1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Jack Russell ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a Jack Russell
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Jack Russell
The Jack Russell is one of the most popular companion dogs and family pets in the UK as well as elsewhere in the world and for good reason. They are bold, happy and high energy dogs that thrive on being around people. However, because they have such a lot of energy, they need to be given the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Although the Jack Russel is a great family pet, they need to be kept in the right sort of environment because these feisty, little dogs love nothing more than to be in the great outdoors doing something.
The Jack Russell Terrier first appeared on the scene back in the early 1800's when they were bred by the Reverend John Russell who was a keen hunting enthusiast. He used one particular white coated Fox Terrier in his breeding programme and eventually a distinct breed in its own right emerged. His goal was to produce an instantly recognisable dog and one that boasted enough stamina and courage to cope with the more challenging terrains and conditions that dogs were often asked to work on.
The Reverend also wanted a dog that would go to ground after quarry without kill they prey. After the death of Reverend Russell, a group of enthusiasts carried on his work wanting to breed small terriers under 6.5 kg in weight. Breed numbers declined during the Second World War after which time these charming, feisty little dogs became more popular as pets rather than as working dogs. It's thought the dogs we see today are descendants of the terriers created and developed by the Reverend during the 1800's.
Height at the withers: Males 25 - 30 cm, Females 25 - 30 cm
Average weight: Males 6.4 - 8.2 kg, Females 6.4 - 8.2 kg
Jack Russell Terriers are often described as being "small and perfectly put together" which is understandable being that these little terriers are so well proportioned and nicely balanced. Their skulls are quite flat and moderately wide being narrower around a dog's eyes before tapering to the muzzle. They have well-defined stops along with nicely muscled cheeks. Their noses are black and their lips are tight and black in colour too.
They have almond shaped eyes that are quite small and dark in colour with Jack Russells always having a keen, alert expression in them. A dog can either have button or dropped ears which they carry close to their heads. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Necks are clean and strong being sufficiently long for dogs to carry their heads proudly.
Their shoulders are well laid back and dogs have nicely pronounced forechests. Front legs are powerful showing a good amount of bone. They have compact, powerful and sturdy bodies and level backs which dip slightly at the loins. Chests are quite deep and wide with dogs have nice oval shaped ribcages and a moderate amount of tuck up to their bellies. Hindquarters are muscular and strong with dogs having powerful, well-muscled back legs. Their feet are round to oval in shape and quite small with moderately arched toes and firm, strong pads. Their tails are set high being thicker at the base and which dogs carry upright when alert, but dropped when at rest.
When it comes to their coat, the Jack Russell can being be rough or smooth coated with both have a softer undercoat. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Jack Russells are lively, feisty, keen and always ready to take off after their prey. However along with being confident and bold, they are friendly and loyal to their owners and families forming strong bonds with one person in a household which is usually the person who feeds and takes the most care of them. They are best suited to people where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they always have company bearing in mind that Jack Russells thrive on human contact.
Because they are so high energy and exuberant by nature, Jack Russells excel at many canine sports such as flyball and agility. Thanks to their intelligence, they stay very focussed when being trained and they thoroughly enjoy competing. Without the right amount of mental stimulation and enough daily exercise, a Jack Russell would quickly get bored and this would lead to a dog developing some destructive behaviours around the home. They could even develop separation anxiety which sees dogs becoming stressed out, nervous and much harder to live with.
It cannot be stressed strongly enough the importance of socialising Jack Russells from a young age so they mature into more relaxed and less hyper adult dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing dogs to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once dogs have been fully vaccinated. Because they boast such high prey drives special care has to be taken as to where and when a Jack Russell Terrier is allowed to run off their leads.
Jack Russell Terriers are very smart little dogs and they learn things extremely quickly which means in the right hands and environment, they are easy to train. The downside is they are just as quick to pick up a lot of bad habits. As such, these feisty little dogs need to be handled and trained with a firm, yet gentle hand so they understand their place in the pack and who it the “boss” in a household.
They are quite sensitive by nature and therefore do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods which would definitely not bring the best out of them. They do answer very well to positive reinforcement and enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given during their training sessions. The key to successfully training a Jack Russell is to start their education early and to always be consistent and fair so that a dog looks to their owner for direction and guidance. Shorter more interesting training sessions work a lot better than longer more repetitive ones because they help keep these high energy terriers more focussed on what is being asked of them.
Jack Russells do make great family pets especially when they have been correctly socialised as puppies. However, they can be a little "snappy" at times which means they are best suited to families where the children are slightly older and therefore know how to behave around dogs. They are not the ideal choice in households where there are toddlers or very young children. As such any interaction between dogs and smaller children should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm.
If well socialised from a young enough age, Jack Russells generally get on well with other dogs. However, care has to be taken when they are anywhere near smaller animals and pets because they might see them as prey with disastrous results. If they have grown up with a family cat they usually get on well together, but a Jack Russell would be quick off the mark to chase any other cats they come across.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Jack Russell is between 13 and 16 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Jack Russell Terrier is known to be a healthy little dog thanks to their large gene pool. With this said there are a few conditions that seem to affect the breed which includes the following:
As with any other breed, Jack Russells need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Jack Russell Terrier can either have a rough or smoot coat, but both have dense undercoats. They do shed throughout the year, only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to stay on top of things. However, at other times of the year a twice weekly brush is all it takes to keep their coats looking good and to remove dead and loose hair.
Their coats also benefit from being hand stripped twice a year which makes it a lot easier to keep it in great condition in between visits to a grooming parlour. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given at least 60 minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount every day, a Jack Russell would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, feisty dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Jack Russell puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Jack Russell puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Jack Russell, you would need to pay anything from £250 to over £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Jack Russell in northern England would be £17.12 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £36.51 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Jack Russell and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £700 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Jack Russell would be between £50 to £70 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
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