48 Common Health Problems Found in Jack Russell Terriers

A Generally Healthy Breed

For many years, we have grown to love Jack Russell Terriers for their abilities, passion, energy, and endearing and happy personalities. The good news is that they are a generally healthy breed; however, as with all dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are particularly susceptible to certain health problems.

Please DO NOT self-diagnose; if you have any doubt or worry, please have a consultation with your vet. They will be able to give you a proper diagnoses, treatment and expert advice.

If you can learn recognise your dog's anatomy, regular movements and behaviour, it will make it easier to spot anything out of the ordinary. This will give you a better chance of identifying and treating any problems as soon as they arise.

Common Health Problems Among Jack Russell Terriers

1. General Oral Hygiene Problems: Regularly check their teeth and gums; a daily check by you with the help of dental products could help keep their mouths healthy.

2. Absence of Premolars: The absence of one or more premolars could occur during the period of development. A vet and nutritionist could help with establishing a suitable diet.

3. Oligodontia: The absence of most or all of their teeth.

4. Ear Infections: If you notice them head shake more often or incisively scratch, it could be a sign of ear infection. They are common and easy to treat; combining oral commands with hand signals whilst training would come in handy.

5. Unilateral Deafness: This is partial deafness, meaning only one ear is affected. The use of hand signals would be beneficial.

6. Bilateral Deafness: This means complete deafness. As well as using hand signals, you can also get special training, leads and coats to raise awareness to others.

7. Obesity: JRT should be lean and muscular with high levels of energy and require plenty of exercise. However, they won't say no to treats, so be careful of giving them scraps, food under the table, overfeeding and not giving them the exercise they need. Have your dog weighed in between checkups if you are worried

8. Arthritis: Affecting joints and bones, this typically develops at a later stage but taking action at an early stage could help make this condition more manageable. If you notice your JRT showing difficulties such as getting up the stairs, long walks, getting in and out of their beds, etc., seek veterinary help. The vet may recommend certain nutrients, oils and supplements.

9. Excessive Aggressiveness: Although JRT are generally happy, friendly dogs, they're natural hunters and can develop excessive aggressiveness. This could be an act of aggression, such as attacking someone or something without reasonable provocation.

10. Epilepsy: This can be in the form of seizures or fits and can be treated with medication.

11. Diabetes Mellitus: Due to a lack of insulin, this condition results in excessive sugar in their blood and urine.

12. Pyloric Sterosis: An abnormally small opening between the stomach and duodenum, this condition prevents food passing and can be the cause of projectile vomit.

13. High Toes: This is a breeding defect which causes the toes not being able to reach the floor.

14. Von Willebrand's Disease: This is another breeding disorder, causing an abnormal platelet function; excessive bleeding from a cut is an indication. This could also be from the gums, nose or urine. However, there is no cure.

15. Patent Ductus Arteriosus: The fetal vessel between the aorta (the largest artery in the body) and the pulmonary artery not being able to close at birth. This can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems as a result; in rare cases can cause sudden death. It is, however, more common in relation to heart murmurs and can be picked up on at routine appointments.

16. Cardiomyopathy: This is the weakening of the heart muscle which involves thickened heart and or dilation chambers. The complications include pleural effusion and pulmonary edema (water in the chest cavity or lungs). Breathing would be more quickly or laboured and signs would be a reduced tolerance with exercise.

17. Persistent Pupillary Membranes: This is the failure of blood vessels in the anterior chamber to regress normally.

18. Cryptochidism: This is to do with undescended testicles in unneutered male dogs. It is common for one teste to be hidden sometimes; it isn't dangerous. But there is a proven correlation between having this condition and an increased likelihood of malignancy in later life. This could be prevented by having your dog neutered as soon as possible.

19. Hernias: This is formed from an internal organ or section of tissue protrudes outwards and create a noticeable bulge. These could be umbilical or inguinal involving part of the intestine protruding through either the scrotum or lower navel.

20. Congenital Myasthenia Gravis: This is severe muscle weakness; showing signs of fatigue, due to the failure of the neuromuscular transmission to the nerve impulses.

21. Scotty Cramp: These are muscle cramps triggered by excitement or exercise.

22. Trembling: This can be excessive, particularly in the rear limbs.

23. Wobbler Syndrome: An abnormality in the neck vertebra causing the rear leg ataxia progress to paralysis.

24. Achondroplasia (Appendicular): This is the lack of normal development of the skeleton and limbs, causing dwarfism.

25. Hermivertebra: An abnormal formation of the body vertebra where the posterior ataxia and paralysis causes a twisted or screw tailed breeds.

