The Jack Russell Terrier or, simply, Jack Russell, is a small breed dog with a strong character and personality. Initially bred for hunting foxes, the Jack Russell is now increasingly popular as a companion dog.

A Brief History

The Jack Russell, as we know it today, is actually a relatively new breed. It originated in England at the end of the 18th century, where Reverend John Russell bred the small, white terriers for fox hunting. To do so, the reverend crossbred several types of terrier dogs. He wanted a dog that was quick, enduring, and able to squeeze through fox burrows without difficulty. The fox terriers were bred to be predominantly white out of a need to differentiate them from the creatures they hunted. After his death, the fox terrier breed came to be known by Reverend John Russell’s name, colloquially known as Jack. The Jack Russell Terrier quickly gained favour with hunters, before gradually becoming a popular family dog. 

The breed was recognised quite late in its country of origin; The Kennel Club published the first breed standard in 1990, under the name Parson Jack Russell Terrier, favouring larger dogs, where other canine federations favoured the smaller size. The Jack Russell Terrier was given official recognition by The Kennel Club in 2016.

Physical Characteristics

The Jack Russell is a small breed dog, characterised by a predominately white coat. Males and females are approximately the same height and weight, measuring between 25 and 32cm at the withers, and weighing between 5 and 8kg in adulthood. As there is no real difference between the sexes, your choice of pup will mainly come down to personal preference. 

The Kennel Club classifies the Jack Russell Terrier in the Terrier breed group, which consists of dogs originally bred and used for hunting vermin.

Body: Slightly longer than it is tall, the Jack Russell has a well-pronounced neck and a muscular chest. The back is straight.

Head: The skull is flat, medium width, and narrows towards the eyes. The Jack Russell has a broad muzzle, with a well-marked stop.

Ears: The ears are V-shaped and drop forward. They are medium size and usually chestnut-coloured, but can also be speckled or white.

Eyes: The eyes are almond-shaped, small, and dark.

Tail: The tail droops at rest, and stands erect when the dog is active.

Coat: The coat is short and devoid of an undercoat. It may be smooth, broken, or rough.

Colour: Jack Russells are predominantly white with black and/or tan markings.

Jack Russell Temperament

The Jack Russell has a particularly lively and energetic character. Courageous and lively, it likes to play and needs to exert itself. Don't be fooled by this dog’s small size; Jack Russells have a strong will and know exactly what they want. When hunting, this dog breed is stubborn and determined. This is a courageous dog but does not make a good watchdog due to its small size. Kind and sociable, it makes a great playmate for children and is not particularly suspicious of strangers. The Jack Russell is an intelligent doggy who has great affection for its owner and shows great loyalty to its family.

Do Jack Russells Get Along Well with Others?

The Jack Russell is never aggressive or suspicious. This dog breed gets along well with other dogs and has no particular problem with strangers. On the other hand, you have to be very careful if you have other pets at home, such as cats or exotic pets. The Jack Russell is still a hunting dog, after all, with a strong predatory instinct. Use caution and never leave small animals alone with your dog, as accidents can happen very quickly.

Is a Jack Russell the Right Dog for Me?

The Jack Russell is not for everyone. Indeed, this very active little dog will quickly get bored with people who are not very athletic. Jack Russells need to move and exert themselves every day. The ideal owner for this dog breed is a person who is athletic and enjoys exercise, and has lots of time to spend with their dog. The Jack Russell is tough and strong and will be able to accompany you for hours on end.

Jack Russell Health Problems

The Jack Russell's life expectancy is between 13 and 16 years. This is great news for a dog owner as it usually means you’ll get to keep your dog by your side for a rather long time. Small breed dogs often live longer than large or giant breed dogs. Health-wise, the Jack Russell is quite robust, but be careful to choose your breeder carefully to avoid inbreeding. Some Jack Russells are hyperactive, which makes day-to-day life very difficult for owners who don’t know how to handle it. The breed is sometimes affected by Legg-Perthes-Calvé disease, as well as eye problems or deafness.

