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What kind or type of Jack Russell Terrier are you looking for?

There is a broad range of tall or short-legged Jack Russell Terrier characteristics and qualities to consider. Do you prefer stocky and wide-bodied, or more slim and athletic? Other questions include what is the background of the parents and how influential the parents' pedigree are, and genotype and phenotype that creates coloring, and size. What are the attributes of each sex, the three types of coat style, etc. What is a quality bite, what is gait quality-do the parents move fluidly? There are many other factors, which we will be happy to discuss with you.

In searching for a Jack Russell, do you like the taller, older style, hunting dog, now known as the Parson Jack Russell, which usually stands 12"- 15" tall? The AKC recognized the Parson JRT, the hunting dog many years ago. In 2006 the AKC recognized the Shorty Jack Russell Terrier as a separate and distinct terrier breed, very different than the taller, hunting Parson JRT. The Shorty JRT was then offically called the Russell Terrier to differentiate this breed from the taller English Parson JRT.

What is a hand-span? Make sure you can hand-span his chest and have your fingers touch, to make him eligible to meet breed standards. Many of the taller 15" dogs cannot be hand-spanned today. But they can certainly take down a 50 lb. badger and is prized for its hunting ability.

Or in your search, do you seek to find a dog that can do both, be a hunter and a dependable family dog? Many dogs of both 12" and over and 12" and under can do both.

If you search for a JR that has a more amenable disposition and a calmer temperament and is under 12" tall, then you seek an Irish short-legged JRT, also known as Shortys. It is a personal preference, but these dogs are better suited to be personal, family pets yet can still show, race, or play flyball when asked to do so. There is no such thing as a Toy or Miniature JRT. Occasionally there may be an even smaller JRT, some folks call them Pocket Jack Russells, 5 - 8 lbs. when fully grown and only about 7 - 8 inches tall. But its not something that you can breed for as its just an anomoly.
(Thank you to Aon Celtic Art for the use of the celtic decorative bullets.)



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How is the temperament of the shorter Jack Russell different from the Parson Jack Russell?

The temperament of the short-legged Jack Russell Terrier is vastly different from the longer-legged, 'old style' American Parson Russell Terrier. All JRT's are eager to please; always ready to play, and enjoy any training time you spend with them. But it seems the smaller, short-legged JR's are much more amenable to blending in with your family and living in your home. It is the original, older, Irish and English lines that have calmer dispositions and sweeter personalities. As with any dog, who they are introduced to early in life and socialized with, makes a world of difference. If they grow up with another dog, or a cat, they are seen as part of the family and learn the routines of what is acceptable and what is not. They are more easily trainable, very intelligent and have a quick learning curve.

Why are Jack Russells so self-confident and why do they think they are bigger than they really are!

Jack Russell Terriers are very loyal, friendly little dogs with a huge heart and lots of courage. They are truly a big dog in a little body! They are very protective of their territory and their people. They love children and get along well with most other house pets, if introduced at a young age. Many families have sent us photos of their Trinity JR playing with not just cats and dogs, but with pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, Capuchin monkeys and cows and horses. They see everyone as a playmate first.

They are, however, rodent hunters, so keeping them in the same room with your child's hamster or guinea pig is not recommended! Their instinct will over-ride your house rules; it has been deeply ingrained for over 200 years. If it looks like a mouse, smells like a rodent, it should be a tasty morsel.....it is toast. Please be forewarned and take precautions with very small pets or baby rabbits, etc. A natural hunting instinct is just that, natural to the dog.

Because they are so brave, Jacks have no concept of their size and may take on a much larger opponent, they are 'foolishly fearless'and will want to play with the neighbor's Great Dane, St. Bernard or Rottweiler. Always be aware of what dogs are in your neighborhood, and keep an eye out for potential conflicts wherever you are. Jacks are not necessarily aggressive and may not start a fight, but you can bet they will not give up the fight should one begin.