26. Legg-Perthes-Aseptic Necrosis: This causes leg lameness due to the head and neck of the femur.

27. Overshot: This is when the upper jaw extends beyond the lower jaw.

28. Undershot: This is when the lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw.

29. Laryngeal Hypoplasia: This is the failure to develop the larynx (voice box), which causes breathing difficulties.

30. Tracheal Collapse: This is the improper formation of the cartilaginous rings of the trachea causing mild to severe breathing problems.

31. Tracheal Hypoplasia: Is having a small trachea, causing mild to severe breathing problems.

32. Cleft Lip or Palate: This is the fissure of the roof of the mouth and upper lip either bonded together or separated.

33. Patellar Luxation: This is a poor development of structures holding the patella (knee cap) in place.

34. Premature Closure of the Ulna: This stops growing sooner than radius, which causes the wrists to turn in.

35. Radial Agenesis: This stops growing sooner, which causes bowed front legs.

36. Progressive Neuronal Abiotropy (Ataxia): This is a neurological problem involving degeneration of brain control of coordinated movements. Manifests as tremors. However, there is no known cure.

37. Cerebellar Ataxia: This is an inherited disease causing the neurological cells to die, causing problems in balance and inevitably walk into objects.

38. Hydrocephaly: This is fluid accumulating within the brain. It is a particularly dangerous neurological disease as it puts pressure on brain tissue causes degenerate. Affects balance, confusion and disorientation.

39. Myelodysplasia: This is the lack of development of the brain, causing problems with coordination.

40. Lens Luxation: This is an inherited disease that affects the eye, causing the lens to dislocate in either one or both eyes. It causes pain, and the eye turns typically opaque or reddish in hue, which inevitably causes blindness.

41. Cataract: This means the lens opacity obscures vision and may cause blindness.

42.Congenital Cataract and Microphthalmia: These are cataracts associated in the small eye globe.

43. Distichiasis: This is an abnormal location of the eyelashes on the margin of the eyelid, causing irritation.

44. Trichiasis: This is the abnormal placement of the eyelashes on the eyelid.

45. Glaucoma: This means an increased pressure in the globe, which damages the eye.

46. Glaucoma (Pigmentary): This is glaucoma present in the dark pigment, causing blocks in the drainage angle.

47. Progressive Vetinal Atophy: This is the degeneration of the retinal vision cells, which can cause blindness.

48. Legg-Calve-Perthes: This is hereditary and signs show later in life, although signs can be seen from the age of six months. It affects the ball and socket joint in the hip, leading to degeneration, pain, stiffness and reduced movements.

© 2015 Kally

Erich Coetzee on May 26, 2020:


My Jack is about 7 years old and has high blood pressure and suffers from seizures. Can this be linked to his diet?

Pam M on March 14, 2020:

My jack just lost a jaw tooth she is seven years old Should I be worried or take her to the vet

Kate on July 12, 2019:

Help please. I don't know how to help my 14 years old jack russell with skin rashes on his paws. He's already on Cytopoint for six months but it's not helping. He was previously on apoquel but didn't help either.

I'm not sure what else to do.

Rob on June 04, 2019:

Our dog was hacking like it coughing up a hair ball in reality it had fluid in it's lungs from a previously diagnosed heart murmur it didn't sound like a cough at age 13 her heart gave out we didn't think it was coughing your dog needs to be on heart meds and fluid pills right away that was its only symptom of heart failure we didn't know till it was too late

Debbie on May 27, 2019:


Kevinsong on May 15, 2019:

Can anyone help please? My Jack Russell has recently been to the vets over two separate occasions with a very bad cough where he gags at the end of the cough. The vet has ruled out Kennel Cough, does anyone have any suggestions as to what this might be please, he is ten years old and his breathing has also become laboured

Cherie on April 18, 2019:

My Trixie was 16 when let her go. She was a great dog, smart as a 5 year old child.

