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Jack-Rat Terrier (Rat Terrier & Jack Russell Mix): Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Emma Braby

jack rat terrier mix

Height: 13 – 18 inches
Weight: 20 – 26 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
Colors: Black, blue, tan, brown and white
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a small dog with lots of attitude
Temperament: Energetic, playful, loving with his family, high-prey drive

The Jack-Rat is a small(ish) but feisty dog, and he is the puppy product of the Jack Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier. His two parents are very similar, so unlike most mixed breeds, you know roughly what to expect from him.

With so much personality, energy and attitude packed into his small body, you can be sure to have tons of fun with this guy! After a long day of running around and pestering the neighborhood cats, you will find him snuggled into the crook of your arm.

If you have pet rodents, the Jack-Rat is not the pooch for you because both of his parents are professional rat exterminators – so you can expect double the rat-trouble with this guy. And if you are not active, or seeking a quiet lapdog, then steer clear! But if you are after a cheeky bundle of energetic fun, look no further!

In this guide, we are going to take a close look at the Jack-Rat crossbreed in all his glory. So, whether you are simply wondering what he is all about or you are thinking about welcoming a Jack-Rat into your life, this guide is a must-read!

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Jack-Rat Puppies

jackrat puppy
Photo Credit: blessings, Shutterstock

The Jack Russel Rat Terrier’s looks tend to be an exact blend of both of his parents. He is a small to medium-sized dog who has a wide, cheeky grin; big, round eyes; and a docked tail. He has the typical muscular terrier frame and a short coat that is not too demanding when it comes to his grooming routine. When it comes to his appearance and grooming regime, he is your average canine Joe.

His personality, however, is a Terrier through and through, and he is an intense pooch who loves to be the center of attention. He is a sprightly dog who, from dawn till dusk, is constantly on the go, sniffing and looking for things to chase, rats to catch and cats to terrorize. Although he sounds like trouble, he is a loveable rogue who is proving to be a popular mix. But do not underestimate his energy and you need to be able to keep up with him; otherwise, he will turn his terrier frustration onto your homely belongings.

He also makes quite a good guard dog. Some families will appreciate this trait and some will not, but it is something that you have got to consider before committing to him. Especially if you live in an apartment surrounded by neighbors or somewhere where there are noise restrictions.

He will need a minimum of 60 to 90 minutes of exercise every day, and it needs to be intense activity, not just a casual stroll around the block. He also needs a lot of socialization as a pup, and he will need a family that can commit a lot of time to train him and show him polite puppy etiquette. Otherwise, he can become quite an obnoxious and grumpy pooch. Thankfully, though, being intelligent and loyal, he is relatively simple to train just as long as you are consistent.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Jack-Rat

1. He is also known as the Jersey Terrier.

The Jack-Rat is also known as the Jersey Terrier, and like most other mixed breeds, his origins are not entirely clear. It is also not obvious why he has earned the nickname Jersey Terrier, either, but this is more than likely because he was first bred there or very popular there. What we do know, is that he is a 90s pup bred in America.

2. The Jack-Rat loves children.

This pooch is very fond of children and makes a great family pet. Not too big and not too small, he is just the right size for over-zealous children. Just be sure to teach them how to handle animals, and they will be best buddies in no time!

3. Barking at the TV is one of his favorite pastimes.

If you like peace and quiet when you are watching your favorite boxsets, then the Jack-Rat might not be your best Netflix partner. Dogs on the screen? He will bark at them! Cats or rodents? He will tell them who’s boss. Flashing images? Yeah, he probably will not like that, either. Some owners think it is a comical canine trait, whereas some canine lovers do not find it so funny.

Parent Breeds of the Jack-Rat Terrier
Photo Credit: Jumpstory

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Jack-Rat 🧠

Just in case you have been skim-reading, the Jack-Rat is super energetic and full of life. There is always a scent to smell, a feline to chase, or a hole to dig! You will need to invest in a lot of Frisbees and tennis balls to keep his active mind busy and away from your favorite sofa or table legs. We would also advise securing your yard, and if he is a super inquisitive Jack-Rat, you might need to look at digging your fence underground a little to prevent him from digging out.

Once worn out, he is a completely different dog, and you will find him snoring on his back with all four paws to the sky waiting for you to join him. He will expect a lot of affection and belly rubs in return for keeping you and the family home safe from pesky rats.

The Jack-Rat is always game for fun, and he is the soul of the party. His cheeky smile and large eyes will cheer up even the hardiest of people. He is quite in tune with his master’s energy, so if you are feeling down, he will be the first to give you a nudge or a cuddle.

He is also alert to strangers, especially if he gets a sense that they are up to no good. He will bark to alert his master, and then bark at the newbie some more, just in case they did not hear him first time around. While not aggressive, he is fearless and will protect his family if he feels the need arise.

He is very intelligent, and just like all terriers, he is tenacious. This means that he is a doggy dreamboat when it comes to training. He loves nothing more than to please his master and be rewarded for it, and he will keep going until he gets it right. He still needs to be shown the ropes, though, so you will have to invest time into his training, but he will come on leaps and bounds quickly compared to more stubborn dogs.

However, if he is faced with the choice of listening to his master’s command or chasing that furry thing that has just run past, he will choose the latter. Loyal Jack-Rat might be his name but chasing everything in sight is his game, and make sure you do not forget it!

