Jack Russell Terrier


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  • Jack Russell Terrier puppy
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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

13 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:



FearlessZestfulBig Barker

Coat Color:

Blue Ribbon

Best For

Small and spirited, Jack Russell Terriers thrive on mental challenges and active play. They're known for their intelligence and energy, and make fantastic companions for those seeking a clever and feisty canine friend.

Jack Russell Terrier Traits

Jack Russell Terrier Temperament

For a small dog, the Jack Russell Terrier’s characteristics are most definitely larger than life. When you first encounter this breed’s exuberant bark and tenacious drive, you might actually do a double-take. Their personality thrives on stimulation, so pet parents need to work hard to satisfy this pup’s need for speed.

Jack Russells do well with kids and babies, as long as they are properly socialized and training is a priority. Children should be taught to interact gently and safely with dogs as well. Mixing a Jack Russell with other dogs is usually successful if properly socialized and introduced, but the answer is a hard no when it comes to felines. The reason? This breed displays a well-known high prey drive, which means there’s a great tendency to give chase.

In addition to bounding after kitties, their qualities also extend into excavation. That’s right—a very strong desire to hunt often leads this breed to dig like there’s no tomorrow, literally tunneling underground to try and capture vermin (think mice, rats and weasels). So if you consider your rose bushes to be a prized possession, sharing the garden with a Jack Russell may give you pause.

Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more fun-loving, charming family dog than the Jack Russell. The breed’s independent streak and innate determination come from their long history of fox hunting, though today’s Jacks have traded this tough physical job for the more plush life of a Hollywood star. Watch for Jack Russell cameos in both feature films and on the small screen.

How to Care for a Jack Russell Terrier

Fortunately, not a lot of time needs to be spent on a Jack Russell Terrier’s short fur. But the time you save on coat care will be spent on training and in the great outdoors, running, trotting and playing to meet your Jack’s energy levels.

Jack Russell Terrier Health

The Jack Russell Terrier dog has a lifespan of 13 to 15 years, and health issues you might encounter are similar to those found in many other breeds. In general, this small dog is rather hale and hearty. Still, it’s important to be aware of these health concerns, so you can help your pup live the healthiest life possible.

  • Patellar Luxation: This health condition occurs when the kneecap “floats” in the joint and slips out of the normal groove that largely holds it in place. It may be caused by an abnormal curve in the hind limb or a shallower-than-normal femur bone. If your Jack is affected by this problem, you’ll notice they’ll skip or hold up the affected limb when walking. Treatment is usually medication, but in some dogs, surgery is needed to correct the malformation.
  • Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease: A hip condition that can show up in one or both joints, this disease causes the head of the femur to deteriorate. While the cause is unknown, a Jack Russell Terrier may limp or indicate they’re having hip pain as a result. If it lingers, the disease could cause the joint to collapse. Pain medication is given in mild cases, and surgery is the go-to fix in more severe ones.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: Barking, licking, chewing and tail-chasing! These are some of the compulsive activities you might witness in your Jack Russell Terrier. Jacks are very smart and need a lot of social interaction and structure. If this isn’t in place, boredom, anxiety and compulsions can be the result. The best way to address these behaviors is to stick to a regular exercise schedule and provide plenty of activity during the day (doggy daycare counts), stimulating toys and food puzzles. If that doesn’t take care of the compulsive behavior, have your vet check for any underlying health issues. If your dog gets a clean bill of health, sometimes anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed.
  • Eye Problems: Among the vision problems seen in this breed is lens luxation, when the lens is displaced within the eyeball (surgery may be needed). It may also lead to secondary glaucoma, which is an increase in eye pressure that causes pain, redness and vision loss. Primary glaucoma and cataracts are other eye problems that may occur in Jack Russell Terriers.
  • Pulmonic Stenosis: This is a congenital defect that may affect the heart of Jack Russell Terriers. With this condition, the valve between the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonic artery is narrowed, which changes how blood flows through the heart and may lead to changes in the heart muscle. This can lead to symptoms of heart disease and eventual heart failure or sudden death.

Jack Russell Terrier History

As you might imagine, the Jack Russell Terrier’s origin is closely connected to a man with nearly the same name: John Russell. (Jack is a nickname for John.) This British gentleman was both a reverend and a fox hunting enthusiast, and his goal in the mid-1800s was to breed an almost all-white dog so that it could be differentiated from the fox it was born to pursue.

The Jack was developed to venture everywhere a fox could, so their small chests and sturdy bodies served them well as they bored below ground. These working terriers also put their burrowing instincts to good use by stalking and digging out other small animals including groundhogs, raccoons and squirrels.

After World War II, the Jack Russell’s hunting skills were less needed, and the breed transitioned to become more of a family pet. Jack Russells have also made a name for themselves on the silver screen and in television, including prominent canine roles in the movie “The Artist” and the sitcom “Fraiser.”

The Jack Russell Terrier breed isn’t registered with the American Kennel Club, but two similar types are recognized—the Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier. But the Jack isn’t without stewardship or its champions. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) was formed in 1976 and is dedicated to advancing this working and hunting dog.

Thinking about making a Jack Russell your next furry companion? You can find reputable breeders through the JRTCA. The price for Jack Russell puppies generally ranges from about $900 to $1500. But for that price, you’re getting a pup who’s been screened for health issues. If you’re game to adopt an older dog, check out your local shelter or animal rescue organization, or search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.


Are Jack Russell Terriers hypoallergenic?

No, Jack Russell Terriers are not hypoallergenic. They shed, though not as much as other breeds, and dander does cling to their fur, which means allergy sufferers may not breathe easy with this pup around.

What are the most common Jack Russell Terrier mixes?

  • Jack Russell Terrier-Chihuahua mix (Jack Chi)
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Beagle mix (Jackabee)
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Yorkie mix (Jorkie or Yorkie Russell)
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Dachshund mix (Jackshund)
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Pit Bull mix (Jack Pit)
  • Jack Russell Terrier-Labrador mix (Jackador)

Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.


Top Takeaways

A Jack Russell Terrier is a delightful addition to families who are ready to run and play hard. Yes, this breed loves to bark—and then bark some more—but their adorable small size and sprightly gait outweighs the noise factor, making them a winning and lovable family pet.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Stephanie Liff, DVM, Pure Paws Veterinary Care, Russell Harstein, certified dog behavior consultant and trainer in Los Angeles and founder of Fun Paw Care, Terri Batzer, Jack Russell terrier breeder and administrative director of The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America and Joan Crouse, Jack Russell terrier breeder.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by veterinarian Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

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