The ultimate guide to Jack Russell Terriers

Posted by Argos, June 9th 2020, last updated September 14th 2020.

Jack Russell Terriers are known for being a loving and loyal breed. They are typically high-energy and stubborn that offers a very specific but rewarding challenge for pet owners.

Originating from the English hunting dog, these pooches are feisty and require an active lifestyle because, in their world, the fun doesn’t stop!

Here’s everything you need to know about Jack Russells:

Jack Russell Terrier fact file

Content provided from Vetstream’s Vetlexicon

Breed Name Jack Russell (Canis lupus familiaris)
General Appearance Small body, long nose, pointed ears that fold forward
Temperament Lively, playful and fearless
Gait/Movement Well co-ordinated movement with good ground coverage
Coat Two types of coats: smooth and short, or rough with a slightly longer coat
Colour Mostly white with either black, tan, or black and tan markings
Size Height 26 cm – 33 cm
weight 6 kg – 8 kg
Lifespan 13 – 16 years

What is a Jack Russell Terrier?

These four-legged balls of energy are most loved for their exuberance. They live for the hunt and love being lively and staying busy. Always up for amusement, the Jack Russell breed loves mental challenges.

The breed is named after Reverend John (Jack) Russell, a clergyman. They were used as small game hunting dogs in the mid-eighteen hundreds.

Originally, the qualification standard for being a Jack Russell was quite broad but was narrowed down between the Parson Russell and the Jack Russell in 2003. This was done largely to differentiate the working types from the newly named show dogs, the Parson Russell Terriers.

What should I feed my Jack Russell?

The average weight of a Jack Russell is between 6kg to 8kg. Their diet requires easily digestible foods due to their high-energy temperament so it’s important to get food of high quality.

Look for protein-based dog foods with poultry, beef, or fish as the primary ingredient to ensure your pet is being nourished properly. Based on your pet’s weight, your vet can set an appropriate diet plan for your dog.

shallow focus photography of short-coated white and brown puppy

How do I groom my Jack Russell?

All Jack Russells have double coats with a coarse, dense texture underneath and longer hairs on top. However, there are typically two types of coats on Jack Russells, either smooth or broken. Those with a broken coat have longer fur and their faces look like they’ve got eyebrows and a beard.

If your pet’s coat is longer than a broken coat, with zero curves or wave, your dog may have a rough coat – a less common variation.

Jack Russells only require monthly baths, but because of their double coat, they’ll need extra attention and more frequent care. Brush their coat one to two times a week to remove loose hairs. Jack Russells should also have their nails trimmed every fortnight to keep them healthy and less prone to injury.

How to train a Jack Russell

While being incredibly energetic, these dogs are also incredibly smart which often results in sassy personalities that love showing off for attention. When raised as a puppy around children, they make a great addition to any family.

You may find your pooch to be aloof to strangers, possessive or easily jealous, but this can be curbed when trained properly. Luckily, because Jack Russells are so smart, they tend to excel with training exercises.

Unless in an enclosed area, keep your dog on their lead so they’re not too distracted to follow your commands. Due to their stubbornness and hunting nature, you’ll have to assert yourself as the “pack leader” to succeed in your training efforts.

Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, so give them a belly rub or small treat to confirm a job well done.

white and brown dog standing near tree

How much exercise does a Jack Russell need?

Typically, these dogs require one to two hours of daily exercise. Because they’re so energetic, they also need a lot of room to roam around in.

Feeling confined may lead to destructive behaviour, such as chewing. Having a fenced-in garden is often best for this breed, but don’t leave them unattended or you might find your grass completely dug up.

How long do Jack Russells live?

Typically, Jack Russell Terriers have a life expectancy of thirteen to sixteen years. The Jack Russell terrier is a happy, energetic dog with a strong desire to work. This is a breed happiest when given companionship. They can make a great addition to any family who shares their explorative nature and are prepared to train them rigorously!

What health problems are common with Jack Russells?

Content provided from Vetstream’s Vetlexicon

There are some common health conditions linked to this breed:


Atopy is a tendency to develop an allergy. The most common allergens that can trigger a reaction are dust mites, pollen and mould. An allergy to the protein in food is also possible.

Atopy sufferers have regular ear and skin infections, runny nose and itchy eyes. The dog will scratch, bite and lick to relieve the itch. Most allergies can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, but in some cases, vaccines are needed. Regular grooming and medicated washes will also help.

Impacted anal glands

Impacted anal glands is when there is a build-up of fluid in the anal sac, which needs to be released. The anal sac becomes inflamed and infected. The cause is unknown but is often related to diet. Symptoms include redness, swelling and biting or licking near the anal glands. To treat the problem, the anal glands need emptying and flushing.

Luxating patella

Luxating patella is where the kneecap jumps out of the groove that it’s supposed to slide into. This causes the leg to lock up, making it painful and difficult to move. Sometimes the kneecap will jump back into the groove resolving the temporary problem. However, in some cases realignment surgery is needed.


Polydipsia is excessive drinking or thirst. Causes can include prolonged exercise, a salty or dry diet, or drug-related side effects. Veterinary tests will need to be carried out to determine the cause. It’s possible to make changes to the dog’s lifestyle to resolve the problem. For example, a change in diet, reduced exercise and different medication.

Recently added a Jack Russel Terrier to the family? It’s important to protect your new dog with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our Jack Russel Terrier insurance policies today.

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