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Male vs Female Jack Russell Terrier: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

Male vs Female Jack Russell Terrier

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Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

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Once you’ve set your sights on the Jack Russell Terrier, it may be hard to resist their charms. Many people are enamored with the Jack Russell Terrier’s bold, independent nature. If you believe that the Jack Russell Terrier (officially known as the Parson Russell Terrier) is the right fit for you, you have likely arrived at the next logical question: which sex is right for you?

While the Jack Russell Terrier’s temperament tends to be pretty even across the board, some Jack Russell Terrier owners assert that there are some notable differences between males and females. In this article, we will take a look at the nuances between males and females of the breed so that you can decide which sex is best for you.

Disclaimer: These differences have been noted by owners and breeders, so are based on experience rather than scientific research.

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Visual Differences

Male vs Female Jack Russell Terrier side by side
Image Credit: (L) Inheart, Shutterstock | (R) Vladimir Kazakov, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Male Jack Russell Terrier
  • Average height (adult): 14 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 13–17 pounds
Female Jack Russell Terrier
  • Average height (adult): 13 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 13–17 pounds

Jack Russell Terrier 101

The Jack Russell Terrier was developed in England during the early 1800s. The breed’s purpose was to chase foxes both above and below the ground, pursuing their prey deep into underground tunnels. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed is officially known as the Parson Russell Terrier and was named after their creator, Reverend John Russell.

Reverend John Russell was nicknamed “The Sporting Parson” due to his passion for ministry and hunting dogs. The reverend bred the Jack Russell Terriers to be independent problem solvers, and that self-willed attitude exists in the breed to this day.

Across the board, the Jack Russell Terrier is known as a friendly, intelligent, and athletic canine. They are fearless hunters, rushing into a fox’s lair without hesitation to flush their quarry out. Jack Russell Terriers are compact dogs with inexhaustible energy and are excellent outdoor companions.

Their liveliness makes them great family dogs, as long as they are surrounded by older children who understand proper boundaries around pets. Jack Russell Terriers have bold, feisty personalities that are largely due to their breed rather than their sex. However, some Jack Russell Terrier owners have noted nuance between the sexes and their temperaments.

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Male Jack Russell Terrier Overview

Jack Russell getting oranges off tree
Image credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Male Jack Russell Terriers are known to be highly entertaining. The Jack Russell Terrier is a hyperactive dog by nature, but it seems that the males take this exuberance up a notch. He is also affectionate and likely to be all over you. If you are looking for an energetic companion that is attached to your hip, the male Jack Russell Terrier may be perfect for you.

At the same time, the male can be somewhat more aggressive. While Jack Russell Terriers are not known to struggle with aggression issues, the males can be more protective or territorial. This can be difficult to manage at first, but with proper training, the male’s aggression can be curbed.

Training

A huge plus side to training the male Jack Russell Terrier is that he tends to be focused and hard-working. His desire to please his owner will make training a much easier affair if he is focused on the right things. If he becomes focused on something else, good luck recapturing his attention!

Males tend to be motivated by treats. When training your Jack Russell Terrier, keep his favorite treats on hand to keep him interested and engaged in the learning process.

man walking side by side with a jack russell terrier
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Jack Russell Terriers are generally healthy dogs, and many health issues will be just as common in males as they are in females (except those with a proven sex-predisposition). However, the choice to neuter your male Jack Russell Terrier may spare him from serious conditions that are unique to his sex.

For example, neutered dogs cannot go on to develop testicular cancer and they suffer less frequently with benign prostatic hyperplasia (non-cancerous growth of the prostate). They may also be less aggressive and less prone to wandering, which will keep them out of fights and out of trouble.

Breeding

The exact age at which Jack Russell Terriers reach sexual maturity can vary, but most will hit this point by 6–9 months of age. Many vets suggest waiting until after this age milestone to have your dog neutered, as his growth plates have not finished closing. This is because he needs certain hormones to finish developing.

Pros
  • Focused
  • Affectionate
  • Entertaining
Cons
  • More aggressive
  • More prone to wandering off to find receptive females

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Female Jack Russell Terrier Overview

Jack Russell stands on the golden sand of a sandy beach
Image Credit: Larina Marina, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

While the female Jack Russell Terrier is also likely to be a little ball of energy, she is typically more reserved than the male. Her relatively calm demeanor can make her easier to manage, especially when indoors. She is a great companion for those who enjoy bursts of activity followed by long bouts of relaxing on the couch.

She is also more independent than the male. While she will still crave attention and show you affection, she may not be as clingy as the male. At the same time, the female is exceptionally loyal.

Training

A great trait of the female is her keen intelligence. She is eager to learn and ready to adapt to new situations or experiences. At the same time, she may be stubborn and unwilling to listen. Some female Jack Russell Terriers view themselves as the boss, so they won’t take kindly to you ordering them around. To combat this, it is essential that you begin obedience training early.

Health & Care

As with neutering, spaying can prevent severe health conditions in the female Jack Russell Terrier. Spayed females are at a lower risk of developing mammary cancer (if neutered before their first or second season), and they cannot develop a life-threatening uterine infection, known as pyometra once neutered.

Other health issues that the female may face are those that are typical of the breed, such as patellar luxation and congenital deafness, although both sexes can suffer with these problems.

Jack Russell terrier dog standing with one leg up
Image Credit: David Herraez Calzada, Shutterstock

Breeding

Between 5–10 months of age, the female Jack Russell Terrier will likely experience her first heat cycle. Veterinarians typically recommend that a female dog is spayed before her first or second heat cycle, so talk with your veterinarian to determine when the right time is for your dog.

Unspayed female Jack Russell Terriers will experience regular heats, and if they come into contact with an unneutered male, they may become pregnant. They also may be more prone to roaming to find a mate when in season.

Pros
  • Independent
  • Intelligent
  • Calm
Cons
  • Stubborn

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Which Sex Is Right for You?

Determining which sex is suitable for you is not an easy task. Some personality nuances set the male and female apart, both good and bad, but every dog is different, so you will get aggressive female Jack Russells and stubborn male Jack Russells.  The above personality traits are generalizations and not set in stone.  In the end, the only way to decide which is best for you is to consider your own needs and whether this breed is good for you. You can’t count on a female Jack Russell being calmer than a male, for example.  Meeting the parents of the litter can give you an idea of what kind adults the pups might become.

Regardless of whether you bring home a male or female Jack Russell Terrier, you are likely to have an energetic, feisty, and clever companion who is eager to shower you with love and attention. If that sounds good to you, it is impossible to make a wrong choice, no matter which sex you pick.


Featured Image Credit: (L) Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock | (R) K.INABA, Shutterstock

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