Originally bred as hunting dogs, Jack Russell Terriers (JRTs) have made a place for themselves in the homes and hearts of many people. Lively, fun-loving and loyal, JRTs can make a wonderful addition to your family. There are a few things you should keep in mind, however, about Jack Russell Terriers that can help you care for and understand these smart little guys.
- Jack Russell Terriers need a lot of exercise. Keep in mind that these dogs are working dogs. They're happiest when they have a job to do, and it's your job to make sure that your JRT's need for exercise is met. It is possible for them to live happily in an apartment, but it is not recommended. Most of them are happier with more room to romp, play and burn off energy.
JRTs do not usually do well with cats or other small animals and many breeds of dogs. Because they are hunting dogs, JRTs can become aggressive toward smaller animals and other dogs. Keep this in mind before bringing one home.
Plan on bringing your Jack Russell Terrier to the veterinarian at least once each year. Your JRT will need regular vaccinations and check-ups to keep him healthy and happy.
Your Jack Russell will need regular grooming. Although your JRT's coat is easy to care for, he'll need a weekly brushing and the occasional bath when his coat appears dirty. You'll also want to keep an eye on his nails, and trim them when they start getting long.
Jack Russell Terriers need obedience training. These little guys are under the impression that they're big guys. Without your guidance on appropriate behavior, these assertive dogs will start making their own rules. Training will also provide the mental stimulation that your JRT craves. Obedience training can also help curtail the behaviors that this breed is famous for that many owners find undesirable - digging, barking, nipping, etc.
Plan on waiting until your children are over school age before bringing home a Jack Russell Terrier. Although gentle and loving, JRT's assertive nature will not usually allow them to tolerate the poking, prodding and tail pulling that toddlers are prone to lavish on dogs. Even after your children are six-years-old or older, it's never a good idea to leave them with any dog without the supervision of an adult.
Make sure that you are ready to make a lifetime commitment to your Jack Russell Terrier. Dogs of this breed can live to fifteen years of age or older. You need to be sure you can provide your JRT with all the love, attention and care he deserves for his entire life.
With their high energy, assertive personalities and potential for aggression toward other animals, JRTs are definitely not the best breed for everyone. Do your research and talk to other Jack Russell owners before you decide to share your life with one of them. If you decide that Jack Russell Terriers are the dog for you, be ready to be entertained by your new pet's lively antics and intelligence.