The guide to owning a Jack Russell Terrier.

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A Jack Russell Terrier sat on a sofa basking in light piercing through from a window

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Stats at a glance.

Lifespan

Size

Exercise

Average Weight

10-15 years (approximately)

25-38cm

90 to 120 mins per day

Average weight: 6-8 kg


A history of Jack Russells.

The Jack Russell’s roots go back to the 19th century when a man called John Russell developed the terrier to assist in fox hunting. The Reverend Russell was a hunting enthusiast from Devonshire, England and set out to create a small yet agile dog that could thrive in the English countryside.

When breeding the dogs, he focussed on traits such as intelligence, agility and a strong prey drive making them excellent hunting dogs. Jack Russells were used to locate, chase and bolt foxes from their dens, providing hunters with a compact and determined companion. Over time, Jack Russell Terriers became increasingly popular for their hunting abilities and charming personalities. However, it wasn't until the late 20th century that kennel clubs started recognising the breed. In 1974 The Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain was established to promote and preserve the breed.

Three muddy jack russell terriers sat in a line in a garden patch

As the breed gained popularity, different types of Jack Russell Terriers emerged, with variations in size, coat type and characteristics which ultimately led to discussions about standardising the breed. It wasn’t until 2016 that The UK Kennel Club recognised the Jack Russell Terrier as a distinct breed separate from the Parson Russell Terrier.

Today, Jack Russell Terriers are cherished as both working dogs and beloved family pets known for their intelligence, agility and energetic nature. While some people still use them for hunting, many people appreciate their companionship and versatility in various dog sports and activities.

How much is a Jack Russell puppy (UK)?.

The average cost of a Jack Russell puppy in the UK can range from around £400 to £1,500. Factors that determine the cost of Jack Russell puppies include the demand for puppies, your chosen breeder’s reputation and if they are registered with The Kennel Club. Reputable breeders, known for ethical breeding practices, health screenings and proper care for their dogs, often charge higher prices for their puppies. These breeders prioritise the health and well-being of their animals at all times.

It’s important on any visit to view puppies that you ask the necessary questions about the litter’s health and lineage. Most reputable breeders will allow you to view the puppy’s mum and dad too, so you can get a better understanding of temperament and the type of environment they come from.

Colours and coat types.

Jack Russell Terriers typically come in a predominantly white coat with markings that can be tan, black or brown. The standard colour pattern for Jack Russells is a mostly white coat with patches of colour, often around the head and tail. The markings can be on the face, ears, back or base of the tail.

While the white and tan or white and black combination is most common, there is some variation in coat colours and patterns resulting in other colours such as white and lemon. Some Jack Russells may have tricolour coats, consisting of white, black and tan markings - this means there are variations in the intensity and distribution of colour.

 For a full list of Jack Russell colours, check out our blog post here.

A black and tan masked white Jack Russell Terrier looking endearing
A black masked white Jack Russell Terrier happy and being held
A brown masked Jack Russell Terrier sitting in a field
A long haired lemon masked Jack Russell Terrier poking their out of a backpack
A black and tan Jack Russel Terrier sat on a sofa

Size and weight.

Jack Russell Terriers are a small to medium-sized breed, and their size can vary based on factors such as genetics, breeding and gender. Typically, adult Jack Russell Terriers stand between 25 to 38 cm tall at the shoulder which equates to around 10 to 15 inches. Males are often slightly larger than females but the overall size range remains relatively consistent amongst the breed.

In terms of weight, a Jack Russell Terrier usually weighs between 6 to 8 kg (13 to 17 pounds), although some individuals may be slightly smaller or larger - so it's important to note that these are general averages and individual dogs may fall outside these ranges. Factors like the specific lineage, genetics and overall health of the dog can influence a puppy’s size.

Temperament and behaviour.

Temperament.

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their lively and spirited temperament. They are highly intelligent, quick learners and often excel in various activities. Their energetic nature means that they require regular exercise, plenty of playtime, and mental stimulation.

