Jack Russell vs Fox Terrier

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Whether you’re looking for a family dog or a hunting companion, the almost similar personality traits, coat color, and hunting instincts of Jack Russell Terriers and Fox Terriers make it challenging to decide which dog to adopt. The following Jack Russell vs Fox Terrier comparison reveals their differences.

Jack Russell vs Fox Terrier General Overview

Both Jack Russells and Fox Terriers share some ancestry history, so you can expect them to share some personality traits, intelligence levels, natural instincts, and exercise requirements.

However, the following Jack Russell vs Fox Terrier comparison details some notable coat, physical appearance, and behavioral differences that can make one dog a better choice over the other under certain circumstances.

A dog sitting with a leash on

Jack Russell Overview

Jack Russells (JRTs) are fairly small dogs bred in the mid-1800s in southern England. These dogs were primarily bred for fox hunting, helping the larger hounds to flush out the foxes from their dens so they could chase.

This breed became popular in the US by the 1930s. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America was later formed (JRTCA) and then recognized and registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the year 2000. Typically, the JRTCA still recognizes JRTs as hunting dogs.

Fox Terrier Overview

There are two Fox Terriers (FTs) variations: wire FTs and smooth FTs. Although these are variations of the same breed, it’s believed wire FTs, and smooth FTs have different ancestries.

Smooth FTs originated from England and entered the US in around 1879, while wiry FTs entered several years later. Later, the American Fox Terrier Club was formed and was later recognized and registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.

Comparing Jack Russell and Fox Terrier

Since both Jack Russells and FTs were originally bred to flush out foxes in England, they have the following similarities in their hunting instincts, intelligence, and exercise requirements.

  • Since both Jack Russells and FTs have a common ancestry, there are some similarities in their gene combination, making the life expectancy of both dogs range from 13 to 16 years.
  • The territorial instincts in both dogs make them independent, and you can leave them alone for 6 to 8 hours. However, leaving them alone longer than this can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.
  • Although FTs are slightly larger than JRTs, they are both relatively small dogs, making them suitable for apartment living.
  • Considering both dogs were bred for hunting, they have high sensitivity levels and a strong prey drive. It is therefore advisable to keep both dogs on a leash, especially if you have other pets or children in your home.
  • Although both FTs and Jack Russells have high intelligence levels, their territorial nature makes them stubborn and challenging to train, especially if you use punitive methods rather than positive reinforcement training methods.
  • Since both are hunting dogs, they are energetic and have high exercise requirements. For instance, both dogs require at least one hour of daily walks or 30 to 45 minutes of jogging or hiking.
  • Although these breeds don’t have identical gene combinations, they are prone to similar health conditions such as deafness, patellar luxation, and dental problems, especially during their old age. However, these health issues are not a must and depend on the diet, ancestry history, and overall lifestyle.
  • Both dog breeds are territorial, possessive, protective, and vocal and tend to bark whenever they see or hear a stranger in their environment.
  • Both dog breeds have a predominantly white color with some black and tan markings. You should, however, note that the proportion of the colors and the marking pattern vary across the breeds and from dog to dog
Photo of JRT dog approaching


Although Jack Russells and FTs share a common ancestry, there are some gene variations between them, leading to the following differences in their physical appearance and personality traits.

Physical Appearance

Although the face of FTs and JRTs looks almost the same, the muzzle of JRTs is slightly more pointed compared to that of the FTs. Also, the skull of JRTs looks flat and seems to slightly contract as it approaches the eyes.

On the other hand, FTs have longer heads that look wedge-shaped. This difference in head shapes makes the heads of JRTs look more proportional to their bodies compared to FTs. However, both dogs have V-shaped ears that flop forward.


Although both JRTs and FTs have undercoats, there are coat variations across the breeds. Typically, JRTs have three coat variations, while FTs have two coat variations. The coat variations in JRTs include smooth coat, broken coat, and rough coat.

On the other hand, FTs only have smooth and wiry coats. In most cases, the smooth coats of both breeds are similar, while the wiry coat of FTs is similar to the rough coat of a JRT.

However, the hair of a wiry FT tends to be more broken, thick and twisted like the matting on a coconut. As a result, wiry FTs are more challenging to brush and require more regular grooming than rough-coated JRTs.


Although both breeds are affectionate, friendly, and loyal towards their family members, FTs are more social with children compared to JRTs. For instance, a JRT can become aggressive towards the kids even without provocation.

Even if FTs are social with children, keeping in mind that they also have strong hunting instincts, it is not advisable to leave them alone with children under seven years as the children can make high-pitched noises that can trigger the Terrier’s hunting instincts and prey drive.

Note that the temperament of both breeds also depends on the level of training. For example, if you have trained and socialized your JRT with other pets while young, it might be more friendly and social than FTs.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The major distinguishing factor between FTs and Jack Russell Terriers is the height and weight, with FTs being larger and heavier than JRTs. Usually, adult FTs have a standing height of around 12 to 15 inches and weigh about 15 to 19 pounds.

On the other hand, adult JRTs have a standing height of 10 to 15 inches and weigh around 13 to 17 pounds. Keep in mind that these are only average sizes and weights, and there are chances of your dog weighing more or less depending on the diet, ancestry history, health condition, and sex.

A cute dog peacefully sleeping

When to Adopt a Jack Russell

The possessive and territorial instinct of JRTs makes them aggressive towards strangers. This protective nature and good vocals make them a good choice for watchdogs.

Additionally, since JRTs are easier to brush and groom than FTs, they might be the best option if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t have much time to groom the dog. Their smaller sizes also make them a good choice if you are looking for a lapdog.

When to Adopt a Fox Terrier

Considering that FTs are more friendly towards strangers and small children than JRTs, they might be the best option if you have frequent visitors or small children in your home. Their sociability also makes them a good choice for apartment living as they can easily socialize with other people and pets.

Furthermore, keeping in mind that FTs are bigger than JRTs, they are more energetic, making them a good choice if you’re looking for a hunting companion.

Which Dog Is Better?

Although the best dog depends on your preference and lifestyle, JRTs might be a better option due to their ease of grooming and smaller sizes. However, FTs might be a better choice if you have small children or frequent visitors to your home.


Both JRTs and Fox Terriers are friendly, loyal, and affectionate dogs that can make good home pets. They are also energetic and have strong hunting instincts, which makes them a good choice for a hunting companion. However, Fox Terriers are slightly larger and heavier than JRTs.