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Siberian Husky
Breed Profile
Jack Russel Terrier Gallery

Breed Profile
--Written By Cindy Sandhorst
--Co-Written By Tiami Coleburg

Jack Terrier PortraitJack Russel Terrier (nicknames are JRT's, Jacks, The Little Big Dog)

Owner Level:
Jack Russel Terrier's are for experience dog owners only

Average Life Span:
12 to 15 years old

Average Weight:
The Jack Russel Terrier is very sturdy and has a lot of muscle.

Males usually weigh between 12 to 17 pounds

Females are generally 10 to 15 pounds

Average Height:
This little terrier breed is very much on its toes all the time, measuring between 10" and 15" at the withers.

Color And Coat:
Color should be predominate white (i.e., must be more than 51% white) with tan, black, or brown markings. Brindle markings are unacceptable.
  • The Jack Russel Terrier comes in three hair coats. The Smooth should be smooth, without any guard hair. Smooth should be just that smooth all over.

  • The Broken is shorter with rough hair that looks Broken. Coat should have longer guard hairs over a short undercoat without being woolly.

  • The Rough Coat has longer hair all over. This coat should have longer guard hairs over a short undercoat without being woolly

All coat types are easy to groom. Comb and brush regularly with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. To show, owners must strip the coat. Like the rough coat, the broken coated Jack needs to be stripped out also. Stripping is pulling the hair out by hand. This is not done with pet dogs. Usually pet dogs are not clipped or stripped, but allowed to be in their natural coat.

Typical Health Problems:
Cataracts, deafness, Legg Perthes-a disease of the hip joints of small breeds of dogs.

Jack Terrier PortraitHistory and Personality:
A clergyman named Jack Russel developed The Jack Russel Terrier during 19th century in England. This feisty little terrier was used to hunt small game, particularly fox, by digging the quarry out of its den. Breeders have emphasized its working ability, so the standard is very broad, encompassing a wide range of accepted body types. On English hunts, the Jack Russel Terriers were supposed to be long-legged enough to keep up with the hounds. The energetic and playful Jack Russel can make a good family companion in the hand of a dedicated, involved owner. Some of the Jack Russel's talents include: hunting, tracking, agility, and performing tricks. The Jack Russel Terrier is a perky, merry, devoted, and loving dog. Spirited, obedient, yet absolutely fearless. They are careful, amusing, enjoy games and playing with toys. Friendly and generally kind to mature children that have been educated in proper behavior around a dog. They are intelligent, yet willful and determined. They can be slightly difficult to train and need a firm, experienced trainer. They have strong hunting instincts (stronger than your average terrier) and should not be trusted with other small animals. They like to chase and explore. Be careful not to let them off the lead unless they are very well trained. Jack Russel's like to bark and dig. They tend to get restless and destructive if not kept fruitfully occupied and well exercised.

Why are these dogs typically in animal shelters?
Jack Terrier PortraitThe majority of the dogs that end up in the Russel Rescue are unwanted simply for being a Jack Russel by nature and behavior. The uneducated, uncommitted owner often find that they are unprepared for the care required for this feisty terrier. All too often owners lack an understanding of the nature of the Jack Russel Terrier, and their instinctive desire to hunt. Many experienced, as well as inexperienced, dog owners are overwhelmed by the demands of a Jack Russel Terrier, leading to the dogs abandonment even before they reach adulthood. The Jack Russel Terrier breed is first and foremost a hunting dog. They have amazing skills and traits that make them excellent hunting dogs: digging, barking, aggressive nature, ability to follow scent. However, these same traits in a household are often interpreted as bad habits that cause people to give them up. Jack Russel Terrier character, intelligence and high energy level can frustrate you, will undoubtedly entertain you, and can bring you great joy (when they're happy!) or great grief (when they're not!).

How do these dogs handle rescue or shelter life?
As long as the Jack Russel Terrier is kept busy they adjust very well to changes in family life. In fact most JRT's are given up because they become destructive when left on their own to much. When they are sent to a new home and given a job they become very happy dogs. Because of their high energy level the JRT does not do well kept in a kennel for long periods. They tend to bark or sulk with nothing to do.

