Jack Russell Terrier Dogs

Dont be surprised by the small size: Jack Russell Terriers can be a handful. Amazingly athletic and bursting with energy, they have natural instinct to hunt, track and solve problems in the wild.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier Pictures

  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named buster
  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named poquito
  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named MOE
  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named Trixie
  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named Milo
  • Jack Russell Terrier dog named Rufus
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Quick Facts

  • 15 - 18 pounds
  • 10 - 15 inches

Ideal Human Companions

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

Jack Russell Terriers on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

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

What They Are Like to Live With

If you live in a city or the suburbs, your Jack Russell will want plenty of walks and excursions. In an apartment or small home, you’ll almost hear the “humming” energy of your JRT: They are perky, lively and fiercely protective of their environments. And they make great guard dogs: A stranger approaching the house will be met with relentless barking.

Not only are they useful, they can be—with the proper focus and training—excellent members of the family: loyal, loving and fun.

Things You Should Know

Jack Russell Terriers have a fierce, headstrong independence and need special attention to maintain an even keel. For this reason, some experts recommend that only experienced dog handlers should have one. Animal shelters around the country 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 and dig and chase small animals. However, a fenced-in yard will often 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 a fearlessness that could get them into trouble with bigger dogs.

Jack Russell Terriers get along fine 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 this is a solid breed 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 ability to dig animals out of their dens. The term “Jack Russell Terrier” was coined after Rev. Russell’s death in order to distinguish the small working dogs from the existing “fox terriers,” which were larger. Even today, Jack Russell Terriers constitute a wide range of different types.

The Look of a Jack Russell Terrier

About as long as it is tall, a typical Jack Russell is small, sturdy and strong. Their heads are typically flat with some width at the ears, a medium-length muzzle, 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 normally in proportion to body length, set high but not curled up. Jack Russell Terrier coats are smooth but tough enough to be protective, and the colors are typically white with black, tan or brown.

Talk About Jack Russell Terriers 

Jack Russells are a smart, protective, and very active breed

I have a 4-year-old Jack Russell who has all of us well trained. He greets different family members in different ways: with my aunt, he falls at her feet for her to rub his tummy; with my godmother, he goes after her purse because she hides treats for him there. He is very active and his favorite thing is to play ball. The one thing he doesn't like is for other dogs to walk down our street; he grabs his pillow and shakes the daylights out of it until the other dog has gone away. I would recommend this breed to anyone who has enough energy to handle them. I would not recommend this breed to an elderly person because they have way too much energy.

~Valeria H., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

A highly energetic, intelligent breed

I love our Jack Russell Terrier. We are his 4th home and got him from a family that couldn't take care of him. He was crate and potty trained, but not behavior trained or socialized. He took to treat training quite well. He is very smart and learns quickly. Today, he knows a good number of commands. I can now take him to pet stores and he plays well with other dogs and doesn't bark. He has a lot of energy, jumps unbelievably high, runs with great speed, and loves to play, but he is also very cuddly and loving. While he loves to sit in my lap, he is not a fragile lap dog. He is sturdy, strong and healthy.

~Laurie C., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Looking for a cute, mischievous little dog?

My Jack Russell Terrier is just so loving and friendly. I look forward to seeing him when I get home from work. He's been such a great companion and is so cute and mischievous. He is very protective of my family and loves people. My children just love him, he really is part of the family.

~Shelly, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Three Jacks and counting!

Yes, our three have high energy and love nothing more than exploding out the back door each morning like hairy torpedoes to catch something. To date, they've brought home 19 rats, 27 lizard tails and cornered one rattlesnake. They love touching us when exhausted from hunting and turning our backyard into a lunar landscape! We've had JRTs on our window sills, dining room table and 5 feet up a Palo Verde tree! For three dogs all the same breed, they're as different as night and day but they're all loving and protective.

Before recommending this breed, I would strongly suggest you contact a breeder to get the full picture. These little dogs are headstrong and you need to maintain "pack leader" status at all times to get their full benefit as family members.

~Barb C., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

An adept little thief

I got my precious little overachiever in August 2010. She is the funniest creature that I have ever lived with: headstrong and determined yet cuddly, kissy, and loving. My JRT is a "puddin," so she can hide almost anywhere and you cannot always find her until SHE is ready to be discovered. If I were in law enforcement, she would have been arrested a long time ago for the number of things that she has stolen.

I would never trade her for anything else in the world. She is an absolute joy but she's a lot of work as well. I know that our relationship will grow over the years to come and for that I am very grateful.

~Dee H., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Fierce energy and bravery in a small package

I have a 3-year old Jack Russell Terrier. The first 3-4 months of owning him were awful - he wanted to dominate my family and I. However, after some great obedience training, he's turned into a wonderful dog. He understands that the humans are in charge now but that we see fit to give him some latitude in terms of treats and rewards. He loves to cuddle and greets you with such enthusiasm after arriving home from work. He watches TV like a human....I actually think he's getting into plot lines!

He wants everyone to be his friend and LOVES people. His happiest moments are being outside with his family. Having a great yard is an absolute must for this dog - JRTs NEED exercise. Even in the coldest of weather with the ground covered in snow, my Jack has to go out and romp around. He's yearning for the summer and warm weather again - he's literally outside all day in the summer. JRTs are a great family dog but definitely not for someone who doesn't have a good yard that he can run in or for an elderly person who is unsteady on his/her feet - JRTs jump A LOT!

~Ashley, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Be prepared!

