If you bring a Jack Russell terrier into your life, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into. These are energetic hunting dogs, bred to kill vermin. If given the chance, they'll happily dispatch cats and other smaller pets -- even those they know fairly well. Although it's a cliche to call a Jack Russell "a large dog in a little dog's body," there's probably no better way to describe typical Jack terriertude. They are good watchdogs, but bark a lot. They need lots of exercise, and when bored turn into Jack destructomatics. Channel that energy, and you have a smart, willing, tireless companion.
Training Your Jack Russell
It's important to crate train your dog. That helps keep his ability to wreak havoc on your home when unattended to a minimum. The Jack Russell Club of America warns that the breed requires "firm, consistent discipline." They also require socialization. Jacks often don't get along with other dogs, but early socialization can reduce that tendency. Obedience classes from puppyhood are a must. Jacks can become quite possessive of their person, to the point of aggressive protection. That's a habit you must nip in the bud. What Jacks need most is a job. Look into earth-dog trials to give your Jack a job he loves. If hunting vermin beneath the ground doesn't do it for you, consider agility, obedience or other canine sports. Your athletic, fearless little partner can shine.
Jack Russell Exercise
Jack Russell terriers were born and bred as country canines, and that's really the best place for them. They've long been a favorite of the horse set, where they can roam large properties and keep the barn rat population in check. Unless you can devote a great deal of time to exercising your Jack, he's not a good choice for city or apartment dwellers. While he still needs about 45 minutes of fairly strenuous exercise daily, a large, fenced-in yard also keeps him busy. You need strong, secure fencing, reinforced both underneath -- these terriers are world-class diggers -- and above. Jacks can jump over fences that other breeds of small dogs could never escape. Avoid chain-link fencing. Yes, Jacks quickly learn how to climb it.
Jack Russell Grooming
Jacks do shed, so they require a good weekly brushing. Because digging is part of their DNA, expect your Jack to get quite dirty on a regular basis. Brush out as much dirt as possible. If he's really filthy, bathe him with a gentle canine shampoo. Overdoing the bathing can lead to excessively dry skin.
Jack Russells are relatively healthy canines, but are prone to certain orthopedic and eye disorders. The former includes hip dysplasia, a congenital malformation that may require surgery, along with luxated patellas, or slipped kneecaps. Eye issues include progressive retinal atrophy, which eventually causes blindness, cataracts and glaucoma. Some Jack Russell puppies are born deaf.