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Jack Russell Terriers How to Buy A Puppy

Updated on April 19, 2012

The Jack russel Terrier (JRT) is a principally white dog, with various markings. The breed is not recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK, only the Parson Russell is, so JRTs in the Uk are generally considered 'mutts'.

Nevertheless these sparky little dogs do make great pets, and are fast becoming popular. However, they were bred for hunting, so there are several considerations to make before you embark on being owned by a JRT.

Jack Russell Slide Show Zebedee & Archie

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The origins of the breed date back to John 'Jack' Russell, a Parson from Devon, born in 1795, who wanted a dog for hunting, and bought a little white bitch, called Trump, from his milkman. From Trump, he bred dogs for courage and stamina. It is highly unlikely that any JRTs today have any of the original 'Trump' lineage, as Parson Russell had to sell his dogs many times over during his life, as he hit on hard times. He died in 1883.

The breed was intended to seek out prey, hunt after it and to go to ground to flush it out, so it's worth remembereing that that adorable little puppy you're about to buy has been bred to be a fast, brave, curious killing maching.

That said, they are alot of fun and have a huge personality (this can also be a negative point!).

Physically these little terriers are sturdy and tough, with few health problems. they have rounded paws and expressive, almond eyes. In fact, JRTs communicate by making eye contact and drilling their gaze into yours when they want something. They will often stare at you, then flick their eyes repeatedly towards whatever it is they want, thus ensuring that the idiot human really understands (this may be accompanied by persistent, irritating whingeing, particularly if you are trying to watch TV, or write, just to be doubly sure they get their prize).

Their coat may be smooth, rough or broken (mixed), mainly white (although some JRTs are wholly other colours), with spotted markings. Quite often the skin has black spots, or ticking, which does not show through to the coat. These spots are not visible until the pups are a few months old, and I do know of people who have taken their growing Jackie Russell to the vet as they are worried about the emergence of black skin spots, which they think may be cancer.

As a breed, this is one small dog which needs alot of exercise and stimulation (click here for toy ideas) If they are left at home, bored, they will destroy your house. That said, if it's raining heavily and I suggest a walk, my two will look at me as if I have three heads, the boy will sulk and the girl will run and hide under the bed. However, I have a secret weapon (you must always be able to out fox your Russell), she is afraid of the hairdrier, so if I plug this in and aim it under the bed she will scoot out so I can capture her!

Introducing other pets can be difficult with Russels around, especially if the other pet is smaller. These dogs were bred to hunt Badger, Fox and Rat, so to you, your new pet may be an adorable kitten, but to yur JRT it is lunch and not dissimilar to the squeaky-toy you bought it for Christmas, only it runs faster. Introduction of a new pet must be done carefully and slowly, without giving the Jack Russell any opportunity to find out how much fun it is to chase the new thing.

We brought in some back-yard chickens this year, and it took easily three months to ensure that our dogs were well-mannered around them, even then, I wouldn't have trusted them to be alone with the chooks. Zebedee also became adept at picking up and carrying eggs.

 Veterinary bills (apart from the routine vaccination and health check necessary for all dogs)with Jack Russells are often due to accident rather than illness.  They get themselves into all manner of scrapes when out walking.  They will chase creatures for hours, and are a breed which frequently gets lost, never to be seen again.  Their habit of going to ground (entering fox, badger or rabbit holes) is a common cause of the poor dog's demise, so owners need to be wary of these dangers.

However, terriers can sometimes have sensitive stomachs, and it may be necessary to feed a hypoallergenic dog food, to counteract this, so this is a cost consideration.

On the positive side, these dogs have a sense of humour, are very quick learners, communicate well and often love cuddles and contact.  Life with a Jack Russel is absolutely joyous, providing you are the boss.

How to Buy a Jack Russell Puppy

 As these are not a KC registered breed, anyone can breed and sell them.  part of their sturdiness is that they have been left alone by breeders, they havn't been bred for certain characteristics.

Points to consider:

1.  Always ask to see the parents, at least the mother, so make sure she is well cared for and healthy and that these puppies have not been 'farmed'.  If the father is not available to view, ask about him and try to see a picture.  Check how many litters the mum has had.

2.  Consider that a farm-bred JRT may have more 'farm-type' qualities, ie may be more of a chaser and hunter than a home-bred type.

3.  Try to view the pups on more than one occasion as they are growing, to get a better picture of their health.

4.  Pick a lively, robust looking pup, one which appears to socialise well with the others and with you.

5.  Ask about the vaccination status of the mother, and whether the breeder is going to begin the pup's vaccination programme before releasing the puppy (it is common for this not to happen in the UK).

Most Jack Russell pups in the UK sell for around £150, and there are many places to find one - local newspapers often have advertisements of dogs for sale, but your vet would be a good starting point, as they are likely to know about responsible breeders.

Having chosen your dog, go home and puppy proof your house! Look at your home with fresh eyes, and think about what you'd need to keep a toddler with ADHD safe, then you'll be part-way there, you may need stair gates or a puppy pen to ensure safety, a dog cage or crate, and to remove hazardous things that your JRT pup can chew, such as electrical cabling.

My first Jackie Russell pup was a Christmas gift. After a brief period of caution (around 30 minutes) where she tentatively nosed around her new surroundings, she decided her favourite game would be to jump on to the sofa and launch herself into the christmas tree over and over and over and over.......You get the picture?

Within a very short time we moved all of the decorations to the top 2' of the tree, keeping the rest bare, so it looked like a hypermanic, over-tall three year old had dressed the tree. luckily it was just a puppy thing, and six years on all she does is poke the low-hanging decorations with her nose to make the jingle bells ring!


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Here's how you get a JRT...adopt! Don't buy dogs!

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Loveslove, Bailey sounds gorgeous. You'll have so much fun with him, I'm sure.

    • Loveslove profile image


      8 years ago from England

      I really enjoyed reading this hub as my son has just baught an adorable miniature cross JR/ Chiuhahua called Bailey,he is white with a brown head and a brown spot on his back.

      A great informative hub thank you !


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