Dog Breeds
the ultimate guide to jack russell colours coat types

The Ultimate Guide to Jack Russell Colours and Coat Types

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Dive into the diverse world of Jack Russell colours and coat types. From classic tricolours to unique markings, explore the spectrum of these charming canine companions and discover what makes each one so special.
a brown and white jack russell laying his head on a mossy rock in a forest


Are you ready to immerse yourself in the captivating realm of Jack Russell Terrier colours and coats? These pint-sized dynamos, with their feisty nature and hunting background, boast a gene pool as diverse as their personalities.

Imagine a canvas where a pristine white base coat serves as the foundation, adorned with splashes of colour – from brown markings to black patches – creating a mesmerising tapestry of patterns.
But the allure doesn't end there; Jack Russell Terriers also exhibit a variety of coat textures, from the smooth elegance of a sleek coat to the rugged charm of a rough double coat.

Join us as we delve into the rich history and fascinating characteristics that define this beloved breed and if you're looking for a new Jack Russell, we'll help you find the perfect colour for you.

a jack russell standing on a rock in a forest, the sun is shining through the trees

Unveiling the Jack Russell Terrier breed

Originating from the hunting fields of England, Jack Russell Terriers are renowned for their boundless energy, keen hunting instinct, and unwavering loyalty.

Compare the Jack Russell's hunting heritage with other breeds in our review of Spaniel breeds.

Despite their diminutive size, these terriers pack a punch, fueled by their feisty spirit and relentless drive. With black noses twitching and ears perked, they're always ready for adventure, whether it's chasing down vermin or simply exploring the great outdoors.

However, their independent nature and separation anxiety means they thrive best in the company of their human pack. As cherished members of households worldwide, Jack Russell Terriers bring joy and laughter wherever they go, embodying the essence of true terrier spirit.

Key takeaways:

  • Jack Russell Terriers come in various colours and coat types.

  • The three main coat types are smooth, rough, and broken.

  • Popular colours include white, black, brown, tan, lemon, red, and tri-colour.

  • Coat colouration is determined by genetics, including the presence of dominant white and coloured markings.

  • Distinct markings such as over-eye patches, ear patches, full face masks and saddle markings add individuality to the breed.

  • Proper coat care is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of a Jack Russell Terrier.

a tri-colour jack russell looking directly at the camera

Discovering the diverse coat types of Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their vibrant array of coat types, each showcasing a unique charm. From sleek and practical to wiry and full of character, Jack Russells offer the best of both worlds when it comes to coat variety. Let's explore the different coat types of this spirited breed:

Smooth coat: the sleek yet practical option

The smooth coat Jack Russell has a short and dense coat that lies close to the body. This coat type is not only sleek and stylish, but it also requires less maintenance compared to other coat types. The smooth coat is easy to groom and sheds less, making it a practical choice for owners who prefer a low-maintenance option.

Rough coat: a wiry exterior with charm

The rough coat Jack Russell has a wiry and weather-resistant outer coat, giving them a distinct appearance. This coat type requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling. The rough coat not only adds charm to the breed but also provides additional protection from the elements, making it suitable for dogs who spend time outdoors.

Broken coat: the best of both worlds

The broken coat is a combination of the smooth and rough coat types, offering the best of both worlds. It has a slightly longer and harsher coat than the smooth coat, but not as long as the rough coat. The broken coat requires moderate grooming to maintain its appearance and offers a good balance between the sleekness of the smooth coat and the texture of the rough coat.

a black and white jack russell terrier jumping in orange leaves

Exploring the palette of Jack Russell colours

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their vibrant array of coat colours. From classic whites to striking tri-colours, the Jack Russell colour palette offers a beautiful variety that showcases the unique charm of this spirited breed.

  • White: The white coat is a defining characteristic of Jack Russell Terriers. It is clean and bright, often accompanied by coloured markings.

  • Black: Black is another common colour found in Jack Russell Terriers. It adds a touch of elegance and contrast to their coat.

  • Brown: Brown colouration can range from deep chocolate to lighter shades, creating a warm and rich appearance in the Jack Russell's coat.

  • Tan: Tan colours, such as fawn or light brown, can be seen in various patterns on the Jack Russell's coat. They add depth and dimension to their overall appearance.

  • Lemon: Lemon refers to a pale yellow colour that can be found in some Jack Russell Terriers. It gives their coat a soft and delicate tone.

  • Red: Red colouration is vibrant and eye-catching. It ranges from deep red to a rusty hue, adding warmth and energy to the Jack Russell's coat.

  • Tri-colour: Tri-colour Jack Russell Terriers have a combination of white, black, and tan markings on their coat. This creates a striking and unique appearance that sets them apart.

