What To Know About Jack Russell Terriers Before Bringing Home a New Puppy
First bred by fox hunting enthusiast Reverend John Russell in the mid nineteenth century, Jack Russell terriers are sturdy, energetic little dogs born for the chase. Endlessly inquisitive, intelligent and affectionate, this charming animal is a joy to have as a companion, as long as it has received consistent training from an early age. Jack Russell puppies are eager to learn and become part of the family, but they also require structure and discipline if they are to grow into well-behaved adults. Here is a quick overview of the facts to consider before bringing home a new addition.
Small Dogs With Big Energy
Purebred Jack Russell puppies grow to be about 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder and should weigh between 13 and 17 lbs when fully grown. However, these diminutive pets more than make up for their small stature with their unquenchable energy and thirst for adventure.
Though small, apartment living is definitely not ideal for Jacks, unless you are able to commit to exercising them for at least 35 to 45 minutes a day, e.g. several brisk walks or a few sessions of fetch in the backyard. On the plus side, these dogs thrive in an active family, and they make excellent walking or jogging partners.
Easy to Train...With Patience
This breed is classified as a working dog, and, as with other working dogs, Jack Russell puppies are eager to learn tricks and tasks. However, they also have a tendency to be impatient and self-willed. It takes consistent, firm training and dedicated patience if you want to see real results.
If you're a first-time dog owner or timid about giving commands, you may want to consider breeds that are naturally more well-behaved. On the other hand, if you enjoy the challenges of training a sporting dog, Jack Russell terriers are an excellent choice. Highly intelligent and naturally athletic, they can perform amazing feats of speed and agility on the field and are a popular breed in competitive circuits.
Naturally Gifted Escape Artists
The same smarts and athleticism that make Jacks such capable sporting dogs also make this breed a highly gifted escape artist. As soon as Jack Russell puppies are able to roam about with confidence, they become restless adventures. Adult dogs can jump higher than 5 feet and are tenacious and speedy diggers adept at ferreting out any weak spot in the perimeter in a yard.
They have also been known to climb fences or even trees to escape, and will ignore shocks from a underground electric fencing system, especially if they've spotted a prey animal. If you aren't able to "Jack proof" your backyard, it's best to make sure that you pet is supervised during outdoor time.
Breed Health Outlook
While generally a healthy breed, like all dog breeds Jacks are genetically predisposed to certain health conditions. When looking for Jack Russell puppies, choosing a conscientious breeder can help to minimize health risks. A good breeder will show that both parents have been cleared for certain conditions. Health risks for Jack Russell terriers include:
- Patellar luxation: also known as "floating kneecap", a common joint problem in small dogs that can lead to degenerative arthritis
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease: another condition generally occurring in small breeds in which the ball of the hip joint is deformed
- Glaucoma: a painful disease that causes high pressure in the eyes, which can lead to optic nerve damage and eventually blindness
- Deafness: a condition associated with breeds with white coats
- Lens luxation: displacement of the lens of the eye caused by deteriorated ligaments
Since Jacks are prone to conditions in the knees, hips and eyes, you should receive health clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals if you are purchasing from a breeder.
Recommended feeding for adult Jack Russell terriers is 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of good-quality dog food each day, divided into a morning and evening meal (always avoid "free feeding" your pet).
Like all adolescents, Jack Russell puppies are voracious eaters. You'll need to feed a puppy two to four times as much kibble as an adult dog to nourish their growing body. As with humans, metabolism slows in older dogs, so you may need to cut back on kibble as your pet ages to prevent weight gain. A dog that is at a healthy weight should have a visible waist, and you should be able to just feel the ribs (but not see them).
Finding the Right Canine Companion
If you've decided that this is the right breed for you, there are a variety of places you can look for Jack Russell puppies as well as older dogs. If you opt to purchase a puppy, make sure to find a reputable licensed breeder. Local rescue and refuge groups are also an excellent choice, especially if you would prefer to bypass the destructive puppy stage.