Facts About Jacks: All About Jack Russell Terriers

Updated on June 15, 2015

The History of Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell terriers originated from the hard work of fox hunter and reverend John (nicknamed Jack) Russell, who lived in Devonshire, England in the early 19th century. Russell often fox hunted instead of attending classes at Oxford. He wanted a type of terrier that could chase after a fox even when it burrowed underneath the ground. For this to work, he needed a dog both small enough and endowed with enough courage, intelligence, and athletic ability to follow a fox into its home.

Russell found and obtained a female terrier named Trump. She was roughly the size of a “vixen fox;” easily small enough to fit into a fox hole. Trump had a thick, white coat with a patch of dark tan covering each eye and ear and a spot of color on her lower back. She was the perfect dog for Parson Russell. Russell moved to the countryside to see if the terriers could trot behind horses for a long time, keep up with the hounds hunting, and still have enough energy to enter holes and bark at the foxes until they ran away.

Parson Russell's love for dogs caused him to become one of the founders of England’s Kennel Club. He didn’t take his Jack Russell terriers to dog shows or exhibits. Instead, he also bred fox hounds and preferred to watch his dogs hunt foxes in the field. Russell died in 1883. Although records exist confirming Trump as the mother of the Jack Russell terrier, no records remain of what other dogs were part of the breed. People know only that they were rough-coated, white terriers chosen by Russell and his successors for their small size, intelligence, courage, and stamina.

Facts about Jacks

There are two types of Jack Russell Terriers—long-legged and short-legged. Short-legged Jack Russell Terriers are referred to as English Jack Russell Terriers. The pictures above show a short-legged Jack Russell Terrier.

Age: Jack Russell terriers have a lifespan of approximately 15 years.

Size: Males weigh 12-17 pounds while females weigh 10-15 pounds.

Fur: There are three different fur types: smooth, rough, and broken.

  1. Smooth—a short, smooth, thin layer of fur, about 1-1.5 cm long.
  2. Rough—a thicker, rougher double coat of shaggy hair up to 10 cm long.
  3. Broken—a combination of smooth and tough types of fur. It can seem to be smoother or rougher in some places, or it can continuously be rough and shaggy like a rough coat only a lot shorter. It is usually longer than 1.5 cm, but not greater than 2.5-3 cm.

Temperament: Jack Russell Terriers are usually fearless and determined. They can stare at something all day waiting for it to move. Though this dog is small in stature, its fierce bark makes up for its size. These social dogs are extremely happy when they have company. For example, my Jack barks a huge “ruff” every time he sees someone or something come by the house. He also wags his tail in almost a complete circle every time I come home from work or simply spend time with him.

Caring for Your Jack

Jack Russell terriers love to hunt, run, bark, and dig. If you decide to get one, I suggest that you keep it outdoors in a big yard. These dogs play hard, and after a day of play, they need a place to sleep. Igloo dog houses are great because they shield your dog from the wind due to their curved walls. I have one for my dog, and he sleeps in it every night. For the winter, I got him a heating pad for it. The heating pad plugs in with a cord from the house and keeps my dog warm and cozy.

If they get bored, these dogs love to chew on things, so the house may not be a good place for them. Teething rings may help puppies fight the urge to chew. The most important thing to do with your Jack Russell Terrier is to give it a lot of attention and things to do. If you don’t, you may come home to a disaster. Some toys that my Jack Russell Terrier loves are Fresh 'N Floss 2 Knot Rope Bones (toy ropes that when your dog chews on them, its teeth get cleaned), towels (sometimes dogs just want to get cozy with a towel or drag it around), tennis balls (for a nice game of fetch on a bright sunny day), and Hartz Chew 'n Clean Dog Teething Rings (your Jack Russell Terrier can chew to its heart’s desire).

Food and Grooming

Diet: There are many types of dog foods with a lot of different nutrients in them. How can you choose which food is right for your Jack? My dog has tried a lot of them, but his all-time favorite food is Cesar Canine Cuisine dog food. He gets enough nutrients to keep playing and hunting all day long. Cesar Canine Cuisine dog food is a type of wet food that is beefy and yummy. When buying food for your dog, I recommend letting them try a few different flavors and types to see which they like best. Of course, always follow your vet's recommendation!

Snacks: A nice treat for your Jack is Pup-peroni snacks! They come in all flavors, and my dog enjoys them after doing a simple trick like sit or down. Pup-eronis are sticks of bacon or beef that you can break up into sections or give to your dog whole. They look like beef jerky.

