The High Energy, Fearless Jack Russell Terrier

By Doug Fabick 

Jack Russell Terriers are healthy dogs ranging in height from 10 to 15 inches and weighing 13 to 17 pounds. Despite these diminutive stats, this dog is sturdy and has great endurance. The breed is considered very healthy, with few medical problems or concerns for owners. While the small size attracts apartment dwellers, this dog must have vigorous exercise for 30 to 45 minutes every day. The coat can be smooth or rough or a combination of both, called broken. Brushing the dog on a regular basis will keep you from having to bathe the dog.

Jack Russell’s are consistently looking for something to do and for a way to expend their considerable energy. If you do not provide it, they will, with disastrous results. Bred to hunt foxes, rabbits, and other small game, these dogs require at least 45 minutes of strenuous exercise on a daily basis. They love agility courses, playing fetch, ball games, and obstacle courses. Adult Jack Russell’s will be happy to join you for a jog and still want to play when you get home! They enjoy playing and running with children, but may have too much energy for some children. Despite the small size they are sturdy enough to handle the rough play that can develop between children and dogs. Having a strong prey drive, Jack Russell’s should never be off lease. They are quick to take action and will be gone before you can contain them. These dogs are vocal and will dig to expend energy, chase small game, or to entertain themselves. Large fenced back yards are great for this breed. Electric fences do not work well for the Jack Russell. They will simply decide that the shock is worth whatever it is they want to chase. Since they are escape artists, a tall, solid fence is recommended. Don’t be surprised though, if your Jack simply digs under the fence to see what is on the other side.

Like many terriers, Jack Russell’s are fearless and will be protective of their people. There is a story of a Jack Russell holding two pit bulls at bay till some children were rescued from the pit bulls. Unfortunately, the pit bulls killed the Jack Russell in the end. This story demonstrates the commitment of the breed to the task at hand. They can be a handful to train. Due to the high energy, they are easily bored, so long training sessions are difficult and should be avoided. A highly intelligent dog, it will decide that it just does not want to follow your command or that there was a loop hole in the command. Highly focused on hunting, it will pursue prey every chance it gets with murderous intent. This includes cats, other dogs, and pets. They do make a good watch dog and will let you know when something is going on that should not be happening. However, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish if there is a problem or an imagined problem in the Jack’s mind!

Training a Jack Russell is not for the faint-hearted and those with not sense of humor. This is a test of wills between you and your dog. Being very strong willed, the dog requires consistent, constant, and firm rules. Your Jack is smart enough to know who is weaker and will give in first, so be prepared. He or she is also smart enough to differentiate between family members that will have different rules and take advantage of every one. They do respond to positive motivation, but the most effective training will happen with consistency and constancy of rules applications. Socialize you dog early to children and other dogs, if you want them to be friendly and interact positively with children and dogs. The Jack Russell thrives on structure and routine.

The Jack Russell Terrier can be a great, energetic, and entertaining family companion. To get them there is the challenge. This requires consistent, constant, and regular training and a routine the dog understands. You will same time on grooming, so spend it on training. Grooming is brushing the dog on a regular basis and grooming supplies can be obtained from These are healthy little dogs that you will have as a companion for 10 to 15 years.

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