How Long Do Jack Russells Live?

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After adopting and training your Jack Russell, the bond might be strong that you wish it could live as long as you do. However, dogs have a relatively shorter lifespan than humans, and you can expect your dog to grow old and die. So, how long do Jack Russells live?

How Long Do Jack Russells Live? 

Jack Russells have an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years, with the oldest Jack Russell to have ever lived dying at 23 years. In most cases, Jack Russells with a protected gene pool tends to live longer. Usually, these are Jack Russells from breeders who prevent in-line breeding.

Graphic image of a white and brown Jack Russell that states that Jack Russells have an average lifespan of 13-16 years

However, you can extend the lifespan of your Jack Russell past the 16-year mark through regular medical checkups, a healthy diet, and proper exercise. Some of the factors that determine the life expectancy of a JRT include:

Physical Activities

JRTs are fairly small and energetic dogs, making them prone to accumulation of body fat and obesity if they don’t engage in intense exercise. Although adult JRT can release excessive energy through barking, aggression, and other destructive behaviors, this reduces once the dog reaches ten years.

That means a senior dog doesn’t endeavor to release excess energy, which increases the chances of body fat accumulation. Keep in mind that when obesity starts, the dog becomes heavy and more unwilling to exercise, increasing the overall rate of fat buildup and reducing the life expectancy.


Keeping in mind that JRTs groom themselves using the tongue and explore the air and different items on the ground using their noses, there are higher chances of inhaling and ingesting toxins and pollutants.

Also, JRTs are smaller and closer to the ground than you do and can be affected by toxins and pollutants that you might not even notice. In turn, these toxins lead to infections or long-term health issues.

Additionally, exposing the dog to extreme weather conditions such as high temperature, hail, snow, or heavy rains can affect its health. That means a dog that spends most of its time in a polluted environment or in extreme weather will have a shorter life expectancy.

A dog held by female owner

Family History

Although many people overlook the ancestral history of the dog, it plays a vital role in the overall life expectancy of the dog. For instance, some JRT ancestries have genetic disorders that might not be noticeable at a young age.

Under the same diet, exercise, and environmental conditions, it is not uncommon to find some JRTs dying at 13 due to old age while others extend up to 16 years depending on their ancestry.


Diet and nutrition directly impact the overall health and life expectancy of your dog. For instance, feeding your dog high-calorie food increases the chances of obesity and health conditions related to being overweight.

How to Extend the Lifespan of a Jack Russell

Jack Russell Terrier playing with a ball

Although you might not be able to significantly extend the lifespan of a JRT past the 16 years mark, the following tips can help prevent health issues and improve the quality of life until it dies of old age.

  • Adopt the dog from a breeder: You can avoid adopting a dog with hereditary health issues by adopting it from a reputable breeder. Usually, breeders prevent in-breeding, which helps to protect the gene pool.
  • Feed your dog a balanced diet: The best way to prevent nutritional-related health conditions is by feeding your dog a balanced diet. Feeding your dog with food rich in vitamins and minerals can help to boost its immune system and ability to fight infections, prolonging its life span.
  • Engage the dog in intense exercises: Engage your dog in intense exercises such as 30 to 45 minutes of jogging or hiking or at least one hour of walking. Exercises help keep the cardiovascular system in good health, balance the moods, and lower stress which contributes to longer life expectancy.
  • Take the dog for medical checkups: It is advisable to take the dog for regular medical checkups to detect any underlying health condition as early as possible. Ensure that the dog is fully vaccinated and then take it for checkups at least once per year.
Cute JRT dog in the woods

Related Questions 

What Makes Jack Russells Have Longer Lifespans Than Other Dog Breeds?

In most cases, JRTs live longer than other dog breeds due to their protected gene pool. Usually, this makes JRTs relatively free from genetic health conditions. Their hyperactive nature also makes them exercise regularly, which helps them remain physically fit. 

Can Arthritis Shorten the Life of a Jack Russell?

Arthritis is a long-term health condition that does not directly shorten the life expectancy of a JRT. It can worsen over time if you fail to manage it properly, degrading the quality of life. However, if well-managed, a JRT can live to the fullest even after diagnosis.

Final Thoughts

Although the lifespan of a Jack Russell is around 13 to 16 years, it can be shorter or longer depending on the quality of life. Feeding your dog with a balanced diet, engaging it in rigorous exercises, and taking it for regular medical checkups can help to extend its lifespan.