Jack Russell Terrier - Temperament & Personality

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Jack Russell Terrier


Jack Russell Terriers are the biggest dogs you'll ever meet in such a tiny package. They can run all day and keep coming back for more. They are sharply intelligent and absolutely nothing gets past them. There is no fooling a Jack Russell. They are spirited terriers, fearless and sassy with minds of their own and aren't above causing mischief to get a laugh. They are highly trainable and are famous for their high-jumping antics. When raised alongside children, Jack Russells make fine family dogs. They are exceptional athletes who excel in the competitive arena.

Activity Requirements

Their size may make them appealing to apartment dwellers, but Jack Russells are not apartment dogs. Think of them as large dogs trapped in small bodies. They need lots of wide open space to run and can feel cooped up inside a small apartment which will almost always lead to destructive behavior. Fenced in yards are a must, as Jack Russells will take off like a shot after cats, squirrels, rabbits, bikes, and even cars. They should always be supervised when outdoors because these little guys love to dig and not only will the make quick work of a flower bed, but they will dig under fences to get out and seek new adventure.

Daily activities should include both walking and time to run in the yard. Jack Russells love, love, love to chase balls. They love it so much, in fact, that many owners believe their dogs are obsessed with playing ball. They will retrieve the ball as often as you are willing to throw it, and when you're done, he'll still want more.

Jack Russell Terriers are highly intelligent dogs and need as much mental stimulation as they do physical activity. These dogs excel in agility activities and there are entire competitions set up around Jack Russell Terriers that include sprinting, flyball, obstacle course and retrieving. Enrolling your Jack Russell in these types of activities ensures he's getting his daily physical and mental stimulation.

“Earth dog” activities, where dogs are allowed to dig in search of rodents is also an excellent outlet for Jack Russells, as it satisfies their need to dig as well as their need to hunt. These activities are conducted with safety in mind, and the rodents are kept in safe enclosures, so that the dogs can't actually get to them.


Jack Russells are highly trainable dogs and soak up new tasks like a sponge. They are terriers and can exhibit stubbornness if they don't like the attitude of the person training them. Positive reinforcement and mixing up the daily training routine will keep your Jack Russell engaged and interested. Discipline and harsh tones will cause this dog to become defensive which may lead to snapping or biting.

Once basic obedience is mastered, Jack Russells should move on to advanced obedience, trick training and agility work. They thrive on new activity and will be at the top of their class in just about every activity they participate in.

Behavioral Traits

Jack Russells are terriers, and they exhibit many classic terrier traits including excessive barking, willfulness, rudeness to strangers, dog aggression, possessiveness and jealousy. Proper training and socialization from an early age can ensure an even-tempered dog.

Jacks should never be trusted off leash. They will take off like a shot after small animals and it is next to impossible to call them off.

Digging is a common complaint among Jack Russell owners. Turn your back on these guys for one second, and they can be halfway to the center of the earth. Keeping an eye on your dog at all times is important to keep your landscaping in tact and to ensure your Jack doesn't escape under the fence.

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