“Jack Russell Terrier for sale.” Chilling words to anyone familiar with these fiesty little dogs. Jack Russell Terriers (JRT’s) are one of the smartest breed of dogs. Their tiny bodies and seemingly tiny heads house one of the smartest quickest dog brains in existence.
Not for a first time pet owners or families. Unless they are willing to invest the time and effort into living with a strong willed dog. The first mistake people make is believing the size of a JRT is manageable and they make good city dogs! You could not be farther from the truth. Jack Russell Terrier’s were bred for rabbit and fox hunting. That is why they’re so tiny- literally to go down the rabbit hole.
They were also used to hunt rodents, so the dog needed to be a size which could literally fit into the tiniest nooks and crannies. Colloquially known as ‘ratters’. The instinct to hunt, burrow and dig is a strong trait. Understand the history and breeding of these dogs- they are working dogs not pets! It’s akin to expecting a Ferrari to move at speed of a bullock cart whilst your foot is on the accelerator.
Your Jack Russell Terrier is NOT a lap dog, pet dog or docile apartment sized city dog! You have a super intelligent breed who needs constant mental and physical stimulation. Loving, possessive and quick to learn, if you cannot keep up with your Jack- he/she will take over.
Photo Credit: Lior Binyamini
The entertainment industry is often blamed for the ‘fad’ dog syndrome. Disney was to blame for the Dalmatian craze, after 101 Dalmatians. The Mask unleashed an interest in Milo like dogs- the Jack Russell Terrier. And in India the pug came to simply be known as The Vodafone dog!
In fact, the fault squarely and purely lies with families who ‘want what they see’. Like a pretty dress in a shop window, only to bring it home and realise unless you are runway model in an unnatural setting, the dress is out of place. Your Jack Russell Terrier is that pretty dress, out of place. They belong in open spaces or to have access to open spaces, able to run jump and expend their boundless energy.
HISTORY OF THE JACK RUSSELL TERRIER
Bred for fox hunting, and chasing and catching rodents, the Jack is working breed. Known as the Parsons Terrier, the dog eventually came to be known as the Jack Russell Terrier.
“Originating from dogs bred and used by the Reverend John Russell in the early 19th century, from whom the breed takes its name, the Jack Russell has similar origins to the modern Fox Terrier. ” 1
Training your Jack Russell Terrier
Never use force to train a dog, but especially a Jack! They are intelligent stubborn dogs. If you force a terrier into a behaviour, you will loose.
1. Socialise a puppy. This is especially important for Pandemic Puppies. Your puppy will bond strongly with you, because you are its world. They cannot know an outside world unless you make the effort to teach them. If you are completely isolated and leaving your home is not an option- do not bring a puppy into the situation.
2. Training begins the day your Jack Russell comes into your home. Boundaries are especially important for these dogs.
3. A Jack will quickly take charge if he/she senses you do not know how to. Be firm but gentle.
4. Reward based training works well for most Jack Russells. Training is a family activity, everyone must be onboard, with the same instructions for acceptable and non acceptable behaviour.
Health Problems peculiar to Jack Russells. Over all they are healthy dogs and will live on average over 12 years to as long as 15 years. As they age cataracts or glaucoma may affect your JRT. As a breed they are prone to some dental abnormalities. Hip or elbow dysplasia, and patella luxation (means the knee cap slips out of place.) The condition is not debilitating and your vet will help you with the best treatment or physiotherapy for your dog.
The greatest disservice you will do your Jack Russell Terrier is “spoiling” him or her. These are not 4 legged “kids” They are dogs- working dogs, we have decided are the correct size to fit into our urban lives. Working dogs are bred for a specific purpose. If we believe genetics change overnight, someone forgot to send genetics a memo.
A Jack Russell is a once in a lifetime dog. Oh sure, you’ll have other dogs, and they will all be special, but the Russell… no one will come close. These are dogs who have are walking embodiments of ‘the smartest dog I’ve ever known.” Loyal to a fault and entertainment on four legs. If you do the work a Jack Russell is the best dog you will ever have. I know, mine was 17 years of entertainment and education in dog behaviour and how to train a human!
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