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Fun, Feisty, and Famous: Jack Russell Terriers
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Fun, Feisty, and Famous: Jack Russell Terriers

Ben, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 18, 2020

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Jack Russell terriers are one of the most popular companion dogs and family pets. They are fun, lively, highly intelligent, and love being around adults and children of all ages. Although they can be a touch mischievous at times, in the right type of environment and with the right kind of care and training, they are happy, healthy, well-behaved little dogs.

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1

Jack Russells are little bundles of energy

Jack Russell terriers love going on walks damedeeso / Getty Images

Despite their small size, Jack Russell terriers are definitely not lapdogs. Bred in the UK for fox hunting, these pups are incredibly active and require plenty of high-intensity exercise to keep them out of trouble.

Alongside at least an hour of walking, this breed does best when they have access to wide-open spaces to run and play. A house or apartment with access to a yard or park is ideal for these dogs.

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2

Their coats can vary from low to high maintenance

Single Jack Russel dog looking up while lying on the grass. heidijpix / Getty Images

Jack Russell terriers have a distinctive coat that is predominantly white  with markings of tan or black. It can be smooth, rough, or a combination, which is known as a broken coat. The amount of grooming they require depends on their specific type of coat. Smooth hair is the easiest to care for; these dogs require just a weekly brush. Those with rough and broken coats need more frequent brushing to remove, especially during shedding seasons.

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3

This breed has an incredibly strong prey drive

Jack Russell terriers love chasing small animals alexei_tm / Getty Images

Jack Russells are lively, keen dogs that will instinctively chase just about anything that moves. It may be difficult to introduce a Jack Russell into a household that has pets they may mistake for prey such as rabbits or rodents.

This breed can be trained to get along with cats but will likely always seek out small critters encountered outside of the house. This combined with their insatiable curiosity makes them prone to running off when let off the leash.

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4

Jack Russells need training and structure

Training is very important with these dogs alexei_tm / Getty Images

As highly intelligent animals, Jack Russells are reasonably easy to train, and they certainly need it. Consistent training from an early age helps them understand the boundaries of their behavior, curbing undesirable ones such as digging and chewing.

The right kind of training also provides them with the physical and mental stimulation that they need. However, Jack Russells are quite sensitive dogs, so positive reinforcement is the best approach. They don't respond well to harsh correction or heavy-handed training methods.

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5

They don't like to be left alone for long periods

Happy joyful and playful jack russell dog relaxing and resting on gress garden at the park outdoors and outside on summer vacation holidays primeimages / Getty Images

Jack Russell terriers do best in households where there are people around much of the time. They can suffer from separation anxiety if left home alone frequently for long periods and become destructive when bored. These dogs are also renowned barkers, which could become a problem in an apartment. However, these negative behaviors can be managed with the right kind of training and by making sure the dog is kept active as much as possible.

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6

These dogs are natural show-offs

These dogs love learning new tricks alexei_tm / Getty Images

Jacks Russells are naturally playful and absolute exhibitionists. Their intelligence allows them to learn a wide range of commands, even complex ones, with ease. The fact that they adore getting plenty of attention makes them eager to demonstrate their training.

The breed's athletic build means that they also excel at most canine sports, especially ones requiring a great deal of agility. This kind of training also ensures they remain physically and mentally stimulated.

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7

Jack Russell terriers were bred for function, not appearance

There are many variations in the breed K_Thalhofer / Getty Images

The breed gets its name from Parson John "Jack" Russell, who lived in Dartmouth, England. He was passionate about fox hunting, which was a popular pastime in his region at that time. Parson bred dogs for hunting and wasn't all that concerned about the uniformity of the breed's appearance. Therefore, today Jack Russell terriers can differ quite significantly from dog to dog. However, most are around 10 to 15 inches tall and weigh approximately 13 to 17 pounds.

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8

They have a lot of character

Jack Russell terriers have great little faces Wavetop / Getty Images

Jack Russell terriers are cheerful, exuberant, and have an insatiable appetite for adventure. They are well known for their fearless personalities, charisma, and expressive faces; that's why they often appear in television shows and movies.

They can also be tenacious, bold, and incredibly independent, making them a little much for those who are not experienced in handling such dogs. This, coupled with their boundless energy, means that this breed is not recommended for novice owners.

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9

This breed is generally healthy

Frequent trips to the vet are not necessary with these dogs vgajic / Getty Images

Thanks to the large terrier gene pool, Jack Russells are very healthy dogs. They tend to live between 10 and 15 years. However, there are a few health issues linked to this breed that owners should be aware of. Jack Russell terriers can suffer from problems with their gums and teeth and also with ear infections. As a light-haired breed, they are susceptible to sunburn and should be kept out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day.

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10

Jack Russells make excellent pets for active families

Jack Russell terriers get on with everyone monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

Jack Russells terriers are friendly and loyal dogs and make excellent companions. They are very affectionate and form an incredibly strong bond with their owner or with one particular family member.

They are extremely playful throughout their lives and are great around children of all ages if properly socialized. However, their boisterous nature might be a little much for smaller children to handle.

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