Grooming: Because these dogs are so active, they get dirty often and need to be groomed. I use a dual sided brush that is soft on one side and pointy on the other and Hartz Puppy Shampoo. In addition, if your dog loves frolicking in the grass and stopping occasionally to dig up moles, I recommend getting a flea and tick resistant collar.

Jack Russell terriers may be small, but they sure are a fun pet to have around. I love my Jack and I wouldn't trade him for the world.


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      hannah 6 weeks ago

      why is my jack russell so fast

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      JEnnie 2 months ago

      Our dog is loosing her hair. Almost like an alopecia. Its been going on for over a year. The vet says its ok because it doesnt bother her and its not rashy or irratating. She is friendly and playful and doesn't seem bothered but Ive never seen anything like it before. Has anyone else gone thru that experience?

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      ZombyWoof 2 months ago

      We have a 7 year old long legged Jack Russel...Max is his name. He's smart (when he wants to be) and dumb at times. His nose never stops sniffing...frogs & squirrels are his things. NASA should study his stomach, because I'm pretty sure there's a black hole in there...he never ever gets full of food. It's unreal how much this little dog eats. He sleeps under the blankets at night...can't sleep without a cozy blanket. And it better be a damn cozy blanket or forget it, he gets yours. Max takes up at least 1/3 of the entire bed...sometimes half...me & Ju get the other half. He's a pain in the butt, but I can't help but love him.

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      Dave 2 months ago

      My Jack Russell ,Abby , is now 15 and has always been an indoor dog. She goes outside on her own thru a doggy door. But she plays indoors mostly with our other three dogs.Even though they are all over 80 lbs. being full size AKC Doberman Pinchers , she is their BOSS and they know and obey her to the max but still play with her.Mostly , they all look for laps of humans to lay upon , and that’s when they are mostly content.

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      Roger Williams 5 months ago

      Our smooth, long legged Jack is brown and white and is named Griff and he is 7 year old. He is a Jack Russell/Yorkshire Terrier cross and is the most wonderful companion. He loves walking, running, playing with the sheep and lambs in the fields next to our house and I do admit he loves company and if both of us have to leave him for a few hours he ‘sends us to Coventry’. We try to control his weight but he eats well and likes the occasional treat if he is a good boy. He is a fine guard dog and does not miss anyone passing our house. The postman believes he is a large dog for he has a special deeper bark to tell us the post is being delivered. His favourite position when he is resting is one his own blanket on our bed and he lies on the top of the pillows from which he can see and hear anything happening outside our house. Like the majority of dog lovers we worry about how long he will be with us for life without Griff is difficult to contemplate.

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      TJ McLean 9 months ago

      I agree with rose. I love the article but I would never leave my Jack's outside. I have two Parton Russell terriers, 7 and 8, make and female. It's funny mine burp like a human too. I let them out in the yard and they run and play for hours but when they want to come in they're out cold. Both Maggy and Buddy have to modes, extremely on and off. Every time it rains buddy is outside chasing rain drops. Does about 30 mph with his nose next to the ground but somehow his nose never scrapes. Maggy is now of a mid dog. As soon as the rain is over she's ringing the bell to go out and play in the mud . Great article

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      Brenda Brown 12 months ago

      I have a jack russell and he alil over a year old.he acts like he is still teething is that normal

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      kendall short 12 months ago

      my grandparents have a jack russel,but i want one to how do i talk them into getting one.

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      Soli Rod 12 months ago

      I have a JRT since he was almost 2 months old full of energy, has his regular vet checkups, he's 8 years old, I noticed he lost his lower 4 teeth & 1 on the top 1 is lose, do some Jacks lose their teeth? he loves hes "bones" amogn other thing he has a healthy diet & is love by mi vet!

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      Louise Powles 15 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I also have a Jack Russell called Ollie. He's 13 years old. I've had him since he was a puppy, and he's just adorable. I love him so much. We're part of a team and certainly the best of friends. I loved reading your hub, thankyou.

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      Leanne 15 months ago

      I have a Jack Russell and Bichon Frise mix! Her name is Lily and she is a ton of fun! She loves to run and play. She is full of energy but enjoys cuddles at the end of the day! A true gem!

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      Diane N 16 months ago

      Our Jack Russell is named Jack and he is 19 years old! New owners should be prepared to walk the little guy every day keep the dog inside of the house. They are adventurous, daring, and super good hunters. Give him adventures, and he'll give you the best companion!

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      Maria A 17 months ago

      Say no more. I have a Jack Russell call Chewy. He lives to his name but only when he was left on his own in the house. He thinks is another child . I wonder how I live without a Jack Russell all this time. I always had big dogs, I loved them very much but Chewy is one in a million. Very intelligent and loving. He stopped chewing now, he knows is wrong. Only one problem, his diet has to be very strict because he gets constipated, dry food only once a week and a tin of sardines in oil every Sunday and for treats carrots.