Ideal Living Conditions for a Jack Russell

One would think, wrongly, that the Jack Russell, due to its small size, is perfectly suited to apartment living. However, it is not, and living in an apartment with such a dog requires several adjustments. Highly energetic, the Jack Russell needs to get out and move. Left alone in a small space, he would quickly turn in circles and develop problematic behaviours, such as destruction, but also barking. However, the latter would soon have provoked neighbourhood conflicts. If you live in an apartment, it will be imperative to devote at least two hours a day to take your dog out and exercise him. The Jack Russell's ideal living conditions, on paper, remain a large house in the country, with a large garden. But having a big home doesn't guarantee happiness for your four-legged friend. Whatever the case, you will need to spend enough time with your dog for them to be perfectly happy.

Jack Russell Training

Training a Jack Russell Terrier isn't always easy. Even though this dog is intelligent, it has a hard time staying focused, which makes training difficult. So you have to be patient with your pooch. Keep your dog training sessions short - no longer than a quarter of an hour - and use rewards, like treats, to motivate them. It is imperative to properly train your Jack Russell, despite their small size. Be firm, but ban all forms of violence. If you’re afraid of making mistakes or need advice, don't hesitate to call a dog trainer or canine behaviourist.


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Diet: What to Feed Your Jack Russell

Choosing the right diet for your Jack Russell is crucial. It plays a vital role in their health and, as such, must be able to meet all their nutritional needs. Jack Russells expend a lot of physical energy, so their dog food must be able to support and maintain them. A poor-quality diet will inevitably have repercussions on their health in the long term. Remember that dogs are opportunistic carnivores who need animal protein to be in perfect health. One of the golden rules of dog food is to avoid the industrial dog food found in supermarkets, as much as possible. This is because it tends to be very low in quality and made using primarily plant protein, which is incapable of meeting your Jack Russell's nutritional requirements. 

Good-quality dog food does not necessarily have to cost more than shop-bought dog food. Learn how to decipher product labels to understand exactly what you're feeding your dog and be sure to choose a healthy composition, without added preservatives or sweeteners. Take into account the fact that your dog's dietary needs are likely to change over time, depending on their age and health condition. A young puppy will need a different diet from an older or sick dog, for example.

If you want to avoid industrial dog food altogether, opt for a tailor-made service like Hector Kitchen. You can choose between feeding your pooch dry dog food, wet dog food, or a mixture of the two. Or, if you have the time and want to control all the ingredients you offer your Jack Russell, you can try feeding them homemade dog food or a BARF diet! Homemade dog food consists of making your dog's meals yourself, from a mixture of cooked meat and vegetables. The BARF diet, on the other hand, is a diet of mainly raw meat with a few cooked vegetables. Please note: You should never implement a BARF diet without first speaking to your vet. You could end up doing more harm than good.

Jack Russell Care and Maintenance

  • Vaccines: between £30 to £60 for the first injection series, plus annual boosters

  • Dog food: from around £50 per month for high-quality dog food

  • Monthly budget: minimum £50 per month

Grooming your Jack Russell is relatively low maintenance. You only need to brush their coat once per week in normal periods. During moulting periods, in spring and autumn, you will need to up their brushing routine to three or four times a week, because they shed more hair. While brushing, take the time to inspect your dog's skin, and check that parasites haven't nested there. Clean their eyes and teeth regularly, and pay special attention to the ears, to avoid the onset of ear infections. Don't forget to trim their nails, too! Long nails can injure your dog in the long run, and prevent them from walking correctly. Finally, keep all their vaccines up to date, as well as deworming and antiparasitic treatments to combat ticks and fleas, especially if you regularly take your dog out hunting.

