affectionate toward people, but they may be aggressive toward other dogs. Also, any animals that resemble their prey, especially cats, will be chased.

Will they make a step back when a bigger dog comes their way? Of course not. This is a terrier breed, and the size of their opponent doesn’t scare them.

What About Children And Other Dogs?

Jack Russell Terriers are people pleasers.

As such they will do fine in homes with children. However, they may do better in homes with older children.

Toddlers and younger children tend to see small dogs as moving toys and try to handle them.

In practice, this means that they will try to pull their tail, ears, and never try to hug them.

Hugs are in general human things, and dogs usually do not react well to hugs.

They may tolerate hugs, but they don’t like it. In fact, this is how accidents happen.

To learn more about hugging dogs and why it’s a big no-no click here.

Children should know how to behave around dogs. In fact, they should know not to disturb them when they are eating, sleeping, or resting. When a dog is inside his crate or playing with his toys he should be left alone.

Dogs are highly territorial animals and stepping into their space is an accident waiting to happen.

Always teach your children how to approach dogs safely, and always supervise their interaction.

Again: they have a strong prey drive and will chase cats and small animals.

That being said, if you are a feline owner or a hamster owner, you might want to rethink your decision of getting a Jack Russell Terrier.

Jack Russell Terrier Training

Don’t let anyone trick you into believing that small size doesn’t need firm training.

Training and early socialization are the two biggest factors when it comes to having a well-behaved dog.

Small size dogs are often bigger challenges when it comes to training than large dog breeds are.

Make sure that your Jack Russell Terrier knows basic commands and that he follows dog house rules. Otherwise, you can easily end up with a dog who has small dog syndrome.

This is something that you want to avoid because no owner wants to deal with the consequences of this syndrome.

Before your Jack Russell Terrier arrives, provide a dog bed, interactive toys, and nice treats.

Use only positive reinforcement training methods and never be harsh toward your dog.

If you feel like training this breed is too much work for you, you should think about puppy classes or hiring a professional dog trainer. This can be a bit pricey, but it will be so worth it in the long run.

To get the most out of training sessions, make them consistent, short, and fun.

Always reward your canine when he performs a task well. Just be careful with treats.

Treats should be served as an occasional reward and should never be a substitute for a whole meal. Plus, an enormous amount of treats can speed up weight gain.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States and you don’t want your dog to be part of this growing issue.

Obesity in dogs, just like in humans, can lead to several various health issues and can put additional stress on your dog’s joints before he reaches his senior years.

Jack Russell Terrier Exercise

Jack Russell Terriers might be small in size, but they are packed with enormous energy.

Unless you want to learn what a bored dog can do to your furniture, you should provide enough exercise time. That being said, these energetic dogs will need a minimum of an hour of exercise per day, without regular walks (toilet time).

How to organize this exercise time? You could split this time into a couple of walks, an off-leash run inside a well-secured dog park, a free run in the backyard with supervision, or training for a dog sport such as agility.

Are Jack Russell Terriers Good Running Dogs?

Simply said, yes. Jack Russell Terriers are good running dogs.

Just make sure that you don’t push them to long-distance while puppies because you want their joints to be healthy as long as possible.

Puppies are just developing their bodies and their natural growth shouldn’t be forced.

Overall, this breed enjoys running, and as an adult dog, they can run distances. They will be able to keep pace with their owners.

Jack Russell Terrier Grooming

How time-demanding can it be to groom a small-size dog? Never let a dog’s size full you when it comes to responsibility.

Dog grooming is a big part of dog ownership and keeping it clean, healthy, and shiny will require constant care. To keep your Jack Russell Terrier odor-free, stick to a weekly grooming routine.

Brushing weekly your Jack Russell is a must. Spare about 20 minutes weekly to brush your dog properly.

To make brushing more enjoyable and faster use the right grooming tools. With the right grooming tools, removing deal and loose hair will be much faster.

Bathe only when needed, and then use only shampoo specially designed for dogs. Trim or grind nails once a month, and brush his teeth if your veterinarian recommends it.

Check weekly eyes, gums, and ears. Learn how to clean a dog’s ears.

Make grooming overall a positive experience and always reward your canine for being a well-behaved doggo.

Jack Russell Terrier Health

Jack Russell Terriers are commonly described as healthy dogs. Still, they may be prone to certain health conditions.

Not all Jacks will experience any of the following healthy issues, but you should still be well-aware of them.

If you ignore them, you might miss helping your dog properly and saving his life.

In Jack Russells, you should expect to see some of the following issues:

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
  • Deafness
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Glaucoma
  • Lens Luxation

If you want to be sure that you’re getting a healthy puppy, you should deal with responsible dog breeders only.

They will screen puppies for the most common issues in the breed, and present you medical documentation on the breed.

No matter how healthy your pup might be, you should take him to the vet for a complete check-up. Plus, this can be a great way for your dog to get comfortable with being handled.

The same steps should be conducted if you are adopting for a local shelter, or just saving a dog from the street.


The Bottom Line

Before you get a dog be sure that you are honest about your lifestyle. If you tend to spend more than nine hours per day outside, due to work or other obligations, can you really care about a dog?

If you don’t have experience as a dog owner will you be able to train him the best way possible? Do you mind if a dog is extremely vocal? Or if he likes to dig?

These questions and many others are mandatory before you choose a dog.

Always choose a breed that compliments your lifestyle.

If you are an outdoor person, you need a dog who has higher energy levels and loves being active. That being said, a Jack Russell Terrier may not be for you if you don’t want to deal with:

  • Stubbornness
  • Intense terrier temperament
  • Destructiveness when bored
  • Digging holes
  • Barking
  • Intense shedding
  • Chewing on almost everything
  • Potential aggression toward other animals

On the other hand, if these characteristics aren’t too much trouble for you then you are ready to have a dog.

Most importantly you are ready to be a dog owner if you’re ready to accept dogs in all their needs.

That being said, a Jack Russell Terrier might be for you if you want a dog who is:

  • Small
  • Sturdy
  • Natural-looking
  • Energetic
  • Determine
  • Alert
  • Has nice watching skills
  • Loves learning tricks

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