Also called the Parson Russell, the Jack Russell Terrier is a lively small dog breed. This terrier is adorable and affectionate but can be too energetic for first-time dog parents. The Jack Russell requires a lot of exercise and training with a firm hand but rewards his family with lots of love and loyalty for life.


Developed in southern England, the Jack Russel Terrier was named after Parson John Russell. In the mid-1800s, Parson created a working terrier that could hunt and flush foxes from their dens for the hunting hounds to chase.

Sportspeople that hunted on horseback loved being accompanied by the Jack Russell. This breed became popular in the US in the 1930s, with several clubs debating the terrier’s appearance and abilities as a hunting dog or as a competitor in dog conformation shows.

The American Kennel Club has registered the breed as the Parson Russell Terrier to keep it separate from the dogs registered by the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America. Some kennels that recognise both breeds include the Australian National Kennel Council and the New Zealand Kennel Club.

Physical Characteristics

The Jack Russell Terrier has not changed much for centuries. Long Jacks are nicknamed Shorty Jacks and they look like Corgis or Dachshunds. 

Though Jacks and Parson Russells look similar and share the exact origin, a notable physical difference is the kennel associations’ range of acceptable heights. 

This small dog has a double coat with coarse hair and is available in two coat types: smooth and broken. Broken coats are longer than the smooth variety with visible eyebrows and a beard.

Coat colors include:

  • White
  • White with black or tan markings
  • White, black and tan (tricolor)


This sturdy breed has a compact, balanced body and comes in different sizes that range from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38cm), with a weight of 13 to 17 pounds (5 to 8kg).

Character & abilities

This sturdy breed has a compact, balanced body and comes in different sizes that range from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38cm), with a weight of 13 to 17 pounds (5 to 8kg).

Trainability & Intelligence

Highly intelligent, the Jack Russell is trainable and is a favorite breed among horse owners, dog sports enthusiasts and animal trainers for film and television. 

Training this dog breed is not easy. Training must be firm and consistent with a lot of patience. This strong-minded dog likes being amused and gets bored quickly by routine and repetition. Therefore, training sessions need to be short and fun to hold his attention and keep him interested. 

The Jack Russell loves to learn how to perform tricks. He can easily jump high up to 1.5 meters, making him the ideal candidate for competitive dog sports, running agility and flyball courses. 

Early socialization is essential for this strong-willed dog, mainly because aggression to other dogs can be a severe problem.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The Jack has a high energy level. He needs several walks every day and playful romps in the yard. This active dog makes an excellent jogging companion when he is fully grown. With tons of energy, the Jack loves to run, jump and fetch. 

Meals should be planned depending on age and activity level. For example, the Jack Russell Terrier puppy needs around 800 – 900 calories per day divided into four to six meals. An adult Jack needs two to three meals a day, adding up to 450 – 650 calories.


This small dog breed has two coat types: smooth and broken. Both need only weekly brushing to get rid of dirt, dander and loose hair. Broken coats need stripping at least once a year. This dog rarely needs a bath when brushed regularly.

The Jack’s nails need trimming once or twice a month. Short nails keep the terrier’s feet in top form and keep him from ripping into upholstery and getting injured. Other grooming involves brushing the teeth regularly to prevent the build-up of tartar and gum disease.

Grooming needs to start at an early age, so the Jack gets used to the handling. Praising and rewarding the terrier with treats can make grooming sessions easier.

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Jack Russell is a terrier and enjoys digging. However, it is challenging to break this habit, and it might be easier to allocate a specific area for him to explore safely. 

The best yards have a secure fence where the Jack can have room to play off the leash. It is important to note that he can easily climb trees and some fences to escape, and outdoor play requires supervision. Walking is best on a leash to avoid the terrier running into traffic. 

This dog breed is not suited for apartment life because he is very energetic and can be a nuisance barker. The Jack should also not live outdoors or in a kennel because he thrives among family members. 

To prevent separation anxiety when left alone in the house, leave the television or radio on. 


Like other dogs, the Jack Russell is generally a healthy breed but is predisposed to genetic conditions. Most of these health problems may appear at maturity.

  • Patellar luxation
  • Hearing loss
  • Glaucoma
  • Lens luxation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Given proper care, Jacks have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. 


This charming little dog is recommended for experienced dog owners. This escape artist with a strong prey drive can bring all family members lots of love and laughter. Provided with attention, training and supervision, the Jack Russell Terrier is a wonderful addition to any home. 

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we believe it is crucial to consider carefully whether a dog is a right fit before adoption. Our small dog breed descriptions are here to allow you to make an informed decision. We recommend adopting a healthy dog or puppy from your local animal shelter or a reputable breeder. 


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