These colours can appear in different combinations and variations, making each Jack Russell Terrier truly one-of-a-kind. Whether it's the classic white coat with coloured markings or the bold tri-colour pattern, the Jack Russell colour palette offers a diverse range of options that capture the spirit and individuality of this beloved breed.

a white and brown jack russell standing at the summit of a mountain

Tail markings

Tail markings on Jack Russell Terriers vary, often complementing the colours and patterns found on the rest of their bodies. While the breed standard emphasises a predominantly white coat with black and/or tan markings, Jack Russells may exhibit a range of tail markings, from solid colours to spots and speckles. Saddle markings, spots along the tail, and ticking (small freckle-like spots) are common variations seen in Jack Russell coats.

four brown and white, wire-haired jack russells running through foliage in a forest

Understanding the role of genetics in Jack Russell colouration

When it comes to Jack Russell Terriers, their coat colours are not just a matter of random chance. The genetics behind their colouration play a significant role in determining the shades and patterns that adorn their fur. In this section, we will explore the fascinating world of Jack Russell colour genetics, from the intriguing history of dominant white to the artistry of coloured markings and patterns.

Dominant white: the history behind the hue

One of the most prominent aspects of Jack Russell coat colours is the presence of dominant white. This characteristic can be traced back to the breed's origins and their purpose as a working terrier. Dominant white represents a gene that inhibits the production of pigment cells, resulting in a predominantly white coat. This distinctive trait has become a defining feature of the Jack Russell Terrier and adds to their charm and allure.

Coloured markings: the art of patterns and patches

While the dominant white coat sets the foundation, it's the coloured markings that bring variety and individuality to the Jack Russell Terrier's appearance. Through a combination of genetics and chance, these markings create unique patterns and patches on their fur. From spots and speckles to bands and freckles, the possibilities are endless. Whether it's a single splash of colour or a symphony of hues, each Jack Russell's coat is a masterpiece in itself.

The genetic lottery: what determines a Jack Russell's coat colour?

The determination of a Jack Russell's coat colour is like playing a genetic lottery. It involves a complex interplay of multiple genes that interact and combine to produce different shades and patterns. Factors such as the presence of recessive genes, the interaction between pigmentation genes, and random mutations all contribute to the incredible diversity of coat colours seen in this spirited breed.

Coat colour

Gene combination




Predominantly white coat with minimal to no coloured markings

Black and tan


Black body with tan-coloured markings on the face, chest, and legs

Lemon and white


Lemon or pale yellow body with white markings

Red and white


Red or reddish-brown body with white markings



Combination of white, black, and tan markings, often with ticking or speckling

As we can see from the table above, each coat colour in Jack Russell Terriers is determined by a specific combination of genes.

Understanding these genetic factors can provide valuable insights into the coat colouration of individual dogs and help breeders selectively produce desired colours and patterns.

a red and white jack russell doing a handstand on a floor of leaves

Popular markings and their unique characteristics

In addition to their diverse coat types and colours, Jack Russell Terriers are known for their unique markings, which add to their individuality and charm. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular markings found in these spirited dogs and the distinct characteristics they exhibit.

Celebrating the classic: over-eye and ear patches

One of the most iconic marking patterns seen in Jack Russell Terriers is the presence of over-eye and ear patches. These markings, usually in contrasting colours to the base coat, are located just above the eyes and around the ears. The over-eye patches create an endearing and expressive look, while the ear patches give the appearance of "freckles" on the ears. These classic markings highlight the attentive and alert nature of the breed.

Full-face masks: a striking contrast

Another striking marking pattern seen in Jack Russell Terriers is the full-face mask. These masks cover a significant portion of the dog's face, usually in a contrasting colour to the rest of the coat. The well-defined lines of the mask create a dramatic contrast that enhances the terrier's lively expression. Full-face masks are often seen in combination with white markings on the muzzle, giving Jack Russells their distinctive appearance.

The saddle markings: a stamp of individuality

Saddle markings are another unique characteristic found in Jack Russell Terriers. These markings resemble a saddle shape and are typically located on the dog's back, with a central line extending from the neck to the tail. The saddle markings can vary in size, shape, and colour, making each Jack Russell Terrier's pattern truly unique. These markings give each dog an individuality that adds to the charm and appeal of the breed.

Marking type


Over-eye and ear patches

Located above the eyes and around the ears; contrasting colours to the base coat; endearing and expressive look.

Full-face masks

Covers a significant portion of the face; contrasting colour to the rest of the coat; enhanced lively expression.

Saddle markings

Resemble a saddle shape on the back; central line extending from the neck to the tail; unique size, shape, and colour for each dog.

a jack russell laying on his back on the grass between his owners legs

Jack Russell coat care: tips for a healthy breed

Caring for the coat of your Jack Russell Terrier is essential to maintain their overall health and well-being. The coat of a Jack Russell can vary depending on their specific coat type, but proper grooming, regular bathing and consistent coat care are vital for a healthy and happy breed.

