Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier dog breed

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The Jack Russell Terrier – a joyful bundle of energy

Small, smart and lively, this still young breed boasts a handsome number of fans amongst dog lovers. The autonomous breed of British origin is known as the Jack Russell Terrier and has been recognised by the FCI since 2000. The Jack Russell Terrier’s short legs differ from his close relative, the Parson Russell Terrier.

Physique: small and agile

Jack Russell Terriers constantly sniff around near the ground as part of their beloved journeys of discovery. According to the breed standard, these lively dogs should be 25 to 30cm in height. Their ideal weight should be between 5 and 6kg, whilst the short legs make the dogs elongated rather than tall. The chest circumference is between 40 and 43cm, which is mainly relevant because of dogs from the breed being deployed as den hunters: a large chest circumference would prevent the Terrier from being able to run through foxholes. The Jack Russell Terrier’s V-shaped ears are folded down. They love to flit around and when doing so, their tail is upright. It points downwards when resting.

Fur and Colours

The typical colour combination of predominantly white fur with markings and spots in different colour tones such as black, brown and liver characterises the breed. Spots can be distributed just like cow spots or can be focused on just a few areas – a spot around the eye looks particularly bold and striking – but the proportion of white should always be the majority. The fur can be either flat, wiry or coarse in terms of structure.

Cute and Happy Jack Russell Terrier © alexei_tm / stock.adobe.com

Origin and Deployment

The Jack Russell Terrier takes its name from its first breeder, John Russell (1795-1833). In 1819, a female Fox Terrier called Trump moved into his home in Oxford and became the ancestress of the Jack Russell Terriers we know today, along with the Parson Russell Terrier. Despite its British roots, the modern-day form of the breed comes from Australia, since the dogs were predominantly bred there. The reason for this is how the breed is put to work. The Jack Russell Terrier is a typical hunting dog and its ancestors were mainly deployed for fox hunting in Australia. This was necessary because English immigrants abandoned two foxes in Oceania around 1850, as the native dingoes were not appealing plunder for the hunters. In the absence of natural enemies, Growing calls for its decimation. As a result, there was a high demand for small hunting dogs that could squeeze into the rabbit or wombat burrows inhabited by foxes but still cover long distances. Composed with the long-legged Parson Russell Terrier, the smaller Jack Russell Terrier had a clear advantage. The history of the Jack Russell Terrier only begins in 1972 with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Australia. Even nowadays, Australia is still the most influential country with regard to the development of the breed. These little bundles of energy became famous through the American television show “Frasier”, in which a dog called Moose appeared in 192 episodes and reached star status in Hollywood. Jack Russell Terriers are still deployed nowadays for hunting foxes, badgers and marmots. However, these dogs are now very popular as family and companion dogs.

Nature: charming little imps

Jack Russell Terriers may look small and cute, but they have the heart of a hard-working hunter. Unfortunately, this combination may be underestimated. These dogs are lively and very active – the opposite of couch potatoes. They are so temperamental and are distinguished by their strong will. Although the child is in need of care. Along with consistent training, this little dog needs bucket loads of activity more than anything else. As for contact with other dogs, they are generally outgoing if they have been socialised appropriately as a puppy. The hunting instinct quickly helps them gain the upper hand with small animals or cats, especially those outside of their family.

Healthcare: prevention is better than cure

Jack Russell Terriers are fundamentally robust nature lovers who can live for more than 15 years if they are well cared for. There are some diseases that are typical for this breed, but purchasing your dog from a responsible breeder can reduce the associated risk. As is the case with some other Terrier breeds, the Jack Russell also has a tendency to develop ataxia and myelopathy. Symptoms of these neurological diseases can be movement disorders or muscle tremors. Allergic or atopic skin diseases can also emerge. In the case of a patella luxation, the kneecap ends up dislocated and the dog struggles to get by walking on just three legs. A surgical procedure can make your pet fit and healthy again. You should make sure you provide your Jack Russell Terrier with sufficient exercise and a diet developed to maintain a low body weight, since otherwise these little bundles of energy can soon become overweight.

Is a Jack Russell Terrier right for me?

If you love exercise and the great outdoors, the Jack Russell Terrier is a suitable companion for you. A well trained specimen of this lively breed is ideal as a family dog. Be it long walks, jogging sessions or playing with children, the four-legged member of the family throws itself wholeheartedly into all activities! Jack Russell’s require constant physical activity. Do you already have other pets? Grown-up terriers and cats can be found in the same roof as potential “prey” animals. Jack Russell Terriers are only suitable for first-time dog owners if they do extensive advance research on the breed, its requirements and in particular how to provide ideal trainingGood sources of information are breeding associations, regional breeders and of course Jack Russell fans with more experience. 

Before the move-in date

Since Jack Russell Terriers have a life expectancy of up to 15 years, you should give sufficient consideration beforehand to the practicalities of sharing your home with this breed. Clarify in advance who can take care of your dog if you fall ill or go away on holiday. If you already have children, you should consider clear rules before the dog enters your home and instruct your children on how to handle the new housemate in a responsible manner. If your children treat the new arrival with respect, there’s nothing to stop a long-lasting friendship developing, as children and dogs make a great team. Can you envisage going on holiday with your dog? There are now numerous hotels that will be delighted to receive dogs as part of the family! Along with basic equipment such as a lead, basket, comb and brush, nail clippers, blanket and a transport case for the car, ongoing costs for suitable nutrition and veterinary examinations will also be incurred. At times the latter could of course end up begin more expensive than envisaged if your pet unexpectedly falls ill. Check too that no family members are allergic to dogs and if necessary, if your landlord allows you to have a dog. It goes without saying that you should also realistically assess whether you have time to fulfil the requirements of the breed – both on a day-to-day basis and over the course of many years.