Alert and assertive, Jack Russells make excellent watchdogs with a strong prey drive. Despite their independence and occasional stubbornness, they form strong bonds with their human family members and can be highly affectionate and social.

Their fearless and brave disposition, inherited from their hunting background, requires careful supervision to ensure their safety. Jack Russell Terriers can be good companions to children if raised together and properly socialised, but their high energy levels may be overwhelming for very young children under 5 years old.

Their strong prey drive and hunting instincts may lead them to chase cats, but individual temperament and early training can influence their ability to co-exist peacefully with feline companions. In terms of co-existing with other pets, we recommend keeping smaller animals like hamsters and guinea pigs out of sight due to the high prey drive of Jack Russells.

Overall, they are energetic, intelligent and affectionate dogs that thrive in active and lively households.

A muddy longhair brown masked white Jack Russell Terrier carrying a big branch in their mouth

Behaviour.

Jack Russell Terriers display a loyal but high-energy behaviour type. Their high intelligence is evident in their enthusiasm for play and engagement in mentally and physically stimulating activities. They function well as watchdogs and are super quick to notice changes in their surroundings. It’s thought that their assertiveness and fearlessness are rooted in their historical role as hunters.

Unfortunately, Jack Russell Terriers are prone to experiencing separation anxiety and can exhibit behaviours such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, or other signs of distress when left alone. This is most likely because they form very strong bonds with their owners. Proper training, gradual desensitisation to being alone and providing continued mental and physical stimulation can help mitigate separation anxiety in Jack Russells.

Giving them plenty of exercise is vital to manage their boundless energy levels and prevent boredom-related behaviours. Brisk walks and positive reinforcement training, while effective, mean you may encounter occasional stubbornness so as much as you might want to give into them, stay focused!

In terms of living arrangements, Jack Russell Terriers can live in apartments if provided with sufficient exercise, mental stimulation and consistent training to address their high energy levels and intelligence. Although they are suitable for apartment living, this may be bad news for your neighbours as Jack Russell Terriers are known for their tendency to bark.

Due to their alert and energetic nature, they often use barking as a means of communication or as a way to express their high energy levels.

Simply put, a Jack Russell’s behaviour is often marked by intelligence, energy, assertiveness and affection.

Training a Jack Russell Terrier.

To effectively train a Jack Russell Terrier, consistency and patience are key. Begin training early, ideally when the dog is a puppy, but ensure they are at least 8 weeks old before starting formal training. Establish a routine for training sessions and stick to it, as Jack Russells thrive on consistency. Use positive reinforcement methods such as treats, praise, and toys to reward desired behaviours, as these methods are highly effective with this breed.

Are Jack Russell Terriers smart?

Jack Russell Terriers are considered very intelligent dogs, which can work to their advantage in training. They are quick learners and can pick up commands and tricks with the right approach. They’re also a popular breed for use in Hollywood films because of their ability to learn new tricks. 

However, as mentioned above, their intelligence and lively personality may also lead to a bit of stubbornness so we recommend remaining consistent in your training methods and using lots of positive reinforcement.

Their high energy levels and active nature mean they need regular mental and physical stimulation. Without proper outlets for their energy, they may become bored and potentially exhibit undesirable behaviours like chewing inappropriate items. Engaging in activities like play, exercise and puzzle-solving can help keep them mentally stimulated and make training sessions more effective.

Socialisation is also key, as Jack Russells tend to have quite a strong prey drive and can be reserved around strangers if not exposed to various types of people, environments and situations from an early age.

Shedding and grooming.

Jack Russell Terriers commonly have a short, dense coat that sheds moderately meaning they are generally low-maintenance in terms of grooming.

Do Jack Russell Terriers shed?

Jack Russells do shed (meaning you might have to vacuum the house a few more times each week), but their short hair makes grooming relatively straightforward.

How often do you need to brush a Jack Russell Terrier?

Regular brushing, at least once a week, helps to remove loose hair and reduces shedding. This routine helps remove loose hair, distributes natural oils and prevents matting. For smooth-coated Jack Russells, a bristle brush works well to distribute oils and remove loose hair. On the other hand, rough or broken coat Jack Russells may benefit from an undercoat rake to remove dead hair from the undercoat.

