Jack Russell Terrier

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Jack Russell Terrier dog

Jack Russell Terrier

Breed: Jack Russell Terrier
Temperament: outgoing and friendly
Lifespan: 14-15 years
Maintenance: low
Recommended for: families


The Jack Russell Terrier is a plucky little dog, originally bred to roust foxes who had ‘escaped to ground’ (gone underground) during hunts. And to this day the Jack Russell remains a keen terrier. The breed originated in Devon, England in the mid 1800s. The founder was the Reverend Jack Russell who, preferring a longer-legged terrier which could keep up with the hounds, embarked on a series of cross-breeding with assorted breeds, likely including beagles and bull terriers. This produced a longer-legged type, known as the Parson Russell Terrier, of which the Jack Russell Terrier is a smaller version.


The Jack Russell and Parson Russell Terriers are ostensibly the same in appearance apart from the shortened limbs and narrower chest of the Jack Russell. Ideally the Jack Russell stands between 25-30cm (10-12″) in height, a bit taller than a Maltese, and is slightly longer than it is tall. Although narrow, the chest is deep though the shortened legs should still allow for plenty of clearance. The eyes will appear alert, the jaws deep, wide and powerful and the coat is predominantly white with black, tan or brown markings.

The coat may be – Smooth; with no long or ‘trace’ hair on the head, face, legs or body. Broken; Some trace hairs on the head, face, legs or body. Rough; An excess of long trace hairs on the head, face, legs or body.

Temperament and training

Although bold and fearless, the Jack Russell should remain a friendly and playful dog with children and their owners. The breed’s fearless streak can manifest itself when confronted with other dogs and Jack Russells are known to fight well above their weight, particularly entire males. An undisciplined Jack Russell may grow to be a nippy dog and a bored dog is likely to be destructive. Initially, training may be difficult as these strong-willed dogs can be easily distracted, nonetheless professional obedience training from an early age (around 12 weeks) is essential and a careful eye when walking your dog is always recommended.

Unfortunately too many Jack Russells are purchased as pups by owners ill-prepared to care for this active breed. As a result, many are dumped at shelters and pounds or abandoned. It is important to consider the animal’s temperament before purchasing a new puppy.

Health and lifespan

A very hardy breed with few health and genetic problems. Slipping knee-caps now occur less often thanks to sound breeding practices by those responsible breeders and most other health issues relate to injuries caused through the dog’s fearless and spirited nature. This is a strong, healthy breed with an expected long lifespan, about 14-15 years.


A very low maintenance dog, requiring little grooming. Even the rough and broken coats will only demand intermittent brushing. Clipping is not required.

Uses and space

The breed is energetic and requires at least 30 minutes exercise daily. Unless properly trained, it is suggested that the dog remains on a lead. Tall, secure fencing is essential and some dogs will be prone to dig, especially if bored. They are regarded as accomplished escape artists.

Ideal owner

Ideal for active families with children over three or four years of age. Jack Russells also make excellent companions and guard dogs for the elderly, although exercise requirements need to be considered. Remember, many new Jack Russell owners soon realise that the breed is unsuitable and eventually surrender or abandon them.

Further information

Jack Russell Rescue Service assist in re-homing of Jack Russells that have been neglected, abandoned or surrendered by their previous owners. They can be contacted at http://jrtrescue.net/

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)