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All About The Jack Russell Terrier

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My Jacks
Credit: Rexrussel

The Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) is a funny, cute and happy breed of dog, but don’t let their cuteness fool you, they are very smart, mischievous, energetic and assertive. 


The Jack Russell Terrier was first breed by Rev. John Russell of England in the mid 1800s in the English countryside. Rev. Russell wanted a dog that he could use for small game hunting particularly for red fox. A small feisty terrier was ideal to go underground after the fox. He also needed a dog that could keep up with hounds and horses on hunting trips. The Jack Russell has similar origins to the modern Fox Terrier.

Build and Appearance:

The Jack Russell is a small solid breed of dog with with compact and balanced body proportions. The JRT’s shoulders, straight legs, small chest, and flexibility make it stand out from other breeds. The Jaw of the Jack Russell is powerful, sleek and well boned. The eyes of JRT’s are almond shaped, dark and sparkle, they are full of life! The Jack Russell’s neck is very muscular and widens into the shoulders. The shoulders are sloped. The legs of JRT’s are strong and straight. The chest is shallow, narrow and flexible giving this breed a athletic appearance. The back and hindquarters of the breed and muscular and sleek. The feet are round, face straight forward and have a cat-like appearance. The tail is set rather high on the body and should be docked to around four inches. The Jack Russell stands from 10-15 inches tall at the withers. They can range in weight from 14 to 20 pounds The Jack Russell has a thick smooth looking coat. The JRT has three different types of coat types: smooth, rough or broken coat. Jack Russell’s have three different color patterns: tri-color (white, brown, and black), white and brown, and white and black. The Jack Russell’s coat is mostly white with darker markings. 


It is very important to know about the JRT’s temperament before owning one. The Jack Russell Terrier is not a breed for a first or even a second time dog owner. Because of the Jack Russell’s extreme hunting instincts one needs to know their temperament. JRT’s can be aggressive towards other dogs, despite their small size. They can also be aggressive towards each other. Never own two females Jack Russell’s at one time because there have been instances of one of the two being hurt or even killed by the other female. I have experienced this situation myself. Jack Russell’s can make good family pets, but for only some families. You should not own a Jack Russell if you have children under the age of 8. Never leave a Jack Russell alone with a child less than 6 years old, especially a baby. Because the Jack Russell has extreme hunting instincts, the child’s cry could sound like an animal to the dog, and the Jack Russell may try to hurt the young child. As you can see Jack Russell’s do not make the best pets for all types of families, but they do for some. JRT’s make good pets for experienced dog families with older, well behaved children. JRT’s also need a family that can spend a lot of time with them.


The JRT has a long life span 11-15 year and has a good gene pool. Some health problems that they may encounter are mast cell tumors, inherited eye disease and deafness. Because the JRT is a hunting driven breed they are prone to injuries when huntings such as getting bit by another animal, cut or sprayed by skunks. It is important to keep you JRT up to date on all vaccinations because they are a working, hunting breed. 


The Jack Russell needs lots of exercise and space to exercise. A single family house with a mid to large size fenced yard would be preferred for owning a JRT. Jack Russell’s do not do well at all living in an apartment. They need lots of space outside to run, hunt and play. JRT’s also need to spend a lot of quality time with their owners exercising and bonding. If the dog would have to stay home all day long by itself, this is not the breed for you. 


The Jack Russell has an easy coat to groom because they shed their small hairs. Combing or brushing the coat every so often is all that is needed to maintain a JRT’s coat.


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