Jack Russell Terrier – Breed Profile

The Jack Russell Terrier is a small breed of terrier. It is one of the most popular breeds here at Yorkshire Vets. In fact, Jack Russells are the third most common breed we see across our surgeries. To find out more about the breed, and if it is a good fit for your family, read on below.

 Breed Profile - Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier


The Jack Russell is a small breed, that usually weighs between 6 – 8 kg. They typically measure between 25-40cm at the shoulder. It is not uncommon, however, to see examples that fall outside of this size. From a working point of view, a small chest was traditionally important. This is because the breed was used for fox hunting work and needed to be able to enter Fox burrows. Jack Russell Terriers typically have an alert, intelligent face, with a slightly flattened head between V-shaped ears. Their coat is a dense, double-layered variety and can either be smooth, rough or broken, which is somewhere between rough and smooth. Coat colour is primarily white, with areas of black brown or tan markings.


The Jack Russell is an intelligent and energetic breed. Because of its working background, it requires plenty of mental and physical stimulation to stave off boredom. It is not uncommon for understimulated Jack Russells to exhibit destructive behaviour. Recreational barking can also be an issue. It is important to train the breed from an early age as they can be stubborn and willful if not given adequate training. Jack Russells can coexist with other dogs and pets if properly socialised. If not given adequate socialisation, however, the breed can develop aggressive behaviour towards other animals, particularly those larger than themselves. The Jack Russell is typically very friendly towards people and is loyal to its family.


Jack Russells are a generally healthy breed and typically live between 13-16 years. As with most breeds, however, there are some health issues that can occur. Eye problems can present, most notably cataracts and ectopia lentis, which is the displacement of the eye’s lens. They also have an above average rate of patella luxation, which is a displacement of the kneecap and can suffer from other musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome.


Reverend John Russell began development of the Jack Russell Terrier around 200 years ago. Russell was a hunting enthusiast and was looking to develop a fox hunting dog that would reliably flush out foxes without injuring or killing them. He also wanted the breed to be white so that it could more be more easily distinguishable from its quarry. The breed began with a small white terrier named Trump, who Russell bought from a milkman while at university. It is likely that no modern Jack Russells are actually descended from Trump, but she was certainly the start of the development of a breed standard.

Since the end of World War II, the decline in hunting lead the breed away from its hunting roots. In the intervening years, they have become far more common as companion dogs. Traditional Jack Russell clubs fought against this change, though it has now become more accepted and the Kennel Club began to recognise the breed in January 2016.

Famous Examples

There are a number of high profile Jack Russells who have been prominent in popular culture over the years. The first example was Nipper, the subject of the ‘His Master’s Voice’ painting by Francis Barraud. The painting is most famous for its use by a number of high profile music companies, including EMI, RCA and HMV. A Jack Russell named Bothy, belonging to explorer Ranulph Fiennes is the only dog to have travelled to bo the north and south poles.

A number of Jack Russells have appeared prominently in film and TV over the years.Eddie from the series ‘Frasier’ was an incredibly popular cast member, played by two dogs, father and son Moose and EnzoUggie, an animal actor, appeared in Oscar Winning silent film ‘The Artist’ as Jack. The breed has also appeared in a number of other movies including ‘Crimson Tide’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘The Secret Life of Pets’.

The Jack Russell in the attached photo is Tilly, who recently visited our Morley surgery to start her puppy vaccinations.

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