Are Jack Russell Terriers Mean?

Are Jack Russell Terriers Mean?

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The Jack Russell terrier is a prevalent breed; it is a small dog with a huge attitude. The Jack Russell is classified as a baying terrier, so the dog was bred to flush out the fox with steady barking but never kill the prey.

Due to their broad genetic make-up, there are some differences in the characteristics of Jack Russell terriers. The difference in leg length has caused the breed to be divided into separate species in England. The longer-legged dogs are called Parson Jack Russell Terriers, and the shorter-legged dogs are Jack Russell terriers.

So with these many variances in genetic make-up, are the short-legged Jack Russell terriers considered mean dogs, or do they have a calm temperament?

Jack Russell Terriers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs. In fact, experts advise against leaving two Jack Russells alone together regardless of sex. One may kill the other over something as simple as possession of a toy.

If you want to have two Jack Russell Terriers together, it’s safest to separate them when you leave the house. Most Jack Russell Terriers also possess a strong instinct to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. The breed is naturally assertive and may not do well with young children or other animals in the home.

History of the Jack Russell Terrier

The breed is named after Reverend John Russell, who was the first to breed one of the finest strains of terriers for hunting foxes in England. Since the early 1800s, the Jack Russell has been strictly bred for hunting.

It is thought that the English White Terrier is the foundation of the modern-day Jack Russell Terrier. Reverend John Russell is said to have purchased a small and talented English White Terrier from his local milkman.

It was important for the Reverend to have a fox hunting dog that could keep up with the hunt and drive out the foxes from their holes. John Russell began a breeding program where he wanted to breed brave fox hunters with good stamina.

By the mid-1800s, these dogs became recognized as the official Fox Terrier breed. However, the dog’s traits changed over time, and around 1894, Blake Heinemann created a breed standard for terriers who were excellent at digging out badgers.

This type of dog needed shorter legs, and that is how the modern-day Jack Russell was bred. It was smaller than Reverend Russell’s larger fox terrier.

After World War II, the demand for hunting dogs decreased significantly, so Jack Russell began to serve as a domesticated companion. During this time, a lot of crossbreeding happened, and a variety of other smaller dogs created a wide range of Jack Russell Terriers that you will find today, including “Shortie Jacks.”

Jack Russell Terrier Physical Characteristics

The Jack Russell is characterized by a compact and muscular body. According to The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, the standard height of the breed should be anywhere between10 to 15 inches. Other associations vary as some accept a height range of 12 to 14 inches.

This breed weighs anywhere between 14 and18 lbs. It has small triangular ears with almond-shaped eyes that are very intelligent.

The Jack Russell terrier has a thick double coat that comes in three different coat types. Some are smooth, others are broken, and other breeds have a rough or coarse coat with long straight hair. Jack Russells are typically white with tan or black marking, and all coats tend to shed.

On average, Jack Russell’s lifespan is around 15 years.

Jack Russell Terriers Personalities

These types of dogs are bright, clever, and athletic. Nothing gets by them. However, given the personality of the Jack Russell, this breed is not for everyone. They were bred to be hunting dogs, so this hunting instinct cannot be trained out of the dog.

In fact, this hunting instinct is legendary. The breed will hunt down anything that moves and is willing to stay in the hole or by it for hours, even days. The Jack Russell is very vocal because they are a baying terrier, making them excellent watchdogs. They are pretty assertive and alert. Jack Russells are enthusiastic barkers and diggers.

They instinctively see any other type of pet like hamsters or cats as prey, so basically, anything that moves, squeaks, or flutters won’t last long. It’s best not to have any other pets around the Jack Russell Terriers. Some may be able to get along with other pets if introduced to them as a puppy. However, the hunting instinct might kick off at some point, so you need to consider all these possibilities beforehand.

Jack Russells are highly intelligent, making them quick learners. However, the most challenging part about training a Jack Russell is convincing the dog to actually do what they have learned. They are pretty stubborn and tend to do things on their own time.

You might have to employ other tactics, but usually, the dog will obey if you use a mixture of physical exercise, companionship hours, mental stimulation, and confident leadership.

Living with a Jack Russell Terrier

Additionally, a sedentary or solitary lifestyle will not do the Jack Russell Terrier well. The breed requires vigorous daily play sessions, including ball chasing, which they tend to be obsessive about. So if you’re an adventure enthusiast, having a Jack Russell might be a good dog for you. They love going for long walks and hikes.

They also thrive when fully immersed in the family and require a ton of companionship hours.

If the breed receives too little exercise, companionship, or mental stimulation, they quickly get bored and might lead to destructive behaviors. In other words, Jack Russell Terriers are not apartment dogs; neither will they do well with people who are rarely home or who work a lot.

While they may not do well with other members of your family, they are pretty friendly with human strangers. However, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them in the presence of strange dogs. If the other dog keeps to itself, the Jack Russell will usually let them be.

Health Concerns

Generally, the Jack Russell Terrier is a healthy animal, but they do have several potential health problems. These are:

  • Deafness is common among the white-coated dog variety.
  • Kneecap dislocation.
  • Inherited eye disease.
  • Legg Perthes, which usually affects the dog’s hip joints.

If you notice that your Terrier is suffering from any ailment, don’t ignore it. For instance, if your dog is struggling with a dislocated kneecap, you should limit exercise, or it might lead to additional problems, including depression.

If you’re adopting one, it’s crucial to ask about any problems that exist in the dog you’re interested in as well as in the litter. If you can’t find any information, you could invest in a dog DNA test.

Which Toys Should You But for Your Jack Russell Terrier?

Below are some toys that you can purchase for your Jack Russell Terrier:

  • Rope Toys
  • Tennis Balls
  • Chuck It! Ultra Ball
  • Pet Zone IQ Treat Ball

Keep in mind that Jack Russell Terriers can go through toys fast because they like aggressive play and chew on their toys a lot. We recommend buying toys in bulk.


This feisty dog is the perfect companion for a fun-loving and outgoing family. It is mean to other dogs and pets and doesn’t have the patience or temperament for tolerating young children who might pull and tug.

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