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Choosing a Jack Russell Puppy

Updated on October 26, 2009


The first step in choosing the right Jack Russell puppy for you is choosing a reliable breeder. Jack Russell breeders can vary from high-quality operations to mere puppy mills, so be discerning when choosing a puppy. Don't fall for little sales tricks and end up with a below-standard puppy that may be at higher risk of developing health problems. Make sure you're getting what you pay for.

The ideal option is to buy from someone you know or a friend of a friend. Ask around and you'll be surprised what turns up. Word of mouth is the best way to find a good breeder. If this fails, use the internet or phone book to find professional breeders. If you use the internet, you're better off with breeders that actually have a website rather than using classified listings. They should ONLY breed Jack Russells - this shows dedication to the breed and proves that they aren't just trying to make a buck with puppy farming. You want to find a breeder who asks a lot of questions about your lifestyle, family and house. They aren't being nosey - they just want to make sure their pups go to a good home. Good breeders should also offer an agreement that allows them to buy the puppy back in case you change your mind. They won't sell you a puppy until after it's eight weeks old, but don't be surprised if you're asked for a deposit before that.

Types and Gender

Remember before you start that there are different varieties of Jack Russell. There is the Parson Russell, which is more of a showdog than the traditional working Jack Russell Terrier. There's also the Russell Terrier, a shorter legged variety. On top of these there are a whole host of "designer" mixed breeds.

Determine what you want a Jack Russell for to begin with. Is it strictly for a pet? If so, be aware of what Jack Russells are really like. They may be small and cute, but they are not toy dogs. They were bred to hunt. They need plenty of exercise - if they don't get it, they will use this pent-up energy in other ways. Usually this means destroying your shoes, cushions or chair legs. So if you have a busy lifestyle and don't have 45 minutes minimum to dedicate to exercising your Jack Russell, think about choosing another breed. Also remember that Jack Russells are not suitable for families with children under 6 years old.

Possibly you want a Jack Russell as a show dog. In this case you will have to be particularly careful about which breeder you buy from, ask for proof of pedigree and show records of the stud and dam (parent dogs), and be prepared to pay more.

Also consider whether you want a male or a female. It's not a good idea to breed a pet dog, so either sex should be neutered if it's a pet. If you don't go for netuering, you'll have to deal with the heat cycle of the female and the tendencies of the male to go roaming the neighborhood.

Puppy Personalities

As for choosing the puppy itself: don't just go for the biggest, most energetic of the litter. Even at just a few weeks of age, you can start to see signs of a puppy's personality and what it will be like as an adult dog. The runt, while it may pulls your heartstrings, may also be more prone to health problems. Beware of puppies who:

  • seem particularly aggressive towards their brothers and sisters
  • make a lot of noise
  • avoid playing with the other pups in the litter
  • seem excessively shy
  • are a lot smaller than the others in the litter
  • show signs of mucus discharge or bad smells

Also, make sure you see the puppies in the environment where they are raised, and see the mother. Seeing the mother gives you a fairly good idea of what your puppy's personality will be like when it grows up. You will want to check out where the puppies are being raised to make sure it's sanitary. If a breeder won't let you do these things, forget about it. There's something they don't want you to know.

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