48 Common Health Problems Found In Jack Russell Terriers

Updated on July 16, 2015

What we already know...

For many years we have grown to love Jack Russell Terriers; for their abilities, passion, endearing personalities and are generally happy and energetic dogs. The good news is that they are a generally healthy breed; however, as with all dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are particularly susceptible to certain health problems.

Please DO NOT self-diagnose; if you have any doubt and worries, have a consultation with your vet. They will be able to give you a proper diagnoses, treatment and expert advice.

If you can learn recognise your dog's anatomy, regular movements and behaviour it will make it easier to spot anything out of the ordinary; and have a better chance of finding a better way of managing it.

In No Particular order...

1. General Oral Hygiene Problems:- Have regular checks of their teeth and gums; a daily check by yourself with the help of dental products could help keep their mouth's healthy.

2. Absence Of Premolars:- This could be one or more, and could be during the period of development. A vet and nutritionist could help with establishing a suitable diet.

3. Oligodontia:- The absence of most or all of their teeth.

4. Ear Infections:- If you notice them head shake more often, incisively scratch it could be a sign of this. They are common and easy to treat; combining oral commands with hand signals whilst training would come in handy.

5. Unilateral Deafness:- This is partial deafness; meaning only one ear is effected and the use of hand signals would be beneficial.

6. Bilateral Deafness:- This means complete deafness; as well as using hand signals you can also get special training, leads and coats to raise awareness to others.

7. Obesity:- JRT should be lean and muscular with high levels of energy and require plenty of exercise. However, they won't say no to treats, so be careful of giving them scraps, food under the table, over feeding and not giving them the exercise they need. Having your dog weighed if in between check up's if you are worried

8. Arthritis:- Affecting joints and bones; this typically develops at a later stage but taking action at an early stage could help make this more manageable if not prevent it such as giving the correct nutrients, oils and supplements. If you notice your JRT showing difficulties such as getting up the stairs, long walks, getting in and out of their beds etc seek veterinary help.

9. Excessive Aggressiveness:- Although JRT are generally happy, friendly dogs; they're natural hunters and can develop excessive aggressiveness. This could be an act of aggression, such as attacking someone or something without reasonable provocation.

10. Epilepsy:- This can be in the form of seizures or fits and can be treated with medication.

11. Diabetes Mellitus:- Due to the lack of insulin, result in excessive sugar in their blood and urine.

12. Pyloric Sterosis:- An abnormally small opening between the stomach and duodenum; which prevent food passing and can be the cause of projectile vomit.

13. High Toes:- This is a breeding defect which causes the toes not being able to reach the floor.

14. Von Willebrand's Disease:- This is another breeding disorder, causing an abnormal platelet function; excessive bleeding from a cut is an indication. This could also be from the gums, nose or urine. There is however, no cure.

15. Patent Ductus Arteriosus:- The fetel vessel between the aorta (the largest artery in the body) and the pulmonary artery not being anble to close at birth. This can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems as a result; in rare cases can cause sudden death. It is however, more common in relation to heart murmurs and can be picked up on at routine appointments.

16. Cardiomyopathy:- This is the weakening of the heart muscle which involves thickened heart and or dilation chambers. The complications include pleural effusion and pulmonary edema (water in the chest cavity or lungs). Breathing would be more quickly or laboured and signs would be a reduced tolerance with exercise.

17. Persistent Pupillary Membranes:- This is the failure of blood vessels in the anterior chamber to regress normally.

18. Cryptochidism:- This is to do with undescended testicles in unneutered male dogs. It is common for one teste to be.hidden sometimes, it isn't dangerous. But it's proven correlation between condition and increased likelihood of malignancy in later life. This could be prevented by having your dog neutered as soon as possible.

19. Hernias:- This is formed from an internal organ or section of tissue protrudes outwards and create a noticeable bulge. These could be umbilical or inguinal involving part of the intestine protruding through either the scrotum or lower navel.

20. Congenital Myasthenia Gravis:- This is severe muscle weakness; showing signs of fatigue, due to the failure of the neuromuscular transmission to the nerve impulses.

