Why Do Jack Russells Shake?

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Seeing your Jack Russell Terrier shaking can be worrying, especially if you’re a new dog owner. Although different dog breeds have different characteristics and personality traits, one of the unique traits in a Jack Russell Terrier is shaking. So, why do Jack Russells shake?

Why Do Jack Russells Shake?

The main reason why Jack Russells shake is to expend excessive energy due to their high energy levels. Shaking is, therefore, a common behavior across Jack Russell Terriers, and there should be nothing to worry about.

You can expect a JRT to stop shaking once you engage it in intense exercises such as long walks, hiking, and jogging. 

However, excessive trembling and shaking could result from medical or environmental issues, and you should find out the root cause. The following are some of the health conditions, weather and emotional reasons that can make a Jack Russell Terrier shake. 

Old Age

Like humans, there are some natural challenges that senior dogs face, such as uncontrollable shaking and trembling. In most cases, this is due to the muscles’ deprivation of energy and strength. Senior dogs are also prone to bone issues that make them weak and shaky.  

A sleeping Jack Russell terrier


Although JRTs are brave and courageous dogs that don’t get frightened easily, unexpected loud noises such as storms or fireworks can cause an adrenaline rush that can make the dog tremble. 

You can tell that your dog is shaking due to an adrenaline rush through signs such as taking the tail down, pinning back the ears, panting, pacing, and having wild-looking eyes.


Although JRTs tend to be independent, they are affectionate towards their family members, and leaving them alone can make them develop separation anxiety. They can also be nervous when you introduce a vet they are unfamiliar with or when you start leaving them in crates without proper training.

Over time, this anxiety develops into stress, and the dog seems stressed and frustrated all the time. In most cases, the stress will be accompanied by shaking, drooling, and panting.  


Although JRTs mostly shake due to emotional and behavioral issues, they can also shake due to pain caused by underlying health conditions or injuries. Usually, the curiosity and tendency of JRTs to run around chasing prey can get them into accidents.

In most cases, shaking caused by pain will accompany other symptoms such as limping. It is advisable to check the dog for injuries and see how it behaves as you touch different spots of the body. 

Jack Russell terrier playing toys


Although JRTs are double-coated, their hair is shorter than other dog breeds, making them vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Keeping in mind that JRTs also engage in rigorous physical activities, they might not accumulate sufficient body fat to shield them from cold weather. 

As a result, the dog can shiver and shake during the cold winter weather. However, the JRT can also initiate the shaking to help generate heat and balance its body temperature. 

Tips to Reduce Shaking in Jack Russells

Although it is common for JRTs to shake, this behavior can develop to extreme levels, making it challenging to interact with your dog. Regardless of the cause, you can use the following tips to reduce shaking in JRTs.

  • Massage the dog: Since JRTs are affectionate dogs and love attention and care, gently massaging their bellies helps relieve the anxiety causing the shaking, making the dog comfortable and relaxed.
  • Keep the dog warm: If you suspect the dog is shaking due to cold weather, ensure the dog has winter wear and then limit its time outdoors. 
  • Engage the dog in rigorous exercises: Keeping in mind that the main cause of shaking in JRTs is hyperactivity and excessive energy, you can help them expend the energy by engaging them in intense exercises such as 30 to 45 minutes of daily jogging or hiking. Exercises can also help distract the dog from what is causing anxiety and nervousness.
  • Contact a veterinarian: Health issues such as nausea, wobbler syndrome, myokymia, Addison’s disease, and hypoglycemia can make a JRT shake. Contact a veterinarian to help diagnose and treat the underlying health condition. 
Jack Russell terrier playing outdoor

Related Questions

What Is Causing the Back Legs of My JRT to Shake?

In most cases, JRTs shake their rear legs without shaking their front legs due to abnormal contractions or muscle spasms. Typically, it’s because the hind legs are weaker than the front ones.

Shaking of hind legs can also be a sign of injuries, infections, degenerative diseases, or nerve disorders.

Can Intense Exercises Make a JRT Shake?

Yes, JRTs can shake after rigorous exercises due to muscle fatigue. If you see a JRT shaking after jogging, hiking, or long walks, it is a sign of exhaustion, and you should command it to lie down and rest.

Final Thoughts

Although JRTs mainly shake to expend excess energy, they can shake due to other reasons such as underlying health conditions, pain, anxiety, and cold. If your JRT is shaking more than usual, it’s advisable to find out the reason as it could be a serious medical condition such as hypoglycemia.