"Jack Russell Terriers
What's good about 'em
What's bad about 'em
If you want a dog who...
* Is conveniently-sized, natural-looking, and sturdy
* Is one of the most energetic, athletic, determined, and intense of all breeds
* Is extremely alert and makes a keen watchdog, yet is still sociable with strangers
* When handled properly, is brighter and more trainable than most terriers
A Jack Russell Terrier may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
* The dynamic terrier temperament (see full description below)
* Vigorous exercise requirements
* Aggression toward other animals -- very strong chasing instincts
* Digging holes
* Shedding (smooth coat)
* Regular brushing and trimming (wiry coat)
A Jack Russell Terrier may not be right for you.
If I were considering a Jack Russell Terrier...
My major concerns would be:
1. The dynamic terrier temperament. Most terrier breeds are remarkably similar. The same words are used over and over -- quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, intense.
2. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Jack Russell Terriers are incredibly active go-getters. They MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Jack Russells can make a shambles of your house and yard.
If you simply want a pet for your family, I do not recommend this breed. Jack Russell Terriers should be involved in advanced obedience, or agility (obstacle course), or in an earth dog club (where terriers dig and tunnel after small critters who are secured in a sturdy cage so they can't be harmed). Jack Russells were never intended to be simply household pets. Their strong hunting and chasing instincts are inappropriate in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their high energy level, can be difficult.
3. Animal aggression. Many Jack Russell Terriers are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs. Two Jack Russells should not be left alone together -- one may kill the other over possession of a toy. Most Jack Russells also have incredibly strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. They are capable of seriously injuring or killing smaller animals, including cats and pet rabbits.
Terriers cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that runs.
4. Fence security. Many terriers are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure. You may need higher fences than you might imagine for their small size. You may also need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks.
5. Barking. Terriers are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. If you work all day and have close neighbors, terriers are not the best choice for you. For the same reason, terriers should NEVER be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. To make matters worse, some terriers have high-pitched barks that can set your teeth on edge.
6. Mind of their own. Jack Russell Terriers are not Golden Retrievers. Though much more amenable to training than many other terriers, they must still be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Terriers can be stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Jack Russell to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Jack Russell Terrier Training Page discusses the program you need.
7. Defensive reactions. If you need to physically chastise a terrier, and you go beyond what THEY believe is a fair correction, terriers (as a group) are more likely than other breeds to growl or snap. It may be because they were bred to become more fierce when their prey fought back, i.e. terriers are apt to "return pain" if they "receive pain." As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on any terrier for a correction.
I do NOT recommend terriers for small children. Many terriers will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many terriers are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many terriers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.
8. Grooming and shedding. The smooth-coated Jack Russell sheds quite a bit. His short coarse hairs come off on your hands and stick tenaciously to your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. The wiry-coated whiskery Jack Russell requires regular brushing, and also occasional trimming and clipping.
Not all Jack Russell Terriers are alike!
* There are energetic Jack Russells, and placid Jack Russells.
* Hard-headed Jack Russells, and sweet-natured Jack Russells.
* Serious Jack Russells, and good-natured goofballs.
* Introverted Jack Russells, and Jack Russells who love everyone.
If you acquire a Jack Russell Terrier puppy, you can't know for sure what he or she will grow up to be like. Because a good number of purebred puppies do NOT grow up to conform to the "norm."
If you're considering an adult Jack Russell Terrier...
There are plenty of adult Jack Russell Terriers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics. If you find such an adult, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you.
When you acquire a puppy, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important. But when you acquire an adult, you're acquiring what he already IS.
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Much would depend on how you raise your JRT. If comings and goings are treated casually and as a part of life there's seldom any problem. Separation Anxiety is often inadvertently human caused. Also, an obedience trained dog is a confident dog. And with JRTs it's imperative that you train and that you give the dog jobs to do (obedience is one job).
· 1 decade ago