Caring for A Jack Russell [Jack Russell’s 101 + 8 Tips]


Jack Russell’s are a unique dog breed with everyday needs.

JR’s have been around for nearly two centuries and have a natural ability and desire to hunt, work for their owners, and even dig a nice new hole in your yard every now and then.

Jack Russell’s are also considered to be a dog that needs a little bit of extra effort to provide the best care possible and sculpt your dog into a well-behaved, affectionate family member for the years ahead.

I was in the same situation right before adopting my female Jack Russell that you are in now and wanted to know the ins and outs of providing adequate care and ensuring I was ready for the road ahead of me.

Now that I’m approaching 2 years into my journey, I thought I would return the favor and offer up what I would consider to be an ultimate guide or cheat sheet for providing care to a Jack Russell in the most ethical and safest ways possible.

That is what the rest of this post will help detail and answer for you.

We will cover all the topics I could think of that are imperative for providing adequate care to a new Jack Russell.

To make this easy to digest and easy to navigate, I have created links below that you can click to skip to any specific section of this ultimate care guide that you need additional information on.

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Here is how I plan to break down caring for your Jack Russell today:

As I hinted to a moment ago, if you are in a hurry or feel confident about certain aspects of caring for a Jack Russell, feel free to use the links above to navigate around this post.

Otherwise, give me a few minutes, and I will break down all the topics I believe are imperative to understand to care for a Jack Russell in the best possible fashion.

Here are the details you need to understand.

How to Take Care of a Jack Russell Terrier Introduction

Every dog you can potentially adopt may have different personalities, behaviors, and needs.

Your showing that you are interested in providing top-notch care just by researching in advance.

Jack Russell’s are going to be much like any dog breed when it comes to care, but they do have a robust amount of energy and strive to please their owners.

Some of you reading may not understand exactly what this means but trust me, by the end of this quick guide, you will have a clear picture of what to expect and how to provide care for your JR.

Before diving into the specifics, I want to give a quick overview of the Jack Russell with some key facts that most individuals are likely curious about heading into an adoption.

Understanding the Jack Russell

Jack Russell’s are one of the smaller dog breeds you can choose to adopt and fall into the Terrier Dog family.

They live on average anywhere between 12-15 years and are typically full-grown at approximately 15 pounds, although this can range from 13-17 lbs.

Depending on if you have a male or female Jack Russell.

Jack Russell’s have crazy jumping abilities and have a strong desire to please their owners.

A Jack Russell will grow to be about 14 inches tall at the shoulders when they reach maturity.

Jack Russell’s are commonly bred in 4 color options.

Here are the color combinations you see most frequently with Jack Russell’s.

  • All White
  • White with Black Markings
  • White with Tan Markings
  • White, Black, and Tan (All 3 Colors)

Jack Russell’s also are bred in two different coat styles.

You have a broken coated Jack Russell and a Smooth Coated Jack Russell.

The primary difference you will notice between the two coats is the length of the hair.

I currently raise and parent a female smooth coated Jack Russell that’s White and Tan.

Jack Russell’s are not known to be hypoallergenic.

If you need to learn more information about Jack Russell’s and allergies/shedding, you can view my post here.

Now that we have the key facts and physical characteristics explained, I want to start diving into the specifics about providing adequate care for your Jack Russell and details about their behavior and personality.

Here are those details.

The Personality of a Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell is one of the most unique dog breeds you can choose to adopt, in my opinion.

These guys are energetic, loving, and can even show their personality through their stubbornness and vocalizations at times.

The Jack Russel is a dog breed that needs to be front and center and needs to investigate just about everything possible.

They simply need to know what is going on and do not like it when they are left out of the loop.

In my opinion, Jack Russell’s personality makes for an excellent dog if you have previously owned at least 1 dog in the past.

For a first-time dog owner, their personality may simply be too much to take in.

Here is why.

All dogs can show personality traits that can be challenging.

My yellow lab tested my limits in the past and has calmed down since, but nonetheless, most dogs are going to find a way to challenge their owners in one way or another at some point.

