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10 Things to Consider Before You Get a Jack Russell Terrier

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We're a couple in Scotland with a Scottish Terrier of our own.

Learn the 10 factors you should consider before getting a Jack Russell Terrier!

Learn the 10 factors you should consider before getting a Jack Russell Terrier!

Getting a Jack Russell Terrier?

The Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) is a small terrier that has its origins in fox hunting and ratting. It is primarily white-bodied and smooth, rough, or broken-coated, with black, brown, or tri-colour patches or spots. They are fun-loving, energetic dogs who love attention and companionship!

I am an animal lover, and my husband had a JRT before we met. After we got married, it felt as if something was missing from our home, so I suggested we get another JRT, a little puppy. He gave me plenty of warning and told me how much effort the pup would take, but I didn't care. She was to be my baby and a little buddy to our old man JRT.

However, by the end of the first day of having her, all those warnings replayed in my mind much louder and clearer. As a furbaby mummy who knows, I am going to share 10 things that you really must consider before getting a little JRT for your household!

10 Things to Know About Owning a Jack Russell Terrier

  1. They need a lot of space!
  2. They are natural athletes.
  3. They are natural hunters and ratters.
  4. They have a short attention span.
  5. The phrase "can't teach an old dog new tricks" doesn't apply to JRTs.
  6. They are loyal and loving.
  7. They suffer from Small Dog Syndrome.
  8. They think they are human!
  9. Routine is important.
  10. They are fussy!

1. They Need Space!

Jack Russell Terriers are naturally hyperactive, fearless, and fun-loving dogs. They thrive on running around, playing games, and constant activity! If you live in a small house or have a small garden, the confinement would drive them insane, but if you plan on taking extremely long walks often, it could potentially work.

2. They Are Natural Athletes

These little guys can jump up to six feet in the air! They are competitive and thrive on agility tasks. Admittedly, not all enjoy playing catch (it never appealed to my older JRT) but generally they do, and some reportedly love playing goalie, too!

So this is a warning: They will go through many tennis balls and various other toys, which never seem to last. I would suggest buying their favorite toys in bulk!

3. They Are Natural Hunters and Ratters

In the beginning, Jack Russell Terriers were bred to do exactly that. It is part of their natural instinct, so sniffing out the goods is their superpower! Believe me, if your JRT is upstairs and you are about to prepare dinner, it will take only seconds before he/she is by your feet looking at you! If your garden gets regular visitors or intruders of the feline or vermin variety, it won't take long for the JRT to hunt and chase them all out. Keep this in mind if you let them off of the lead outdoors with squirrels, birds, rabbits, or cats in sight: Your JRT will stop at nothing to catch them and may even disappear down a rabbit hole!

4. They Have a Short Attention Span

I often talk about my puppy having ADHD, like myself. My JRT is constantly on the lookout for cats, etc., but after losing sight for a second, she'll go back to playing with her toys. With that in mind, teaching commands should start as soon as they come home!

I found teaching verbally wasn't enough because of the attention span; so I incorporated using hand signals too, which worked very well and even when I don't say the command I can still get her to do her tricks just by the "sign language." Repeat the tasks and positive rewards, it takes time and patience but it pays because these dogs have long lifespans and are loyal and loving.

5. The Phrase "Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks" Doesn't Apply

JRT are keen learners, and learning new tricks doesn't stop once they hit adulthood. For example, I taught my 9-year-old JRT new tricks as I trained our pup. He added new commands to all the ones he knew already and learned sign language, too.

So if you are rescuing a JRT and worried you wouldn't be able to teach it anything, don't be. They love learning! JRT are highly intelligent and keep on using and expanding their physical and mental abilities.

6. They Are Loyal and Loving

From personal experience, I have found that JRT are ever so loving. When you're not feeling your best, they are the first to comfort you. They are loyal and do not like to see you hurt or upset; no matter what, your JRT will always stick by your side!

Warning: Get a bigger bed. It doesn't matter how much they love their own, it will never compare to cuddling up to you in yours!

7. They Suffer From Small Dog Syndrome

They like to make their fearlessness well-known to all postmen, strangers walking past their home, cats, etc. They love to sing the song of their people to other breeds, making it clear that they are the boss. No matter how big or small the other dogs (or sometimes even horses) are, JRT will try to assert themselves.

8. They Think They Are Human!

Believe me, they do! They think they are your furry children, regardless of any actual child you may already have! They expect the same fun, food, and love.

My dogs like certain TV programs: Star Trek, Top Gear, and any show that has a dog in it. Not only that, they know what films they like, too. My pup especially loves classic Disney: The Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and The Lion King!

9. Routine Is Important

We have found our JRT know what day it is. They know what day the bin men are coming, which days the kids are here, and which are shopping days. They know what time it is, as well: when the postman is coming and at what hour dinner happens, school gets out, and their favorite TV programs begin. Believe me, if you change the routine even slightly, you'll know all about it because boy, will they tell you!

Keep Calm and Hug a JRT

Keep Calm and Hug a JRT

10. They Are Fussy!

JRT have specific material, colour, and taste preferences. This also applies to food, beds, and smells, so be careful when trying new things in the household! Like any child, a JRT puppy has an "if I see it, it is mine" mentality! When it comes to toys, the only way to stop the pup from going into the kids' toy box was to give her a box full of toys that she can access whenever she wants. She even has to put them all away when it's bedtime!

If None of the Above Has Changed Your Mind...

Then why not? Who could resist their cute little faces! It doesn't even matter that you'll be forever covered in fur. You will find it on your clothes, in your car, everywhere. I have not regretted getting the second JRT. She is the complete opposite of our older one. If I had more energy and a bigger house and garden, I would have many, many more!

Like any other dog, JRT have their own personalities, and there isn't a day where ours don't make us laugh! JRT will become part of your family, and they will love and cherish you like no other!

Remember to check local rescue centres and local social media sites and forums! If you are not a confident trainer, look for classes or get one-on-one training. Please remember JRT respond to positive reinforcement, so repeating tasks with encouragement and rewards is vital!

Last but not least... good luck! :)

© 2015 Kally


Lydia on March 05, 2018:

We just got an 8 week old girl. She is so cute and playful. She's a little shy but warming up quickly to everyone. She learned after two stern NOs not to chew on my socks or my sons pants.

Kally (author) from Scotland on January 25, 2016:

Like every other living creature, they are individual and you're very lucky to have such a loving and caring one! My two are complete opposite ends of the scale personality wise but share the love and attentiveness for their "pack" whether they have 4 legs or 2!

Louise on January 25, 2016:

I have a jrt and he is not like they are described at all he's friendly loves everyone from kids to other dogs when my cat had kittens he used to lay with them and groom them even tried to breast feed them once bit hard as he is male when the kittens started to walk about he. Would round them up after a while and carry them back to their bed....he does not bark very otter it is true however when you are ill they will lay by your side and not leave. Help do I have a strange jack????? However love my boy to bits he is the best

Kally (author) from Scotland on July 05, 2015:

Yes I loved Milo probably why I have 2 of them now! lol

Amine from Doha, Qatar on July 04, 2015:

I like these kind of dog, since I was little kid, maybe because I grow up watching Milow, on the Mask cartoon if you have watched it too.