Jack Russell Terriers: A Confident, Energetic and Smart Little Dog

A confident, energetic and smart little dog, the Jack Russell is a favourite of the British people. Bred in England during the early 1800s, their role was one of a hunting dog; specifically one that would flush out foxes and rabbits.

Interestingly, they were only recognised by the Kennel Club in 2016. However, this was not due to a lack of popularity, but more due to a concern by those involved that it could prove detrimental to the breed. They are currently classed within the Terrier breed group.

Jack Russell Terrier and a man admire the view from the mountain top

Jack Russell dogs have a strong personality and are generally fearless and tenacious. This should not translate into a dog that lacks manners. Owners need to put a lot of effort into their training and socialisation to ensure they develop into a friendly, well-mannered family pet.

Their prey drive remains high so they may not be a good match for families who already own smaller pets such as rabbits and cats. However, they can potentially be trained to get along well with other animals; as long as they are introduced from a young age.

Health Issues in Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russells are known for their hardiness and good health. Despite this, there will be several health issues that occur more often in the Jack Russell than in other dog breeds.

  • Epilepsy. When a dog has seizures and there is no identifiable cause for them, the dog is said to be epileptic. For most, the fits will start between the ages of one and five. A thorough investigation is needed to ensure there is no other cause for the seizures. Once epilepsy is confirmed, patients are often maintained on medication for life. The cost of the check ups, regular blood tests and anti-seizure medicine adds up over the course of the dog’s lifetime.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). Smaller dogs with long backs tend to be the ones affected by IVDD. Depending on the severity of the lesion and the extent to which the spinal cord is compressed, signs will vary. Dogs may experience mild discomfort and a reluctance to jump or may become suddenly paralysed. An MRI scan is the diagnostic tool of choice, though this can cost up to £2,000. If surgery is required, the sooner it is performed the better the prognosis. This type of surgery is specialised and costly.
  • Skin Disease. Jack Russells with atopic skin disease will experience intense itching and will have a constant urge to chew and scratch their skin. This can lead to broken skin and chronic infections. Dogs can be reacting to a range of things including pollen, foods and dust mites. Diagnosing allergies can be a drawn-out and expensive process. We cannot cure allergies in dogs but can manage them with ongoing medication and allergen avoidance. Though costly, immunotherapy will be a good option for some patients.
  • Patellar Luxation. When a knee cap pops in and out of place, you may notice your dog skipping for a few steps, before walking normally again as though nothing ever happened. One or both back legs can be affected. A vet can diagnose this condition after examining the dog and performing x-rays. While mild cases respond well to rest and medication, many dogs will need specialist orthopaedic surgery.
  • Primary Lens Luxation. This is a disease that tends to affect younger to middle-aged Jack Russells. The lens of the eye can fall forwards or backwards out of place, which can lead to a build up of pressure and even blindness. If diagnosed and treated early, most dogs go on to do very well.

If you’re after a vibrant and cheeky new furry family member, the Jack Russell may well be the dog for you. They are low maintenance when it comes to their grooming, though can shed a lot. They do well in a rural environment, where they can spend lots of time outdoors burning off their endless energy.

Pet insurance for your Jack Russell

As with any pedigree or cross-breed, it’s always a good idea to have a dog insurance policy in place to help with unexpected vet fees. If you’re introducing a Jack Russell Terrier puppy to your home, why not take a look at our four weeks’ free WalkawayCover* created especially for new pups aged 8 weeks to one year?

*Puppy must be between 8 weeks and 1 year old and is subject to a CVS health check. WalkawayCover covers illness and accidents instantly. Not all breeds of dog are eligible.

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