Jack Russell Terrier Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 30, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.

Intro / Overview

Jack Russell Terriers are small, lean dogs that are super energetic and super smart! They’re a very recognizable breed and have been a star in movies and TV shows such as The Artist and Wishbone. With their movie star status, they are recognizable by their white coats and large, dark spots, along with their short tails. This breed, originally bred to be foxhunters, love to be outdoors and spend time with their owner, making them a great companion. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Jack Russell Terriers!

Also Known As…

Jack Russells. Jacks. JRTs. “That dog that looks like Wishbone.”


Jack Russell Terriers were first bred in Devonshire, England in the 1800s after a man named Reverend John (Jack) Russell (their namesake) met a Terrier he wanted to train to help him hunt foxes. He bred the dogs to be a specific strain of Fox Terriers, as they were the best dogs for hunting foxes. They were compact and long, so they were able to go down holes to chase foxes and could run in many types of weather. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America was established in 1976 and was well established when the AKC recognized the breed in 1997.


Jack Russells are often between 10 to 15 inches.

Weight Range

The average JRT is between 13 and 17 pounds.


Jack Russells are very energetic and highly intelligent. If this energy and intelligence isn’t given an adequate outlet, like intense training tasks or exercise, then JRTs may seem a bit overactive. However, this high energy is exciting and makes playtime extra fun.

JRTs also have an outgoing personality that is sure to woo you with its playfulness. They often want to be the center of attention, which means they love family time. Many people have noted that Jack Russell Terriers seem to have a big personality and can be independent thinkers. Though this may take some patience to get used to, treating a Jack Russell Terrier as the intelligent dog they are can create an exciting owner-dog relationship.

Intelligence / Trainability

The intense intelligence of a Jack Russell Terrier makes them very trainable. In fact, they need the training to live happy lives with their families. Since they were bred for fox hunting, they enjoy having a task at hand and can be single-minded, which makes them the perfect, focused dog to work on training activities with.

It is important to start training JRTs at a young age, as early socialization is needed for them to react well to other dogs and people. As mentioned before, many movie-famous dogs are Jack Russell Terriers, which speaks to their trainability and motivation to complete a task.

Best Training Techniques For Jack Russell Terriers

Short, focused training sessions will probably be most effective for Jack Russell Terriers. This breed is also highly motivated by treats, so use positive reinforcement to assist in your training. Boring training sessions can lead to a harsh reaction from a Jack Russell Terrier, so trying to mix it up with different “games” to play can help the process go more smoothly. This breed can be stubborn sometimes, so using training to work with what your dog wants, instead of trying to work against your dog, will lead to the best results.

Ideal Environment

Jack Russells would do best in larger houses with a backyard, as they like to be outdoors and require a lot of exercise. Having an outdoor space where the Jack Russell can run around could help channel the extra energy this dog breed tends to have. However, make sure the space is safely enclosed. Jack Russell Terriers love to dig and tend to dig under fences to try to escape. Providing your Jack Russell with enough outlets for their energy can prevent this from happening.

Good For Families And Kids?

All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities.

Jack Russells have enough energy to be in a large family, but are not usually the best dog to be around small children. They may growl or bite if disturbed too much, so it’s best to give them the space that toddlers sometimes don’t want to give to a dog. If a Jack Russell Terrier is around small children, it’s very important to watch both the child and the dog to make sure they engage each other respectfully, or maybe not engage at all.

Despite possible issues with small children, a JRT’s energy can make them an excellent pet for older kids who can help train the dog. Since this breed needs a large amount of training, it is a great activity to teach older kids responsibility and how to work with a dog. Because of this, an active family that likes to go on long walks could be a good fit for Jack Russell Terriers.

Average Lifespan

JRTs generally live between 13 and 16 years.


Jack Russell Terriers are very healthy dogs, but there are a few possible health conditions that an owner should watch out for. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America lists many possible health risks to be on the lookout for, even the rarer conditions. This breed is prone to having eye problems, including glaucoma, so regular eye evaluations are recommended.

Additionally, some may have patellar luxation (loose kneecaps) or congenital deafness. Screenings for these conditions are important for making sure that your Jack Russell Terrier can stay happy and healthy.


Jack Russell Terriers are very high energy dogs that need long walks or play sessions in a big yard. Some Jack Russells will probably need multiple walks per day in order to have a way to get out all of their built-up energy. These dogs want to be running around and seeing new things, rather than just sitting in a room all day.

JRTs would be happy to go on long walks in nature with lots of things to explore; a normal walk may not keep them as intellectually interested as they want to be. Because of this, someone who is active and wants a canine companion to keep them company on their outings would be a great match to these energetic little pups.

Friendly With (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)

If Jack Russell Terriers are socialized at a young age with other dogs, then they can get along well with other pups. However, without this early socialization, they may be a bit reactive towards other dogs, so this is something to watch out for.

Furthermore, because of this breed’s hunting tendencies, they often don’t do well around cats. They may even mistake a cat or other small pet as prey. If you have a calm Jack Russell Terrier, slow and careful introduction to a cat is necessary. Though sometimes reactive towards other pets, this breed is often friendly with humans and is excited to meet new people. They don’t want to be bothered too much, but if treated with respect, they make wonderful companions.

Coat & Grooming

Jack Russell Terriers have two possible coat types: smooth and broken (rough). Both coat types require minimum grooming, mostly just regular brushing to help with possible shedding and debris. They are working dogs and so their coat is no-hassle. Rough-coated Jack Russells may require a bit of extra care, as normal shampoo can damage their coat. Instead, dry shampoo should be used to protect their rough coat, without softening the hair. In addition, checking their ears for debris is an important part of the regular grooming process.


Jack Russell Terriers can have a quirky personality, changing their mind about how they’re feeling often. This independent personality is exciting to be around and you may not ever be sure what is going on inside of their little heads!

Toys Jack Russell Terriers Would Like Best

Jack Russell Terriers love to play with (and also destroy, on occasion) toys. Stuffed toys may be easily torn apart by Jack Russell Terriers, so more durable toys are a better choice. For example, BARK’s Super Chewer toys are nearly indestructible, plus they often come with secret treat compartments for a JRT to sniff out.

If you’re cool with your JRT tearing their toys to smithereens – a fun activity every once in a while! – then Plush Toys will do the trick.

Recommended Diet Or Supplements

Jack Russell Terrier

A Jack Russell Terrier’s diet should be filled with protein and fiber to keep them lean and strong. Jack Russells have the potential to become obese, so feeding them healthy food is an important way that you can extend your dog’s lifespan.

In addition, supplements to keep your dog’s eyes healthy is also important, because of their risk for eye problems. If your JRT suffers from anxiety or other issues, you may want to try CBD. But as always, consult your vet before doing so.

Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)

Recommended Products

Every dog needs a good dog bed, especially Jack Russells who’ve been out running around all day long!

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Bed

Dog in dog bed

This dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s tired body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your hardworking pal. ($27.99-64.99.)

Notable Rescues To Find The Jack Russell Terrier Of Your Dreams

Notable Instagram Jack Russell Terriers





***Looking for a gift to blow your Jack Russell Terrier’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

BarkBox vs Super Chewer BarkBox

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 30, 2019


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.