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10 Jack Russell Terrier Pros & Cons: Get to Know Them Better

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Jack Russell stands on the golden sand of a sandy beach

The Jack Russell is a spirited little terrier developed in England to be used in foxhunts. These adorable dogs pack a huge personality in a small package, which can be a pro or con, depending on the type of dog owner you are.

Learn more about the pros and cons of the Jack Russell Terrier to see if this is the right breed for you and your family.

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The 5 Pros of Owning a Jack Russell Terrier

1. They’re Highly Intelligent.

Jack Russell Terriers are extremely smart dogs that are often one step ahead of their owners. This intelligence makes them easy to train if you consistently give them a strong foundation.

Jack Russell Terrier puppy in a yellow raincoat stands on the autumn foliage in the park
Photo Credit: woodHunt, Shutterstock

2. They’re Loyal.

Jack Russell Terriers are loyal, like many hunting breeds. They bond strongly with their owners and tend to follow them around, which is desirable in hunting situations. Jacks must have owners who aren’t away for long periods, as they don’t like to be alone.

3. They’re Legendary Hunters.

Jack Russells were bred as ratting dogs and small game hunters. Their size, speed, and agility allow them to run down small game and clear a farm or mill of vermin. If they miss their prey, they will stalk for hours or days, even going as far as digging to get their prize.

4. They’re Happy-Go-Lucky.

Jack Russells love to play and have fun, which makes for fun training sessions and playtime. They’re always happy to see their owners and spend time running around or learning new tricks, as well as snuggling up after a hard day’s work.

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

5. They Love to Play.

Jack Russells enjoy a good play session, whether playing fetch or learning new tricks. That’s why these dogs excel at competitive activities like agility and flyball, but they’re also happy to spend their time playing in your backyard.

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The 5 Cons of Jack Russell Terrier Ownership

1. They Can Outsmart You.

The downside of the Jack Russell Terrier’s intelligence is that they can be mischievous and willful. While they learn easily with strong leadership, a Jack Russell with a wishy-washy owner will run the show and pick and choose what commands to follow.

2. They Can Be Territorial.

It’s easy for the Jack Russell’s loyalty to get extreme, leading to protectiveness and territoriality. They can become overprotective toward the “favorite” family member, even with others in the home, and may show aggression toward strangers.

jack russell terrier at the dog park
Image Credit: Jumpstory

3. They Have a High Prey Drive.

As expected, the tenacity of the Jack Russell can be an issue for homes with small animals, including cats. Small animals that mimic the prey of a Jack, such as guinea pigs, mice, rats, hamsters, birds, and some reptiles, should always be included in an enthusiastic Jack Russell.

4. They Get Bored Easily.

All that energy and smarts can be a disaster if you let your Jack Russell get bored. If you don’t give your dog plenty of physical and mental stimulation, your Jack may develop destructive behaviors like digging holes, chewing on objects, or escaping.

5. They Bark a Lot.

Barking is one of the Jack Russell’s natural ways of alerting a hunting partner to the presence of a small animal, as well as alerting the owner of a possible intruder. They tend to be very vocal dogs, which can be worse if they don’t have appropriate outlets for their energy and intelligence.

Jack Russell Terrier dog Barking and Howling
Image Credit: Baloncici,Shutterstock

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Do Jack Russell Terriers Make Good Pets?

Jack Russell Terriers can be excellent pets for the right owner. Like other terrier breeds, Jacks require strong, consistent owners that give them plenty of exercise and stimulation to vent their energy. Despite their small size, they’re not dogs that will lounge around the house and yard.

If you plan to bring home a Jack Russell, make sure you’re prepared to give your dog all they need, whether it’s play and exercise sessions in the yard, canine competitions, or weekend hunting trips.

Jack Russell Terrier dog in the park on the street in the arms of woman
Image Credit: matsiukpavel, Shutterstock

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Jack Russell Terriers are among the brightest of the Terriers, but that intelligence can be a downside if you don’t set strict boundaries and set your dog up to succeed. A happy, well-adjusted Jack Russell can be laid back and well-mannered, but a bored or dissatisfied one can have bad habits like overprotectiveness, aggression, excess barking, and destructive behaviors.

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Featured Image Credit: Larina Marina, Shutterstock

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