How often do you need to bathe a Jack Russell Terrier?

Jack Russells don’t require a high-maintenance bathing routine so it should only be done as needed, typically every few months or when your Jack Russell gets dirty or develops an odour. Frequent and over-bathing can strip their coat of natural oils, so it's important not to overdo it.

How often should you cut a Jack Russell Terrier’s hair?

Jack Russells typically do not require regular haircuts since their coat is short. However, occasional trimming, especially around the paws and ears, may be necessary. If your Jack Russell has a rough or broken coat, occasional hand-stripping may help maintain the proper texture. Hand-stripping is exactly what it sounds like and refers to the removal of hair with the hands, in a gentle plucking motion.

A Jack Russell Terrier swaddled in a towel after being groomed

Nails and trimming.

Regular nail trimming is essential for Jack Russell Terriers, as their nails can become too long and cause discomfort or problems with walking. Aim to trim your puppy's nails every 2-4 weeks, depending on their activity level and how quickly their nails grow.

 It's always a good idea to start grooming routines early in a Jack Russell’s life to get them used to the process. Regular check-ups of the ears, teeth and eyes are also important for overall health. If in doubt or if you’re unsure about grooming techniques, consulting with a professional groomer or your veterinarian is always recommended.

Exercise needs.

How much exercise a Jack Russell Terrier needs.

Jack Russell Terriers thrive on a substantial amount of daily exercise, requiring at least 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous activity. Regular walks allow them to explore new surroundings and scents, while games like fetch provide a combination of physical exercise and mental engagement.

A wiry brown and white Jack Russell Terrier perched on a rock in a forest
A brown and white Jack Russell Terrier in a field carrying a plant in their mouth
A black, tan and white Jack Russell Terrier leaping in the air trying to catch a branch their owner is holding
A black, tan and white Jack Russell Terrier standing tall in a beach
A brown and white Jack Russell Terrier on a lead running in a field

Playtime and mental stimulation.

Agility training, interactive toys, hide-and-seek activities and brief training sessions are also effective ways to keep Jack Russells mentally stimulated. Arranging playdates with other dogs is a great way to further their social interaction and has been proven to contribute to overall positive well-being. The key is to provide a variety of activities to prevent boredom and maintain their physical and mental health.

Feeding and nutrition.

When it comes to feeding, we know you want what’s best for your pet. Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of owning a dog so it’s best to get clued up before bringing your Jack Russell home.

How much food should a Jack Russell Terrier eat?

Choosing the best food for your Jack Russell Terrier involves selecting high-quality dog food with real meat as the main ingredient, free from excessive fillers and artificial additives. The recommended daily amount ranges from around 1/2 a cup to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food, divided into two meals for adult Jack Russells, but individual needs vary based on factors such as age, weight, and activity level.

Puppies have different nutritional requirements, and their feeding guidelines should be followed as indicated on the puppy food packaging. It's crucial to monitor your dog's weight and adjust portion sizes accordingly to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding. Always provide fresh water and for personalised advice on your Jack Russell's diet, consult with your veterinarian. 

A black, brown and white Jack Russell Terrier sat on a rug investigating a cherry tomato

When it comes to deciding what to feed your Jack Russell, the good news is that you’ve got plenty of options. Some owners opt for raw food whereas others prefer a more tailored mix of cooked meat, like that provided by Butternut Box, one of our reward partners. 

 Butternut Box provides freshly-prepared, perfectly-portioned meals using human-quality meat and vegetables. By gently cooking their food to create simple, tasty, and complete meals, Butternut Box achieves the right balance of vitamins and minerals for dogs of every age. Best of all, Waggel members get 50% off their first two boxes! 

If your pup prefers kibble, why not grab a bag for free with Tails.com? You’ll also get 50% off your entire order with them. (Again, this offer is only available for Waggel customers.)