Jacks are most happy running and exploring in your yard, looking for chipmunks in the barn, snakes or moles in the garden. They usually do not dig without a reason, such as boredom or an interesting bug, when all of a sudden they imagine quarry in the hole they started to dig, and then really go-to-town digging. Puppies will learn to play and dig just to say "look what I can do, I can make dirt fly!'

Keeping a good supply of tennis balls, hockey pucks, soccer balls, Frisbees, and other toys around should prevent any excessive excavation of your lawn or garden. Many folks set up tetherballs or the horse style jolly balls in their yard so the JR's will leap and play all day. (This keeps your garden hose from being seen as a snake to play with and kill.)

Give them things you want them to chew on, instead of your favorite shoes.

You have to teach them that shoes are not a food group!!

Greenies or frozen, wet chews are especially good during teething periods, and as occasional treats. Soft cotton rope tied in knots are fun, you can wet them with water and freeze them. They make great teething therapy ropes for puppies, or a nice treat on a hot day for your dog. They do like ice cubes in their water dishes. Old socks or short lengths of soft cotton rope tied in knots make great tug of war toys, as do small to medium size towels or old pillowcases. Not all dogs dig, but most all will enjoy a game of tug-of-war. They love to growl and play and this is an especially fun game for them.

Jacks love to sit on your lap, and especially sleep in your bed cuddled up right next to you! They do not consider themselves dogs, and they should not be left outside! They are part of the family and the family lives inside the house. They would get depressed without being near their family. They are very bonded to their family members and would be very sad to be separated from them.

They do get cold in temperatures below 50 degrees if left out in an outside kennel run. Some manage to keep their body temperature up if allowed to run and play, but it depends on their age, weight, and how acclimated they are to the cold weather. They're like children playing in snow, they won't know when to come in and can get frostbite or lower body temperatures than would be safe. You can tell if your dog is cold by feeling his ears; if they are too cold, he is too cold.

Jacks also love to go for rides in the car, and may be disappointed if they are left behind. They like to look out the front window and navigate. They are great traveling companions, and most hotels/motels will allow small dogs for a minimal deposit. Jacks also love to assist in the yard, killing the rake, broom or shovel. They especially consider the lawnmower very dangerous. They feel they have to protect their family from this noisy monster. Some people may be intimidated by the ferocious growl, but they are just playing and can usually be stopped by a good "NO!" But, occasionally you may have to confine them to quarters temporarily to get the lawn mowed.

Coat types, and breed standards and the controversy of sizes:

Jack Russell Terriers have three different coat types:
     smooth coat (flat or slick, and is dominant),
     broken coat (intermediate, slightly brushy or fuzzy, small tufts around face), & 
     rough coat (coarser, longer hair, recessive to the dominant, smooth, straight coat).

All coats shed; smooth coats shed the most, but are not bad. Surprisingly broken and rough coats shed the least. JR's are adaptable to most climates, can usually handle the cold just fine, although some dogs will need a blanket or sweater if under 45 degrees Fahrenheit. They are inside dogs and do not do well outside all the time.

The color of the coat should be at least 51% white minimum acceptable or a rare all white is desirable, for registrations. Solid all black or brown dogs however, are not registerable, nor are dogs with a brindle coat. Brown, Black and/or tan markings and spots are fine and tri-color is the most highly desirable. However, I caution folks as there is no such thing as a black and tan solid-colored Jack Russell Terrier. Ask any Irish JRT breeder and they will tell you the same thing. If the dog is more than 51% coloring that is not white then they are not registerable in any JRT registry.

There is however an Irish Hunt terrier which looks a lot like the JRT. They are an older breed than the JRT and have their own registry.

Height can be between 8-10", 10-12" for a  Shorty JRT and 12"-16" for a Parsons JRT, with a proportionate body length. For trials and showing purposes, terriers are classified into two groups, 10" to 12", and over 12" and up to 15". Dogs should appear compact and balanced, always in solid, muscled, hard condition. Jack Russells have a short, upright tail, about 4"-7" long. The tail is docked shortly after birth, and front dewclaws are removed. Some breeders have stopped docking of tails, it is banned in Europe and will soon be banned in Canada and Australia. We'll see it in this country at some point soon.

