Jack Russell dog breed information and advice
If you’re thinking of getting a new dog, the Jack Russell Terrier could be the breed for you. They’re intelligent and love to play. Their lively personality and kind temperament make them a perfect pet but, it’s always recommended to understand the breed’s needs before you buy.
This handy guide covers everything you might need to know, from how to care for them to feeding, training, insurance and much more.
Jack Russell facts
13 - 16 years
£600 - £1200
26 - 33 cm
6 - 8 kg
white with either black and tan markings
once a week
lively, active and fearless
regular, daily exercise
Jack Russell insurance
Health problems can happen at any age, so it’s best to start with puppy insurance. Having Jack Russell insurance helps to cover the cost of treatment, consultations, medication, nursing care or even surgery.
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance
Sainsbury’s Bank can provide new dog insurance cover for your Jack Russell from 8 weeks and up to 8 years of age. Once you have cover in place with us, you can insure your dog up to any age as long as you keep renewing the policy without a break.
How to care for a Jack Russell
Food, nutrition, grooming and exercise are all important parts of caring for any dog. Giving your dog lots of love, care and attention will help them live a happy and healthy life.
Feeding and nutrition
Starting your puppy on the right diet is important. Where possible, you should use the same food as the dog breeder to prevent an upset tummy. If you want to change the dog food, you need to change it slowly by adding small amounts of the new food to the original food.
As your puppy grows, make sure you change from puppy food to adult dog food. Tailoring their diet helps to make sure your dog is getting the correct nutrients for their age. It’s easy for them to become overweight so you’ll need to know how much to feed a Jack Russell. Puppies should be fed three or four times a day, but as they get older, you should only feed them once or twice a day.
Jack Russells prefer to eat small biscuits. Make sure the dry dog food is suited to the size of your dog. Food packaging will provide guidance on suitability and portion size to help keep you right.
There are two types of Jack Russell coats - smooth and rough. The good news is that both coats are low maintenance. To minimise the amount of fur on the floor and furniture, you should brush your dog once a week; removing any loose fur and keeping their coat clean and smooth.
They’ve lots of energy so should be exercised daily. Puppy legs can get tired easily; however, you should aim to walk an adult Jack Russell twice a day, for at least 30 minutes.
Their exercise doesn’t have to be limited to walks, playtime can count too. Keeping your dog exercised for an hour a day keeps their mind and body active. It will also prevent any destructive behaviour that might creep in if they become bored.
Jack Russells learn quickly and are eager to please and training them will help prevent bad behaviour. Training classes are a great way to pick up tips and give your Jack Russell chance to socialise. For better results, include toys and treats as part of their training; making it fun and delicious for your dog.
Puppy toilet training tends to be easy with this breed and can be included with their dog training too.
Temperament and behaviour
Jack Russells are known for being devoted and eager to please, making them a perfect family companion.
Although they’re small, they have long legs, so they’re fast runners. They’re also very flexible and can get in small places. Your garden will need to be secure to stop your Jack Russell from escaping. They will dig, so don’t leave them on their own in your garden for long.
Jack Russells don’t like to be left alone for long periods. If you have to go out, make sure they always have toys to play with. This will help keep them entertained and out of mischief.
Common health problems
Jack Russells, like all breeds, can suffer from several health issues. Here are some of the more common problems that might affect them:
Atopy means Jack Russells are prone to suffer from genetic skin allergies. It affects 1 in 10 dogs.
There are lots of allergens that can affect sufferers. Dust mites, pollen and mould are the most common. Less commonly, they can be allergic to protein in food.
If your dog has atopy, they’ll experience regular ear and skin infections. They may also have itchy eyes or a runny nose. You should visit your vet if your dog is scratching, biting and licking themselves.
Anti-inflammatory medications are given to reduce inflammation. You might also need to avoid allergens in their diet and give them food that has high levels of fatty acids. Desensitisation vaccines are given over a few months to treat the condition, followed by life-long yearly injections.
Regular grooming will help with natural skin cell shedding. Medicated washes and ear cleaners are also available. Other drug therapies may be needed in severe cases, but your vet will be able to advise you of the best treatment for your Jack Russell.
Impacted anal glands
Impacted anal glands is when there is a build-up of fluid in the anal sac, becoming inflamed and infected. The cause is unknown but is often related to diet. You should visit your vet if your dog is licking and biting the area, has redness, swelling, or is dragging their bottom on the ground.
The anal sac needs to be emptied to treat the problem. If there is an infection, antibiotic ointment may be needed and in severe cases, surgery may be required.
Luxating patella is where the kneecap is unstable and doesn’t slide into the correct place. Dogs suffering from this condition will hop rather than use the affected leg.
Some animals don’t require any treatment as it can be temporary. In most cases, surgery is required to correct the position of the kneecap. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your Jack Russell.
Polydipsia is excessive drinking or thirst. This can be caused by prolonged exercise, a salty diet, or drug-related side effects. Your vet will need to carry out some tests to work out the cause but, often diet and lifestyle changes can be made to resolve the problem.
So, is a Jack Russell right for you?
Jack Russells make great family pets and loyal companions. They don’t take much grooming but are very active and love to play - so be prepared to keep up with them.
How long do Jack Russells live?
The Jack Russell has a lifespan of 14-16 years. Provide your dog with the best chance of reaching this age by giving them the best care.
Are Jack Russells easy to train?
Jack Russells are intelligent dogs and were bred for hunting. This means that they can follow commands and work with other dogs.
Are Jack Russells good pets?
Jack Russells love to play with other dogs and people. They have a lot of energy, so need owners that enjoy walking. And they’re always happy to have a cuddle.
Where are Jack Russells from?
The Jack Russell Terrier is an early British fox hunter. Their long legs and flexible bodies make them excellent hunters. They’re small enough to get into dens and lure the prey out.
The colours and markings have come from the cross of the English Black and Tan Terrier with the Old English White Terrier, both of which are now extinct.
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