Jack Russell Terrier Price

The average price of a Jack Russell puppy is between £750 and £1500. The price range is relatively wide for several reasons. Firstly, the Jack Russell is an increasingly popular breed and, as such, you have to consider the laws of supply and demand. Demand for the breed greatly influences the price; the more popular the breed, the longer the waiting list to adopt, and the fewer puppies available for adoption. Breeders can therefore afford to charge more. Dogs intended for exhibition or reproduction, or that come from a champion line, also often go for a higher price. Buying a purebred dog is always expensive, and not everyone can afford it. But there are other options if you’re looking to adopt a dog. Avoid puppy farms and black-market breeders which, although cheaper, often provide their puppies with poor living conditions which exacerbate health and behavioural issues in the long run. Instead, why not call your local animal shelter and let them know you’re looking to adopt a Jack Russell Terrier. That way, they can get in touch with you if one comes in looking for a loving home.

Jack Russell Sleep

Jack Russells are perfectly capable of sleeping outside - if temperatures aren’t too cold, of course! Just be sure to choose their kennel carefully, because your dog’s comfort depends on having access to good shelter for the night. Your Jack Russell’s kennel should be perfectly adapted to their size, for example. Choose a wooden kennel, which is better insulated than plastic, although usually more expensive to buy. Make sure your garden is fenced and secure to prevent your dog from escaping. Jack Russells also enjoy sleeping indoors with their owners but, again, take care when choosing your dog’s bed. Avoid letting your pooch sleep in your bedroom, as you may encourage them to develop a very strong attachment to you, which ultimately leads to separation anxiety that can be difficult to manage.

Games and Physical Activities for Your Jack Russell

Despite its small size, the Jack Russell is a particularly energetic dog, which needs a lot of energy each day to be completely balanced and happy. It is, therefore, necessary to provide lots of games and toys for your Jack Russell. This statement is even truer if your pooch lives in an apartment. You will need to be able to devote at least two hours a day to make it work. Take your dog for a run with you if you're a jogging enthusiast. Your Jack Russell will be very happy to accompany you on every run, bike ride, or hike in the forest. The Jack Russell is also perfectly suited for canine activities such as agility and tracking.

At home, make sure you have enough games and toys to occupy your pooch in your absence. The Jack Russell is an intelligent dog breed, who will quickly get bored if left alone for too long. Brain games, such as Kongs or puzzles, are ideal for occupying your pooch and preventing them from getting bored.

Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Jack Russell

As a family dog, pet insurance is not obligatory for your Jack Russell. However, taking out a pet insurance policy for your dog helps to cover you in the event of accident or illness. Even if your dog is not aggressive by nature, accidents can happen quickly and you would be held responsible for any damage or harm caused to a third party by your dog. Pet insurance is a great way to make sure you're not hit with any nasty surprises. Most home insurance policies offer the option to include animal liability insurance. You can also purchase third party public liability dog insurance, which provides additional protection.

On the other hand, if you use your dog for hunting, you will need to take out special insurance to protect yourself. This type of insurance is only valid during the hunting season. Additionally, pet insurance for dogs is a great way to make sure your Jack Russell gets the healthcare they deserve throughout their life. This dog breed is prone to certain diseases and, as vet fees are not standardised in the UK, veterinary costs can be very high. Health insurance for your Jack Russell works the same way as for humans: you pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and, in return, they reimburse you for any veterinary expenses. 

In any case, before deciding on a particular contract, make sure to shop around for quotes and assess which best suits your circumstances. Then, take the time to read the fine print to ascertain the type of services offered, as well as the reimbursement rate, limits, and eligibility or exclusion clauses. Some insurance companies may refuse to insure dogs that are too old, too young, or already sick. So, don't wait for your Jack Russell to get sick or old before taking out pet insurance for them, or you may risk them not being properly taken care of. Insurance companies may also refuse to reimburse costs incurred for certain diseases, genetic or hereditary diseases in particular. Read your contract carefully before signing and don't hesitate to ask your vet for advice.

The average cost for pet insurance in the UK in 2020 worked out at £436 per year or just over £36 per month. Certain criteria, such as where you live or the age and breed of your dog, may cause prices to vary. Lifetime dog insurance is more expensive but also provides the most comprehensive cover. This usually costs closer to around £80 per month.