Inside the breed: Jack Russell

download (4)Jack Russell Terriers are some of the most intelligent dogs you will ever meet. These feisty little guys were bred as hunters. Reverend Jack Russell of Devon, England created the breed in 1870. He was looking for an agile, fearless dog for hunting that was small enough to follow foxes when they “go to ground” or burrow.

Jack Russell Terriers are usually about 11 inches tall and weigh between 10 and 17 pounds. With proper care their life expectancy is of about 15 years. This dog was initially bred to be almost completely white as a way to distinguish them from the game they were hunting. Today, most Jack Russells are still predominantly white with tan, or black markings on the head, muzzle and back. They come in two distinct coats, smooth and ruff or wire. The smooth coated Jack Russells will shed a bit more than the wire haired, but occasional brushing and bathing is all they really need. They have very expressive little faces with almond shaped eyes and v- shaped drop ears. Their bodies are sturdy and muscular, since they were bred to fit in small holes their shoulders shouldn’t be too broad.

This dog is hyper, with boundless energy and a fearless personality. After all, they were useddownload (5) to run amongst horses. They are charming and affectionate but also fiercely independent. Jack Russell Terriers do best with active families of adults and older children. These, like most terriers, are very rambunctious and can be quite overwhelming for inexperienced dog owners and younger children. They are very agile and can jump more than 5 times their height.

These dogs are highly trainable but have a mind of their own. Don’t be fooled by the Jack Russells seen on TV and the movies, those dogs have received vigorous training by dedicated professionals. Due to their superior intelligence, training needs to start early, be consistent and challenging for the dog. Jack Russells have been known to outsmart the average dog owner and can turn highly destructive and disruptive when bored.

download (6)Due to their high prey drive and burrowing abilities, expect barking and digging form this amazing hunter. Jack Russell Terriers will require a daily routine of at least one hour of running or other vigorous exercise to stay happy and healthy.

With proper exercise, a Jack Russell can adapt to almost any environment. They have a double coat that helps them stay cool in warmer climates and warm in the cooler, wet climates. Jack Russell Terriers are happiest when they have a large fenced in yard to run freely. They have a high prey drive and are naturally curious and independent which means that most Jack Russells will not be contained by an electronic fence. This breed needs to be walked on a secure leash. Since these terriers were bred to chase game, expect charging behind squirrels, cats, birds and any other small creature.


Jack Russells need engaging homes or they will find their own entertainment. Usually not in the most amusing manner for their pet parents.

So if you are an experienced dog owner with plenty of time for training and exercise, with a sense of humor and adventure, then this smart, feisty and quirky little fellow might be just the dog for you.