Jack Terrier JumpingWho should own this breed?
The owner needs to be as strong-willed as Jack Russel Terrier is, or these little ones will take over. JRTs are not the breed for an inexperienced dog owner. This is a BIG dog in a little dog's body. With the right owner this little dog can really excel, but is not recommended for those who have not had prior experience with dogs unless that person is willing to put time into training. It is essential that you take your Jack Russel Terrier to training classes. Start with puppy classes and continue up through general obedience classes. If you are not willing to take the time to train your Jack Russel Terrier do not bother to own one! You and the dog will both be unhappy! Jack Russel's climb, which means they can climb over a fence, they also jump. A Jack that stands 12 inches high can easily jump five feet. The Jack Russel Terrier will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They are very active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. These are not your typical small lap dogs. If the Jack is kept in an apartment, the dog should have a person home with it during the day unless the dog is crate trained. Even then, the owner better expect to get some exercise or be pestered to death for belly rubs and tug of war games when he/she gets home. This dog does best if given a lot of time and attention. They are VERY high energy. If you are a hiker or jogger the Jack Russel Terrier will easily keep up with you. They make great agility and obedience dogs. They love to learn and do best with a job. These bright little ones are truly working terriers. These are not the right dogs for everyone. They are not like Wishbone or My Dog Skip. Those dogs are well-trained actors with an experienced human handler in control.

(Please read this before you consider this breed: " JRTCA - The Bad Dog Talk " It tells you the good and bad of owning a JRT.)

Is this breed good with children?
Children and dogs should never be left alone and unattended, even for a moment. Young children do not have proper dog etiquette, and dogs do not understand a child's behavior. This can result in tragedy with any breed of dog. Like children, each dog is different in personality, energy and patience levels. So, each dog and child relationship should be considered individually. JRT's are usually good with older children if the child has learned to be good with dogs. Follow these simple rules for a S.A.F.E. happy child and dog:

  • Supervise. Keep them in your vision at all times or physically separated--children in play pen or dog in crate.

  • Anticipate and stay alert. A dog only has a few ways of protesting. He can move away, hop up on furniture, or go under a bed. Once the dog has done this, he has no other means to stop a child other than a bark, growl, or nip. If you see your dog retreating from a child, stop that child! Anticipate problems before they happen. Do not expect your dog to tolerate something you wouldn't.

  • Follow through. If you say it, mean it. If you tell your child to stop bothering the dog, enforce that. If you tell the dog to sit, make him. All things are easier if your child and dog know that you mean what you say, and say what you mean.

  • Educate both the dog and the child. Teach your child by word and example that animals are to be treated with care. Do not allow hitting, teasing, or other harassment. Teach your dog by practice and patience that people --children in particular--make mistakes, and how to behave when those mistakes happen.
Jack Terrier with toysS.A.F.E. pretty much sums up the general approach to safely caring for a family that includes very young, mobile children and a lot of dog breeds. With one exception when it comes to Jack Russel Terriers, "Anticipate." The Jack Russel Terrier has much in common with other dogs in general and with other terriers in particular. All parents of small children must supervise their interactions with dogs carefully. The important difference is that these other breeds, terriers included, are rarely selected as breeding stock based on their tendency to display aggression during their work. Jack Russel's on the other hand...Over countless generations the various ancestors of our Jack Russel Terriers shared one particular commonality: they were expected to enter, find, and then to WORK. That work consists of growl, baying and biting in the face of formidable quarry. So be very careful with your child around any Jack Russel Terrier. Once the child is mature enough have the child learn and perform simple training commands with the dog and perhaps attend obedience training together. This will give the child some control over the rowdy Jack Russel Terrier.

Is this breed good with other dogs and animals in general?
The Jack Russel terriers can be aggressive with other dogs if not well trained and socialized. Some have killed or been killed in dogfights. Early socialization can help substantially moderate this trait. They have strong hunting instincts (stronger than your average terrier) and should not be trusted with other small animals. The Jack Russel Terrier will climb on a table to get to the pet hamster. This would not make a very happy situation for hamsters or their owner. It is best not to own two of the same sex in a home unless you are very experienced. Even two altered dogs of the same sex, that have been raised together, have been known to fight.

Jack TerrierHow easy is training and house training with this breed?
Jack Russel Terrier's absolutely love to learn. It may not seem like it at times but they truly have a desire to please and will do almost anything for their owners. They want to be busy which makes training easy. This dog is happiest when they are learning and busy. Take your dog to obedience classes, agility and JRT trails. You will both love the fun and excitement of working as a team together.

Jack Russel Terrier's are usually easy to house train. Like every other breed house training is up to the owner. They are the ones who are going to make the big difference in how well the dog is house trained. Because the JRT is a clean breed of dog they do well with crate training. Just be sure the crate is small enough for only a bed. You do not want to use a large crate as the dog will use one area as a bedroom and one area as a bathroom.

Socializing this breed?
This dog must be well socialized with other dogs and people from a very young age. They are usually great with people, but like all dogs need to be socialized.
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