Is the Jack Russell Terrier the right dog for our family?

The question regarding the "right" breed for your family is purely a personal one based on your family's needs and activities.

The Jack Russell is a terrier (from the word, terra - "earth") so it is not unusual for them to like to dig. Most of the Terrier Group are active dogs - they are all unique individuals - some more active, while others are quite laid back. It is the same with the Jack Russell. Some love to dig, while others could care less. Some love getting dirty, others hate to get wet.

I have found them to be fabulous family dogs - especially with active involved members, where the dog is a part of those activities. These dogs thrive on being an integral part of the family household. Whatever you are doing, they want to do it with you. Walking, camping, hiking, working on the computer, going to the fridge for a snack, or going to the bathroom to take a shower. They want to be with you all the time. They will follow you to the ends of the earth or into the bathroom. They will peek past the shower curtain and will climb into the tub to be with you, if you let them, so be aware.

A puppy will take on the energy of the family or the children. If your children are extremely active, then expect a puppy to get caught up in that energy - at times it might be a bit much for Mom & Dad!

These dogs have gained popularity very quickly due to popular TV shows (Frasier & Wishbone) and in the numerous commercials that they appear. They are incredibly intelligent, making them ideal for professional trainers. That intelligence can also work against you - they need focus! They need your leadership, (you are their pack-leader) and they look to you for supervision or they will devise their own solution to a situation with which they are confronted. It might not be your first choice for a solution. Take a look at your family situation and needs, and how much time that you have to interact with a new family member.

They are very good with children. However, all children need to be supervised just as all puppies need to be supervised. Puppies playing with children must be supervised. Small children can hurt a puppy unintentionally by dropping it or being too rough. So all interaction must be supervised. The biggest problem with children is that they tend to forget to close doors and gates and that's how most JRT's get out and get loose and run into the street where most accidents happen. You must be vigilant about teaching the entire family and neighborhood friends to make sure the doors and gates and windows are closed. Always close doors and gates behind you.


How much should I expect to pay for a Jack Russell Terrier?

Most good breeders are charging anywhere from $900.00 to $2500.00 for a quality pet puppy. If you want one directly imported from Ireland from a puppy broker, (research the people you may buy from, not a puppy broker per se) you might pay up to $2600 for an imported pup. But be very careful, don't be paying out $1800-2000 for a dog that does not have a guarantee of health or pedigree history. 

 Don't forget all the other costs involved with owning a dog -- vaccinations, titer testing, food, toys, crate, home improvements (better fencing), books, obedience classes (a must!), etc. This is a commitment to bringing a new family member into your home.

You might be able to adopt a Jack Russell from Russell Rescue for a lower up-front purchase price. Check the Russell Rescue sites, start with the JRTCA site, www.terrier.com and check your local SPCA or shelter for a puppy also. We do caution that you may be getting someone else's problems as you do not have any history on the dog. On the positive side several folks have found wonderful JRT's from rescue or shelter situations.

Whatever you do don't buy from a pet store as this is the main destinations for puppies born on puppy mills and have little or no socialization skills. They most always have health or behavior disorder issues due to lack of socialization.

Will a Jack Russell Terrier get along with my cat, or small pet and a young child or our horse?

Sometimes cats and other small pets (rodents) will usually not work with a Jack Russell unless they are raised with them. Because these dogs are first and foremost hunting dogs they see the cat or hamster/rat/guinea pig as prey (quarry). This is not true for all Jack Russells, and if brought into the household as a pup, most can be trained to live with a cat. Many of our families have cats, and one even has a Capuchin monkey, who Dutchess loves to play with!!

