A complete guide to the Jack Russell terrier breed

Taking its name from legendary hunter Parson Jack Russell, the Jack Russell terrier is surprisingly assertive and feisty for a dog its size, though it lacks the behavioral issues often seen in pitbulls. Originally bred to hunt and track foxes, the Parson Jack Russell terrier is an energetic, confident and tough little dog that loves games and toys.


Height: An adult Jack Russell terrier dog should measure 10 to 15 inches at the withers, or slightly shorter than its cousin, the Boston terrier.

Weight: Dogs of the Jack Russell terrier breed normally weigh about the same as a pug dog - 14 to 18 pounds.

Coat: Jack Russell terrier puppies have downy-soft fur, which will take on a naturally weathered appearance as the dog ages. Upon reaching adulthood, a Jack Russell terrier dog will display either a broken or a smooth coat, but in all cases the fur hangs tightly over the dog's body.

Ears and Eyes: The Parson Jack Russell terrier has almond-shaped, dark eyes. This breed has V-shaped drop ears, which it carries close to the crown of its head.

Tail: This breed has a high-set tail that averages 4 inches in length when fully grown.


A Jack Russell terrier puppy is normally happy and spirited, bold and fearless. It is vital for owners to establish pack superiority, since the Jack Russell terrier is notorious for taking a mile when given an inch. These dogs occasionally show aggression toward other dogs and shouldn't be left alone with other small animals, since they have strong hunting instincts.

AKC Group: Terrier

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Training: Jack Russell terrier breeders stress these breed's propensity for "small dog syndrome," in which the dog believes it outranks all humans. It's vital to show authority when training a Jack Russell terrier puppy. Overall, though, these are highly trainable animals capable of impressive, even amazing, tricks and feats.

Ideal Environment: These dogs are active and can be annoying if they have unspent energy. They thrive in environments where they can be let out for unsupervised activity in a fenced yard.

Health and Care

Feeding: These dogs have no special feeding needs. Direct any specific nutrition questions to a Jack Russell terrier breeder.

Grooming: The Jack Russell terrier breed is low-maintenance, requiring only a regular combing with a firm bristle brush, and occasional bathing as needed.

Exercise: These dogs enjoy a relatively high level of activity. Walk these dogs at least once daily, and play games to exhaust remaining energy. Otherwise, leave them to their own devices in a fenced yard with some favorite toys.

Health Problems: Eye diseases, abnormalities of the hip joints, deafness and a knee syndrome known as luxating patella rank among the most visible health problems for Jack Russell terriers. Keep in mind that every type of dog is subject to breed-specific wellness issues, which become increasingly likely as the dog ages, and that all dogs need regular vet care to screen for common problems like ringworms and tapeworms.

Average Lifespan: Parson Russell terriers can live 15 years or more.

Finding a Jack Russell Terrier to Take Home

Going to a Jack Russell terrier rescue facility is far cheaper than seeking out a breeder with Jack Russell terrier puppies for sale. Jack Russell terrier rescue centers are populated with friendly dogs in search of a loving new home. Breeders normally charge between about $350 and $600 for a puppy of certified parentage.

Avoid buying a pet from a puppy mill. Not only do these farms treat their animals unethically, but they also display a lack of concern for the overall health of the puppies they sell.