Jack Russell Terrier Puppy Facts
(also known as the Parson Russell Terrier)

Did you just bring home a new Jack Russell Terrier puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

The breed, sometimes referred to as the Parson Jack Russell Terrier or simply the Parson Russell Terrier, was developed in the south of England in the mid-1800's by Rev. John Russell, a parson and hunting enthusiast.

The Jack Russell and Parson Russell terriers are actually two distinct strains of the same breed. I'll go over the differences in a moment but first, let's see how and why the breed was developed.

In addition to his church activities, John Russell was an avid fox hunter and a breeder of fox hunting dogs.

He needed a working terrier who would hunt fox, both above and under the ground. It's believed he developed the breed from crosses between the now extinct Old English White Terrier and a black-and-tan terrier similar to the Manchester Terrier. One of his terriers, a female named Trump, is said to be the forerunner of the modern Jack Russell Terrier.

All terriers bred by Rev. Russell were very consistent in their appearance. They all measured around 14" in height, between 14 and 17 lbs. in weight, and were either pure white or predominantly white with tan or black and tan markings. Brindle colored dogs were suspected of carrying Bull Terrier genes and were disqualified.

During hunts, Jack Russell Terriers ran with horses and hounds. When a fox found refuge in an underground den, the terrier followed, baying to bolt his quarry so that the hounds could continue the chase.

After Rev. Russell's death in 1883, the name "Jack Russell Terrier" was commonly used to describe any hunting and working terrier, many of which had nothing in common with Rev. Russell's own terriers. It was this kind of terrier that was imported to United States under the name Jack Russell Terrier.

There were several attempts to restore the breed to its original standard as envisioned by Rev. Russell. The final breed standard was written in 1990 and states that all dogs should be 14" in height. Other standards were more liberal, allowing for dogs between 10" and 15" in height.

Eventually the 14" dogs became known as the Parson Russell Terriers and the 10" to 15" dogs became known as Jack Russell Terriers. In real life, many use these names interchangeably.

There are two other breeds, the English Jack Russell Terrier (8" and 12") and the Russell Terrier (10" and 12"), that are recognized by some clubs. These dogs are not only shorter than the Parson Russell and Jack Russell terriers but their body shape is also different.

The breed was accepted into the AKC in 2000 under the name Jack Russell Terrier but in 2003, the name of the breed was changed to Parson Russell Terrier.

Physical Characteristics of Jack Russell Terrier Puppies

The Jack Russell is a tough and sturdy dog.

It has a compact, solid body with length in proportion to height. The chest is shallow and narrow, the back is straight and strong, and the loin is slightly arched. The neck is muscular, of good length, and moderately arched. It gradually widens and blends well into the shoulders. The tail is about 4 inches long and set high.

The front legs are strong and straight. The back legs are strong and muscular, well put together with good angulation and bend of stifle. When observed from behind, the hocks must appear straight. The feet are wide, round, hard padded, and have a cat-like appearance.

The head is in proportion to the body. It's moderately wide at the ears, narrowing to the eyes. The eyes are dark, almond shaped, and have an intelligent expression. The forward dropping ears are small and "V" shaped. The nose should be black.

The Jack Russell Terrier comes in two coat varieties -- smooth and rough or broken. The coat should be at least 51% white, with tan, black, or brown markings covering the rest. Soft, silky coat or brindle markings are unacceptable.

    Height Weight
  Male 10 to 15 inches 14 - 17 pounds
  Female 10 to 15 inches 14 - 17 pounds


The Jack Russell Terrier is a spirited, cheerful, intelligent, and loving dog. He is alert and on top of everything that's going on around him. Jack Russells thrive on attention and need to be included in family activities. They love playing games, especially ball chasing.

They are generally friendly and affectionate, including to strangers, but are not recommended for families with small children. Many will not tolerate rough handling and even clumsiness that's often associated with younger children. Even if you have older children, teach them to respect any dog.

Jack Russell Terriers can be aggressive towards other dogs, especially of the same sex. Even if the other dog is much larger, that will not stop a Jack Russell Terrier. It's also not recommended to keep 2 Jack Russells in the same household, even if they are of the opposite sex.

They also have a strong prey drive and are not recommended for households with small animals, including cats. Even outdoors, never leave your pet off leash unless in a secure area. Too many dogs were lost or killed while chasing a small animal. Needless to say, any Jack Russell Terrier will greatly benefit from puppy socialization training.

The JRT was never intended to be just a household pet. First and foremost, he is a working dog and not well suited for a sedentary lifestyle. With too little exercise and too much free time, boredom will set in, quickly followed by destructive behaviors.

Other things to consider before you decide if this is the right breed for you... If you don't want to deal with dog digging, too much barking or your dog chasing small animals, the Jack Russell Terrier is probably not for you.

Because of his intelligence, the Jack Russell is easy to train. But he has a mind of his own and needs to be convinced that he actually wants to follow your instructions. He is a very assertive dog and, to be successful, you need to be even more so. Keep training sessions fun.

Best Owner / Living Conditions

Because of its high activity level, this breed will do best in the suburban setting where he has a fenced yard to run and play in. He can adjust to an apartment lifestyle, but will require lots of exercise. It's a good idea to take your dog for a long walk before you leave for work.

It requires an experienced, strong-willed, and active owner. Unless you establish yourself as a leader if the pack, the dog will try to take over and will be difficult to control.

Some Jack Russell Terrier breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this is the right breed for them.

Activity and Exercise

The Jack Russell Terrier is a very energetic dog who needs regular exercise to stay fit and out of trouble. Like other very active breeds, unless you provide it with plenty of exercise, the Jack Russell will resort to destructive behaviors.

His exercise can consist of daily walks or off leash play in a fenced backyard. Being a hunting dog, he has very strong prey instinct and can't be left off leash when you take him for a walk.

At a minimum, take your pet for several long walks every day.


Both coat types are easy to groom but the smooth coated variety sheds more. No matter which type you have, brush several times per week to remove loose hair. 

Broken coated Jack Russell Terriers must be hand stripped once or twice per year. Stripping is a technique that involves pulling the dead hair by hand. It promotes the growth of a new coat and doesn't hurt the dog.

Bathe only when necessary.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Jack Russell Terriers are susceptible to complications caused by internal and external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms.

Other health concerns include eye problems, luxating patellas (dislocation of kneecaps), and deafness. For more information about dog diseases and health, visit dog health problems.

Buy only from reputable Jack Russell Terrier breeders to reduce the risk of the above and many other health problems (visit dog breeders to learn how to identify responsible dog breeders).

No matter how small the risk of health problems is, any puppy may get sick or injured. Many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, but there are many others that will not, and you may handle them on your own.

To save time and money, learn how to diagnose and treat dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for Jack Russell Terrier puppies is between 13 and 15 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Jack Russell Terrier rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Jack Russell Terrier Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.

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