Frequently Asked Questions about Jack Russell Terriers

Many experienced, as well as inexperienced, dog owners are overwhelmed by the demands of a Jack Russell Terrier, leading to the dogs being abandoned even before they reach adulthood.

Training the Jack Russell Terrier

The ears on my Jack Russell puppy stick straight up. What can I do?

Jack Russell Terrier Questions?This condition is called "prick ears". This is usually a permanent condition. The JRTCA considers this to be a conformational fault (i.e., the terrier is not eligible for registration). Although there are several "home remedies" that claim to fix this problem, there is really nothing that can be done to get the ears to fall to their normal position (i.e., folded over). Pay careful attention to the dam and sire of the puppy prior to purchase to see if your puppy may develop this condition.

Are Jack Russell Terriers very hyper?

Jack Russell Terriers are very energetic dogs, with a high requirement for regular exercise, and a lot of it! They are working dogs, and must have a job to do, whether it be keeping your yard free of rodents (digging is quite common, since they are bred to dig after quarry), chasing a ball, or going for a run or long walk with its owner. Sitting on the couch peacefully all day is not in a Jack Russell's agenda.

Because it is small, I'd like to keep a Jack Russell in my apartment. Will it be happy?

Probably not. Given the exercise requirements of the Jack Russell, a home with a large, fenced yard is more adequate. They do not take well to inactive, sedentary lifestyles. If you are at home during the day and able to provide regular exercise, then it may work. They need a 5-6 foot high fence, since they are known to jump, climb, and even dig under fences. Many of the Jack Russells in the Rescue are there because the owner underestimated the needs of the terrier.

Will a Jack Russell Terrier get along with my cat/small pet/young child/horse?

Cats and other small pets will not work with a Jack Russell because these dogs are first and foremost, hunting dogs. They see the cat or hamster/rat/guinea pig as prey (quarry). Many Jack Russell owners are horse people (probably because of the fox hunting relation...). Jack Russells are not herders, so the horse isn't an interest to the Jack Russell. Children under the age of six are usually a bad mix, unless the child understands how to properly handle the terrier. Having the natural assertive terrier characteristics, however, the Jack Russell will not put up with even unintended abusive behavior from a child. This should be carefully considered, particularly with children under six. Try our Jack Russell Profiler.

Are Jack Russell Terriers dog aggressive?

They can be very aggressive with other dogs (not just other terriers), and in fact more than two terriers should never be kept together unattended. There have been many incidents of terriers being hurt, and even killed, by their fellow terriers; even young pups over the age of eight weeks must be carefully monitored. It is very important that prospective Jack Russell owners understand this sometimes harsh part of the terrier's nature.

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

With firm and consistent discipline you may be able to curtail the hunting instinct a bit, but they will still want to hunt. They should be kept on leash when in rural/country areas, because if they take off after a ground squirrel or other quarry, they will not hesitate to dig and go underground. Terriers have been known to stay underground with their quarry for days, with no food or water.

Is the Jack Russell predisposed to any medical problems like ear infections or hip dysplasia?

At this point, there are no tangible Jack Russell health problems. This is mainly due to the fact that the JRTCA will not register any dogs until they are one year old, and have passed a special veterinary examination that the JRTCA has outlined. No dogs with hereditary defects are allowed to be registered.

How does the Jack Russell differ from the Fox Terrier?

Function has always been foremost in the breeding of Jack Russell type terriers, with concern for correct conformation as it related to working ability, regardless of color, markings, type, etc. A Jack Russell Terrier can perhaps best be described as a type, or a broad strain, of working terrier rather than a pure breed, with a broad standard that encompasses a variety of sizes, coats, types and colors-variety that is necessary for the Jack Russell to meet the varying needs of working terriermen. It is said that the Jack Russell is the original working terrier from which today's Fox Terrier was derived; in effect, it is the working counterpart of the modern-day Fox Terrier. The Jack Russell has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century because it has stayed in the hands of the working terrier enthusiasts, while its counterpart, the recognized Fox Terrier, has undergone dramatic change, evolving into the deep-chested, narrow-jawed, straight-shouldered show breed of today.

The JR Breed Standard is very broad; what are the JRTCA's viewpoints on standardization of the Jack Russell into a more uniform type?

It is the opinion of the JRTCA that an attempt to standardize the Jack Russell is a dangerous step towards the deterioration of this terrier as the unique, versatile working terrier we know today. The broad standard of the Jack Russell allows this terrier to meet the working needs of owners worldwide, based on terrain, quarry available, climate, and personal preference, and thus the working ability and great unique character of the JR continues to thrive-unchanged for many years.

Is the Jack Russell's future in question? How can I help?

