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All about your Jack Russell Terrier

Intelligent and amusing, with plenty of personality for his small size.

Jack Russell Terriers are clever, bold and energetic little dogs, making them a popular companion. Find out more about this playful, charismatic breed, from his temperament and how he should be groomed, to his health and exercise needs.

Short Legged Jack Russel Running  Through Grass Near A Lake

Breed information & advice

The Jack Russell is a loyal and high-spirited dog from the terrier breed group. He’s adventurous and known as a bit of an escape artist, so make sure your garden is well-fenced to keep him out of mischief.

  • Bred for hunting, this dog has a lot of energy and will keep you entertained with his playful antics.
  • Brush his coat once a week to remove debris and loose or dead hair.
  • The typical weight of a fully grown Jack Russell is between 6kg and 8kg for both males and females.
  • On average, a healthy Jack Russell will live between 13 and 15 years.

Typical size of a Jack Russell Terrier

Small: 25cm-38cm

Jack Russells are a naturally active breed, so your dog will need a lot of exercise to keep him entertained. It’s important to exercise him for up to an hour each day, and to set aside time to play games in the garden such as Frisbee, fetch or even blanket hurdles. Your dog’s thirst for freedom needs to be taken into account, so be sure to have a secure outdoor space to prevent any breakouts.

Keep your dog in shape by feeding him two high-quality meals each day. Exact quantities will vary depending on your dog’s age, size and how active he is, and be sure to read the packet.

Up to one hour of exercise per day

As he is such an active dog, it’s important to exercise your Jack Russell daily through walking and playing, so he can burn off all his excess energy.

Sandy Jack Russel Chasing A Tennis Ball On The Beach
Forward Facing Jack Russell Terrier With Head Tilted Down

Common health problems & illnesses

Jack Russell Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but they’ll need regular check-ups and vaccinations to stay in good shape. There are some conditions that this breed may be more prone to, and it’s worth being aware of the main symptoms or signs, so you know what to watch out for.

1. Cruciate rupture

The cruciate ligament can be found in a dog’s knee and is important for keeping him stable when walking or placing weight on his legs. It’s not completely clear why this ligament ruptures, but treatment such as surgical correction can help restore a dog to his happy self. Keep an eye out for any signs of lameness, such as limping, or any mobility problems in your pet.

Cruciate ruptures accounted for almost 5% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims from Jack Russell owners in 2015.

2. Cushing’s Disease

There are two types of Cushing’s disease – the most common type is caused when too much of a hormone which controls the amount of cortisol in the body is produced in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a hormone which regulates many things within the body. Too much of it can cause different signs but usually starts with bacterial infections. You may notice your dog is drinking and urinating more than usual, there is hair loss on the head and legs, with increased panting and general weakness. The second rarer type is when a small benign tumour occurs either in the pituitary gland in the brain, or near the adrenal glands.  Usually this condition can be treated with lifelong daily medication, however if it’s caused by a tumour then surgery is required. So speak with your vet if you notice anything unusual.

3. Epilepsy

Jack Russells can be affected by epilepsy and experience seizures due to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Fits can vary from muscle spasms to hallucinations but with the right medication from your vet, epilepsy can be controlled and affected dogs can live a normal life.

4. Gastroenteritis

If your dog has a bout of diarrhoea or vomiting, he could be suffering from an inflammation of the gut called gastroenteritis. If his symptoms persist, contact your vet who will be able to check him over and suggest ways to help – this may involve medication and a change of diet, and you will need to keep him rested until he’s feeling more like himself.

5. Pancreatitis

Jack Russells can be prone to this condition. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, caused by factors including obesity, high-fat diets and certain diseases. Pancreatitis is common after dogs have eaten inappropriate foods such as fat balls intended for wild birds, or fatty human foods such as bacon or fried bread.  If you notice that your dog seems to have a painful abdomen – if he’s sitting in a hunched up or praying position, is reluctant to go for a walk, is vomiting, has diarrhoea or no appetite, then it’s important to get him seen by a vet. The vet may prescribe medication, or suggest putting your dog on a low fat diet.

Dog name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Jack Russell, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Dog name popularity

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your Jack Russell is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Cruciate rupture£256.55
Cushing's disease£608.62
Epilepsy, fitting or seizures£181.19

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering Jack Russell insurance?

We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

Jack Russell Terriers can have two different types of coat – smooth or broken. Broken coats are rough and slightly longer. You can keep your dog’s coat looking its best by brushing him at least once a week  to remove any loose or dead hair, and he will need bathing every so often depending on his activities. Keep his nails in shape with regular trimming.

You’ll also need to look after your Jack Russell’s dental hygiene. Brushing his teeth daily if possible is important, as it reduces tartar build-up and helps to prevent gum disease.

Start doing this when he’s a puppy to get him used to it and praise him for good behaviour, so he sees this as a positive part of his routine.

Fun & interesting facts

  • Jack Russells were originally bred as hunting dogs, and their desire to catch ‘prey’ is still in their nature.
  • Their lively and energetic behaviour means this breed is capable of jumping over five feet in the air.
  • Bothy the Jack Russell was the first dog to travel to both the North and South Pole with owners and British explorers Ranulph and Ginny Fiennes.
  • Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall has two Jack Russell Terriers called Beth and Bluebell.
  • A campaign was launched to get Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier who featured in the film ‘The Artist’, an Oscar for his performance.

Important information


The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.


Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

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