Jack-Russell Dog Breed Guide

Jack-Russell Dog Breed Guide

Small dogs with big personalities, Jack Russells command your attention. They need constant stimulation, a huge a mount of exercise and they bark. You will always know when there is a Jack Russell around which can be a good thing or a bad thing and owners must have plenty of time to devote to their pet. Having said all that, these feisty pooches can be excellent companions for active owners, and they form strong bonds with people.

Which breed group is the Jack Russell in?

Breed group: Terrier

Jack Russell breed history

This characterful breed was developed in England by Parson John Russell in the 19th century, hence the name. He wanted to evolve a terrier which could hunt with hounds and drive foxes from their dens. Difficulties in distinguishing dogs from their prey made white dogs advantageous and it was also important that the dogs demonstrated tempered aggression. In other words, they needed to be keen to flush out prey but not to injure it. John Russell certainly succeeded in creating the desired traits and these feisty little dogs have been popular with sportsman ever since.

After Russell's death, two men continued breeding programmes using dogs descended from John Russell's terriers. Then, in 1894 Blake Heinemann created the first breed standard. Crossbreeding became prevalent as it did again after World War II when the requirement for hunting dogs declined. Breeders introduced new traits to the dogs and several breed clubs appeared in the UK. The Kennel Club established a new standard and recognised the breed in 1990 when its name was the Parson Jack Russell terrier. The Jack was dropped from the official name in 1999 but most people still use it.

Jack Russell breed characteristics

Well-proportioned, Jack Russells present a balanced appearance. They boast reasonably flat skulls and muscled cheeks. Their noses are black and these dogs have small, almond-shaped eyes. Button or dropped ears are carried close to the dogs' cheeks. Jack Russells are notable for their compact and robust bodies, level backs and reasonably deep chests. Their legs are muscular and their feet small. Their tails are set high and carried upright when the dogs are alert. The short coats of Jack Russells can be rough or smooth with a soft undercoat. The acceptable colours are white with black markings, white with black and tan markings plus white with tan markings.

These dogs have attitude and are always ready for action. Indeed, they can appear to be hyperactive and frenetic. They like to be occupied and can become destructive when bored. Jack Russells tend to be confident and quite bold. They are loyal dogs and may form strong bonds with one person in the family. They can bark a lot and they tend to love water.

  • Lifespan: 13-16 years
  • Height: up to 30cm
  • Weight: up to 8. 2kg
  • Small but sturdy
  • Well-balanced
  • Muscular legs
  • Deep chests
  • Tails carried high when alert
  • Hyperactive
  • Feisty
  • Strong prey drive
  • Intelligent
  • Potentially destructive
  • Tend to bark

Health issues with Jack Russell

The Jack Russell is a robust little dog with a long lifespan but may suffer from the following conditions:


Late Onset Ataxia

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) sometimes referred to as Ectopia Lentis

Canine Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)

Posterior luxation

Anterior luxation

Patellar luxation



What is the Jack Russell bred for?

The Jack Russell was bred to flush out foxes for huntsmen but not to injure them. They were evolved to move fast and to possess the stamina to cover long distances. Their white colour was developed to ensure that huntsman could always see them and distinguish them from prey.

What sort of owners does the Jack Russell suit?

Small and affectionate, Jack Russells appear to be the perfect pets and they can be exactly that. They are good with children if properly socialised and don't require intensive grooming. However, they are demanding pooches that need constant attention and loads of exercise. They are best suited to active owners and life in the countryside. They excel at agility competitions. Jack Russells are amazing ratters and great companions for people who work outdoors. But if they don't get the attention they need and burn off sufficient energy, they can be destructive.

Jack Russells are poor choices for apartment living due to their energy and tendency to bark a lot. They shouldn't be left home alone and need firm handling. Their strong prey drive can run then into trouble and they may prove to be aggressive to dogs of the same sex. There's no doubt about it, these dogs are demanding and should not be taken on lightly.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.