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12 Jack Russell Terrier Facts: All About This Dynamic Dog Breed (Vet-Reviewed)

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Dogster Team


12 Jack Russell Terrier Facts: All About This Dynamic Dog Breed (Vet-Reviewed)


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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) is a high-energy, exuberant dog that’s extremely intelligent, though sometimes claimed to be “exhausting” to own. The breed has been around for hundreds of years, but how much do you really know about them? Read on to find 12 interesting facts about the ever-dynamic Jack Russell Terrier.

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The 12 Jack Russell Terrier Facts

1. All modern Jack Russell Terriers can be traced to the now-extinct English White Terrier.

The English White Terrier is the failed show-ring name of a pricked-eared version of the white fox-working terrier that had been prevalent in Great Britain since the late 1700s. The name was coined by several breeders who were trying to create a new breed from the small, white prick-eared dogs. These pups were later used to develop breeds like the Sealyham Terrier, Rat Terrier, and of course, the Jack Russell Terrier.

jack russell terrier dog lying on carpet
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

2. Jack Russell Terriers can jump four times their own height.

Despite their small size, Jack Russell Terriers can jump as high as 5 feet—over four times their own height! Not only are they great jumpers, but they’re also fantastic at climbing. All owners should, therefore, ensure their backyard fencing is both tall and secure to prevent escapes.

3. The Jack Russell Terrier gets their name from a member of the church.

The JRTs we know and love today were first bred by Reverend John “Jack” Russell. Russell was a hunter, a parson, and a dog enthusiast. Although it’s not known for certain what breeds the reverend used to create the JRT, it’s theorized that he used Bull Terriers and Beagles. However, no documented pedigrees earlier than 1862 exist for this breed, so it’s still considered a guessing game of sorts. JRTs are generally thought to be descended from fox-hunting breeds.

Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

4. The Jack Russell Terrier has three coat types.

The JRT has three possible coat types: smooth, broken, and rough. The difference between coat types comes down to the length of the topcoat and the presence or absence of furnishings, such as the long hair on their extremities.

The short coat is smooth and dense and is easy to manage with a soft brush once weekly. Rough coats feature coarser, straighter, and longer hairs. The broken coat is a combination of smooth and rough and will require hand stripping to pluck out the dead hairs manually.

5. The Jack Russell Terrier’s hunting instincts are very strong.

The hunting instinct of a JRT is coded into their DNA and cannot be trained out of the breed. These dogs will instinctively see smaller animals, like the family cat or hamster, as prey. That’s not to say that your Jack Russell Terrier will never get along with other pets in the home if they’re adopted as puppies and/or trained well, but it can be challenging for them to live together harmoniously. Their knack for hunting is attributed to their ancestry.

Image Credit: frantic00, Shutterstock

6. Jack Russell Terriers have been on countless television shows and in many movies.

JRTs have been successful working dogs in Hollywood due to their intelligence and high trainability.

“Wishbone,” an American live-action children’s TV series, is about a JRT named Wishbone who spends his days dreaming about being various characters from classic literature.

Eddie in the American sitcom “Frasier” was played by a JRT son and father duo. The two dogs received more mail from fans than any of the human actors.

JRTs aren’t just popular for TV shows. Skip, from the 2000 movie “My Dog Skip,” was played by a Jack Russell Terrier. The 1994 movie “The Mask” features a JRT named Milo.

7. Jack Russell Terriers hold world records.

In 2016, a JRT named Twinkie set a Guinness World Record by popping 100 balloons in less than 40 seconds (39.08 seconds).

In 2018, a Japanese JRT named Daifuku broke the record for “most jumps over a moving human leg by a dog in 30 seconds” (they truly have records for everything!). Daifuku jumped 37 times over her trainer’s legs, shattering the previous record of 34.

A JRT owner named Rachael Grylls has two Guinness-record-holding JRTs. Jessica holds the title for “most skips by a dog and person in 1 minute using a single rope” (59 skips!). Jacob, the overachiever, holds three titles: most rollovers by a dog in 1 minute (51), most alternate paws offered by a dog in 1 minute (80), and fastest 30-meter leg weave (18.87 seconds).

Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

8. Jack Russell Terriers are very athletic.

Don’t let their small stature fool you; JRTs are very strong, fast, and athletic. These traits, combined with their high intelligence, make them capable of amazing physical feats. They can be particularly excellent at dog sports like agility and flyball.

9. A Jack Russell Terrier was the first dog to lay a paw print on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Uggie, a JRT famous for his work in the films “Water for Elephants” and “The Artist,” was the first dog ever to have their paw print showcased on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Uggie laid his paw print in 2012 at a ceremony that also marked his official retirement.

Image Credit: Evgeniia Shikhaleeva, Shutterstock

10. A Jack Russell Terrier saved five children’s lives.

In 2007, a 14-year-old JRT named George saved five children from being attacked by two Pit Bulls at a carnival in New Zealand. George reportedly charged the Pit Bulls and kept them away from the children long enough for the children, aged between 3 and 12, to get away. Unfortunately, George passed away due to injuries sustained as he saved the youngsters from the attack. He was posthumously awarded a PDSA Gold Medal, an award to acknowledge the bravery and devotion of animals.

11. Jack Russell Terriers are skilled at digging.

Jack Russell Terriers were bred to bolt foxes from their dens alongside their hunter owners. They needed superb digging skills for this job, a trait the breed still carries to this day. JRTs are known for burrowing and digging to find critters crawling underground. This behavior can become problematic, not to mention destructive, if not addressed. A JRT needs a lot of physical activity and supervision to ensure they don’t dig up their owner’s entire yard.

However, since digging is practically coded in their DNA, owners shouldn’t ever expect their dogs to give up their digging habit. Instead, they might consider giving their pet a specific sand or dirt box of their own to dig to their heart’s content.

Image Credit: hurricanehank, Shutterstock

12. Jack Russell Terriers have been used as scent dogs.

Most dog owners know about their pet’s keen sense of smell, but due to the JRT’s hunting background, they have an even keener sniffer than many other breeds. The United States Department of Agriculture used JRTs to round up brown tree snakes in Guam because their strong scent sense helped them smell the snakes out.

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Final Thoughts

The Jack Russell Terrier is an interesting breed with a long history. However, this isn’t a breed that’s suitable for every family. Their extremely high energy levels call for a specific kind of owner, one with a lot of time and patience to spare.

Featured Image Credit: Maryshot, Shutterstock

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