Problems With Jack Russell Terriers

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Jack Russell Terriers are popular dogs due to their affectionate, loyal, and friendly nature towards their family members. They are energetic and active dogs that will give you company when going for exercise. However, they are not without fault, and you can expect the following problems with Jack Russell Terriers.

Problems With Jack Russell Terriers

Since Jack Russell Terriers were originally bred for hunting and flushing out foxes from their dens, most of the issues with Jack Russell Terriers resulted from personality traits and behavioral attributes associated with the hunting instincts. Regardless of the sex of your JRT, you can expect the following problems.

Graphic image of a Jack Russell barking with a text that describes the problems with Jack Russell Terriers

Excessive Barking

JRTs excessive barking can be a major problem, especially if you are living in an apartment where disturbing the neighborhood with noise can be an issue. Barking can also be a problem if you carry your dog to places or parks where loud noise is not allowed.

Considering that JRTs used to bark to alert the larger hounds to start chasing after flushing out the foxes from their dens,  they still tend to bark a lot whenever they get excited or see prey. It is not uncommon to find JRTs bark excessively when playing with interactive toys.

However, you can reduce excessive barking by training your dog to calm down using positive reinforcement methods. For instance, you can teach your dog the calm command and then give it treats and praise it whenever it calms down.

Jack russell terrier playing


JRTs are naturally possessive and territorial, which leads to aggression whenever they hear or see a stranger. Sometimes they can be aggressive against their owners, especially if the owner tries to take away a toy or food which the dog believes is theirs.

In most cases, JRTs demonstrate aggression through excessive barking or destructive behaviors such as biting and scratching furniture, toys, and other items in the house. Excessive aggression can make the dog chase other pets or even bite humans.

The best way to reduce aggression in JRTs is to train and socialize them with other pets while they’re young. Typically, this helps the dog learn how to share food and place with other pets even after it’s fully grown.


JRTs are naturally energetic and hyper. This excessive energy turns out to be an issue if you don’t engage the dog in intense exercises that can help it burn calories. In most cases, hyperactivity is more of an issue in adult male JRTs.

Usually, hyperactivity leads to destructive behaviors such as running away, chasing other pets, or even biting and scratching furniture. The best way to control hyperactivity in JRTs is to engage them in rigorous exercises that will help them use the excess energy.

Jack russell terrier puppies


Shedding is a natural process where the dog loses the damaged and old hair to give room for a new coat. However, the level of shedding varies across dog breeds, with some being light shedders, moderate shedders, and others heavy shedders.

Usually, JRTs are moderate to heavy shedders. In most cases, JRTs shed heavily during the shedding seasons, normally autumn and spring. During this shedding period, the dog sheds some flakes of dead skin, commonly known as dander.

Typically, dander is the main shedding problem in JRTs. Since dander is airborne, it can get in your eyes and cause watery or itchy eyes or get through your nose and lead to sneezing or a stuffy or runny nose. Dander can also trigger allergic reactions in people suffering from asthma or cause contact dermatitis.


Considering that JRTs are relatively small dogs, they are prone to obesity if you are not careful with the diet you are feeding them. Keeping in mind that obesity is an excessive accumulation of body fat, it can affect your JRT at any age.

However, senior dogs are more prone to obesity as they don’t engage in intense exercises that can help them burn calories like adult dogs. Typically, obesity cannot be termed as a health condition on its own.

However, it is a medical issue that significantly increases the risk of other health conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, and high blood pressure. Additionally, obese dogs might not be able to exercise, which means they won’t give you the company you need when going for walks, jogging, or hiking.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is the feeling of nervousness or excessive fear when separated from family members. Since JRTs are affectionate and loyal to their family members, they are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long or if you fail to give them sufficient attention.

In most cases, separation anxiety leads to stress and depression. Although the signs of separation anxiety might vary from dog to dog, most JRTs suffering from separation anxiety lose appetite, bark a lot and become destructive. The dog might also become agitated and aggressive when it sees you preparing to leave.

Sensitivity to Cold

Jack Russell Terrier

Although JRTs are double-coated and the hair grows long and thick during autumn to help the dog trap warm air during winter, the coat doesn’t have fur. Typically, this reduces the efficiency of the coat in protecting the dog from extreme cold weather.

As a result, this increases the chances of the dog developing hypothermia during winter. It is advisable to put a coat on your JRT whenever the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also put the winter jacket on your dog whenever you see signs of coldness such as discomfort and shaking. Consider using external heat sources in case of moderate hypothermia and invasive core warming in case of severe hypothermia.

Health Conditions

Although health conditions vary across JRTs depending on the diet, ancestry history, age, and overall lifestyle, many JRTs tend to suffer from the following health issues.

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia: It’s a health condition in dogs that makes the elbows and hips not develop properly as the puppy grows. The problem starts with trouble getting up or moving and eventually leads to arthritis.
  • Lens luxation: It is mainly a secondary problem to other eye issues like eye cancer, glaucoma, and uveitis. Also, it’s an inheritable eye problem, so you need to keep a check on the dog’s ancestry.
  • Patellar luxation: It is a health condition where the dog’s kneecap slips out of its place. Since patellar luxation mainly results from obesity, you can control it through weight control measures.
  • Cushing’s disease: It is a medical disorder common in senior JRTs where the adrenal glands produce excessive steroid hormone. Common signs of hyperadrenocorticism include weight gain, hair loss, frequent urination, and increased appetite.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Reduce Separation Anxiety in a JRT?

The best way to reduce separation anxiety and depression in JRTs is to reduce the dog’s dependence on you by providing it with interactive toys. You can also consider taking the dog to a doggy daycare where it can socialize, interact and play with other dogs.

How Can I Make My JRT Calm Down?

Since most JRTs are hyper due to excessive energy, consider taking your dog for 30 to 45 minutes of daily jogging or hiking, or at least one hour of walking.

If you don’t have enough time for these exercises, consider getting your dog an interactive toy to help keep the dog occupied and busy.

Final Thoughts

The small size, friendliness, and loyalty of JRTs towards their owners make them a good choice for a pet. However, the hunting instincts, possessiveness, and dependence on their owners might pose some problems with Jack Russell Terriers. You can solve most of these issues by training your dog while young.