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Jack Russell Terrier: Temperament, Personality, and Characteristics

Written by Ella White


adorable Jack Russell snuggled in dog bed

Introducing a new dog into the family is an exciting time for everyone. But one of the main things to consider when you’re ready for a new pet isn’t just which breed you think is the cutest. You need to know that their personality and temperament is going to be a good match for your family.

And while each dog is unique and has their own set of characteristics, there are plenty of personality traits that are predictable for each breed. So, if you have your heart set on a Jack Russell Terrier, you’ll want to make sure that each of these defining characteristics will work for you.

About Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers were originally bred as hunting dogs in England in the 1800 by a Parson named John Russell – which is why they are also sometimes known as Parson Russell Terriers. Parson Russell noted how good the breed was at chasing foxes, and they soon became loyal companions on the hunt.

The 12 inch tall Jack Russell grows up to 26 lbs and comes in smoothe, broken, and rough coat types. They generally have white, black, and tan markings in different proportions across their body and, whether coarse, long, or smooth, all Jack Russell coat types are prone to shedding.

Now, Jack Russells are best known as a loyal, energetic, and independent pet that can adapt easily to almost any living environment. Though sweet and small, they can be incredibly active and even a little rowdy. So thorough training and socialization is required from a young age to ensure your Jack Russell pup grows into an obedient and happy adult.

What Is a Jack Russell Terrier’s Temperament?

The Jack Russell’s hunting background means the breed is known for being fearless, tenacious, curious, and intelligent. Loyal and devoted to their owners, Jack Russells are loving and affectionate at home, but boundlessly energetic and adventurous when outdoors – so they need an owner that can keep up!

Despite their affection, they’re not generally a needy dog and are happy to get on with their own thing. Though generally content in life, they do have a strong working and hunting ethic that cannot be trained out of them. So it’s important to make sure that your Jack Russell has plenty of toys and games to keep their active minds and bodies occupied between walkies.

Jack Russell holding paw up

Looking After A Jack Russell Terrier

Though the Jack Russell is small, independent, and adaptable to both small and large living spaces, they are not a breed well suited to any owner. Head-strong and instinctive, they can be tricky to train and challenging for first time owners. They’re also prone to mistaking other family pets for prey and giving chase, and should be gradually introduced to smaller family members.

Jack Russells need a lot of exercise. And though they can live happily in a small home, they need to spend a lot of time outside and would not be well suited to a home with no garden to explore. So if you’re looking for a calm and relaxed lapdog that will happily spend all day on the sofa with you, the Jack Russell isn’t it.

However, for active families that love to spend time outdoors hiking, exploring, and playing, a Jack Russell Terrier will fit in seamlessly. Beyond their high level exercise needs, they are an easy pet to look after, needing only semi-regular grooming to keep their short coats in good condition.

Is A Jack Russell Terrier The Right Dog For Me?

Active families that have the time and dedication to look after one of the most determined dog breeds around will make a good match for the Jack Russell Terrier. Small, sturdy, and strong, they will fit easily into a family that loves to play and has the patience to train them into an obedient pet both at home and when they’re out and likely to be distracted by potential prey.

However, if you can’t give a Jack Russel the exercise and entertainment they need, they’re prone to become rowdy, destructive, and sometimes aggressive.