Many Jack Russell owners are horse people. Jack Russells are not herding dogs, so the horse isn't of interest to them. They may chase them and follow them as they were bred to do. Children under the age of 3 or 4 could be a problem, unless the child is taught how to properly handle the terrier. Having the natural terrier characteristics, however, the Jack Russell will not put up with unintended abusive behavior from a child. This should be carefully considered, particularly with children under two. As long as you provide constant supervision to your dog as you would your child, and especially so if they are together. Again, all dogs are different, some protective; some do not suffer fools gladly. We have had several of our puppies go to homes with cats, bunnies and again, even one Capuchin monkey. All the pictures show them playing nicely with each other. So it's who or what you introduce them to in their early life that is the most important factor.

Is the Jack Russell Terrier good with children?

The Jack Russell is great with children, IF your children are kind, respectful and well supervised. We have placed puppies with families with sweet, kind two-and three-year-olds, and refused families with insensitive, undisciplined 10-year-olds. We have neighborhood families and children of all ages help us in playing and socializing the young puppies. All our puppies are born and raised in the house, socialized with adults and children, teenagers and telephones. They even spend time visiting schools. Our puppies have been in classes from kindergarten to HS Science. Once you have one, you're hooked on the laughter and happiness they create in your home.

They are very good with children. However, all children need to be supervised just as all puppies need to be supervised. Puppies playing with children must be supervised. Small children can hurt a puppy unintentionally by dropping it or being too rough. So all interaction must be supervised. The biggest problem with children is that they tend to forget to close doors and gates and that's how most JRT's get out and get loose and run into the street where most accidents happen. You must be vigilant about teaching the entire family and neighborhood friends to make sure the doors and gates and windows are closed. Always close doors and gates behind you.

Because they are small, they seem ideal for living in an apartment. Will a Jack Russell be happy in an apartment situation?

Given the exercise requirements of the Jack Russell, a home with a large, fenced yard is more appropriate. They do not take well to a totally inactive, sedentary lifestyle. However, if you are home by suppertime and are able to provide regular daily exercise, it can work. They do need a 4-6 foot high fence that has been reinforced at the bottom with trenched, buried wire and cement or blocks, as they are accomplished diggers. Terrier is derived from 'terra' which is earth. This will be a must if they are to be left outside alone, since they are known to jump, climb, and dig under fences. Many of the Jack Russells in Rescue are there because the owner underestimated the attention need requirements of the terrier. Many people work 8 hours a day, and their JR's are home alone for this time. They do fine in a small dog-proofed room, barn, garage or kennel or enclosed exercise area and don't seem unhappy about their situation. Dogs will become accustomed to their home whatever you provide, as long as you give them enough love and attention daily. Daily exercise is what we are supposed to have to keep ourselves healthy. Walking your dog is a good reason to ensure you, yourself get exercise. We all want to live healthier lifestyles, and a JR can help you do that; they have to go out, so you need to walk, too.

Does the Jack Russell Terrier dig or bark?

This is natural behavior for any dog as this is their way of communicating and is their voice.  They are bred to go-to-ground after quarry, and to bay to alert the hunters where that quarry is located. However, I must say that not all Jack Russells dig or bark. They are excellent watchdogs - alerting the family when a visitor arrives. Some will be good guard dogs and protect the family from strangers. Some will lick them to death and go off with strangers. Which is how many are stolen as they are a high theft item being popular.

The digging is personal as well - some do - some do not! Some may not like getting wet or getting dirty. It's a personal preference of individual dogs.

Are Jack Russell Terriers really as energetic as they seem?

Jack Russell Terriers are very energetic dogs, with a need for regular exercise. They are working dogs, and need to have a job, whether it be keeping your yard free of rodents (digging is normal, since they are bred to dig after quarry), chasing a ball, or going for a run or long walk with it's owner. Sitting on the couch peacefully all day is not on a Jack Russell's agenda, but if that is how you spend your day, they will sit with you. They may keep trying to get you to toss a tennis ball or a shoe or something that they can happily chase. They usually do require more of a time commitment than some breeds. They will be happy doing what you are doing, as long as they can be with you.

Are Jack Russell Terriers dog aggressive?

Not all JR's are aggressive. The Parson JRT is bred for hunting and has a strong prey drive which leads them to be more inclined to be aggressive. The Shorty JRT does not have that strong prey drive, some you would have to teach how to hunt. Thus they are not as aggressive as it have been bred out through the years. 