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      Kathy 17 months ago

      I have had short-legged smooth-coated Jacks for over thirty years. Linus died at 19, Hayley was 17 and Turbo was 15 (but he had a brain tumor). Love these dogs to death. Now I have my little Nitro and yes his legs are crooked like Turbo's but he isn't a dwarf.

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      Ali 17 months ago

      I have a JRT named POE that I rescued from a meat market in China and brought him home with me. He is the light of my life. We play outside during the day, and at night we share a bed and snuggle. Does anyone else have a problem with separation anxiety? My JRT is a year old, but freaks out when I leave for work, then won't interact with anyone until I get home. I live with my mom and my sister...

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      John Doyle 17 months ago

      OMG! So many similar traits! We rescued a SJR type at about two years old.

      Spike has an enormous vocabulary . He is not a barker, but if a black lab gets in his face, he will spin around and loudly YAP in it's face. He is now around 6 years old.

      He vocalizes in his sleep, murmuoring softly and occasionally a muffled bark.

      We walk 3 times daily, he is on the hunt the moment we exit the patio gate. Squirrels, bunnies

      and especially lizards! I saw him dig a lizard from a dirt filled cinder block by scratching with his claws and BLOWING dirt out with his nose! He loves all things digging, even to the bed blanket of his which he digs furiously before settling in for the night.

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      Dee palmer 17 months ago

      We have a 16 year old jack who has controlled the house for every day of them years but we would not have her any other way

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      Carol 18 months ago

      My son and I adopted a 9 month old long-legged JR in April this year. She'd had accident and her front right legs had been amputated. She doesn't let it stop her though but we do worry when she belly-flops off the chair and beds in case she hurts herself.

      The RSPCA didn't say anything about her teeth but, when we introduced her to the nearby vet there was a mutual dislike between them and the vet was quite nasty with our baby girl. We were not happy with this as vets should not get angry when an animal struggles and snaps when afraid! We won't be taking her there again, BUT, the same woman did mention that our dog has 2 sets of back teeth saying they should have seen taken out when she was in the vet hospital after the accident! She said she needs to undergo an operation to have this done!!

      I told her that, because of her own bad attitude, she's not touching baby again! We make sure there are loads of chewable toys around for our do as she's teething and have teething gel for her gums.

      Is it right what the vet said about operating to remove the teeth even though they're beautifully clean and white? Sorry, but I don't fully trust vets anymore because of past experience!

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      Stacy 19 months ago

      I adopted a 9 year old Shortie named Jack. He was a medical emergency heartworm case. I had no intention of Jack staying after his recovery but I fell in love with him. He is wonderful! I have 4 large dogs and he fits right in like a cherry on top of the dog pile on the couch and he and walks right under them. We have amazingly entertaining walks all together. People smile amd wave. We are very happy.

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      Collette 20 months ago

      Love the breed always had one growing up now I have two little darlings age 9 and 1 year old.they always hid things in really silly places around the home IE under the bedroom pillows down in the settee also they love being under blankets and specially if you leave the bedroom door open they r straight in there under the duvet so funny.what I don't get why do they take there food out of there bowels and eat it on the carpet

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      Dana 2 years ago

      I have a short legged Jack Russell, who is the love and joy of my life.

      He is very smart and understands the difference in what I say, such as back or front door when I ask him which one he wants to go out. He is a great watch dog alerting me when the murderous Fedex and Ups drivers come ( he recognizes the sound of their trucks when they are a bock away. The postman, ice cream man, garbage men and killer squirrels also get the same treatment. He sleeps in my bed and loves to kiss me for five minutes when I wake up. Every night he falls asleep on his back in my arms. He runs around my quarter acre freely because I have an invisible fence. He loves greenies which really do keep his teeth clean. He knows how to ask to be petted, often flopping onto his back when he comes in to get a belly rub. He's great with children, but is aggressive with other dogs. (The ONLY down side. He's the best!

