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There are many misconceptions about Jack Russell’s from what their appearance is to what their behavior is. There is so much information out there on the web that it can all make your head spin. Let me start with some basics. Whether you hear them called Jack Russell’s or Parson Russell’s, Russell Terriers. They are all Jack Russell’s. It mainly depends on what club they are registered with. Jack Russell’s originated in the 1800's and was exclusively registered with the JRTCA (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America). They have a broad standard of Jacks ranging in height of 10-15 inches. In July, 2004 when the AKC (American Kennel Club) started to recognize the Jack they only recognized the longer legged narrowed bodies. The JRTCA having rights to the Jack Russell Terrier had them change their registering to the Parson Russell Terrier.  Recently, the AKC has decided to allow a domestic approved FSS (Foundation Stock Service) registry, the AJRTA (American Jack Russell Terrier Association) to register the shorties 10-12 inches known as the slightly longer than tall, registered as the Russell Terrier. The NKC (National kennel Club), & the CKC (continental Kennel Club) recognizes them as the Jack Russell Terrier. You may also hear the terms Irish or English Jack Russell terriers or Puddin' Jacks. The Puddin Jacks are usually 8 or 9 inches and only registerable with the EJRTCA.  


As far as behavior goes, I firmly believe there are "bad" dogs in every breed. It all depends on how they are bred and raised and their environment. When looking for a Jack be sure to see how the breeder raises and takes care of their Jacks, the temperament of the parents and if you have children I highly recommend choosing a breeder who raises them with children. Below you will find an example of the worst case Jack that is posted on JRTCA. I added a few facts about what type of temperaments my Jacks have as compared to the "worst" example.


Jack Russell Terrorist

By Rock River Jacks


You saw them on T.V., in movies, on record labels, and bill boards.  They're named for a colorful 19th century English clergy man that saved them from extinction.  They are the old foxing terrier, from long, long before.  They spawned the Fox Terrier, first recognized by The Kennel Club, more than a century ago.

Late in the 20th Century, most "All Breed" registries created variants of the Jack Russell.  They are now known by a variety of names:  Parson Jack Russell Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Russell Terrier, English Jack Russell Terrier, and many more.  Regardless, they treat life as the best game in town, and they are in it to win.

Jack Russells come uniquely marked, sometimes a tri color, maybe black and white, or a shade of brown and white, never brindle, but always at least 51% white.  The nose is black, and their coal black eyes sparkle with a perpetual mischievous glean.  With small "V" shaped ears flipped forward, they can dig to China, climb trees and fences as if they were ladders.  They leap any hurdle in a single bound, and run all day, with just a little left over just in case.  Few dogs are as agile.  They may be short or tall, ten to 15 inches,  just as long as it is height to length proportionate.  The coat may be smooth or course, short or long, maybe a little of each, it should be hard, preferably a thick double coat (not woolly), that sheds year round.  At a pound/inch and in hunting trim, they can be more difficult to wrestle with or contain than any of their 200 pound cousins.

    Fiercely loyal, with a fiery temperament, they have more fight then flight bred into them, they'll give as good as, often better, and then they get, even with the odds stacked against them.  A 12 year old behaves as youthful as a 2 year old.  Forever alert, nothing escapes their attention.  Intelligent and independent thinking, they tend to be willful, single minded, stubborn, and dominate.  Their personalities are as distinct and unique as their markings.  You're never sure what you have for at least a year.


Jack Russell Terriers (JRTs) are the old type of working terrier, bred and used to help control vermin (mice, rats, fox, badger, otter, raccoons, opossum, ground hogs, etc.).  Breeders down through the years, introduced a little of this or that blood into this excellent working terrier hoping to get that little extra for the type of quarry they put them too.  Jack Russell Terriers simply excel at what they were bred to do, HUNT.  The Fox Terrier,  Rat Terrier,  American Fiest, are just a few examples of the breeds whose roots extend back to this terrier’s gene pool.

With nose to the ground, and an eye to the sky, they can run with a pack of hounds.  They can bolt the fox from its hole.  They can hold the badger and raccoon at bay in it's den.  Any hole is worth an exploratory sniff and possible enlargement.  They are unbeatable as ratters and mousers, and challenge almost everything, even creatures ten times their size.  They hunt by sight, sound, and scent.  They are often a common companion of horse men and horses.

    Unfortunately a lot of uninformed people refuse to recognize or understand the down side of those working abilities and that JRTs are best kept as farm and country dogs.  Many irresponsible breeders would have you believe that these are cute little lap dogs.  Thousands have wrongly thought they could keep "Eddie" or "Wishbone" in an apartment, trailer park, or close city neighborhood.  These incredible little terriers are too often labeled as untrainable, destructive, hyperactive, and overly aggressive.  These terriers are tough. They dig, run, jump, bark, climb, and stand their ground.  They put 110% effort into everything they do.  The Jack Russell Terrier should have, even requires a dominate handler that will provide it a job and purpose.  Failing to do so permits the JR to take control of you, your home, and your life.