Anggie on January 08, 2019:

Jim: I'm so so sorry to hear that. The same thing happened with our shizhu earlier in 2018. We could have tried to remove the cancer from his lungs but there was no guarantee he'd make it and there were several lumps. He was coughing and his eyes said "why aren't you making this better". He was 14 and we thought it would be too much for him to have the surgery. With a heavy heart we put him to sleep a few days later but he had the whole family with him in his final moments. He was spoiled rotten, given all the things he wasn't allowed to eat in his final days. Do what's best for her no matter how much it hurts you. I really hope they can remove the cancer but the road to recovery will be long. I wish you both all the best, I truly do.

Jim on January 03, 2019:

My Jack Russell was just diagnosed with cancerous spots on her lungs. Is there anything we can do for her? Don’t/can’t tell if she is in pain

Mary Shaffer on October 13, 2018:

I have two jack russels. They have been together for twelve years. When we come in from a walk they start fighting. They have drawn blood. Theirs as well as mine. One is 15 and a neutered male. The other is a 14 year old spayed female. What can I do

Cheryl Wilder on September 20, 2018:

My 7 year old Jack Russell Mix has shown signs of arthritis due to the heavy amount of rain for the last week. What can I give him for pain?

He is 14 pounds

My on August 25, 2018:

My jack Russell seems all blocked up from his nose what I do

Dexter on August 01, 2018:

Hi I have a Jack Russell terrier he's 3.i am having real trouble when taking him for walks he is extremely vocal to all other dogs and walking him is becoming a stressful nightmare.hes not very sociable.at home he's so lovely I couldn't ask for a better dog.please would appreciate any input anyone can give.

Natalie Quick on June 04, 2018:

My dachshund /Jack Russell, Jack Frost, is 5 years old. Suddenly he has started to show pain in his hind quarters. I've been giving him one baby aspirin every 6 hours, which helped another dog I had. Is there something else that I Can do?

Jasen on January 14, 2017:

Very informative...i look up everything on here

Summer LeBlanc from USA on July 16, 2015:

Very informational- I will share this with a friend who has a JR Terrier. They are such wonderful pets. :)


Kally (author) from Scotland on July 16, 2015:

Thank you :)

Amine from Doha, Qatar on July 16, 2015:

Very informative hub, keep up the good work Princess

13 Most Common Diseases Found In Jack Russell Terriers

The good news is that they are a generally healthy breed, and that Jack Russell breeders do take care to prevent in-breeding (which helps to reduce problematic mutations).

However, as with all dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are particularly susceptible to certain health problems, some of which are more serious than others.

If you want your dog to live a long and happy life, look out for signs of the following.

Do plenty of research before getting a Jack Russell. These lively and bouncy dogs can make really great family pets but will need plenty of training and guidance from their owners along the way. You’ll need to be patient with them and curb any unwanted behaviours early on. Given the right care, they can make wonderful pets.

Rehoming centres

There are plenty of rescue centres across the country where you may find a Jack Russell Terrier. Breed-specific rescues that specialise in Jack Russell Terriers are also out there. You’ll need to ask any rescue centre about the dog’s history to make sure they will be comfortable in your home. Good rescue centres should let you know of any health and behaviour problems.


If you buy from a breeder, make sure your puppy will be well socialised and have all necessary screening tests, health checks and vaccinations. It’s really important that Jack Russell Terrier puppies from a breeder get the right early socialisation so always ask the breeder about how they go about this. We recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder as they meet higher standards. We’ve put together some advice to help you find a good breeder.

Our Top Ten List

A highly recognizable breed, many people feel they are already well acquainted with the Jack Russell Terrier. Here is a list of some lesser known facts about the breed:

  1. According to their breed standard, the purebred Jack Russell Terrier should be 51 percent white at a minimum.

The Jack Russell Terrier’s coloring is of particular importance to his function. The breed was developed by Reverend John Russell who fancied a small working terrier with the ability to easily traverse the English countryside on fox hunts without succumbing to fatigue. However, color played an important part in this role. To this point, there were many earth dogs in hues which blended well into their surroundings. The disadvantage to this is an eager hunter could easily mistake their dog for prey and accidentally injure his dog on a hunt. A white-bodied terrier stood out against the landscape, making him an easy distinction for the hunter.

Though many people can easily identify the appearance of a Jack Russell Terrier, few realize that when it comes to the name of this little white dog, there is plenty of confusion. Today, there are three breeds that are similar in appearance but that all take different names: the Parson Russell Terrier, the Russell Terrier, and the Jack Russell Terrier. All of these dogs descended from the Rev. Russell’s original fox hunting terriers in the early 19 th century.

