Jack Russell Terrier

Updated 08 November 2023
Read time: 5 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham

The Jack Russell is the quintessential terrier with his cheeky personality and thirst for adventure. This dog loves to keep active and has more energy than the Duracell bunny! Traditionally kept for hunting, this small breed is by no means a lap dog.

As the Jack Russell needs a good deal of exercise, can be yappy and sheds a lot, they aren’t a low maintenance breed. However, they provide hours of entertainment and make excellent family pets in the right household. Smart and curious, they can be trained to a very high standard.

Breed history

The Jack Russell descends from the taller Fox Terrier and was developed within England. They are experts at flushing prey out of hiding and have traditionally been brought along on rabbit and fox hunts. Their name comes from the man who played the biggest role in their development, Reverend John Russell. Amazingly, it was not until as recently as 2015 that the UK Kennel Club recognised the Jack Russell. This was mainly due to the desire of breed fanciers and breeders to remain independent from the club.

As well as being used for hunting, this versatile breed has gained a name for itself in many canine activities including doggy freestyle dancing and flyball.

General appearance

A dog with a rectangular shaped, stocky body, the Jack Russell is compact and well-muscled. Their straight but short legs mean they don’t stand particularly tall and most adults reach heights of about 30cm.

They have a flat head and ears which will be either button or drop shaped. Their brown eyes are one of their most attractive qualities and portray an alert expression. Their black button nose is at the end of a good-sized snout and is the perfect tool for sniffing out their prey.

The coat of the Jack Russell can be smooth or rough and comes in a variety of colours including white, brown and black. Many individuals will be bi-coloured or tri-coloured. What coat colours are permissible in the show ring will vary between Kennel Clubs around the world.


The Jack Russell is a live wire with boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. They are constantly on the go and love to be given a task that they can sink their teeth into. Unfortunately, if their high demand for attention goes unmet, they can soon become destructive. Many terriers have a reputation for nuisance barking, chewing and digging. Luckily, as long as we ensure their needs are met, these behavioural issues should not occur.

While the Jack Russell can potentially get on well with children, they can be snappy and don’t have an especially high tolerance for people invading their personal space. Ensure your pup is well socialised from a young age and that all children in the house understand about canine body language and the need for dogs to have their own space.

Health considerations 

Though this robust little dog is generally quite healthy for a pedigree, there are a number of conditions which they can suffer from. We need to consider:

  • Legg Calvè Perthes Disease. This disease occurs when the blood supply to the head of the femur bone is not adequate. Dogs will be in pain and will start to limp from a young age. Signs come on gradually and, over time, the muscle in the hind leg will start to atrophy. The condition is diagnosed with an X-ray. While mild cases will be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, more severe cases will usually benefit from surgery.
  • Patellar Luxation. Many small dogs suffer from knee caps that will pop in and out of place from time to time. When this happens, you may notice that your Jack Russell hops on one leg for a few strides, before continuing their run as though nothing ever happened. As the knee cap doesn’t always sit where it should, these dogs are prone to arthritis in the knee. Offering joint supplements such as Pooch & Mutt’s Daily Joint Supplements is a sensible approach to take. They can slow down the progression of joint disease and reduce active inflammation. Your vet may also advise on pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicine, as well as other interventions.
  • Tracheal Collapse. When tracheal rings collapse, the airway is compromised and dogs may cough and get out of breath. It is usually older, over-weight Jack Russells that are affected. It can help to keep dogs slim and to use body harnesses rather than neck collars when exercising.
  • Allergic Skin Disease. Skin allergies can cause pink and itchy skin. Affected dogs may lick their feet and scratch excessively. Most benefit from anti-itch medicine and medicated shampoo. Where possible, we should identify the allergen and try to eliminate it from the dog’s life. Most affected Jack Russells would benefit from some supplements such as Pooch & Mutt’s Salmon Oil to support a healthy skin barrier.


A real brain box, the Jack Russell enjoys its training sessions and is quick to learn. They are obedient dogs but their recall can be hit and miss as they may become distracted by things around them. Their training should continue into their adult life and is not something that ever stops.


The short coat of the Jack Russell is low maintenance but they can shed excessively. This is especially true in the summer months and when they are excited or stressed (such as when on the vet’s consulting table!).


Never under-estimate the exercise requirements of the Jack Russell Terrier. While small, they need a good deal of exercise and mental stimulation every day to keep them content. Ideally, we would do a variety of things with them including hikes, swims, scenting trails, agility courses and games of frisbee and fetch.

Feeding considerations

We advise feeding Jack Russells twice daily when possible. To avoid weight gain, stick to the recommended calorie intake and don’t go too heavy on the treats. If your Jack Russell is prone to itchy skin, a skin supplement would be a good addition to their diet.

You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.

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