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Jack Russell Terrier

Our guide to the breed

My ideal owner | Exercise | Temperament | Health | Appearance | Cost | History

Key facts

Height: 23m – 30cm

Weight: 4 – 7kg

Life Expectancy: 12 – 18 years

Exercise Needs: High

About Jack Russell Terriers

Hey there! I’m a Jack Russell Terrier. I’m a popular breed thanks to my confident, happy nature. Don’t be fooled by my small size – I’m no lazy lapdog! I’m a high energy pup so my owners have to make sure I get plenty of walkies, otherwise I’ll find my own entertainment that you might not like. I’m fairly independent so training me can be a challenge but once you figure out my motivation, I’ll happily show off my best tricks.

My Ideal Owner

If you’re willing to put in the time and energy, I’ll make a pawfect companion for all sorts of people. Generally, it helps if my owners have a bit of experience owning dogs, as my fearless nature means I need strong, positive guidance. I’d love a home with a garden – it’s probably wise to designate a digging spot just for me so I don’t excavate your lawn!

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Active lifestyle

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Experienced dog owners

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A home with a garden

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Committed to training


There’s all sorts of personalities amongst Jack Russell Terriers – some of us are friendly, whilst others are more shy, some of us are independent whilst others are reliant. It all comes down to our experiences, especially in our early years.

I have a reputation for my fearless nature and high energy. I love having a job to do, and as long as you give me the right motivation I’ll work hard to please you. Spending time with my humans is one of my favourite things to do after a long day playing, so don’t skimp on the belly rubs!

Exercise needs


I’ve energy by the bucketload so you’ll need to make sure I get plenty of exercise each day to keep me happy and healthy. When it comes to canine sports I’ll put my hand to all sorts, but I excel at earth dog trials – after all, it’s what I was bred for!

Did you know that understanding your dog’s exercise needs is now easier than ever?

Find out why thousands of dog owners are already using PitPat to keep their dog happy and healthy


I’m a hardy little dog, but there are a few health issues that I am prone to. Some of these can be tested for, so if you’re buying a puppy check the breeder has had parents and puppies screened.

What is lens luxation?

Lens luxation occurs when your dog’s lens dislocates from its normal position. The lens can move backwards, which is usually relatively pain-free, or forward, where it can prevent fluid draining from the eye – this is called glaucoma.

Left untreated, lens luxation and the resulting glaucoma can cause blindness.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog is closing its eye and it looks red, cloudy or has watery discharge, then you should visit your vet immediately. They will carry out an ophthalmic exam with specialised equipment to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatments for lens luxation?

If the lens has dislocated backwards, treatment may be restricted to eye drops and close monitoring.

However, if the lens has moved forward, the usual treatment is a surgery during which the lens is removed entirely. This will usually be carried out by an ophthalmic specialist.

In severe cases, your veterinary team may recommend the removal of the entire eye.

Most dogs will adapt well to life after having their lens removed. Many can still avoid obstacles and even chase a ball. However, if your dog has had its lens removed, you need to monitor them closely in the future as there are a number of complications that can arise after surgery.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is a luxating patella?

A luxating patella is a medical term for a slipping kneecap. This can happen as a result of certain ligaments being misaligned.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog has a bow-legged stance or occasional limping, they may be suffering from luxating patella. A vet will carry out an initial physical exam and, if necessary, refer your dog to an orthopaedic specialist. They may then carry out diagnostic imaging, such as a CT and MRI scan, to establish the extent of movement in the affected joint.

What is the treatment for a luxating patella?

Treatment for a luxating patella depends on the severity of the issue. Treatments include:

  • Weight management
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercise programs
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • Surgery

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is portosystemic shunt?

A portosystemic shunt (PSS) is an issue related to your dog’s blood circulatory system. When a PSS is present, blood that would normally be processed in the liver bypasses it completely. This means that waste products that the liver would normally remove end up circulating around the body. 

Dogs who develop a PSS may suffer from a condition called hepatic encephalopathy which can result in seizures. Puppies born with a PSS may have stunted growth as a result of the liver not receiving vital nutrients.

How is it diagnosed?

Most visible symptoms are the result of hepatic encephalopathy. This can include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, bladder stones (indicated by blood in your dog’s urine) and seizures.

If your dog displays any of these symptoms, you should visit a vet as soon as possible. If your vet suspects PSS they will take blood samples for testing.

What is the treatment for PSS?

Treatment for PSS varies depending on the type of PSS your dog has. Some can be corrected through complex surgery. 

Other types of PSS will need to be managed with medication and changes to your dog’s diet.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.


One off costs


This includes the average cost of a puppy, and all the gear they will need, like their collar, bed and grooming tools.

Ongoing costs

£16 per week | £70 per month | £840 per year

This includes your ongoing costs such as insurance, food, toys, and standard veterinary care, but not dog sitting, training or veterinary costs not covered by insurance.


Every inch of me is perfect for my original purpose – to flush foxes out from underground. From my compact, balanced body to my white and brown coat, I am designed to be able to go where the fox does and be clearly recognised in the heat of the hunt. Most people know me for my distinctive black and white markings – but did you know I come in a huge range of colours including tricolour, red and white and blue merle?

I can have a smooth or rough coat, with just enough fur to protect me from the elements without creating extra bulk for me to carry round. I shed my coat a moderate amount, but this can be helped by limiting my soapy baths (a rinse with water is often best) and keeping me well groomed. When it comes to colours, I’m usually white, with some tan, lemon, or black markings.

Talking of grooming, the amount I need will depend on my coat. Those of us with smooth coats are easy to manage – regular brushing will help remove dead hair and stop my hairs getting all over your house. Those of us with rough coat will need to hand stripped at least twice a year. Some of our owners are happy to learn do this themselves, but others opt for a professional groomer who have the tools and the know-how to do a perfect job.



White and Tan


White and Lemon

White and Black

Grooming needs

Regular professional grooming (for rough coated dogs)

Daily brushing


No. I shed my coat.


Us Jack Russell Terriers get our name from Parson John Russell, an English clergyman who wanted a terrier to flush foxes from their dens but never to kill them. Parson John Russell spent his lifetime developing us and other breeds, like the larger Parson’s Russell Terrier, and we quickly became a favourite with hunters.

After Russell’s death there were a small number of dedicated enthusiasts who continued to breed us, eventually even creating a breed standard. Around the late 19th century we started being used extensively in badger hunting – something we were great at despite the different set of skills required. With a little crossbreeding, our breed continued to evolve for the job at hand.

After World War Two, demand for hunting dogs declined and we started being favoured as companion pets. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be crossed with other small dogs including Corgis and Chihuahuas.

By this point, there were plenty of people clamouring for us to be recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK. However, because we had such mixed genetics and wide variations in our appearances, the Kennel Club only listed Jack Russell Terriers as a type.

In 1990 our larger cousin, the Parson’s Jack Russell Terrier, was finally accepted as a breed, and in 1999 the official name changed to Parson’s Russell Terrier. Then, in 2016, we were finally recognised as a breed of our own – the Jack Russell Terrier.

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