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9 Vet-Reviewed Jack Russell Terrier Facts

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

Jack Russell terrier dog with ears back

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Jack Russell Terriers are sprightly, good-natured working breeds from England, and their tenacity and intelligence made them popular hunting dogs for chasing and flushing small game, like foxes. They’re a smaller dog, but don’t let that fool you! The Jack Russell Terrier is a highly active and capable hunter that needs an experienced trainer who won’t sway at their independent-minded ventures.

Like all dogs, the Jack Russell has a lot of fascinating facts behind them, from their history to their signature quirks. Let’s check some of those out down below so you can learn a bit more about this celebrated working dog.

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The 9 Facts About Jack Russell Terriers

1. Jack Russells Can Be Snappy

This scrappy ball of energy is more at home with you than hanging out with other dogs at the park. Jack Russells are infamously independent and aren’t the most social breed by nature. To make matters worse, they have the spirit of a big dog in a little body and can find themselves in fights with bigger dogs very easily. To avoid problems with other dogs, good early socialization is key. The same goes for interactions with people, children, groomers and veterinarians.

close up of wire-haired jack russell terrier puppy
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

2. Jack Russells Were Meticulously Bred to Hunt Foxes

Jack Russells as we know them were bred and named after Reverend John Russell, who mixed various English hounds and terriers in 19th-century England to create a perfect, compact, and agile working breed. Russell was extremely particular about his ideal foxhound/terrier, which included a very detailed ideal appearance and a famously moderate temperament for a hunting dog. Legend has it he bought a female dog called “Trump” from his milkman and she became the basis of the breed. Russell bred for more prominent white markings on the body, so that they were easier to see in the forest, and a dark brown patch over each eye and ear.

They had to be persistent enough to never give up the chase but couldn’t be so aggressive that they would harm or damage the game. It seems the Reverend was successful because he claimed that none of his Jack Russells ever tasted blood. The breed does have a roguish streak, which is sort of inevitable when you combine high intelligence with a stellar work drive and high energy levels.

3. They’re Born Diggers

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jack Russells are great at digging, considering their size and working history. However, that comes with some unintended consequences for you as their owner. Namely, destructive digging habits.

If your Jack Russell is feeling under-stimulated, they’ll take it upon themselves to find something to do. Unfortunately for our yards, that often means a giant chasm in an imaginary fox hunt. Sometimes, they will dig to escape yards or even jump small fences, so you want to make sure your dog is well-contained. Mental and physical stimulation is very, very important to help this breed not lose their mind from being bored.

jack russell terrier dog lying in the grass
Image Credit: Teksa, Shutterstock

4. Jack Russell Terriers Are Intelligent Problem Solvers

Jack Russells are thought to be stubborn, but we like to call them free thinkers. They’re very smart dogs but can have a mercurial temperament that gives them a reputation for stubbornness. They’re just bright enough to know how to get their way and tire of standard training, but high value rewards, such as training games, will help bend them to your will. They’re adept at solving puzzles and love play, so make sure they have ample playtime to tucker their smart little brains out.

5. They’re Prone to Barking

Jack Russells are one of those blessed hunting dogs with an intimidating bay, though some never develop it and get a more high-pitched yap instead. These days barking is usually directed at passing animals and people, but it can become a problem. Owners will need to find ways to keep their Jack Russell busy to keep them from developing a barking habit. They do make fair watch dogs because of this trait, though.

jack russell terrier howling
Image Credit: Anke van Wyk, Shutterstock

6. Jack Russells Are the Longest-Lived Dogs in the UK

A UK study labeled Jack Russels Terriers as the breed with the longest life expectancy, which is great news for lovers of the breed. On average these dogs live for 12-14 years, although there are reports of them living up to 20 years. With good care, regular veterinary check ups and a bit of luck your beloved pet Jack Russell could live into their teen years.

7. Jack Russells Hold a Few World Records

It’s true! Simba holds the record for the most ribbon bows undone by a dog in one minute. Rebel achieved the doggy record for the fastest time to stack seven cups. Rachael Grylls owns a talented bunch; her Jack Russell called Jack holds the record for most paw crosses in thirty seconds,  Jacob offered the most alternate paws  in one minute, and Little Joe holds the fastest time to perform 10 vaults off a human by a dog.

We put their talent down to their intelligence, energy and tenacity. With the right training, you too can own an amazingly talented Jack Russell, however, if you are not prepared for the work, these traits can result in a dog with more destructive tendencies.

cute jack russell dog lying on bed listening with funny ear
Image Credit: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

8. They Have Three Coat Types

Unlike many other breeds that only come in one or maybe two coats, the Jack Russell Terrier can have three different types of coats. Smooth, broken (in between smooth and rough), and the shaggy rough coat. All three coats tend to shed and will need a weekly brushy, but they are considered fairly low maintenance in terms of grooming. In addition to brushing they will need ear cleaning, nail clipping and dental care to keep them clean, healthy and comfortable.

9. Jack Russells Are Hollywood Darlings

Jack Russells were bred to hunt, but they were born to be on the silver screen. A dog named Moose starred in the hit sitcom Frasier as Eddy, ostensibly “just a pet.” Eddy became so beloved by audiences that the character received more fan mail than any other character in the history of the long-running show and went on to star in My Dog Skip! Max is another Jack Russell actor who played Milo, a cheeky and heartwarming pup, who was famously trained to retrieve keys for Jim Carrey’s character, Stanley.

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

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Many people think of Jack Russells as just another small dog, but they’re far from it. These spunky, agile hunting dogs are wickedly smart and do a marvelous job of melting our hearts in Hollywood and at home alike. If you want to welcome one of these dogs into your home, make sure they are properly contained, well-socialized and keep them busy.

Featured Image Credit: Lubo Ivanko, Shutterstock

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