Without having this knowledge prior, you simply will not be prepared in the same fashion you would be when you go to adopt your Jack Russell.

These guys need some prior knowledge of the simple things that come up as a dog owner.

Things such as handling potty training, digging, chewing, and even reducing barking are great prior experiences that are going to make the process of raising a Jack Russell much easier.

Jack Russell’s are also known to love a bit of dictatorship in the household and control of some situations.

My best advice when it comes to this personality trait is to ensure that you are beginning training at young puppy ages to ensure they understand what is a green light for them is and what is a red light.

I personally have not had much of an issue to complain about in this category.

I began training my Jack Russell at 10 weeks old, and she has adjusted well.

If you don’t do this and allow them to figure things out, they may run the house more than you would prefer, so ensure that you are setting clear guidelines, rules and offering rewards for the correct behavior right out of the gates.

I have a post that will detail the personality of a Jack Russell much more for you that you can read here.

For now, let’s start discussing some behavior traits you are going to encounter with your Jack Russell.

Behavior Traits

Before I start diving into this in too much, I want to get a few things off my chest.

First and foremost, the other readings, social media posts, and information about Jack Russell’s are not entirely true when it comes to how a Jack Russell behaves.

They get a bad reputation from many blogs out there, and it is clear to me that the individuals who write these posts are neither experts nor own a Jack Russell.

They are merely regurgitating other information from the internet for whatever reason.

Jack Russell’s do not behave poorly as a whole and should not be classified as such.

Yes, they can be a complete pain if you neglect them, do not allow them to burn energy and have no business adopting one in the first place.

Guess what?

This is going to happen with other dogs as well.

Now that I have that off my chest let us dive into what you will notice and why, so you have a good idea on how to provide the best care possible for your new Jack Russell.

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Barking

I want to kick-start the behavior conversation with barking.

It seems to be a concern that any new dog owner may have, and it is crucial to understand in general.

Jack Russell’s are not extremely vocal when they are puppies.

My Jack Russell did not bark hardly at all except when I was using crate training overnight for potty training purposes.

However, I noticed that this began to change around the age of 6 months old, and it’s most typically seems to be due to providing a warning to me such as visitor on the property or at vehicles and other dogs that walk past during walks or time out in the yard.

Your best bet to begin curbing the barking behaviors early in the process.

Begin teaching and training them not to bark with commands and rewarding them when they succeed or use the ever so frowned upon bark collar.

I highly recommend if using a bark collar to control this behavior to ensure you watch safety videos on how to use them correctly and, if possible, never actually use the shock mode these collars can use.

I have not had to use that mode on my collar once, and my Jack Russell hardly ever barks.

Use the audible beep mode or vibrations mode to pattern interrupt the negative behavior.

When using, ensure you are also giving the command to stop or NO when they bark.

When they comply and do as instructed, reward that behavior.

Trust me, after enough times of this, the barking will begin to decrease immediately.

They learn quickly, they want their reward and they want to please you.

It is not overly difficult to accomplish and I do not think it will be an ongoing issue for any potential JR’s parents reading this post today.

Behavior with Other Dogs

Understanding how your Jack Russell will behave with other dogs is also essential in providing the best care you can.

In general, I have had no issues in this category, either.

However, it is known that Jack Russell’s tend to be a bit too assertive to get along with some dog breeds.

Jack Russell’s do the best when they can be paired with other high energy or outgoing dog breeds.

Perhaps even with other dogs similar in style and like thinking.

Jack Russell’s are a working dog that likes to be the center of attention.

Other dogs with this attitude and working behaviors can get along fine with Jack Russell’s, but other calm dogs who do not necessarily enjoy playing or showing a lot of energy all day, may not be the best fit for your new JR.

It also helps dramatically if you can ensure that your Jack Russell is introduced to other dogs at young ages.

Preferably, immediately after arriving home from the adoption.

The sooner a Jack Russell begins the socialization process, the better they ultimately will be with other pets and other family members.

Avoid Boredom

Boredom is something you want to attempt to avoid at all costs when it comes to owning a Jack Russell.

These dogs like to stay active, and until they are fully trained and understand the rules, boredom can be the secret recipe for your Jack Russell finding trouble.

One of the most important tips I can give you is to always ensure that you have plenty of safe chew toys available for your Jack Russell and ensure they understand that using them is desirable.

Keep Anxiety in Check for Jack Russell’s

Providing the best care for your Jack Russell also means that you know how to effectively keep their anxiety in check.

Jack Russell’s can sometimes feel intimidated, anxious, or jealous due to certain stimuli within their environment.

This could be friends and family stopping by the house or could mean that another dog in a neighboring yard is causing them to be on edge.

Most of the time, you can effectively train your Jack Russell to deal with these situations that will undoubtedly come up in their lifetime.

Again, it all goes back to your Jack Russell getting exposed to situations and socialization at a young age.

This will always help immensely, and it is simply how you take care of a Jack Russell in the most effective manner.

Jumping is Common

It would not be a completed post of information about how to care for a Jack Russell if we did not take the time to discuss the tendency for a Jack Russell to jump.

This is another personality trait and behavior a Jack Russell will often present with, and it will need to be trained out of them starting at a young age.

In addition to training your Jack Russell not to jump, I also highly recommend providing plenty of exercise for your JR.

The cause of excessive jumping is stimulation and excitement.

The more exercise you can provide your JR, the more behaved and less easily they will be so excited that they must annoyingly jump all over you or your friends when they stop by for a visit.

Provide exercise and teach your Jack Russell that jumping is not a desired behavior for the best results.

Now that we understand some of the common behaviors of a Jack Russell in addition to some personality traits, it’s time to move into a new category that’s imperative to understand when it comes to taking care of a Jack Russell effectively.

Grooming, shedding, and how to handle it.

Here are the details that are important to understand on this topic.

Grooming and Shedding Information with Jack Russell’s

Shedding.

Who does not love to discuss the possible amount of hair our Jack Russell’s are going to leave throughout the home and how to control it?

To give you a more detailed guide on this topic, you can also refer to my guide detailing shedding and grooming tips here.

In general, Jack Russell’s are considered a moderate shedder.

It is not the worst, and it is certainly not the best dog breed when it comes to shedding.

The more you can brush a Jack Russell, the better care you are ultimately providing them, and the less hair you will notice coming from your JR.

It is also essential to brush your JR daily to help avoid bacteria and oil buildup on their fur and skin.

Pro Tip- The less frequently you give your Jack Russell a bath, the better.

Frequent baths can help accelerate your Jack Russell’s skin becoming dried out and cause more shedding instead of helping to reduce it.

Diet and Food Needs

Now we need to discuss one of the most critical components you need to understand if you want to effectively take care of a Jack Russell in the best possible fashion.

Diet and nutritional needs.

It is imperative to understand that a balanced, high-end, and healthy diet is critical for any dog breed.

Jack Russell’s are no different.

It is easy to overlook and accidentally choose a diet for our Jack Russell’s that may not be the best.

Doing so can not only cause physical issues and shorten their life span, but it can also cause more frequent visits to the vet and the potential for your Jack Russell to not be as happy as they possibly could be if they were to be eating something more well balanced and nutritional for their physiological and psychological needs.

First and foremost, you need to understand that Terrier Owner is not giving medical advice when we discuss proper diets for your Jack Russell, and you should still discuss concerns with a vet.

Next, I want to point out that even though you can recommend a diet to Jack Russell’s as a broad recommendation, other factors are still at play and need to be considered such as the age of your Jack Russell, height, weight and potential for additional nutritional needs such as vitamin deficiencies, etc.

However, for the sake of this post, we are going to give blanket recommendations that will apply to nearly all Jack Russell’s assuming they do not have any unique needs.

Here is a quick overview of the basic dietary needs of a Jack Russell.

Best Jack Russell Puppy Diet (Up to 1 Year Old)

  • 20-25% Protein
  • 8-10% Fat
  • 800-900 Calories Per Day

Adult Jack Russell’s (1 Year Old or Older)

  • 18% Protein
  • 5% Fat
  • 650 Calories Per Day

It is also often said that it is better to offer several meals a day compared to only 1 or two.

Especially as puppies when they are working off more of that energy in a faster fashion.

For puppies, you can aim for 4-6 meals per day, and as your Jack Russell reaches 1 year old, you can make it back to 2-3 meals per day.

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Exercise Needs for Jack Russell’s

This is when it gets more fun when it comes to owning and providing excellent care for our Jack Russell’s.

Jack Russell’s 100% without a doubt, absolutely needs exercise when possible and as often as possible.

I personally recommend anywhere from 30-60 minutes per day at a minimum.

These dogs simply have too much energy to release and need the opportunity to be tuckered out and mentally/physically exhausted.

The good news is that you do not always have to partake in strenuous exercise with your Jack Russell.

You can utilize your other dogs if you have any to help play with and entertain your Jack Russell’s running around the yard or just playing simple games of tug of war with a rope toy.

On the flip side, you certainly can and should get involved with the exercise routines for your Jack Russell’s.

Activities such as swimming, fetch, frisbee, and even running or cycling are great examples of activities you can partake in with your Jack Russell to ensure they are getting the energy release they need.

Having the ability to exercise for a Jack Russell is going to dramatically improve their behavior, eliminate destructive behaviors, and help your Jack Russell to remain healthy, strong, and happy.

It’s a necessity with this dog breed, and if you are planning to adopt a Jack Russell soon, you need to always have this in the back of your mind and be mentally prepping which activities you have time for and how you will provide this lifestyle for your Jack Russell.

Not doing so could be argued as un-ethical, and it is not the best way to take care of a Jack Russell.

That is for sure.

Nonetheless, if you are aware of this in advance and do a bit of calendar planning, it is not overly challenging to provide this need for your JR to where they can have improved behavior and be happier overall.

Common Health Concerns with Jack Russell’s

All dogs eventually run into a health issue or two during the duration of their lives.

There is no doubt about that.

Jack Russell’s are no different in this regard and knowing what you can expect during adulthood for a Jack Russell is going to help you prepare and ultimately provide better care for your new family member.

With Jack Russell’s, you have some health concerns that arise more frequently than others.

Here is a quick look at some of the most common health concerns you may encounter as a new Jack Russell owner/parent:

  • Inherited Eye Problems and Diseases
  • Deafness
  • Legg Perthes- Disease Impacting the Hip Joints
  • Dislocated Kneecaps

This does not necessarily mean that you will not encounter other health problems with your Jack Russell, but the above health conditions are what owners report most often.

My Jack Russell is currently going to be 2 years old soon, and thus far into my journey, I have not experienced any need to see a vet outside of regular check-ups and have had no health issues yet.

Nonetheless, learning how to take care of a Jack Russell in the most ethical and loving fashion does require you to understand what may occur in the future as well.

Now you can say you at least have a bit of background and a head-up as to what may occur down the road.

8 Pro Tips from A Jack Russell Parent to Provide the Best Care

Okay, my friends, before wrapping up this ultimate care guide for your Jack Russell’s, I wanted to provide a bit of bonus material.

Below, even if they are somewhat repeating of some of the items discussed thus far, I am going to lay out my top 8 tips I recommend implementing to provide the best care possible for your Jack Russell.

While others may have a different top 8 make their list, these are the 8 tips I’ve experienced this far into my journey as a Jack Russell parent and the 8 tips and preparations I believe you need to be ready to care for a Jack Russell as a new family pet.

Here is what made my cut:

#1- Get Active and Show Some Time and Affection

This could apply to any dog breed, but it tops my list when it comes to caring for a Jack Russell’s.

Jack Russell’s absolutely love being around their owners, showing off, and burning energy.

Allow them to do just that.

Take them for a run or let them follow you around doing yard work.

However, you want to spin it, just attempt to include them when it is feasible, and they will be happy you did.

