Is a Jack Russell Terrier the perfect dog for you?
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but those exceptions are few and far between when it comes to Jackies. They are what they are.
Rev. John Russell from England wanted a small, fearless and agile dog, with phenomenal stamina, to use to track and hunt small but ferocious animals like the red fox and badgers. Therefore, he came up with what we now call the Jack Russell Terrier.
Jackies are approximately 15 “tall and weigh between 14 and 18 pounds.
They are in the Terrier group. That means this dog needs to work!
It cannot be stressed enough, this is not a recommended breed for inexperienced owners! Shelters and rescues are falling apart with Jackies; some who have serious behavior problems. Their owners did not do their homework to research the breed or they expected their dog to be the exception.
Ask experienced Jack Russell owners to describe their dog and you will hear: busy, defiant, fun loving, loyal, with a big prey drive, not particularly good with young children, not good with other small animals, intelligent, confrontational, alert, easily bored, great watchdog, excellent watchdog, possessive, incredible stamina, little patience, and sometimes aggressive.
Keep in mind that they do not tolerate being manipulated by a heavy hand. To get the most out of them, you need to be fair, firm, and consistent, using only your tone of voice and lots of praise. They love praise!
A stubborn dog that needs constant supervision and control can be a lot of fun. If you decide that Jackie is the dog for you, it is imperative that you sign up for obedience and socialization, positive reinforcement, and punishment-free groups for puppies as soon as possible. Without continuous obedience training and lots of socialization, this dog will quickly lose control. The fact is, teaching Jackie isn’t the problem. They learn fast. Training yourself to be a trusted and respected leader will be the goal.
There are certain things to know before buying or adopting a Jackie. This is a phenomenal endurance dog that can be extraordinarily stubborn. A bored, under-exercised, and untrained Jack Russell who has not been socialized will develop potentially dangerous behavior problems. If you are the athletic type, always busy and looking for new adventures, Jackie may be an ideal companion. If the word exercise is foreign to you, find another breed.
In fairness to this animal, be prepared to spend a few hours a day working and exercising them. Even if you take long, brisk walks several times a day, it is not enough. Never let your Jackie drop lead in an unsafe place. This is a dog that will ignore you, if he is not absolutely trained to immediately respond to your memory. On your best day, you will never catch them! They are remarkably fast!
A Jackie who does not exercise adequately physically and mentally will find a way to do it for himself. Without a doubt, you can expect to come home to a happy dog and a wrecked house!
Don’t assume this is the type of dog that can be left in the backyard unsupervised. They are climbers and excavators. They’ll find a way out before you can say “Jack Russell.” Because they are fearless, fearless, and generally exceptionally confrontational, your pet may injure himself or another animal or person while on the loose.
It is not recommended to have two Jackies of the same sex living under one roof. They may be small, but they are extremely territorial, possessive, and protective of what they consider uniquely their own. That is what makes them such good watchdogs and guardians.
They have their fair share of inherent health problems. One of the most common is lens ecotopia (lens luxation). It can cause blindness. They are also prone to Leggs-Calve-Perthes syndrome (degeneration of the head of the femur), patellar luxation, cataracts, deafness, Von Willebrand disease (blood disorder) causing excessive bleeding, descending testicles, myasthemia gravis causing weakness in the hindquarters, ataxia (muscle / limb disorder) causing tremors and hydroceania (fluid in the brain).
Note: Since Jack Russells are notable trackers and hunters, if you live in an area where skunks are present, be aware of Toxic Shock from Skunks. It can be fatal.
Their average life expectancy is 12 to 16 years.
They are easy to fix on a day-to-day basis! A quick brushing with a stiff bristle brush will usually suffice. However, you will probably have to bathe them more than you want, because they love to roll in the smelliest things they can find! Make them insensitive to bathe them from the beginning, otherwise you will have a fight to the end on your hands.
Bottom line: do your homework! Research is a breed. Talk to experienced Jack Russell owners before buying or adopting. Avoid like the plague: flea markets, backyard breeders, classifieds and pet stores. They just perpetuate the hideous puppy mills that flood the market with shoddy pets. Spend a few more dollars. Find a responsible and trustworthy breeder who takes pride in the quality of their dogs. If you’re up to a challenge, check out Shelters and Rescues. They have a lot of Jack Russells; most gave up due to behavior problems. Leave them a little slack. They are probably there because they had an overwhelmed and inexperienced owner! Who knows, maybe your new best friend is there, eagerly waiting for you.