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      Meloney 2 years ago

      I have a 3 year old, smooth hair, short legged, Englis Jack Russell-spoiled, princess daughter named Leyla. She is absolutely amazing, loyal, smart, funny, dedicated, loves attention & stomach rubs, follows me wherever I go and yes, she too sleeps with me. She's an absolute comfort to me and I miss her terribly when my freshman (now a graduate) son who saved her from euthanization takes her out of our home for extended periods of time when he visits his friends. She loves Ceasar Home food and I've tried them all - from the crazy expensive to the store brands and she'll only eat Ceasars ; and of course my food (if I let her) - lol... I would never-ever allow her to live or sleep outside; as I've seen her shivering when its cold, plus she cries to get inside with us and I couldn't live with myself leaving her outside. She loves her many stuffed toys (especially those that look like outdoor animals she would chase)and enjoys shaking them until their stuffed insides come out. She also loves her chew, long lasting bully sticks, bones that have beef and cheese inside them - keeps her occupied for hours. She's an only dog and we've considered getting her company; however, she gets fiesty around other dogs, so I'll have to do more research to see if that would be beneficial for her. She loves her morning walk before we head out for work and her evening walks when we come home. We love our Leyla and the joy she has brought us!

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      Anna, Denmark 2 years ago

      I have a Jack Russell terrier that will be 15 in july. He is active, funny and loves looong walks and he is really good looking considering his age - strong teeth, shiny coat and good eyes. I truly believe that the food is important aswell as not feeding them all kinds of things. I used to give him Hill´s, Royal Canin and Eukanuba but he would always have an irritated stomach. I changed to Orijen which is very good- a bit expensive in my opinion, but I will definitely rather save on other things then. I simply cannot understand those who think buying 15 kg for £7 is just as good "it would still eat it if it was hungry enough". I don´t earn a lot but you need to prioritize your pet. If you are reluctant to buy proper food what are you going to do if it needs vet treatment...

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      nat 2 years ago

      I have a short legged little lady called bella. Rescued her 3 weeks ago after she was abandoned in a house. She now sleeps in the middle of my bed completely under the covers lol. Proper little madam. I also have an 8 year old gsd and a 4 year old lurcher and she is definately the pampered little princess. Amazing dogs!!

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      Rebecca 2 years ago

      Ceasers dog food is to good for your dog, p,ease change your dogs dirt

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      Jeannie 3 years ago

      I have a Parsons Jack Russel with short legs. She is the best dog I have ever had. She is so smart. She has never chewed on anything except her own toys. She is very mellow when she is in the house, and then does all her running around when I take her outside. She is so well behaved. She comes everytime shes called imediately! She understands everything I say to her. She has learned a lot of tricks, and she even knows sign language I use for certain things. And yes, she sleeps in my bed. She is such a comfort to me as well as I am to her. I love her soooo much. I would never make her sleep outside, especially because we have such cold winters. She prefers to stay inside to play or sleep, or just chew on one of her toys or bone. She goes outside everyday several times to play fetch or just explore everything, then she's ready to come back inside.

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      robinheck 3 years ago

      We have a jack r he sleeps with us and loves to cuddle he is are second son

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      Paige 3 years ago

      my jack russel is called penny she is very smart and followes me everywhere ive had her since i was 4 and shes my everything i disagree with keeping them outside as jack russels get very cold very easily my dog sleeps with about 3 covers over her she cant sleep without them and her bed needs to be really comfy, shes very motherly and thinks her teddys are her babies and crys at the washing machine when their getting washed she can also be quite aggressive and protective of her own.

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      Jasmine 3 years ago

      Hi, my parents have a miniature Jack Russell along with two other dogs, ever since the other two dogs came along out Jack Russell's nature has changed and she's become jealous and angry, always barking and never relaxed. I live in an apartment with my boyfriend and was considering taking our jack Russell to live with us, as she was so much happier on her own and I thought it might improve her quality of life. We are away 8 hours a day five days a week when we go to work and I'm worried she might get lonely on her own all day? She doesn't enjoy the company of other dogs so that isn't an issue, and there will always be one of us here in the evenings to walk and play with her. She would be left inside all day but it's safe enough that we can leave the door open on our balcony so she can go to the toilet. I was wondering if anyone had any views on weather or not it would be alright for her to be left alone all day during the week?

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      Anomanas 3 years ago

      My little one is nearly 10years and is perfectly healthy. She has authritus but acts like a pup. She loves being indoors all the time with me. She also loves going to round up the sheep on the farm. As soon as i say round up the sheep, she starts to bark at me until we go to the 20 acer field where she gets the sheep. Jack russels can be trained to do most things. Keep them indoors at night as they love to be cuddled.

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      Patty 3 years ago

      I have a Jack Russell Terrier, Baxter. He is 12 years old I got him when he was 2. He is not your typical JRT. He does not bark, he sleeps more than he does anything. However, he is very smart he know a bunch of commands. He also knows to stay in the yard even when he sees a cat or dog coming down the street.