I have a two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, and I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. If you are planning on getting a JRT then you have to be prepared. They are quite stubborn and if not socialized can be trouble. They are a stubborn breed that requires a lot of challenges, whether it is turning on a light or chasing around a bottle full of treats. They can have high anxiety which requires reassurance and knowledge. With these dogs, training is an absolute must.

Despite the downfalls of a JRT, they are loving and loyal. Great for the outdoors enthusiast. My trainer suggested that my JRT have a task around the house. So I decided to have a touch-sensitive light that she can reach and turn on. She also has a problem with strange dogs and strangers, though it has been better with socializing and training. She gets along well with family members including children. Great dog for the responsible pet owner.

~Ashlea A., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Jacks are the best!

We have 4 Jacks at home, the last was adopted from the humane society where she had been rescued from a puppy mill. She gets along famously with the other three Jacks and our two cats. She learned how to use the doggy doors within 10 minutes of being in the house!

Jack Russells are very energetic, but ours are well trained and they listen when they are told to stop doing something. They are great hunters and chase every thing from squirrels to lizards with wild abandon! Wouldn't trade them for anything!

~Monica S. , owner of Jack Russell Terriers

Endless energy!

We got our Jack Russell, Tysen, from another family who had raised him in a unit. They had a child and started locking Tysen in other rooms. So he would bark. And so, we got him! His papers say he is crossed with a Shih Tzu, but he is more JRT than anything. Yes he can jump high, he ferrets around catching lizards and his energy is boundless. His smile is adorable and when he is upset you really feel for him. He protects me against everyone. We introduced another dog over a year ago and Tysen still tries to dominate him - always trying to be the higher dog. But all in all i wouldn't be without him. He is the perfect companion.

~Krystal W, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

My best friend

My Jack Russell is, simply put, wonderful in every way. Yes he is a handful of energy and just full of life, is loyal, and sleeps with my wife and I. He is the light of our life. We had a Cocker for 15 yrs who was wonderful until she died last year. Then we got Rocky and our lives have never been the same. What a wonderful breed of dog. Highly recommended.

~Ray, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

One active puppy!

My family dog, the sixth-month old Jack Russell who was very quaintly named Jack-Jack, is a hyper, playful (not to mention very mischievous) dog.

Although he doesn't eat much, he can go on and on for one whole day and at times half of the night. He is very inquisitive and will not listen to you when there is something on the ground that he can inspect.

A very intelligent and likable breed, this is a hyperactive dog that can keep you laughing. He'll be the dog for you if you have enough time to spend with him.

~Liz , owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

An awesome breed

My Jack Russell Terrier is a family dog. He's fully tanned with a white breast and called Jake. He's perfect with any human and brilliant with my children. He just has a bit of a problem socializing with other male dogs and chasing anything that moves.

He's now just over two years old and we've had him over a year now. It has been a struggle to train him but it has been worth it. Overall, in the right hands this breed makes an excellent family dog and is perfect if the working type of dog is what you are looking for.

~Nicholas M., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Cute, loyal and a lot of fun

I love my Jack Russell so much. He's my best friend. He's cute, he's loyal and a lot of fun. He goes where I go and he moves where I move. The only issue with him is that he's very hyper. I would advise anyone who wants a Jack Russell that they have to be prepared to walk their dog a lot and know ahead of time that he's going to be very active. Another issue is that he seems to freak out whenever I leave the room. But I would never in a million years leave him behind!

~Jennifer K., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Lots of work, but very loyal.

I "inherited" a Jack Russell when my husband, Michael, moved in with me about 5 years ago. I owned two large golden retrievers, so his small, energetic, stocky pup was new to me -- but I was up to the challenge.

When Reagan first moved in, he was very territorial and protective of my husband. In fact, he bit me three times, drawing blood each time. Reagan "marked" every possible area of my home, and attacked my dogs numerous times. Of course, we were patient, recognizing that he was being protective and territorial. Michael had taken him to obedience training as a pup, as every JRT owner should, but I had never attended a session.

Our first step in acclimating Reagan to my environment was involving me in his obedience. It took quite some time. I had to learn how to handle a JRT (which is much different than handling a golden!) but with consistency and fairness, Reagan and I soon became best buddies.

I learned that JRTs want to follow rules, they are INCREDIBLY smart (Reagan remembered his training years after initially learning), and they want a "job" in your family. I would not trust Reagan with small children, but he does wonderfully with older children and adults. He is an integral part of our family, but requires much work and constant reminders of his obedience. I would only recommend JRTs for experienced dog owners.

~Courtney B., owner of a Jack Russell Terrier

Very different temperaments

We have had three Jack Russells, and all have been very different dogs. Lucy, our first, lived until she was 16 1/2. She was a "couch potato" and a one-person dog, and smart as a whip. Maris, now 14, is very active and could play ball all day long (still!). Peyton is 4 and the sweetest dog I have every seen. She is very loving, loyal, and protective. She has also done an excellent job of depopulating our yard of rodents.

If you are thinking about getting a Jack Russell, you need to know that they are active dogs and need physical and mental stimulation. If left for long periods of time without exercise, they will get into trouble. Sadly, we have had friends give away their JRs because they wanted a lap dog.

For the most part, these guys are smart and affectionate, but they need to be able to zip around. I would not get this breed if you do not have a yard.

If you decide on this breed, be sure to get your dog from a responsible breeder. I did a lot of leg work before we got Peyton, and she is the best dog I have ever had.

~WJS, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier