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Jack Russell Terrier - Breed Profile

Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent, versatile and incredibly fearless for their size, but also fun loving and extremely loyal which makes them the ideal family companion when properly trained.


The Jack Russell Terrier is an intrepid little dog, originally bred to hunt foxes who had gone underground. The breed originated in Devon, England in the mid-1800s a
nd to this day the Jack Russell remains a keen terrier.

The founder was the Parson “Jack” Russell who wanted a longer-legged agile terrier with plenty of spirit who could keep up with the hounds.  

Russell had a passion and understanding for the breed that is still highly regarded today. By 1830, Russell would embark on a series of cross-breeding with assorted breeds, most likely including Beagles and Bull Terriers, in order to create a breed that would meet the needs of any British hunter.

It is not really clear when the first Jack Russell Terriers came to Australia and the breed was only officially recognised here in 1991.


The Jack Russell Terriers are ostensibly different - slightly longer - to the Parson Russell Terriers who are taller and square. Ideally the Jack Russell stands between 25-30cm (10-12″) in height, a bit taller than a Maltese, and is slightly longer than it is tall. 

Although narrow, the chest is deep though the shortened legs should still allow for plenty of clearance. The eyes will appear alert, the jaws deep, wide and powerful and the coat is predominantly white with black, tan or brown markings.

Today's Jack Russells are characterised by two-tone or tri-colour patterns of white, brown, and sometimes black. 

The Jack Russell Terrier comes in three coat varieties - smooth, rough and broken, and all require a minimum of grooming.

Modern day Jack Russells are much more sturdy and muscled than their ancestors.

  • Weight: 6 – 8 kg 
  • Height: 25 – 30 cm 
For the full breed standard, visit the ANKC website.


The Jack Russell Terrier is a happy, energetic dog with a strong desire to work. This breed is most happy when given companionship and a job to do. 

Digging is normal for a Jack Russell, especially if he decides it is his job to free your yard from rodents! 

Hunting ability is bred into them; it is their nature. The desire to hunt combined with a high energy level makes training a must for the Jack Russell. You will never win a battle of wills with him!

Early socialisation is one of the most important things you can do for your Jack Russell puppy. Introducing him to the world in a controlled environment is key to raising a well-behaved, happy and friendly dog. 

Socialising is familiarisation of your puppy with different people, children, other dogs, animals and getting them used to all kinds of environments, sounds, smells and situations

Although bold and fearless, the Jack Russell Terrier should remain a friendly and playful dog with children and their owners. 
An untrained Jack Russell may grow to be a nippy dog and any bored dog is likely to be destructive. Because of his origins, Jack Russells can be vocal and they also make good watchdogs.

The breed’s fearless character can manifest itself when confronted with other dogs and any animal that resembles prey, including cats, hamsters etc.

The Jack Russell is a hardy breed with few health and genetic problems.

Some are prone to dislocation of the kneecaps, inherited eye diseases, deafness and Legg Perthes—a disease of the hip joints of small dog breeds.

Most other health issues relate to injuries caused by the dog’s fearless and spirited nature. This is a strong, healthy breed with an expected long lifespan, about 14-15 years.


The Jack Russell is a medium maintenance dog with all type of coats requiring some grooming. Smooth coat Jack Russells actually require more brushing (weekly) whereas the rough and broken coats will only need to be stripped every four weeks.


The breed is energetic and requires at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Tall, secure fencing is essential as some dogs will be prone to dig, especially if bored. They are regarded as accomplished escape artists.

If you want a smart dog who can quickly learn tricks, run an agility or flyball course, play fetch until you drop, and who will make a charming companion when he's not getting into mischief, the Jack Russell could be the dog for you. 


Initially, training may be difficult as these strong-willed dogs can be easily distracted, therefore professional obedience training from an early age (around 12 weeks) is essential and a careful eye when walking your dog (on a lead) is always recommended.


Jack Russells have amazing skills and traits that make them excellent hunting dogs: digging, barking, an aggressive nature and the ability to follow scent
However, these same traits in a household are often interpreted as bad habits that cause people to give them up. 

The Jack Russell Terrier can make an excellent companion and guard dog for experienced dog owners, families and the elderly as long as his exercise requirements are met.
Jack Russell Terriers can be recreational barkers, so they're not suited to apartment life.

Unfortunately too many Jack Russells are purchased as puppies by owners ill-prepared to care for this active breed. As a result, many are dumped at shelters and pounds or abandoned. It is important to consider the breed’s temperament and its match to your lifestyle before purchasing a new puppy.

  • Temperament: outgoing and friendly
  • Lifespan: 14-15 years
  • Maintenance: low
  • Recommended for: experienced owners

For more information on the breed, please visit:

Jack Russell Terrier Club of Australia
Jack Russell Club of NSW Inc.
Jack Russell Club of VIC

If you'd like to re-home a Jack Russell Terrier, please contact:


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