21. Scotty Cramp:- These are muscle cramps triggered by excitement or exercise.

22. Trembling:- This can be excessive; particularly in the rear limbs.

23. Wobbler Syndrome:- An abnormality in the neck vertebra causing the rear leg ataxia progress to paralysis.

24. Achondroplasia (Appendicular):- This is the lack of normal development of the skeleton, limbs; causing dwarfism.

25. Hermivertebra:- An abnormal formation of the body vertebra where the posterior ataxia and paralysis causes a twisted or screw tailed breeds.

26. Legg-Perthes-Aseptic Necrosis:- This causes leg lameness due to the head and neck of the femar.

27. Overshot:- This is when the upper jaw extends beyond the lower jaw.

28. Undershot:- This is when the lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw.

29. Laryngeal Hypoplasia:- This is the failure to develop the larynx (voice box) causing breathing difficulties.

30. Tracheal Collapse:- This is the improper formation of the cartilaginous rings of the trachea causing mild to severe breathing problems.

31. Tracheal Hypoplasia:- Is having a small trachea; causing mild to severe breathing problems.

32. Cleft Lip or Palate:- This is the fissure of the roof of the mouth and upper lip either bonded together or separated.

33. Patellar Luxation:- This is a poor development of structures holding the patella (knee cap) in place.

34. Premature Closure Of The Ulna:- This stops growing sooner than radius which causes the wrists to turn in.

35. Radial Agenesis:- This stops growing sooner which causes bowed front legs.

36. Progressive Neuronal Abiotropy (Ataxia):- This is a neurological problem involving degeneration of brain control of coordinated movements; shown as tremors, however, there is no known cure.

37. Cerebellar Ataxia:- This is an inherited disease causing the neurological cells to die; causing problems in balance and inevitably walk into objects.

38. Hydrocephaly:- This is fluid accumulating within the brain, and is particularly dangerous neurological disease; as it puts pressure on brain tissue causes degenerate. Affecting balance, confusion and disorientation.

39. Myelodysplasia:- This is the lack of development of the brain; causing problems with coordination.

40. Lens Luxation:- This is an inherited disease; affecting the eye causing the lens to dislocate in either one or both eyes. It causes pain and the eye turns typically opaque or reddish in hue which inevitably cause blindness.

41. Cataract:- This means the lens opacity obscures vision and may cause blindness.

42.Congenital Cataract & Microphthalmia:- These are cataracts associated in the small eye globe.

43. Distichiasis:- This is an abnormal location of the eyelashes on he margin of the eyelid causing irritation.

44. Trichiasis:- This is the abnormal placement of the eyelashes on the eyelid.

45. Glaucoma:- This means an increased pressure in the globe which damages the eye.

46. Glaucoma (Pigmentary):- This is glaucoma present in the dark pigment, causing blocks in the drainage angle.

47. Progressive Vetinal Atophy:- This is the degeneration of the retinal vision cells which can cause blindness.

48. Legg-Calve-Perthes:- This is hereditary and signs show later in life; although signs can be seen from the age of six months. It effect the ball and socket joint in the hip degenerating; leading to pain, stiffness and reduced movements.

© 2015 MFPrincess


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    • profile image

      Mary Shaffer 

      8 weeks ago

      I have two jack russels. They have been together for twelve years. When we come in from a walk they start fighting. They have drawn blood. Theirs as well as mine. One is 15 and a neutered male. The other is a 14 year old spayed female. What can I do

    • profile image

      Cheryl Wilder 

      2 months ago

      My 7 year old Jack Russell Mix has shown signs of arthritis due to the heavy amount of rain for the last week. What can I give him for pain?

      He is 14 pounds

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      My jack Russell seems all blocked up from his nose what I do

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Hi I have a Jack Russell terrier he's 3.i am having real trouble when taking him for walks he is extremely vocal to all other dogs and walking him is becoming a stressful nightmare.hes not very sociable.at home he's so lovely I couldn't ask for a better dog.please would appreciate any input anyone can give.

    • profile image

      Natalie Quick 

      6 months ago

      My dachshund /Jack Russell, Jack Frost, is 5 years old. Suddenly he has started to show pain in his hind quarters. I've been giving him one baby aspirin every 6 hours, which helped another dog I had. Is there something else that I Can do?

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Very informative...i look up everything on here

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Summer LeBlanc 

      3 years ago from H-Town

      Very informational- I will share this with a friend who has a JR Terrier. They are such wonderful pets. :)


    • MFPrincess profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from UK

      Thank you :)

    • aminebombom profile image


      3 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      Very informative hub, keep up the good work Princess


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