Jack Russell Terrier dog breed

Buying or Adopting a Jack Russell Terrier

By Michele Welton

Is a DOG really the right pet for you?

I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.

Pros AND Cons of Owning a Dog

Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?

Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:

The Truth About Purebred Dogs

The Truth About Crossbred Dogs

The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs

Is a Jack Russell Terrier the right breed for you?

Jack Russell Terriers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Jack Russell Terrier Health Problems

Are YOU right for a Jack Russell Terrier?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
  • No young children in the household
  • No dogs of the same sex in the household
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Jack Russell Terrier stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, earthdog); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • Trimming/clipping ("rough" coat type) – every few months
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Jack Russell Terriers are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with constant shedding (especially the "smooth" coat type)
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Jack Russell Terrier to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior or aggression
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Jack Russell Terrier, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Should you get a male or female Jack Russell Terrier?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?

Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Jack Russell Terrier be?

Where can you buy or adopt a Jack Russell Terrier?

Jack Russell Terriers are very common in the United States. But you might get confused when you try to acquire this breed, because it turns out that there isn't just one breed – there are actually three. And they're a little different from each other.

The most common one is called the Jack Russell Terrier. These dogs are registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA). They're supposed to have a squarish build – the length of their body is about equal to their height at the shoulder. But some have short legs and a longish body.

Then there is the Parson Russell Terrier, which is registered with the American Kennel Club. The AKC had to choose a different name because the JRTCA owned the name Jack Russell and wouldn't allow the AKC to use it. So the AKC chose Parson Russell. These dogs are also supposed to be square in build.

Finally, there is the Russell Terrier, which is also registered with the American Kennel Club, but does not have the squarish build. Instead it has a structural deformity called chondrodysplasia, which dwarfs their legs and makes their length longer than their height.

On my website, I use the original name, Jack Russell Terrier, to apply to all three breeds.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
Jack Russell Terriers are frequently available from Dog Rescue groups. Jack Russells may be turned into Rescue because they need much more exercise and interesting activities than the owner can handle. Or they might be too active or "intense" or dominant or aggressive toward other animals.

Owners often give up their Jack Russell Terrier when it becomes apparent that, despite its small size, the dog is too much for them to handle. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise, training, and socialization that they are lacking.

Other Jack Russell Terriers are given up simply because of changed family circumstances, and these dogs may have no behavior problems at all.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Jack Russell Terriers can be found here, although shelter personnel may mislabel any short-coated tri-colored terrier as a Jack Russell, even when it's not. JRT rescue groups do keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country, and if a Jack Russell Terrier turns up at a shelter, the rescue group does try to move the dog into their rescue network.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Jack Russell Terrier from a show breeder, who breeds Jack Russell Terriers to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy a Jack Russell Terrier from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an even more energetic temperament and strong "prey (chasing) drives" for participating in performance sports like dog agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, flyball, frisbee, and earthdog events.

Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly.

You can also buy a Jack Russell Terrier from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Jack Russell Terrier puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal knees

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Jack Russell Terrier ends up with cataracts and crippled knee joints.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
Jack Russell Terriers are often found in pet shops. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!

Related Articles

Girl holding up a puppy and looking at him How To Choose a Good Jack Russell Terrier Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Jack Russell Terrier puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.

Pedigree parchment AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Jack Russell Terrier puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book cover My puppy training book is Respect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old, this highly-acclaimed training program is based on respect. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all great family dogs need to know.

If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.

book cover Do the 11 Things in my dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, and your dog will live a longer, healthier life and seldom need to visit the vet.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy family companion.