The future of the Jack Russell, as we know it today, depends entirely on breeders and owners who appreciate its versatility, strengths, and working instincts, and understand its unique nature. Its future can be greatly endangered by attempts to standardize this terrier into yet another show breed, encouraging breeding for form rather than function, with little to no concern for the true nature of the dog. It is the responsibility of every Jack Russell owner to know what is going on throughout the world, and to learn and understand all aspects of the Jack Russell. Your support of the JRTCA will help to protect and preserve this terrier!

Concurrent with the increased popularity of the JR, several splinter groups have formed in this country and abroad; the objectives and activities of some of these groups could certainly affect the future of the Jack Russell. It is important that all JR owners have a thorough understanding of the organizations they support through membership, how they relate to the goals of the JRTCA, and how they could affect the breed.

Are there any specific JRT organizations we should know about?

The Parson JRT Club in England actively campaigned and acquired kennel club recognition for a terrier meeting a narrow portion of the Jack Russell breed standard in Great Britain. This small group, which has only been in existence for a few years, formed their own standard including only a specific size and type which they claim was preferred by the Parson himself; a narrow interpretation of the widely varied history documented on the breed. Their standard includes ideal sizes clearly outlined, and finer point of markings, pigmentation, and other superficial characteristics more narrowly defined. The British Kennel Club accepted their proposal, recognizing what they have termed a Parson Jack Russell Terrier; these registered terriers encompass a very small portion of the Jack Russells in Great Britain. The evolution of the British Parson Jack Russell Terrier will undoubtedly see the conformational and character changes created by show-ring ideals and accepted kennel club inbreeding practices, until this strain of terrier eventually meets a fate similar to the Fox Terrier, developing into something quite different from the sound working terrier that has been in existence for a long time. This is exactly what the goals and objectives of the JRTCA is designed to prevent in the best interest of preserving the working Jack Russell! The JRTCA interprets this action as an attempt to change the breed to suit the personal preferences and viewpoints of a few, rather than concern for preserving the heritage of the working strain known throughout the world as a Jack Russell Terrier.

The Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association (JRTBA) - now the JRTAA - in the U.S. follows the Parson JRT Club in England, and their goals and objectives are clearly in conflict with those of the JRTCA. This organization promotes kennel club recognition of the Jack Russell. Members of the JRTBA/JRTAA are refused membership in the JRTCA.

Are there any other JRT clubs in the country that are endorsed by the JRTCA?

A few locally organized groups have formed throughout the country which are affiliated with the JRTCA.

Does the JRTCA accept ALL Jack Russells into its registry?

The JRTCA equally supports all sizes and types within the JRTCA standard; it does not promote any size terrier within the standard as being more ideal than another. Within this broad standard, however, only those JR's that conform to the standard are accepted for registration. Terriers who do not meet the standard are recorded in the Club office in order that their owners may qualify their terriers for trial, obedience, and natural hunting certificates.

Is there a place in the JRTCA for JR's who do not meet the breed standard?

All JR types and their owners are welcome in the JRTCA. There are many activities at JRTCA sanctioned trials other than conformation, such as Agility, Go-to-Ground, Obedience, Search N'Sniff, and Racing... a terrier does not have to qualify for the breed registry to enjoy membership in the JRTCA.

Do you know of any breeders in my area?

To find a breeder in your area, we suggest you call the JRTCA Main Office (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America) or visit the JRTCA Breeders Directory. Never purchase a Jack Russell from a Pet Store. If you answer an ad in your local paper, ask the seller if they are a member of the JRTCA. The best assurance for a buyer is to purchase only pups that are bred from registered parents, and from breeders who have a registered kennel prefix and are signatory to the JRTCA Breeders Code of Ethics.

How can I become a member of the JRTCA?

To become a member of the JRTCA (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America), you apply online or you can call the JRTCA main office at 410 561-3655.

Are there any terrier trials in my area?

To find a schedule of terrier trials, search our Jack Russell Terrier Trial database. Check back every once in awhile to see if new trials have been added. Entry fee range from $8 to $10 per event (pre-entry) and slightly more for entry the day of the trial (post-entry if allowed).

Is the Jack Russell Terrier the right dog for me?

The answer to this question is not always "YES". If it was, then organizations like Russell Rescue, Inc. would not exist - there would be no need for them. Unfortunately, many people purchase a Jack Russell Terrier without knowing what they are getting themselves into. We suggest you check the History of the Jack Russell terrier first. Then check out questions to ask yourself and the breeder.

  • Read the Jack Talk.
  • Run the Online Profiler.
  • If possible, visit the breeder in person.
  • Ask the breeder if they have signed a Breeders Code of Ethics.
  • Is the dog you are buying from registered parents?
  • Ask for references.
  • Don't leave without all the papers you will need to register the dog (Pedigree!)