By Dr. Watuwa JamesDr. James Watuwa Last updated: 27th March 2023

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell terrier is a muscular-bodied small-sized dog; they are white with black or tan markings and have small V-shaped ears. This breed is considered a true working terrier and was named after John “Jack” Russell, a dog breeder from the United Kingdom.

Jack Russell Terrier Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesThe Russell terrier, Jack Russell
CoatDouble coat – smooth, broken, and rough with long hair on top
ColorWhite, black & white, and white & tan
Breed  TypeCrossbred
Life expectancy13 – 16 years
Height10 – 15 inches
Weight13 – 18 lbs
Litter Size5 – 6 puppies, with a maximum of 12
Behavioral characteristicsLoving, affectionate, happy, energetic 
Good with ChildrenYes
Barking TendencyLoud barkers and extremely vocal
Climate CompatibilityNot very tolerant of cold
Apartment CompatibilityNot Good
Do they shedA consistent moderate shedding occurs throughout the year, and they shed heavily during fall and spring.
Are they HypoallergenicNo
How much do they cost$800-$2000 for adults and around $1000 for puppies
Competitive Registration Qualification/InformationJack Russell Terrier Club of America

History and Origin

The origin of the Jack Russell terrier traces back to the English white terrier, which is now extinct. They were bred for fox hunting in 19th century England. Since it was difficult to distinguish between the dogs and the animal they were chasing, it brought about a need for white dogs.

In 1819, John “Jack” Russell purchased Trump, a small white terrier with dark tan patches over her ears and eyes. Russell was a hunting enthusiast, and Trump represented his ideal fox terrier. This dog was the foundation of a new breeding program for developing new terriers with high stamina. This strain of dogs was soon getting taken on by other hunting enthusiasts. However, any dog alive today cannot be traced back to Trump directly, as Russell had to sell his dogs more than once due to financial difficulties. There were only four aged terriers left.

John Russell maintained his fox terriers’ strains by breeding them strictly for working. Today’s Russell terriers are mostly the same as the fox terriers of the pre-1900s.

After World War II, the need for hunting dogs reduced drastically, which caused the decline of the Jack Russell terrier’s numbers. Later, they were kept as companions and family dogs and crossbred with Chihuahuas, Welsh Corgis, and other small terrier breeds. These crossbreeds became known as, ‘Puddin Dogs’, ‘Shortie Jacks’, or just ‘Russell Terriers’.

During the 1970s, several breed clubs, like the Jack Russell Club of Great Britain (JRTCGB) and the South East Jack Russell Terrier Club (SEJRTC), promoted the breed. In 1976, Ailsa Crawford, the first breeder of Jack Russell Terriers in the USA, founded the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America; their foremost goal was to uphold their characteristics. In the late 1990s, when the American Kennel Club thought to recognize the breed, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) opposed this move since there was a chance for the breed to lose its essential characteristics. In 2001 the breed’s admission was granted.

Temperament and Personality

Russell terriers are fearless, energetic dogs with high intelligence, athleticism, and a willingness to work. They are happiest when they are given a job. If they do not receive proper stimulation, they might get destructive or moody since they get bored quickly.

Their Aggression

They might behave aggressively toward other dogs and can also show aggressive protective behavior if they become extremely possessive of something they consider personal, such as their owner, other family members or a toy. But with proper socialization and training, these behaviors can be controlled.



These dogs are very active and need high-quality physical activities for at least 90 minutes daily to feel satisfied. Although the energy level and the activity need varies from dog to dog, even in the same breed; so, adjust the amount of exercise according to their age, health, and temperament. These dogs can show stubbornness and disobedience if they receive insufficient mental and physical training.


Jack Russells have a low-maintenance coat, regular brushing will spread the natural oils that will keep the coat fresh, and it will also reduce shedding and take out the loose fur. Bathe them only when necessary, and keep the nails trimmed.

Health Problems

Some common health problems these dogs face are back leg injuries, dislocation of knees, and hip problems. They may also suffer from deafness, dental abnormalities, Glaucoma, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and lens luxation.


The diet of Russell terriers should be complementary to their high energy level. Feed them two meals a day, and keep in mind that the quantity of their food intake should depend on age, size, and energy level; for example, because of their high level of energy, puppies need 800 – 900 calories per day, whereas adults need 450 – 550 calories per day to work properly.

Make sure that their diet consists of proteins, ground bones, healthy fats, and vegetables that will provide them with essential vitamins and minerals. Give them any form of meat or organs, but make sure it’s properly cooked; some best meat for them are beef, chicken, fish rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and turkey. However, be careful of what they consume since these dogs are prone to food allergies.


The Russell terriers are intelligent dogs; therefore, they learn quickly, although confident owners are best suited to train these dogs since they are highly energetic.

Socialization: One of the most necessary tasks an owner needs to focus on is their dog’s socialization. This process should start right after adoption for both puppies and adults since it impacts their lifelong behavior around other people and animals. Make sure they only have positive encounters, begin with going to calmer places, and have a few daily encounters. Avoid visiting dog parks or other crowded places in the beginning; after ensuring that the puppies are getting comfortable with these environments and encounters, you might start visiting busier areas and introduce them to more people, as well as other dogs.

If any negative situation arises or your dog shows any sign of fear or anxiety, calmly leave without reacting. Adverse experiences may lead to bad socialization, and puppies may become aggressive, fearful, or both.

Obedience: Obedience training is essential for Jack Russells. Teach them basic commands like ‘come’, ‘down’, ‘sit’, and ‘stay’; Always reward them and regularly reinforce the commands.

Leash: Russell terriers have strong hunting instincts. They might run off while chasing smaller animals like rodents or squirrels. So, it is essential to keep them on a leash every time they are outdoors; however, they can be off their leash inside houses and in areas with high and secure fences.

Interesting Facts

  • According to Guinness World Records, a Jack Russell terrier named Willie became the oldest Russell terrier when it turned 20 in 2014.
  • On 20th August 2022, a 61 years old woman from Vermont was saved by her Jack Russell terrier from a black bear that charged at her on her property.
  • One of the famous Jack Russell terriers Uggie (2002-2015), was an animal actor appearing in films like Water for Elephant and The Artist.


Q: How good are Russell terriers with children?

Ans: The Russell terriers are good with children who are older and can handle them properly. These dogs are not recommended for households with children around three to four years old or younger since they can get agitated and show aggressive behavior if mishandled.

Q: Do the Jack Russell terrier make a good watchdog?

Ans: Since they were initially bred for hunting purposes, Jack Russell terriers are highly alert and aware, which makes them good watchdogs.

Q: What is the difference between the Jack Russell terrier and the Parson Russell terrier?

Ans:  The Jack Russells are smaller than the Parson Russell terriers and have shorter legs.

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