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Jack-Rat makes a great canine for the right family. His intensity and high energy levels mean that he is not suited to every family.

His family must lead an active lifestyle come rain or shine, and he will not accept any excuses. He needs 60 to 90 minutes of exercise every single day, and it needs to be intense. Because he is very intelligent, he will also get bored quickly, so you will need to mix it up. He makes a great jogging partner or a top-notch frisbee player. He will also be a fantastic agility dog, so take him down to your local park or sign him up to local doggy athletic competitions. You will soon know about it if he is not getting enough exercise!

He needs to be placed with a family that can be with him. Not only does he need strict training to ensure that he does not come to think he is the boss, but he also needs a family that can spend a lot of time with him in general. So, if you are a working family who is out for most of the day, then this guy is not suitable for you.

He loves every family member and he will have a soft spot for whoever plays with him the most. He also has an affinity for children, so if you are after a canine companion for your little ones this guy is a great choice.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

This is entirely dependent on what other pets you have. If you are a multi-dog household, then as long as he is well socialized, he would appreciate the canine company. But if there are any other animals in the house, this might just activate his exterminator mode, so we would advise against other pets.

Let’s just say your feline friends will not be very impressed if you invite a jumpy Jack-Rat into the fold.

jack rat
Photo Credit: Meriluxa, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Jack-Rat:

Given how intense and active this guy is, welcoming a Jack-Rat into your life is not a decision you should take lightly. It takes the right family and the right circumstances for him to be happy and healthy, so read on to find out if you are the right family to take him on.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

To keep this guy fueled, he needs a high-quality kibble that is going to provide him with enough energy. His muscular body will also need the right amount of protein. The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends that all puppies need a protein content of at least 22%, and adults need a minimum of 18%. Of course, higher-quality kibbles will provide him with higher protein content, and his little body will be grateful for it.

A well-balanced diet is key, so look for healthy and wholesome carbohydrates, prebiotic fibers, probiotic ingredients to aid healthy digestion, and a variety of vitamins and minerals for a strong immune system.

The Jack-Rat, having a compact mouth, is also prone to periodontal diseases, so we would always suggest dry kibbles for him as they will help to breakdown the buildup of plaque.

Exercise 🐕

As you already know, the Jack-Rat needs a lot of intense exercise every day; otherwise, he becomes restless, bored, unhappy, and destructive. The Jack-Rat does not care if it is hot, cold, wet, or snowing, and it is important that you do not care, either.

Because the Jack-Rat has such a high-prey drive, it is not recommended that you let this guy off-leash. Even if he is super obedient, if he catches a scent of a rat, he will be off and down a rat-hole before you have even realized.

For those times when he’s had his exercise for the day but he is still raring to go, invest in some doggy toys that will keep his mind and body stimulated. From tug-of-war pulls to treat-filled puzzles, a variety of toys are great to keep him occupied and happy.

Training 🦮

The Jack-Rat needs a master who can invest time into his training, either as a puppy or if you are rescuing an older one. He needs as much socialization as possible, so plenty of time spent at the local doggy park is crucial. He also needs to be socialized well with unfamiliar humans as this will help him to be less reactive and barky at the gate.

The Jack-Rat is loyal and eager to learn, so with a few tasty treats in hand, he’ll be doing acrobatics in no time. He will also be happy with plenty of positive rewards and praise, and time spent training him will strengthen your bond for sure.

jack rat terrier running
Image Credit: Peakpx

Grooming ✂️

The Jack-Rat does not have an intense grooming regime compared to other dogs. With that being said, because he has a thick and dense double-coat he will need grooming once or twice a week with a deshedding tool. He will shed moderately throughout the year and he will need a bath once every 8 weeks or so. He is likely to get very muddy while out on his adventures, but do not be tempted to wash him more often than this, as you risk damaging his natural coat oils.

Like any other pooch, you should clean his ears once a week to prevent any infections and give him a check over for ticks and other mites that he will no doubt pick up along the way. Because he is so active, it is unlikely that you will have to regularly trim his claws; however, check them weekly, just in case.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Mixed breeds tend to be more resilient when it comes to their health compared to purebred dogs. However, the Jack-Rat is still prone to the common health issues that his parent breeds suffer from, so you should take note of these and make yourself familiar with their symptoms.

Minor Conditions

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Male vs. Female

The Jack-Rat’s personality is mostly shaped by his training as a pup, but there are a few differences to think about when it comes to gender.

Male Jack-Rats can be a bit more boisterous than their female siblings, and will likely remain the same all the while they are not neutered. If you get a female and you are not planning to spay her, then you need to think about her heat phases. You’ll have to keep her separate from other male dogs, which can be very restrictive when exercising in public or if you have a multi-dog household.

Like all dog breeds, the male Jack-Rats are usually larger than their female counterparts.

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Final Thoughts

If you are after a spunky pocket-rocket that is full of beans, love, and loyalty then the Jack-Rat makes a wonderful canine option for you. However, being such an intense dog, you need to make sure that you can commit to his needs, particularly his exercise needs. Otherwise, you are in for an unpleasant surprise in more ways than one.

The Jack-Rat really is an awesome canine companion to have around for the right family, and you will not regret welcoming him into the household. His zest for life is contagious, and he is a little ray of sunshine.

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Featured Image Credit: Pikrepo

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