How Long Do Jack Russell Terriers Live? A Helpful Guide For Dog Lovers

Cute, compact, and spunky, a Jack Russell Terrier’s diminutive stature definitely belies his personality, which is often larger than life. As a result, this charming breed is a favorite among dog lovers, since these pooches are not only lively, but typically happy and healthy canine companions. However, some first-time enthusiasts of this breed may be wondering how long do Jack Russell Terriers live, and what to expect from these energetic little dogs. This article will discuss how long Jack Russell Terriers live, certain health conditions to be aware of, and other relevant issues pertaining to the breed.

History Of The Jack Russell Terrier

While a newer member of the AKC terrier group, Jack Russell Terriers have been adored since the 19th century, as they were bred for hunting in England during the early 1800s. In fact, the breed owes its namesake to Reverend John Russell, who originally bred the terriers for fox hunting. Due to their varying genetic traits, there has been some dispute among Jack Russell aficionados as far as the standard amongst the breed, primarily with regard to the leg length. Consequently, this led to the breed to be divided into two separate groups in England – the shorter-legged dogs are recognized as Jack Russell Terriers, while their longer-legged brethren are called Parson Jack Russel Terriers. On the contrary, the long-legged version of the dog is officially recognized as the Jack Russell Terrier in America. The breed has also been a favorite amongst the equestrian crowd for decades.

Jack Russell Health Conditions: What Every Owner Should Know

For the most part, Jack Russell Terriers are generally healthy dogs, as breeders have protected the gene pool over the centuries, preventing direct in-line breeding practices with the intention of staving off certain health issues that are passed on genetically. However, like all breeds, Jack Russell Terriers are prone to specific health conditions, which may include:

  • Lens Luxation: An inherited eye disease commonly found in Jack Russell Terriers, Lens Luxation affects the dog’s eye, causing his lens to dislocate in one or both of the eyes. It typically develops in senior dogs, but canine blindness may be prevented if owners spot it early on for treatment.
  • Cardiomyopathy: A weakening of the canine heart muscle that may involve a thickened heart, dilated heart chambers or stiffening of the heart itself, this condition is difficult to detect. Pet parents should watch for signs such as a reduced tolerance for exercise, labored breathing or shortness of breath; if any of these are detected, contact a vet immediately.
  • Ear Infections & Deafness: Unfortunately, JRTs are also susceptible to canine ear problems, mainly infections and in worst-case scenarios, deafness. If it is noticed that the dog is shaking his head profusely, scratching at his ears, or displaying signs of redness at the ear canal/inside of ears, be sure to make an appointment to see a trusted veterinarian right away.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: Caused by abnormal platelet function, this bleeding disorder is typically passed down from generation to generation among JRTs. In the event that a pet parent notices the dog is bleeding excessively, he may have Von Willebrand’s Disease. Other signs to look for include sudden nosebleeds, bleeding gums and blood in the urine, and owners should be sure to bring these symptoms to their vet’s attention right away. Because there is no cure, if the dog is diagnosed with the disease, protect him by discouraging fighting with other animals and discuss ways to reduce excessive bleeding with the vet’s office.
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: A canine disease of the hip joints that occurs primarily in smaller-breed dogs (including the Jack Russell Terrier), Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease results in the degeneration of the head of the femur bone, as well as osteoarthritis. On a related note, JRTs are also prone to knee cap dislocation.

While these are among some of the most common diseases found in Jack Russell Terriers, potential owners shouldn’t see this as the norm, as the breed is, in general, quite healthy with a better than average lifespan. Most of the health problems that JRTs are faced with are primarily due to certain lines of recessive genes being bred.

Life Expectancy: What Is The Lifespan Of A Jack Russell Terrier?

In comparison to other dog breeds, the Jack Russell Terrier doesn’t have too many inherent health problems, which is great news for people who want to take home this breed. In fact, their life span is generally 13 to 15 years, although there have been some reported cases of JRTs who have lived up to 21 years of age. Depending on his lineage and how strong his genetics are, a healthy Jack Russell pooch can have a fairly long life expectancy.

However, this vibrant four-legged friend’s life span can also benefit from a variety of good practices as instilled by his pet parents, such as appropriate nutrition, and plenty of exercise, since this breed demands lots of activity. On a side-note, a Jack Russell pup also requires adequate socialization with other dogs and people at an early age to ensure good behavior and obedience into adulthood. Ultimately, with the proper maintenance and loving care, these spirited dogs can provide many years of loyal companionship and affection to their equally devoted families.


 Sources Cited:

1)      “13 Most Common Diseases Found In Jack Russell Terriers.” Dog Notebook, (no publish date), Accessed October 17, 2019.

2)  Jobe, Mat. “Jack Russell Terrier: The Adrenaline Junkie of the Dog World.” Terribly, March 27, 2013, Accessed October 17, 2019.

3)  “Jack Russell Terrier.” PetMD, (no publish date), Accessed October 17, 2019.

4)      Homan, Jason. “What is the Life Expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier?” The Pet Friendly House, (no publish date), Accessed October 17, 2019.

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