Here are some tips to help you keep your Jack Russell's coat in top condition:

1. Grooming: Regular grooming is necessary to remove tangles, prevent matting and reduce shedding. Use a slicker brush or a comb to gently brush your Jack Russell's coat, paying attention to the areas where tangles are more likely to occur, such as behind the ears and on the belly. Regular grooming also helps distribute the natural oils in your dog's coat, keeping it healthy and shiny.

2. Shedding: Jack Russell Terriers are moderate shedders, so expect some hair around the house. To minimise shedding, brush your dog's coat regularly and consider using a shedding tool or de-shedding shampoo during the bath. Vacuuming regularly and using a lint roller can help keep your home free from excess hair.

3. Bathing: While Jack Russells don't require frequent baths, regular bathing is necessary to keep their coat clean and free from dirt and oils. Use a gentle dog shampoo that is specifically formulated for their coat type, and rinse thoroughly to remove all the soap residue. Be sure to dry your Jack Russell thoroughly after the bath, as moisture trapped in their coat can lead to skin problems.

For more detailed instructions on keeping your furry friend clean and comfortable, check out our guide on how to bathe a dog.

4. Protect from dirt and oil: Preventing your Jack Russell from getting excessively dirty can help maintain a healthier coat. Avoid letting them roll in muddy areas or excessive digging, as dirt and oil can accumulate in their coat, leading to matting and skin issues.

5. Healthy diet: A balanced diet plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy coat. Ensure your Jack Russell is receiving proper nutrition, including essential fatty acids, which contribute to a shiny and healthy coat. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog's specific needs.

Explore our guide to raw dog food for insights into how nutrition impacts your pet's coat and overall health.

You can also learn about what treats to avoid in our helpful guides to human food questions such as, can dogs eat jelly?

6. Professional grooming: Consider taking your Jack Russell to a professional groomer for regular trimming of their nails and shaping of their coat. Professional groomers can also provide additional services such as ear cleaning and teeth brushing, ensuring your Jack Russell is well-groomed and in optimal health.

By following these coat care tips, you can ensure that your Jack Russell Terrier has a healthy and well-maintained coat. Remember, proper grooming, regular bathing, and general coat care are essential for keeping your Jack Russell looking their best and feeling their happiest.

a side angle shot of a tri-colour jack russell against a blurred green and brown background


In conclusion, this article has explored the fascinating world of Jack Russell colours and coat types, highlighting the vibrant array and diverse characteristics within this spirited breed. We have discussed the three main coat types - smooth coat, rough coat, and broken coat - each with its own unique qualities and care requirements.

Furthermore, we have delved into the palette of Jack Russell colours, including white, black, brown, tan, lemon, red and tri-colour variations. These colours add to the charm and individuality of each Jack Russell Terrier.

Understanding the role of genetics in Jack Russell colouration has also been a key focus. From the history of dominant white to the intricate patterns and patches that contribute to a dog's coat, it is clear that genetics play a significant part in determining the colour and markings of Jack Russells.

In caring for a Jack Russell's coat, regular grooming, shedding management, and proper bathing techniques are essential. By following these tips, owners can ensure a healthy and well-maintained coat.

Overall, Jack Russell colours and coat types are a remarkable aspect of this beloved breed. By appreciating their diversity and understanding the genetics behind them, we can fully embrace the unique beauty and charm that each Jack Russell Terrier brings into our lives.

Discover more about canine diversity in our feature on the top ten rarest dog breeds.

Curious about where Jack Russells stand among other favourites? Explore the
most popular dog breeds in 2024.


What are the different coat types of Jack Russell Terriers?

Jack Russell Terriers can have smooth coats, rough coats, or broken coats.

What is a smooth coat?

A smooth coat is sleek and practical, requiring minimal grooming.

What is a rough coat?

A rough coat features a wiry exterior that adds charm to the breed's appearance.

What is a broken coat?

A broken coat is a mix between a smooth coat and a rough coat, offering the best of both worlds.

What are the different colours that can be found in Jack Russell Terriers?

Jack Russell Terriers come in a vibrant array of colours, including white, black, brown, tan, lemon, red and tri-colour variations.

What role do coloured markings play in a Jack Russell's coat?

Coloured markings, such as patches and patterns, add character and uniqueness to the coat of Jack Russell Terriers.

How is a Jack Russell's coat colour determined?

The coat colour of a Jack Russell Terrier is determined by a complex genetic process involving various gene codes.

What are some popular markings found on Jack Russell Terriers?

Jack Russell Terriers often have over-eye patches, ear patches, full face masks and saddle markings that contribute to their distinct appearance.

How should I care for the coat of a Jack Russell Terrier?

Proper coat care includes regular grooming, managing shedding, bathing when necessary, and keeping the coat free from dirt and excess oil.

Understand peculiar behaviours with our article on why dogs roll in poop and fox poo, which might challenge keeping your Jack Russell's coat pristine.

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