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Jack Russell Terrier Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Jack Russell Terrier

Start your Jack Russell Terrier off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.


Jump down to this list of
Jack Russell Terrier Health Problems


Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Jack Russell Terrier puppy or adult dog:

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Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
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Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

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Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Jack Russell Terrier puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Jack Russell Terrier be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Jack Russell? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Jack suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Jack Russell Terrier

Complete list of Jack Russell Terrier health problems

Eye diseases

Eye diseases are the main concern in Jack Russells, especially lens luxation (which can lead to secondary glaucoma) and cataracts.

Other eye diseases include eyelash abnormalities, persistent pupillary membranes, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

Sadly, we see a lot of blind Jack Russell Terriers.

Heart diseases

Cardiomyopathy, patent ductus arteriosus, and sub-aortic stenosis are three big heart diseases that occur in Jack Russells.

Neurological/neuromuscular diseases

Epilepsy (seizures of unknown cause) is a serious concern in the breed.

Jack Russell Terriers are vulnerable to cerebellar ataxia, myasthenia gravis, and lysosomal storage disease.

Another neurological syndrome called spinocerebellar ataxia can appear during adolescence, but is not as devastating as cerebellar ataxia.

Mild abnormalities of the brain may also be responsible for the excessive shaking or tremors of the rear legs that sometimes occur in Jack Russells.

Inherited deafness

Many Jack Russell Terriers are born deaf (partially or completely).

Orthopedic diseases

The big four are luxating patella (loose knees), Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. All of these cause pain and lameness and may require expensive surgery.

Unfortunately, many breeders aren't even testing their Jack Russells for orthopedic diseases before breeding them. So we don't know how widespread these problems may be in the breed.

Jack Russell Terriers are supposed to be square in build (length should approximately equal their height at the shoulders).

But there are a lot of Jack Russells with short (dwarfed, bowed) legs and a longish back, which is a deformity called chondrodysplasia. These dogs have an increased risk of malformed joints and intervertebral disk disease.

Miscellaneous health problems

  • Allergies (which cause itchy skin and often leading to pyoderma) are very common in all terrier breeds.
  • Blood-clotting diseases include von Willebrand's and factor X deficiency.
  • Hormonal/endocrine system diseases include hypothyroidism and occasionally diabetes.
  • Liver shunt and hernias occur more often in Jack Russells than in many other breeds.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

My best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Jack Russell Terrier in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

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 coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all 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 coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.