Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Are Jack Russells Good With Kids? Breed Facts, Considerations & Training Tips

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Jack Russell terrier dog standing with one leg up

If you have children and are thinking about adopting a dog or if you already have a dog and are planning a family, ensuring that you have a child-friendly dog is critical. If you have your heart set on a Jack Russell Terrier, you might be wondering if this breed will get along with children.

In general, Jack Russells are great with kids, but this depends on how young the children are and how well-socialized the dog is.

Here, we cover the reasons that Jack Russells can make excellent family dogs and the best ways to ensure that your canine and children get along safely.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

A Little About the Jack Russell

Before you even think about bringing home a puppy or dog, it’s critical that you research the breed.

Energetic

The most important thing is for the dog to fit in with your lifestyle. The Russell needs an energetic family who spends a great deal of time outdoors.

These dogs might be small, but they have so much energy! The Jack Russell was bred by Reverend John “The Sporting Parson” Russell in the mid-19th century as a fox hunter. They were fast enough to keep up with the larger hounds but low enough to the ground for the traditional terrier duty of killing vermin.

This kind of ceaseless energy is great for children, and Russells are also quite playful. You can expect that the kids and the dog will wear themselves out!

jack russell terrier dog with a basketball ball on a green lawn
Photo Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Good Temperament

Jack Russells are intelligent little dogs that can lend themselves to a bit of stubbornness. They have a high prey drive directed toward smaller animals and tend to bark a fair amount. But they get along well with other dogs and should get along well with small animals if they are raised and socialized alongside them. Russells are also affectionate and protective, so your kids will have a loving dog that will jump to their defense when necessary.

Overall, Jack Russells are famous for their happy and good-natured personalities. They are happy dogs that love almost everyone they meet, so they are also exceptionally social and friendly.


Trainability

Since Russells are so smart, they are quite trainable. Some of that stubbornness is bound to show itself during training, so it’s important to keep the sessions interesting and to be firm yet patient.

Your children can help train the family dog since Russells will pick up new tricks and commands easily. This can help form a stronger bond between the kids and the dog.

smiling woman with her cute jack russell terrier dog
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

Why Should You Get a Jack Russell for Your Children

There are many reasons that getting almost any dog is an excellent idea for children. But the Jack Russell can make a particularly fantastic companion for your kids because:

  • They are an energetic dog that can keep up with the high energy levels of children. They will make an excellent playmate!
  • A Jack Russell can act as a watchdog and will alert and protect the family from any perceived threats.
  • Owning a dog gives kids experience in leadership and builds their social skills.
  • Children can develop self-esteem, responsibility, confidence, and dedication as dog owners.
  • The Jack Russell is relatively easy to groom, which children can help with.
  • This breed enjoys doing almost anything outdoors and will keep your children healthy and active.

Is the Jack Russell a Good Fit for Your Family?

Not all children are energetic and hyper, so you should take your family’s situation into consideration. If you have a more laidback household and don’t have the time or the energy to spend time outside being active, you should look for a breed that will better match your activity levels. Remember that the Jack Russell has a great deal of energy, so you must be able to ensure that your dog gets the right amount of exercise.

Where you live should also be considered; living in an apartment might be tricky with the Jack Russell. While they are small enough for that space, they are known to bark, which might not go over well with your neighbors.

jack russell terrier dog running with a kid
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

Training and Socializing Your Jack Russell

Socialization

Socializing any puppy or even adult dog is crucial! When a puppy is introduced to as many people, animals, situations, and environments as possible, this enables them to become well-adjusted and not as likely to react to new scenarios out of fear.

The sooner you start this process with your puppy, the better. If you adopt an adult dog, you can still socialize them, but this process will take more time and patience.

Respecting Your Dog

When introducing your children to your Jack Russell, be cognizant and respectful of how your dog feels. Don’t push them to play with the kids if they seem nervous or reluctant.

In general, don’t force any interactions. The development of a relationship between the kids and the dog should happen naturally and at their own pace.

Positive Reinforcement

You can use positive reinforcement when your dog behaves appropriately with the children. Positive interactions should merit treats and praise, so your Russell will be more inclined to build a positive relationship with the kids.

Jack Russell puppy eats cheese from hands
Image Credit: Natalia Duryagina, Shutterstock

Supervision

Kids, especially ones 8 and under, should never be left unsupervised with the family dog, regardless of how much you trust your pet.

According to one study, in cases of children who were bitten by dogs, 89.8% of the dogs were familiar with the kids. Of that 89.8%, 51.2% were family pets, so you can never be too careful!

hepper-dog-paw-divider2

Teaching Your Children to Respect Dogs

Of course, the onus should not fall solely on your dog’s shoulders. Dogs need training and so do children. It’s vital that you teach your children to understand and respect dogs. Over 53% of the cases of children being bitten by dogs resulted from the kids “provoking” the dogs. In these cases, “provoked” meant the kids were feeding, teasing, or playing with the dogs. It’s almost a guarantee that these bites occurred because the children hadn’t been taught the right way to treat dogs.

When you’re comfortable with the dog in question, it’s easy to take that comfort for granted and make a mistake that can result in an attack. No matter how old your child is, you must start teaching them the best ways to touch and pet a dog. It’s also essential that you teach your children about a dog’s body language. When you understand the signs that a dog is fearful versus aggressive, you know when to give the dog space.

Dogs should never have their ears and tails pulled and should not be ridden like a horse. All this only makes the dog uncomfortable, which can potentially lead to problems.

jack russell puppy on leash at the park with its owner
Image Credit: pattarawat, Shutterstock

hepper-dog-paw-divider2

Conclusion

A Jack Russell Terrier can make a great dog for the right family. They need an energetic and active family that enjoys spending time together doing things like hiking, swimming, and road trips.

Jack Russells are great with children, but much of this depends on the kids and the kind of training and socialization the dogs receive. If you do decide to bring home one of these canines, you will definitely have an amazing pet!


Featured Image Credit: David Herraez Calzada, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database