Though the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier are nearly identical in appearance, they both have their own unique registries. The Parson Russell Terrier is a listed breed under the Canadian Kennel Club and a recognized breed with the American Kennel Club. The Jack Russell Terrier who primarily differs in appearance from the Parson by the height allowances only is registered under the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America. Though it is difficult to explain why these two seemingly very similar breeds must bear different names and be registered under separate bodies, it has been asserted that the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America believes that the Parson Russell Terrier is a milder version of the Jack Russell Terrier who has been gentrified for the show ring and has lost its ability to function as a true working dog. In this case, the primary difference between the two breeds would be working ability.

The Russell Terrier differs from the Parson and the Jack in that he is shorter in stature and longer of body. In temperament, he is less game though his primary role was also to function as a hunter. While the Jack and the Parson were developed primarily in England, the Russell Terrier’s prolonged developmental period occurred in Australia.

To add to the confusion in all other countries except for the United States and Canada, the Russell Terrier is referred to as the Jack Russell Terrier.

  1. The Jack Russell Terrier has its own body that recognizes its status as a purebred breed.

As mentioned above, the Jack Russell Terrier is a purebred breed that maintains its own registration body, the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers are a baying breed.

Contrary to popular belief though a Jack Russell Terrier is a dog that will “go to ground,” this dog is a baying breed. Baying breeds make use of their voices to help drive quarry from within the earth above ground to continue the hunt. This explains why many Jack Russells are vocal in their homes. It is an instinct that has been bred into them and is hard for them to deny.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers have excellent longevity.

Jack Russell Terriers typically enjoy good health and experience excellent longevity. The average life expectancy for a Jack Russell Terrier is between 14-19 years of age. Best of all, even senior Jacks enjoy excellent quality of life well into an advanced old age.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers don’t slow down until their senior years.

Though many Jack Russell Terrier owners look forward to the day when their dogs begin to “settle,” most Jacks don’t begin to slow down until well into their golden years. This often occurs around age 12 or even later.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers love to jump.

Jack Russell Terriers are the original Mexican jumping bean. An enthusiastic dog, Jacks love to repeatedly jump as if their little legs have springs. This penchant is both endearing and entertaining to all they meet.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers have attitude to spare.

There is no question that Jack Russell Terriers are big dogs in little bodies. In a pack of dogs, the Jack Russell just assumes he is in charge and will often have the largest dog in the group acting as his “bitch.” This big dog attitude can lead to problems if the dog decides to take on a dog that is much larger and stronger than him. It truly would never occur to the Jack Russell that his body didn’t match the size of his attitude.

  1. Jack Russell Terriers view the mailman as their personal enemy.

Jack Russell Terriers are not a fan of the mailman. No matter how friendly your mailman may be, no matter how yummy the treats he carries around for your Jack, your dog will still view him as someone attempting to penetrate his home and potentially harm his family. Jack Russell Terriers can be very territorial and make it their business to protect their home and the people who live in it. This unfortunately means that Fido and the mailman are not likely to become friends.

  • Jack Russells view staying inside fences as optional.

Most reputable breeders of Jack Russell Terriers will not sell them to homes that do not have a fully fenced in yard. Why is that? The leading cause of death in Jack Russell Terriers results from being hit by a car. The Jack Russell Terrier is a fearless little dog with an intense instinct to follow his prey drive. This means he has no knowledge of cars, and thus, does not understand the dangers of bolting out in front of them, leaving him in peril should he escape the safe confines of his yard.

Unfortunately, Jack Russell Terriers are experts at outsmarting their owners. Even the most carefully designed fencing system is merely a game to a Jack Russell. If the Jack Russell can’t jump it, he will resort to other escape attempts such as digging under it or climbing it.

Yes, it’s hard to resist the charm of a Jack Russell Terrier. Though not for an inexperienced owner, adding one to your life is an experience you’ll never forget!

Surprisingly, Dachshunds topped a list of the most aggressive dogs in the world.

One in five had bitten a stranger, while one in 12 had attacked its owner, a 2008 study found.

Luckily, their small size means serious injury is rare.

Sadly for one-month-old Thomas Parmentier, from France, this was not the case.

The family’s pets got into his cot and savaged him to death in 1997.

Watch the video: Q+A Part 2

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