    I hope you understand that this terrier is a wonderful dog in the hands of a properly educated, able handler and in a proper environment.  You should expect that if your children are rowdy or prone to tease animals, there will be instances of them being nipped.  Cage a JR for the day and it'll go spastic demanding every moment of your time after release.  Chain the JR, and it will bark and yap until you release it.  Allow a JR off leash, it will bolt after, and harass, every cat, squirrel, and rabbit it sees.  Fail to adequately exercise the JR and your house becomes the Indy 500, the furniture used as agility equipment.  If you are an inactive person, this terrier will challenge you.  A 15 min walk in the park, or around the block, will never satisfy a JRs activity needs.  If you are an inexperienced dog person, lack any sense of humor, live in an apartment or other close quarters environment, I strongly suggest you select another breed.

If you must have a JR, then the absolute best thing you must do for yourself and this excellent working terrier, is attend a dog obedience course, and then get involved in activities that challenge the JRs' intellect and physical abilities, the reward will exceed your investment.


    I've heard it said and seen written many times that a Jack Russell Terrier is a "work in progress" (it is life long), I'll simply say they enrich my life, and they can be like potato chips, "having one JR is just not enough".  Owning a JR can be a wonderful experience, with your dedicated, loyal and affectionate companion at your side, you'll never sleep, eat, or travel alone again.  Being owned by a Jack Russell is either fantastic or terrible, just what you choose or simply let happen.





Jack Russells ...

..... are a strain of hunting dogs, which to the wrong owners display what they call "bad habits". The habits that I refer to are digging, barking, and hunting. First, understand that Jacks were meant to go underground, following the scent of their prey then barking excessively to let their owner know they found their prey. If they do not have an outlet for their natural instincts, they will find other means of expressing themselves, such as hunting birds, gophers, or bugs that cross their path. They will also dig and dig and dig. So if this is bothersome to you, then Jacks are not the right pet for you. They can be trained with lots of time & patience to overcome these issues.

….big dogs in little bodies, meaning they require lots of exercise. At least 2 hours a day. They are not the type of dog you want if you are away at work all day and no one is home to care for them. They will seek their revenge by chewing anything they can, especially if you do not provide enough chew toys for them.

….can be aggressive with other dogs especially if they feel threatened. If you desire to own more than one, you should have opposite sex Jacks only, this is especially true for the males. In fact, I will not place one of my male Jacks with you if you already own a male.

….are not a non-shedding breed. There are 3 coat types. Smooth coats, which shed constantly, but can be helped by daily brushing and I also used a shedding agent called Shed X. Rough or Wire coats, which maintain a guard and dead coat that requires annual manual shedding. Broken coats which are in between the two

….require firm and constant discipline. they will continually test you to see who is the "top dog" of the house. Giving in to their whims will only cause problems down the line. You must be firm and assertive.

….can become possessive of their owner or favorite person. They will protect them to every instinct if they feel a threat, even if you are doing something as  simple as wrestling around. It is best to handle this situation straight on and let him know who is boss.

….will harass other animals. My Jacks are raised with cats, but they were raised with some from puppies and the new ones they had to be taught to tolerate. To this day if they see a neighbors cat they will not hesitate to chase it as far as they can. They are hunters and will hunt your guinea pig, hamsters, gerbils and birds as well.

….need a fenced in yard. Even if you have trained your Jack to be by your side, there will come a time when he sees something he wants and he WILL leave your side and chase it. I speak from experience. Because they are diggers you will need to make special adjustments for your fence. If you already have a fence, get some chicken wire and bury it under the fence and attach it to the existing fence. If you are putting  up a new fence make sure to do the same.

….are country dogs, they are not suggested  for apartment or condo living. At minimum, they need a house with a fenced in yard so that they can run and play. They will not be satisfied on a dog run or in a kennel. If you are in an apartment or condo they would need to be left alone no more than 2 hours at a time and exercised frequently. They NEED their exercise, and a couple walks a day will not do it.

….will not stand any mistreatment by a child. My Jacks are raised with children, and LOVE them very much, but you have to train your children how to properly treat your dog, and no child under the age of 6 should be left unattended with your Jack

….are not how they are portrayed in movies and on T.V. Those are highly trained Jacks with their trainer beside them, and they only work for short periods of time. I highly reccomend obedience training classes. Agility training is also very good as it gives them a job to do.

….require a long term commitment. Their average life-span is 15-20 years, so please be sure you are ready for that type of commitment. Jacks are very intelligent, funny, amusing, loyal and loving dogs but they do require alot of "special" love.

Please remember...Russell Rescue  is very busy with displaced Jack Russell Terriers because...MANY PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATE LIFE WITH A JACK RUSSELL TERRIER!!

Is Owning a Jack Russell Terrier the Right dog for you? Try the online profiler.

The information on this page gathered by JRTCA website. Click here for more info.

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