      Now I am having a problem with him wanting to urinate in the house even if I just walk outside to get something out of car he will urinate on the carpet. Does anyone know if this is normal behavior for him with him getting older? If I put him in his "room" he will urinate on the floor. I am stumped and my husband is not happy at all. If anyone can give me some advice I would love it.

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      angie 3 years ago

      I have a parson terrier called Cody. He is gorgeous! But quite feisty with other dogs. But you should never keep them outside, they love being part of the family. I think this is cruel!

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      amy fields 3 years ago

      We have 4 jackrussell's, two male two female, i would never suggest They should stay ooutside. ..they r so so very smart and learn very fast, they have a memory it seems bettertthan some people along with there natural manners!

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      Kevin 4 years ago

      Our breeder warned us against letting our two JR's into our bed, we don't, they let us in theirs :)

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      Me & Jack 4 years ago

      I have a Jack Russell and he one of a kind, I love him so so so so so so so so so so so so so much xxxxxx times infinity he is my world. But I agree with the other's, that you should not leave your Jack outside. Jack Russell shouldn't be left out doors they need so much "attention" and your really need to entertain them 24/7.

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      rose 4 years ago

      If you want the best quality food for your pet you must put him/her on a RAW DIET!. Find a vet who is in favor of seeing healthy dogs and NOT a vet who is only in the business to make your dog sick my recommending corn, soy, wheat, processed, gluten dog foods. Please, if you love your dog, stay away from these and other harmful ingredients in processed dog food. Oh, and by the way, what do you think they do with all of the euthanize animals? Good question for those who want the truth, the rest of you can continue to be brainwashed.

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      sussie 4 years ago

      JACKS NEED the BEST quality food any Vet will tell you this it is important to their health

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      cindy 4 years ago

      As you can see by the comments you DO NOT know the best of info for Jacks they should never never be kept outside among other things

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      Fran 4 years ago

      Hello from Cornwall UK. Great info particularly that 'Trump' John Russell's breeding dam was 'the size of a female vixen' You are the first overseas owner of a JRT that I have read who has included this important bit of info. 'Shortie' Jacks are NOT dwarves UNLESS they have the characteristic Queen Anne or 'benched' legs they are simply the genetic off shoot of the smaller 'Trump' genes, the sire to trump was a fox terrier (much taller) and less able to get down the holes that John Russell had in mind for his earth breed sired on Trump. Parsons are the taller end of the gene pool with the original daddies height. Both shorty Jacks and Parsons originate from little Trump and her taller sire. So lets stop with the kennel club based rivalry and tip our hats to this intelligent, healthy, well bred WORKING breed. ;-)

      Also an interesting bit of info that most people overseas don't realise is that in the UK 'Jack' is the familiar vernacular for the name 'John' hence John Russell's earth dogs became known fondly as Jack' Russells.

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      Rose 4 years ago

      Once last thing, I agree with, katona, regarding keeping the dog outside, it's not a good idea. Jack Russells, especially mine, love to be apart of the family. As for chewing, we never had a problem. If you supply ample amount of chewy toys, they'll do fine. Oh, and our female short legged Jack Russell's name is Haylo.

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      katona 5 years ago

      Good info about Jack Russells but totally disagree with your suggestion to keep them outdoors. Jacks might like to hunt, dig, etc. in the daytime for the physical activity they need but what about their emotional needs like cuddling, feeling part of the family and observing stimulating things in the house? As you stated, "they are extremely happy when they have company and the most important thing to do is give them lots of attention". How much attention can you give your dog when you "come out and see him"? Do you sit outside with him on winter nights and keep him company? As for chewing in the house, that can be helped by training.

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      Diana L Pierce 6 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I have a smooth coat, Jack Russell Terrier female named Boomer. Boomer is almost 15 years old. I've heard some live to be 20. She is one of the gentlest dogs I've ever known. But she is a bit vocal sometimes.

      Your puppy is adorable and you have mention some good stuff. But please beware of flea collars, my daughter's dog had seizures because of one. So we no longer use them. We now use a flea control that is dripped down the back of the neck which is vet recommended.

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      Charles Hilton 6 years ago

      I have a short-legged male Jack Russell named Maxx. He's 11 1/2 years old and still acts like a puppy. I don't think Jack Russell's ever grow out of the puppy stage, but, that's part of their charm.

      Maxx hasn't lost a step, even at his age, and he's as quirky as ever. He goes on licking rampages where he tries to lick the skin off of your face and he sits-up like a groundhog when he wants something and makes noises that I didn't think possible for a dog.

      He is also the only dog I've ever known that burps like a person. He'll be sitting there and all of a sudden..."brrrupppppp." LOL!!

      See what you started!! But, thank you! Great post!