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Jack Russell Terrier running sideways

Getting to know the Jack Russell Terrier

This funny, energetic pup—the Jack Russell Terrier—is a staple in many stock image photos, memes and has starred in television shows. Eddie, from the television show, Frasier, comes to mind as an integral comedic foil to the show’s characters.

The AKC calls this breed friendly, athletic and clever. They were bred to be compact and tireless hunting dogs.

History Of The Jack Russell Terrier

There is discussion on how the Russell Terrier, the breed’s original name, became known as the “Jack” Russell Terrier (also known as the “Parson” Russell Terrier). John “Jack” Russell, referred to as the “the sporting parson” was a dog breeder, an ordained minister and a hunting enthusiast. In 1795, it’s been written the Reverend Russell saw a female white terrier with spots over her eyes, on her ears, and on the tip of her tail, and bought her from her owner. He bred a line of fox hunting terriers, later called Jack Russells or Parson Russells.

Characteristics Of The Jack Russell Terrier

This clever little dog will steal your heart with her affectionate and charming nature; but be forewarned, she can be a handful to train. This breed is best-suited to an experienced owner who has the skill level and patience necessary to positively train this charmer to be a great pet.  Known for its fearless nature and for being an independent thinker, the Jack Russell Terrier’s independent streak can lead to a stand-off between dog and owner during training sessions. 

On a scale of one to five, this breed scores a three in adaptability. He can adapt well to living in an apartment, can tolerate cold and hot weather, can be left alone, but is not ideal for a novice pet owner. Keep in mind this breed is known for its “mouthiness” and he does love to bark and howl—without proper training he will not be a great apartment dweller.

When it comes to friendliness, the Jack Russell loves his family and is friendly with other dogs. He is best-suited for older children, rather than young children or toddlers. Your Jack Russell won’t scare away strangers, but it’s not likely that he will immediately warm up to everyone.

Jack Russell Terrier Health & Care Facts

Jack Russells come in three different coat types: broken, rough, and smooth. No matter the type of coat, these dogs are prolific shedders and require regular brushing. His keen, almond-shaped eyes give you a glimpse into his intelligent and mischievous nature. 

This breed weighs between nine and fifteen pounds and is between ten and twelve inches tall. Their life expectancy is between twelve and fourteen years. They are considered generally healthy; but they have a propensity toward weight gain. That can be thwarted by feeding him the correct amount of food and by giving him the exercise he craves. Also, when training this intelligent pup, use treats sparingly.

Is The Jack Russell Terrier The Right Dog Breed For You?

If you tend to be a couch potato, consider another breed because the Jack Russell Terrier requires copious amounts of exercise. With his high energy level and his intelligence, he needs both physical and mental challenges to keep bad behaviors at bay. He is playful and plays at a high level of intensity and his energy level will keep you up and moving, too!

This dog would be a great companion for someone who loves long walks or daily runs. When you and your Jack Russell are outside, he needs to be securely leashed or contained in a fence because their prey drive and need to hunt is still strong.

Fun fact: A Jack Russell can jump five feet high; if you have one, you’d need a tall fence to keep him contained! They also love to dig; the fence would need to be constructed to thwart that activity, too.


If you’re not certain how to train this high energy, intelligent dog you will want to work with a trainer; remember this is not a breed that is well-suited toward a novice dog owner. You need to be patient, firm, consistent and willing to give this tireless pup the exercise and energy-burning activities he needs in addition to keeping his mind engaged.

Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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