#2- Have A Heavy Stock of Safe Chew Toys for Your Jack Russell

One of the negative or less desirable traits I have encountered since owning a Jack Russell is her need to chew.

Especially when she is bored.

Do not allow your Jack Russell to get bored too often and make sure you have plenty of safe items available for them to chew that you do not care if they are destroyed.

Otherwise, they will find something you do care about and destroy that instead.

Trust me, it is worth the few dollars to have a nice basket full of these toys.

#3- Spend A Few Extra Dollars for Quality Food and a Balanced Diet

Balanced and healthy diets are always important.

Especially for this hyper, strong, and physically capable dog.

Make sure you are providing the best diet you can for your Jack Russell.

Refer back to this post for my diet recommendations or speak to a vet if you still have concerns.

Nonetheless, providing the best care for your Jack Russell requires you to provide an excellent diet.

Case closed.

#4- Take the Time to Actively Train and Teach Your Dog the Correct Behaviors

This could have easily been ranked #1 in my book and ties back into including your Jack Russell in activities and simply not neglecting them.

You cannot expect your Jack Russell to understand what is desired if you never take the time to teach them what is desired.

Take the time utilizing techniques such as clicker training to teach them basic commands and desired behaviors.

Trust me, putting in the time now is going to save you in so many ways in the future.

I have no doubt in mind.

#5- Let Your Jack Russell Show Loyalty by Working and Protecting

Are you noticing a common trend yet?

Your Jack Russell wants to be near you and wants to prove their abilities any chance they can get.

They are loyal dogs.

Allow them to be loyal and show you what they can do.

If you live where your Jack Russell can help you with tasks such as herding, allow them to do so.

If that is not the case, let your Jack Russell go swimming while playing games of fetch.

Find a way to put their physical bodies and hyper minds to work and let them prove what they are capable of.

This will ultimately make your Jack Russell more behaved the rest of the day and tucker them out, which is a victory on its own.

#6- Get Your Jack Russell Around People and Other Dogs as Fast as Possible

This tip is going to help you so much in the future to avoid issues such as excessive barking.

It is also going to help with any play type biting and even aggression.

The more you can get your Jack Russell around others and other pets, the better.

If they can learn to interact in positive ways with other friends, family, and pets, you will have less to worry about when they reach the older years of life.

#7- Never Neglect

Neglect simply will not work with a Jack Russell.

It probably never has and likely never will.

These dogs are not meant to be couch potatoes and need to be acknowledged in some fashion throughout the day.

They will get restless, bored, and destructive.

I am not saying that you cannot work a typical day of work or leave your Jack Russell alone at times.

I am merely stating that this dog needs at least some attention and needs to have physical needs fulfilled as often as possible.

If you are looking for a lap dog that needs next to nothing, this is not the dog for you.

#8- Reward Good Behavior, do not Punish Bad Behavior

This is my motto with any dog breed and the same principals I use for my yellow lab.

A Jack Russell does not seem to respond well to any kind of discipline that is associated with bad behavior.

Instead, praise your Jack Russell for a job well done or to teach a behavior that you desire to see continue.

This will teach your Jack Russell what gains your approval, and with the way this dog is hard-wired, will encourage your Jack Russell mentally to continue this behavior and actions into the future.

Final Thoughts

Listen, Jack Russell’s make for an excellent family pet.

They are a loyal and loving dog breed with a strong desire to work for their owners.

No doubt about it.

However, learning the basics of “how to take care of a Jack Russell” effectively can take some prior research and some trial and error as well.

It has a learning curve and is a journey for all of us, and you are certainly showing that you are on the right path just by being here and reading this post today.

Do not worry, it only will get easier and more comfortable to provide care for your Jack Russell the longer you do it.

Like anything, some practice makes perfect.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell and the loving and entertaining journey you have ahead of you.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you have any further advice you can share with the readers that can help the Terrier Owner become better and more educated as to how to provide the best care for their new Jack Russell?

Any other advice you deem as critical or necessary for the community to understand?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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