dog making splashes of snow. Jack Russell Terrier playing on sunIf you’ve ever seen Frasier, you know the character Eddie was played brilliantly by a very smart, well-trained Jack Russell Terrier. These small dogs are charming, intelligent, and adorable, but the breed is anything but a lap dog.

With boundless energy, fierce independence, and a proclivity for bouncing, running, digging, and hunting, the Jack Russell Terrier may be more than you bargained for or the perfect addition to your life.

Origin Story

Bred for speedy red fox hunting, the Jack Russell Terrier was developed in the early 1800’s from a strain of white terrier by the Reverend John Russell, an English hunting enthusiast. Over time, the Jack Russell Terrier strain branched off into the Parson Terrier, which had longer legs and proved more useful when hunting on uneven terrain. While both are hard-working, energetic dogs, the traditional Jack Russell Terrier is known to be more companionable than its cousin.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club Of America is committed to the preservation of this working breed and will not allow its inclusion into kennel clubs or registries.

Appearance of the JRT

The Jack Russell Terrier has small v-shaped, foldover ears perfect for keeping out debris while hunting in the field and digging out fox burrows. Also important to note is the weatherproof coat that can be smooth, broken, or rough, and is either all white or white with black or tan markings.

A fully grown, rectangular-shaped Jack Russell Terrier will be 10-15 inches tall and should weigh no more than 18 pounds. Lastly, the chest was designed to be narrow and flexible for optimal fit inside the den of its prey.

A Lively and Loyal Companion

With consistent training and proper socialization, your Jack Russell Terrier can be a cheerful and loving companion. However, you’ll need to allow at least an hour of running and playing each day to satisfy intrinsic needs. Without the right outlet, a Jack Russell can be destructive and restless, indulging hunting instincts that include exploring, digging, barking, and chasing.

Fearless and Happy

Sharing your life with a Jack Russell Terrier is an incredibly worthwhile endeavor, but it’s important to understand it may be intolerant of children, aggressive, and even predatory toward other household pets.

If brought into your home as a puppy, there’s a better chance your pet will understand his or her place in the “pecking order.” Otherwise, you could experience some challenges regarding your Jack Russell’s natural inclination as pack leader.

Health Concerns

Beyond nurturing the physical and behavioral needs of a Jack Russell Terrier, the breed is generally a very healthy one. That being said, Jack Russells can suffer from genetic health issues. If monitored regularly and caught during a routine wellness exam, these issues need not affect the lifespan, which is about 10-14 years. It’s advisable not to adopt a puppy from a Jack Russell breeder without proper documentation regarding the health of the parents.

Choosing a Jack Russell Terrier

At Billings Animal Family Hospital, we are pleased to address any adoption concerns and to help you and your new Jack Russell Terrier get started on the right paw. Please contact us with questions and remember to post a pic of your lovable pooch!