What Are the Types of Jack Russell Coats?

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Jack Russells are affectionate and loyal dogs that many pet lovers wish to own due to the good companionship they offer when exercising. Understanding the different types of Jack Russell coats helps you know how to properly groom the dog once you adopt one.

What Are the Types of Jack Russell Coats?

The common types of Jack Russell coats include smooth, broken, and rough. Smooth-coated Jack Russells have short hair that grows in one direction and has a sleek appearance. Broken-coated JRTs have a combination of rough and smooth coat types, while rough-coated JRTs have one to two inches of hair that grows in varying directions.

However, the rough coats look messy and are mostly mistaken for a separate dog breed. Although JRTs of different coats have similar characteristics, understanding their coat differences helps you maintain them. 

White and Black Jack Russell Terrier sitting on a grass bed outdoors

Smooth-Coated JRTs

JRTs with smooth coats have shorter than one-inch fur that grows in a single direction and the same length throughout the body. Although the hair is smooth and gives your dog a sleek appearance, it is not tough enough to protect your JRT when the weather is too cold, hot, or rainy.

Smooth-coated Jack Russells tend to shed more than the other types, JRTs are not hypoallergenic, making them unsuitable for dog owners allergic to dog dander. However, due to the absence of long wiry hair, the short hair is free from alterations, making it easier to maintain as it only needs daily brushing.

You can tell the smooth coat of your JRT is healthy if it does not have a soft texture, its hair texture is not silky or wooly, and if the coat is dense and flat.

Broken-Coated JRTs

Even if they have traces of rough hair on the legs, head, body, and face, broken-coated JRTs have a combination of rough and smooth coats. Although the fur on this dog’s body varies from spot to spot, it can protect it from harsh weather conditions.

Broken-coated Jack Russells shed less than smooth-coated ones, making them ideal for show rings as they require less grooming. You can tell the broken coat of your JRT is healthy if:

  • The coat is not wooly or soft
  • The dog’s hair is longer than that of smooth-coated Jackies
  • Its hair is closer to the body than that of rough-coated Jack Russells
  • It has patches of rough hair that are not symmetrical

Rough-Coated JRTs

Rough-coated Jack Russell Terriers, also known as long wire-haired JRTs, have 1 to 2 inches long fur. Usually, these dogs have the longest fur compared to the other two types. They also tend to have excess traces of hair on the legs, face, and body.

White Jack Russell Terrier with black and brown spots on his eyes, lying on a brown blanket

Unlike smooth-coated Jack Russells, the hair in these dogs grows in different directions, giving them a unique textured appearance. This appearance is the main reason these dogs are also called wire-haired.

Although the coat does not require daily grooming like the smooth coats, it requires special attention for the show ring. If it does get long, you can easily cut the hair of your JRTs. Some of the attributes that can help you know whether your Jack Russell has healthy rough coats include: 

  • Hair that does not have a silky or wooly texture
  • A wiry coat can serve as a protective layer against extraneous weather elements such as hot and cold weather and ultraviolet rays.
  • Hair over the eyes that take the shape of eyebrows
  • Short hair enough to hide JRT’s body shape
  • A wiry and dense outer coat
  • A soft and dense undercoat

Related Questions

Is a JRT Undercoat Separate From the Overcoat?

A Jack Russell Terrier’s undercoat is not fully separate from the overcoat since they grow from the same hair follicles. A hair follicle is an opening on the surface of your dog’s skin through which the hair grows. Hair follicles produce two main hairs and other secondary hairs. The secondary hair forms the undercoat, and the main hair the overcoat.

What Happens if I Shave My JRT?

Shaving a JRT can cause long-term damage to the dog since the undercoat grows faster than the overcoat and might crowd out the slowly growing guard hairs. This changes the color and texture of the JRT’s coat, making it appear patchy. This also subjects the soft undercoat to harmful UV rays, putting its life at risk.

Should I Brush My JRT Coat When Dry or Wet?

You should brush your JRT’s coat when dry. Usually, brushing it when wet may cause pain or even create more knots and tangles. If you notice any matted or knotted hair after a bath, it’s advisable to wait until the hair is dry and then use a bristle brush to remove them.


The varying coat types make JRTs unique and attractive to different pet owners. Knowing the different types of Jack Russell coats helps you identify your dog’s coat and groom it accordingly. Knowing your dog’s coat type can also help you tell whether it’s healthy.