9 feisty facts about Jack Russells

Feisty facts about Jack Russells
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Filed under Dogs, Elderly Dogs, Puppies.
Image credit: Ria ( BY-SA 3.0)

Jack Russell terriers, also known as Jack Russells or simply Jackies, are small, often stocky dogs that are part of the terrier type dog group. Traditionally these beautiful dogs were bred as fox hunting dogs.

Jack Russell terriers are small dogs typically weighing 6 to 9 kg. They can have rough, broken or smooth hair coats, but always predominantly white with black or tan markings. As a breed, Jack Russells are from England.

As pets, Jack Russell terriers are described as friendly, energetic, fearless and playful, but are also stubborn, vocal and assertive. Although they are great companion dogs, they do not always get along with children and other dogs.

9 feisty facts about Jack Russells

1) There are a lot of Russell variations

The Jack Russell terrier, Parson (Russell) terrier and Russell terrier are actually three different dog breeds, despite sharing a common ancestry. All of them were named after Reverend John “Jack” Russell, who bred a fine strain of terriers for hunting foxes in England. The Jack Russell terrier is smaller than the Parson terrier, but larger than the Russell terrier.

Jack Russell playing on beach

2) Jack Russells are working terriers

Reverend Russell strived to breed feisty, strong, confident and courageous fox hunters with good stamina. The Jack Russell is a baying terrier, meaning the dog should flush out the fox or other prey with his steady barking but is never to kill his prey. They were also to go ground and flush out prey from a hole.

3) More shedding than many other dog breeds

Despite their short hair coats, Jack Russell terriers shed more than a number of other dog breeds. Actually, it seems that the shorter the hair, the more it will shed. The shedding may get worse as the seasons change.

Jack Russell on bed

4) Claim to fame – in the media

Media exposure, especially the popularity of “Moose”, the terrier who plays “Eddie” on the television show Frasier, and “Soccer”, who stars in the children’s show Wishbone, have catapulted the breed to popularity. Patrick McDonnell’s comic strip Mutts also features a Jack Russell terrier named “Earl” who is a main character in the comic strip.

Eddie the Jack Russell from Frasier
“Eddie” from the television show, Frasier.

5) Brave and courageous

Jack Russell terriers are one of the very few dog breeds that are brave enough to go ground after prey. Further proof of this was a Jack Russell named “George”. On 29 April 2007, he saved five children at a carnival in New Zealand from an attack by two pit bulls. He was reported to have charged at them and held them at bay long enough for the children to get away. Afterwards he was unfortunately killed by the pit bulls, but he was posthumously awarded the PDSA Gold Medal in 2009, the animal equivalent of the George Cross.

In memorial of “George”, in Manaia, New Zealand. Credit Kaulano (CC BY-SA 4.0)

6) Legendary status

The Jack Russell has been bred strictly for hunting since its beginning in the early 1800s. By the 1850s, these dogs were recognised as a specific breed, making the breed more than 160 years old.

7) Jack Russells are prone to serious sunburn

Just because dogs have fur doesn’t mean they are safe from the sun’s harmful rays. Even canines can get sunburnt, and Jack Russells are particularly sensitive due to their light-coloured coats. For some reason, Jack Russells just love lying on their backs basking in the sun too – exposing the vulnerable tummy area. A dog-friendly sunscreen (e.g. Kyron’s Petscreen) will protect your dog from sun damage.

Jack Russell lying down in sun

8) They can get some serious air

The Jack Russell terrier can leap five times its own height. That means a 30cm-tall Jack Russell can easily jump 1.5m in the air.

Jumping Jack Russell
Credit Steve-65 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

9) Jack Russells can be great travellers

Jack Russells often love a ride in the car. A Jack Russell named “Bothy” made history in 1982 as part of the Transglobe Expedition. Owned by explorers Ranulph and Ginny Fiennes, he became the first dog to travel to both the north and south poles.

About the author
About the author
Renier is a qualified, experienced companion animal veterinarian whose main interests are animal health and strengthening pet-owner relationships.
View all posts by Dr Renier Delport

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