Though many are very happy being subservient to the top dog or alpha dog in their home. Any dog can be aggressive with other dogs, and in certain cases, more than two terriers of the same sex, if they are both dominant dogs, shouldn't be kept together unattended. It is very important that prospective Jack Russell owners understand this sometimes-harsh part of the terrier's nature. They can become jealous of the owner's attention or they can just be play-fighting, puppy-scrappy and it gets out of hand quickly.

Can I train the hunting instinct out of my Jack Russell?

Not all Jacks are into hunting, some need training, and some will prefer to be just with you. The 'puddin' or shorty Jacks usually do not have as an intense prey/quarry instinct. If you have a taller JR with a strong hunting instinct, perhaps you should consider a different breed if you don't wish to have a hunting dog. Some Parson Jack Russell Terriers can be difficult to deal with because they are true hunting dogs. They should be kept on a leash when in rural/country areas, because if they take off after a ground squirrel or other quarry, they will not hesitate to chase it and go underground. Terriers have been known to stay underground with their quarry for days, with no food or water. They have also been known to chase things for miles, even out of county without stopping. Talk about being focused on one thing, it can and does happen often. People keep watch on the JRTCA site for lost and found JR's all the time. 

Please call us for details of the current available puppies, and to discuss exactly what you are looking for in an Irish or English Jack Russell to suit your family. If we do not have any puppies available at the time we can recommend other reputable breeders who may have exactly what you are looking for in a Jack Russell Terrier.

Politics, Philosophy or Personal Choice:

As you do your research in deciding what type of Jack Russell you prefer, delve a little deeper into the three P's. A huge chasm has historically divided the Parson JRT folks from the AKC folks. It has not really subsided nor will we see it settled soon. It is your personal choice and preference to pick the type of JR that will most suit your needs. My own research of 45 years, findings and observations are this, take it as you like it, or not. In a nutshell: the AKC seeks/sought to breed for conformation only, and seeks to breed out the hunting/working ability into another version of the dog. This is just exactly what they did to the Golden Retrievers and the Labs. This has deeply disturbed the devoted breeder constituencies, as it is crucial to keep the dogs as true to type as they were born and bred for hundreds of years to be a natural hunting dog, as well as a performing and family dog. There is no need to breed two different types of Goldens or Labs. It has pushed some breeders, like many followers of the Flatcoat Retrievers, to never sell to anyone who wants to show in the conformation ring. They only sell to people who will keep true to the dog and do hunt or field trials with their dogs.

This is what the uproar is all about with the JRT. The AKC wants to breed just for conformation and breed out the hunting ability of the dog. This is seen as an injustice to the dog and to its instincts and to its history. So, politics or personal preference, its up to you to decide. To better the breed of Shorty Russell Terrier the AKC has recognized in 2006 that the Shorty JRT is a distinct and different breed from the Parsons JRT. The Parsons have been in the AKC for about 25 years. The quality Shorty JR breeders have had their bloodstock accepted into the AKC/FSS program which is the Foundation Stock Service arm of the AKC. This will allow the Shorty's to participate in agility, obedience and other events now and are showing in the AKC show rings.

The AKC Good Canine Citizen Program


On another positive note, the AKC has opened its Good Canine Citizen Obedience classes to include all dogs, mixed breed or purebred. Any dog that successfully completes the GCC program can be recognized with a specific certificate. This is usually seen in conjunction with preparing for obedience lessons specific to agility training. Many great dogs can become stars in this category. JRT's excel in this category of events. It is great exercise and fun for both you and your dog. To compete in the AKC agility trials your dog may need to be registered in an ILP category, which is the AKC Indefinite Listing Privilege program. It allows unregistered dogs of registerable breeds to compete in AKC Performance and Companion Events. Spayed or neutered dogs are also eligible. 

Jack Facts: FAQ | Legends & Quotes | Famous Jacks | JRT book list | How many dogs??? | Dog logic quotes