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Jack Russell Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Don't be fooled by the small size: Jack Russell Terriers can be a handful.

Written by: Dogster Team

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Parson Russell Terrier dog breed

Jack Russell Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 15–18 pounds (6.80–8.16 kg)
  • Height: 10–15 inches (25.40–38.10 cm)

The Look of a Jack Russell Terrier

About as long as they are tall, a typical Jack Russell Terrier is small, sturdy, and strong. Their heads are flat, and they have small ears, a medium-length muzzle, a black nose, alert almond-shaped eyes, a strong jaw, and muscular cheeks. They have muscular necks that slope down to a fairly shallow chest, strong front legs, and muscular hindquarters. The tail is generally proportional to the dog’s body length but set high and not curled. Jack Russell Terrier coats are smooth but tough enough to be protective, and the colors are typically white with black, tan, or brown.


  • Small and quick
  • Athletic and agile
  • Sprightly and intelligent
  • Bold and confrontational
  • Independent
  • Crafty
  • Resilient
  • Sometimes testy

Ideal Human Companion

  • Seasoned dog enthusiasts
  • Active, sporty types
  • Families with older children

What They Are Like to Live With

Don’t be surprised by the small size: Jack Russell Terriers can be a handful. They’re amazingly athletic and energetic and have the instincts to hunt, track, and solve problems in the wild. Your Jack Russell will want plenty of walks and excursions if you live in a city or the suburbs. In an apartment or small home, you’ll almost hear the “humming” energy of your JRT. They are lively and fiercely protective of their environments, and they make excellent guard dogs. A stranger approaching the house will be met with relentless barking.

With the proper focus and training, Jack Russel Terriers make loyal, loving, and entertaining pets.

Young woman with her cute Jack Russell Terrier at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Things You Should Know

Jack Russell Terriers have a fierce, headstrong independence and need special attention to maintain an even keel. Therefore, some experts recommend that only experienced dog handlers should have one. Animal shelters nationwide have plenty of unmanageable Jack Russells whose owners raised them untrained and unchecked.

Apartments are okay for Jack Russells, but a fenced-in yard is ideal. They love to bark, dig, and chase small animals. However, a fenced-in yard may not be enough for these dogs. Though small, they can leap very high and have been known to jump fences when they get bored and restless. On a walk, always keep them on a leash. They are incredibly fast, plus they have an intense curiosity and fearlessness that can get them into trouble with bigger dogs.

Jack Russell Terriers get along with the whole family, but young children should be taught not to tease or hurt them. A healthy Jack Russell can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include cataracts and joint problems, but they’re healthy dogs with relatively few health issues.

Jack Russell Terrier History

Jack Russell, an English clergyman, developed the Jack Russell Terrier in the mid-1800s to hunt foxes and other small game. At this time, the dogs were called “Fox Terriers,” prized for their endurance on long hunts and the ability to dig animals out of their dens. The term “Jack Russell Terrier” was coined after Rev. Russell’s death to distinguish the small working dogs from the existing “Fox Terriers,” which were larger. Jack Russell Terriers are challenging to train, but they make excellent pets for experienced owners.

Featured Image Credit: Jozef Polc / Alamy Stock Photo.

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