Grooming: required on a weekly basis

The dog’s fur consists of top hair and an undercoat and requires regular grooming. This is easiest for Jack Russell Terriers with flat or coarse hair that just needs brushing. However, they are much more prone to moulting than their wiry haired counterparts. The more regularly you comb and brush their fur, the less hairs you will find in your home. Along with combing your wiry haired Jack Russell Terrier on a weekly basis, regular trims should also be on the grooming agenda – preferably by a professional who can instruct you if required. This removes old, loose top hairs so that the fur can regrow. It’s best to do a visual check of the eyes, ears and claws once a day so that you can react straight away to any alterations, such as through mite infestations.

Training: loving and consistent

Training should without fail be loving and consistent, taking into account the lively Jack Russell Terrier’s pronounced hunting instinct. “No” should always mean “no”, as  these clever dogs are more than happy to take advantage of inconsistent training to take control of the human-animal relationship dynamic. It’s best to get them used to other small animals when they are still puppies. Once they reach adulthood, it is very difficult for these passionate hunters to socialise with potential “prey” like cats. As is the case with adult dogs, puppies also need instant reactions in order to learn what is and isn’t wanted in terms of behaviour. Consistency is fundamental here. It’s vital for you to clarify with all family members when the dog is still a puppy what unwanted behaviour exactly entails. If the dog is allowed to climb into your bed as a little puppy, they will always want to carry on doing do. If you pay attention to a young dog’s gentle barking, you could run the risk of raising a real yapper.

Attending a puppy or dog school is highly recommend. Here your new family member can get to know dogs of different breeds and therefore learn how to remain composed when dealing with its canine counterparts, as well as practising basic commands such as “sit”, “stay” or “fetch”, which will make day-to-day life much easier for you. Besides, learning together will strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Ideally you would look for a suitable dog school before the new arrival comes to live with you. The trainers should answer your questions coherently and make you come away with the impression that playing and learning in a controlled manner is fundamental to their philosophy.

Keeping them occupied

These little bundles of energy love activity and lots of it! Should sufficient activity be lacking, they tend to develop behavioural problems or become overweight. In order to keep your dog sufficiently occupied, dog sports such agility or dog dancing are recommended as well as long walks with plenty of time and opportunity to dig and sniff away, because they allow your dog to show its intelligent side too. Your Jack Russell Terrier is more than happy to accompany you for jogging sessions too! They love scent-based games involving finding hidden objects or treats, as this gives them chance to test their keen sense of smell. Along with lots of energy, it’s important for you to also transmit a sense of calm to your dog. In concrete terms, this means “Ball games – let’s do it!”, for instance. But it’s best to proceed in a controlled manner, such as the ball only being picked up upon your command. Controlled play stops your dog from getting too high-spirited despite plenty of activity. Brain work is important both to tire out your dog and also to allow the two of you to grow together as a strong team. Of course you can learn lots of tricks together with your beloved pets – even clicker training is often real fun for them! A well trained and stimulated Jack Russell Terrier makes an excellent companion in any circumstances.

How to find your four-legged companion

If you’re looking for a Jack Russell Terrier, you should make sure you look out for serious breeders. Since this breed of dog is extremely popular, there are unfortunately numerous black sheep amongst the breeders who more than anything have their eye on the biggest profit they can achieve. The price is paid in the form of a diluted breed standard – serious breeders value animals that are true-to-type in terms of physique and character – and the health of puppies and their parents. Illicit breeders often keep the animals in poor conditions with no consideration to appropriate activity. The mothers hardly have any chance to recover and are made to carry another litter as soon as possible. In addition, puppies are often separated from their mothers much too early, which carries health risks and also causes problems in terms of the puppies’ social behaviour. Serious breeders are members of an association or dog club and make a commitment to observe the respective guidelines for the wellbeing of their dogs and the breed as a whole.

You will have the opportunity to meet puppies along with their parents and siblings in the home of breeders who are concerned about the dogs’ welfare. They will be happy to answer your questions on healthcare provision or nutrition and aren’t just salesmen, but a point of contact for all matters regarding your new arrival. Furthermore, good breeders also ask questions of their own regarding the future environment their puppies will enter, your housing situation and what you do in your free time. It goes without saying that part of responsible breeding is also finding the best possible home for their puppies. National breeding associations can help you find serious breeders near you.

If it doesn’t necessarily have to be a puppy, you can also look at special protection associations for Jack Russell Terriers. Their aim is to find good homes for older dogs, sometimes mongrels too. From time to time, you can also find Jack Russell Terriers in animal homes. Depending on their background, such dogs may have a few character quirks but are generally particularly overjoyed to find a new home. The animal protection association will usually give you good advice to find out if the dog is suitable for you.

We hope you and your Jack Russell Terrier enjoy lots of adventures together!

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