It's important to follow the feeding recommendations on the dog food packaging and consult your veterinarian for precise guidance tailored to your Jack Russell Terrier’s needs, especially if they are on a fresh, wet, or raw diet. Adjust the portion size based on your dog's weight and body condition to maintain a healthy weight.

Jack Russell Terrier common health issues.

Jack Russell Terriers are generally robust and hardy dogs with an average lifespan of around 10 to 15 years, but like any breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. 

To help you gain a better understanding of the health conditions, treatment and insurance claims associated with Jack Russells, we’ve compiled the following list with information from the years 2022 to 2023.

Eye problems: Jack Russells can be prone to eye diseases such as cataracts, a condition that causes cloudiness in the lens of the eye and affects vision. Surgery for cataracts can range from £1,000 to £3,000 though this depends on multiple factors such as the specific surgical technique used, the type of intraocular lens (if any) implanted, and whether the procedure is performed by a general veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease): Cushing's disease is a hormonal disorder that can affect Jack Russells. Symptoms include increased thirst, appetite and frequent urination. The cost of diagnosing and treating Cushing's disease in dogs in the UK can vary based on several factors. The cost of the diagnostic phase, including blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies, may range from several hundred to over a thousand pounds, depending on the complexity of the case.

Bladder or kidney stones: These can be painful for Jack Russells and often require immediate medical attention. Urinary system disorders often average at around £600 to £1,000 to treat though again, this is merely an estimate.

Joint problems: Jack Russells may develop joint issues, including luxating patellas, which can lead to temporary kneecap displacement. Patellar luxation can be a painful condition and often leads to limping. Surgery may be required in severe cases. Treating a luxating patella typically falls in the range of £800 to £2,000, with costs varying based on the severity and the need for surgery.

A Jack Russell Terrier wearing a medical cone and looking sad sat on their owner's lap

Allergies: Some Jack Russells may experience allergies, which can manifest as skin or digestive issues. Common signs of an allergy include itching, skin irritation and problems with digestion. Identifying and managing allergies, including diagnostic tests and ongoing medications, may cost between £200 and £1,000 or more each year.

Neurological problems: Though less common, neurological problems can affect some Jack Russells, leading to various symptoms. Neurological problems are considered the most expensive form of veterinary treatment due to their intricate nature and the need for specialist surgeons. You can expect to pay over £1,000 for the treatment of neurological problems.

Dental disease: Dental health is essential for Jack Russells, as they can be prone to dental issues like tartar buildup. Regular tooth brushing and dental check-ups can prevent these issues. Routine dental cleanings can cost around £50 to £200, while more extensive dental treatments or extractions can range from £200 to £800 or more.

These are approximate figures and can change over time due to inflation and developments in veterinary care practices. Though the above treatment prices can seem costly, pet insurance provides financial coverage for a portion of your pet’s medical expenses - a portion you can set yourself! By paying a regular premium, you can ensure that you have financial support when unexpected veterinary bills arise.

Waggel Pet Insurance provides peace of mind and Lifetime protection against a range of potential health issues, including conditions like cataracts, luxating patellas, and more. With Waggel, you can rest assured that your pet's health concerns are financially supported, allowing you to focus on what’s most important; being the best pet parent possible.

Pet insurance for Jack Russell Terriers.

If you’re considering getting a Jack Russell Terrier, you’re probably already familiar with pet insurance. But do you know just how essential it is? Long story short, Waggel Pet Insurance ensures that your new companion receives the best possible care without financial worries. 

 Unexpected illnesses and accidents can happen at any time. However, at Waggel we provide peace of mind, allowing you to make decisions based on your pet's well-being rather than cost. To explore coverage options tailored to your pet's needs, get a free quote today. 

 As a Waggel member, you’ll also get exclusive access to our membership platform. Here you can find Joii, a 24/7 online vet care provider connecting you to a vet whenever you need help. You’ll also be able to book behaviour and nutrition consultations entirely free of charge with Junior Hudson, a holistic canine wellness expert from Heal The Dog.

 However, it doesn’t just stop there. You’ll also receive personalised perks, discounts and deals every month to suit both you and your pet. What’s not to love?