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Jack Russell Terrier Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 10 – 15 in
Average Weight:
14 – 18 lbs
Average Life Span:
12 – 15 yrs
White; white with black or tan markings; white with black and tan markings. The base color must always be white
Area of Origin:
Similar Breeds:
Parson Russell Terrier, Russell Terrier, Fox Terrier, Welsh Corgi

History and Origin:

The Jack Russell Terrier is small working terrier type first bred by the Reverend (Parson) John Russell in Devonshire, England in the mid 1800s, the Jack Russell Terrier is a true fox-hunting dog; its physical features and intellectual nature make the perfect combination for chasing a fox through narrow passages underground. It is a descendent of the now-extinct English White Terrier, and retains the mostly white body of its predecessor in order to distinguish the dog from its prey. Both the modern Jack Russell (including the Parson Russell and Russell Terriers) and Fox Terrier are descendants of the dogs that Parson Russell bred, splitting in lineage by the early 20th century, when the modern Fox Terrier had established itself as a breed with different characteristics to Parson Russell’s terriers. Post World War II, the need for a hunting terrier was waning, and the Jack Russell was bred with breeds such as the Welsh Corgi and the Chihuahua in order to develop a well-rounded companion dog. The Russell Terrier (or “Shorty Jack” as it is affectionately known) was the product of these mixes, resulting in a Jack Russell dog with a uniquely rectangular body. The Jack Russell Terrier is not recognized by the AKC, however both the Parson Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier are official breeds, differing in height. Interestingly, other kennel clubs that recognize the Jack Russell, such as the New Zealand Kennel Club, have standardized a size that would make the dog a Russell Terrier in America. Regardless of official status, the terriers of Parson Jack Russell continue to be popular companions today.

Personality and Temperament:

The Jack Russell Terrier is a lively little dog, full of spunk and energy. Extremely intelligent and independent, it can be a challenge to handle, and should only be raised by a dog owner who has experience with the terrier personality and attitude. If socialized and trained properly, the Jack Russell is a delightful family companion, providing hours of entertainment with its antics and unending supply of energy. Due to its strong prey drive, it tends to chase cats and is untrustworthy with other small animals. The Jack Russell’s history as a fox hunter and digger continues to be displayed in the modern dog, and it has a strong tendency to dig up gardens and lawns. Overall, the Jack Russell Terrier is a loving family companion that is suitable for an active household that will include the dog in daily activities. The Jack Russell’s exuberant personality can be a handful for a nervous or first-time dog owner, so previous dog experience is usually recommended.

Exercise & Training:

The Jack Russell always wants to be moving, and requires extensive exercise to keep it happy and healthy. Daily walks, jogs, and playtime is necessary, and the Jack Russell excels at dog sports such as terrier trials, agility, flyball, and disc dog trials. An extremely intelligent breed, the Jack Russell has an extremely high ability to learn, however, due to its stubborn nature it takes time and patience to train. Obedience classes with a trainer who is familiar with terrier behavior is ideal to ensure the Jack Russell remain an attentive learner.


The Jack Russell Terrier can have a smooth, rough, or combination coat. The smooth coat needs brushing a few times a week to remove dead hair; the combination or rough coat needs more attention to avoid matting. As with other terriers, the rough coat should be stripped once or twice a year. Bathe only when necessary to avoid drying out the skin.

Similar Breeds:

The Jack Russell Terrier is either considered to be or is related to both the Parson Jack Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier, which differ mostly in height. The Fox Terrier shares common ancestry with the Jack Russell, both descended from the terriers bred by Parson John Russell. The Russell Terrier, a small, rectangular variation of the Jack Russell, was developed using mostly Welsh Corgi blood.

Interesting Facts about the Jack Russell Terrier:

1. Due to its feisty nature, the Jack Russell is known as the “Rebel Terrier” by many fanciers.

2. A Jack Russell named George saved five children from two dogs that attacked them in New Zealand in 2007. He died from the fight, and was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for his bravery.

3. Two Jack Russell Terriers – Moose and Enzo (father and son) – played the role of Eddie in Fraiser. Both dogs also played the role of Skip in the movie, My Dog Skip (2000).

4. The title character of children’s show, Wishbone, which ran from 1995- 2001, was a Jack Russell Terrier named Willowall Soccer.

Organizations dedicated to the Jack Russell Terrier:

Jack Russell Terrier Club of America
Carolina’s Jack Russell Terrier Club
Russell Rescue, Inc.
Russell Refuge – Jack Russell Terrier Rescue
Mid Atlantic Jack Rescue

Breed Information Jack Russell Terrier

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