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Arguably the most popular small dog breed within the UK today is the instantly recognisable Jack Russell terrier, with its small, wiry build, bright eyes and high intelligence. Any busy dog park or any other environment where dogs and owners gather will usually contain at least one Jack Russell, and these hugely popular small, plucky dogs are the pet of choice for a wide variety of owners from all walks of life.
The physical appearance of the Jack Russell remains very similar to the working-dog build that the breed has shown for hundreds of years, and the Jack Russell is sturdy, wiry and compact. The height of Jack Russells can range between 10 and 15 inches tall at the withers, and the Jack Russell weighs on average between 14-18lb. The coat of the Jack Russell is comprised of a mixture of white and tan or white and black, or a tricolour appearance. The main part of the coat should be predominantly white. The texture of the coat is very variable between dogs of the breed, and the Jack Russell may be either rough coated, smooth coated or broken coated, which refers to a combination of both coat types.
The Jack Russell’s face is small and compact, with a strong jaw and bright, alert eyes.
The Jack Russell terrier is one of our longest established home-grown dog breeds, with a recorded history going back to the 1700’s. The breed’s earlier origins can be found in the English White Terrier (now extinct) and the Jack Russell gets its name from the Reverend John Russell, who first bred dogs into the appearance and type that we now call the Jack Russell.
The Jack Russell is first and foremost a working dog, with a long history of assisting people with hunting and vermin control. The Jack Russell terrier was a familiar sight alongside of huntsmen before the Hunting Act (2004) outlawed hunting with dogs. The Jack Russell terrier’s strong hunting instincts and diminutive build enable the dog to enter fox burrows and underground hides in order to flush out their quarry or perform the final kill.
Jack Russells are also enthusiastic ratters, and were historically well regarded for their skills in keeping the rodent population under control.
In the aftermath of World War Two, the Jack Russell terrier gained an increasing following of enthusiasts of keeping the Jack Russell as a pet, and the Jack Russell began a large-scale migration from the kennel and working yard into the domestic home. For owners seeking a small, intelligent and plucky companion pet, the Jack Russell is hard to beat! Despite their small size, affectionate nature and cute appearance, the Jack Russell is by no means a lapdog, however! The small Jack Russell body contains a huge personality, and these alert, cheerful dogs are highly active, very inquisitive and have a real lust for life!
Jack Russells are lively, high-energy dogs that require an active lifestyle and enthusiastic owners. They are intelligent and quick to learn, but can be prone to stubbornness. Unambiguous training, consistency and clear boundaries are essential for keeping the Jack Russell terrier happy and obedient, and these little dogs will soon segue themselves into the alpha role or take on the personality of a tiny terrorist if poorly managed or inadequately trained!
Jack Russells are generally highly personable and affectionate with people, although they should be properly introduced to strangers to avoid defensiveness. The Jack Russell must be treated with respect, and will not tolerate baiting or teasing by children, although they make excellent companions for well-behaved and sensible kids.
The Jack Russell is generally social with other dogs, although socialisation must be undertaken carefully and the boundaries of acceptable play established when the dog is young. Jack Russells are plucky and almost fearless, and will think nothing of taking on a canine opponent many times larger than themselves if threatened or incorrectly managed!
Like all terriers, the Jack Russell has an inherent genetic predisposition to pursue smaller prey, and great care must be taken to train the young Jack Russell out of chasing cats and other smaller creatures, and the careful management of time outside of the home and potential muzzling will be required in some cases.
Jack Russells require plenty of exercise and both mental and physical stimulation, and will become bored, destructive and hard to manage if they do not receive this. While the Jack Russell can live perfectly happily in smaller houses and apartments, plenty of provision must be made for long walks and plenty of play outside of the house too. The Jack Russell’s intelligence, concentration levels and quick, nippy surefootedness make them an excellent choice of dog for canine agility, flyball and other dog sports. The Jack Russell is one of the most commonly seen dogs competing in organised events and team sports up and down the UK.
The Jack Russell has an enviable reputation as a long-lived breed with robust health, and is not prone to falling victim to continual or ongoing minor ills.
However, the Jack Russell is also potentially prone to a range of genetically inherited illnesses and ailments, including:
As many conditions are genetically inherited and found most commonly within specific Jack Russell breed lines, tracing the ancestry of any Jack Russell terrier that you are considering buying and asking about the occurrence rate of these conditions within the dog’s history can help you to make an informed decision about which puppy to buy.
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