Caring for Your Jack Russell

Keeping Your Jack Russell Healthy


Jack Russells are known to be a healthy breed with a relatively long lifespan (13-16 years on average).


Jack Russell Terriers are very active, and are therefore best-suited for a house with at least an average-sized yard.

If a Jack Russell is living in an apartment, they should be sufficiently exercised. If a Jack Russell does not get enough exercise, they may become frustrated.

Jack Russells should be taken on daily walks. If their owners are not home during the day, they should be walked before and after the owners leaves the house.

To learn more about walking your dog:

Common Medical Issues

Although Jack Russell Terriers are known to be a healthy breed, there are certain medical conditions that are more common than others. The most common medical issues that a Jack Russell owner should be on the lookout for are described below.

Eye Disorders

CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation), a foundation that aims to eliminate hereditary eye diseases in purebred dogs, lists Lens Luxation and Cataracts as the most common eye diseases for Jack Russell Terriers.

Lens Luxation

For Jack Russell terriers, the most common hereditary eye disorder is Lens luxation (a.k.a. ectopia lentis). Although this disorder is rare, when it does occur, it tends to occur in dogs between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.

Lens luxation is when the lens of a dog's eye becomes displaced. The two type of lens luxation are posterior luxation (the lens slips to the back of the eye) and anterior luxation (the lens slips to the front of th eye). Anterior luxation is the more severe of the two, since the lens can end up rubbing against and damaging the dog's cornea. Anterior luxation can also sometimes lead to glaucoma and partial or full blindness.

To treat lens luxation, a dog will usually need to undergo medical or surgical procedures. The non-hereditary version of lens luxation is called secondary lens luxation, and is caused by trauma to the dog's eye.


Cataracts (usually hereditary but also caused by old age, eye injury, or diabetes) occur when the lens of the dog's eye hardens, causing cloudiness in the eye.

Cataracts will result in the dog having blurred vision and can, if left untreated, lead to partial or full blindness.

Learn More

To learn about various eye diseases and how they can affect Jack Russell Terriers specifically, please visit

Skeletal (Bones/Joints)

The two most common musculoskeletal conditions in Jack Russell terriers are Patellar luxation (a.k.a. luxating patella) and Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome (a.k.a. Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head).

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a hereditary disorder that's characterized by the kneecap sliding out of place. Sometimes, this condition is only temporary, and can be apparent when the dog is running while holding one of its legs in the air, but then resumes running in a normal manner once the kneecap slips back into place.

In extreme cases, patellar luxation can result in arthritis, torn knee ligament, and sometimes even surgery.

Legg–Calvé–Perthes Syndrome

Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome occurs in the hip, and is characterized by the ball part of the femur deteriorating after an interruption of blood flow.

This condition is most common when a dog is between 6 and 12 months old. In some cases, this can result in lameness of the back legs, atrophy in the thigh muscles, and overall pain in the joint.


To groom Jack Russell Terriers, comb and brush with firm-bristled brushes, and give baths from time to time when needed. When grooming for show, you should strip the coat (for rough-coated as well as broken-coated Jack Russells).


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