Jack Russell Terriers are famous for their cheerful, active, and fun-loving natures.  Naturally, you’ll want to know how many years this breed will be enjoying life with you.

So, what's the average Jack Russell Terrier lifespan? What factors contribute to this dog breed's lifespan and shorten or lengthen it? And what can you as a dedicated dog owner do to keep your pet around for as long as possible? Read on to find out more.

About the Jack Russell Terrier

When the Reverend John Russell of 19th century England saw the need for a terrier breed that could pursue foxes into the ground, he began a breeding program to develop a solution. The result was the Jack Russell Terrier (JRT). In England, breeders ended up dividing the breed into two distinct groups: the shorter-legged Jack Russell Terrier and a longer-legged version known as the Parson Russell Terrier. 

In America, we typically see the long-legged version but call it the Jack Russell Terrier nonetheless. And most Jack Russell Terrier owners aren't concerned with the nomenclature of their beloved pet's breed, nor do they plan to use their dog for fox hunting. They just know they have an affectionate, loyal, and adorable family dog on their hands.

What's the Average Jack Russell Terrier Lifespan?

Jack Russell Terrier lifespan: Jack Russell running across the shore

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average life expectancy for a Jack Russell Terrier is between 12 and 14 years. That's relatively long for dogs. Small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs, but even small dogs' lifespans tends to max out around 15 years or so. 

Provided you keep your JRT in good health to the best of your abilities, you can expect many years of loyal, loving companionship from your dog. But it's important to be aware of some factors that contribute to your Jack Russell Terrier's lifespan. They include:

  • Diet: A dog who is fed a high-quality diet throughout life will generally live longer than one who receives a sub-par diet. That's because your pooch needs proper nutrition to keep all body systems functioning at a high level. 
  • Exercise: A JRT who gets enough exercise throughout their life will remain healthier than one who is always cooped up. Not only does a lack of exercise contribute to obesity, heart health issues, and other medical problems, but it wears on your dog's mental state and can exacerbate behavioral problems like destructive behavior, aggression, or house soiling.
  • Preventative Care: All dogs are susceptible to certain diseases, infections, and infestations, and the Jack Russell Terrier is no exception. That's why JRTs who are given preventative measures like pest preventatives and vaccinations tend to enjoy longer lives. 

Potential Jack Russell Terrier Health Problems

Jack Russell Terrier lifespan: Jack Russell running outdoors

Another factor in the Jack Russell Terrier lifespan? Jack Russell dogs are prone to a few health conditions that can also affect how long they live.

It's important to note that the majority of Jack Russell Terriers don't develop these conditions. This terrier dog is generally a hearty, healthy breed. But it's a good idea to be aware of these issues so you know what to look out for.

Patellar Luxation 

Patellar luxation is when the patella, or your dog's kneecap, slips out of place. This problem is particularly common in little dogs, though it can occur in dogs of any size, and is thought to be genetic. You might notice your dog holding up their leg for a few strides before returning to normal walking or running — the kneecap often slips out of its groove before slipping back in again. 

If your JRT's patellar luxation is minor, your vet might not recommend any treatment at all. For more severe cases, knee surgery, medications, and joint health supplements might be recommended.

Looking for a high-quality joint supplement for your dog? Native Pet's Relief Chews are a great choice. These air-dried chicken chews help alleviate joint pain and improve mobility, and they can even aid in long-term joint health.

Lens Luxation

Another type of inherited luxation that can affect a Jack Russell Terrier's lifespan has to do with your dog's eyes. Lens luxation is an eye disease in which the lens dislocates from the eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to partial or even full blindness. 

And while dogs can often live relatively normal lives with blindness, complications are possible if the issue isn’t treated, and not all dogs are good candidates for the surgery needed to repair the problem. This kind of luxation is most common in senior dogs, as are other eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. 

Tell your vet right away if you notice any problems with your dog's eyes, like increased tear production or constant pawing and scratching at the eyes. Luckily, most cases of lens luxation can be treated with surgery. Medicated eye drops can also help.

Deafness

Jack Russell Terriers seem to be prone to various ear problems, including ear infections and deafness. Some cases of deafness are congenital, while some can occur because of untreated ear infections or trauma to the ear. These problems can start to affect your Jack Russell Terrier's lifespan if not addressed.

If you see your dog shaking his head or pawing at the ears, or if you see visible inflammation or discharge coming from the ears, let your vet know right away. Quick treatment of ear infections and other ear problems is the best way to keep your pet in good health.

Von Willebrand's Disease

Von Willebrand's Disease is a bleeding disorder involving abnormal blood platelet function. It's another congenital issue passed down from generation to generation in JRTs, and it can unfortunately affect your Jack Russel Terrier's life span. If your dog is injured or undergoes surgery, their blood may not clot normally and they could experience prolonged bleeding and even death without veterinary attention.

However, many dogs diagnosed with Von Willebrand's Disease manage to live to old age quite happily. 

Signs of Von Willebrand's Disease include sudden nosebleeds, blood in the urine, and bleeding gums. While there is no cure for this disease, lifestyle management including keeping your dog out of fights and other situations where he or she could be injured is key. Because the blood doesn’t clot normally, even smaller injuries or cuts can cause serious bleeding, so being proactive and preventing these issues is the best approach.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease involves a degeneration of the head of the femur bone, resulting in inflammation and pain in the hip joints. Tell your vet if you notice your JRT limping or showing stiffness in the rear limbs. For mild cases, pain medications and rest are often enough. Surgery is usually required as the disease progresses. Fortunately, most dogs make full recoveries after surgery and enjoy normal, healthy lives afterward.

What Can I Do to Keep My Jack Russell Terrier Healthy?

Jack Russell looking up at a building

Remember: The above health conditions don't affect most Jack Russell dogs, and your Jack Russell Terrier's lifespan is largely determined by proper care from you, their owner. So, what can you do to keep your pet healthy throughout life?

First, feed your pet a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age and size. When your dog receives the proper nutrition from their food, all parts of the body stay healthy. Additionally, it doesn't hurt to supplement your pet's diet with something like Native Pet's Bone Broth Topper, which is jam-packed with nutrients, or our all-natural probiotic powder which creates a thriving environment for healthy flora in the gut. 

Secondly, make sure your JRT gets plenty of exercise. Remember that Jack Russells are hunting dogs with a high energy level, so they're at their happiest and healthiest when they get regular physical activity and play. 

Keep your pet up to date on preventative medications, including pest control products and essential vaccinations. These steps are vital for warding off disease, infection, and infestations. Monitor your dog closely when outdoors for walks or playtime — your JRT's hunting drive can sometimes result in them darting off after a rabbit or squirrel, and you don't want them running into traffic or encountering another not-so-friendly animal. 

Lengthening Your Jack Russell Terrier's Lifespan

Jack Russell lying on the grass

There's a reason dog lovers tend to enjoy the Jack Russell Terrier. They're fun, loyal, active dogs who make great family pets. And because the Jack Russell Terrier lifespan is between 12 and 14 years, with many JRTs living much longer, you know you're getting a loving partner who will be around for some time.

Jack Russell Terriers are prone to certain inherited conditions like patellar and lens luxation, ear issues and deafness, Von Willebrand's Disease, and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. But these issues certainly aren't the norm for most Jack Russells. By feeding your dog well, exercising them regularly, and practicing proper preventative care, you're doing your part to lengthen your Jack Russell Terrier's lifespan and enjoy as many happy, healthy years with them as possible. 

Visit the Native Pet blog for more insights into your dog's health and wellness needs.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.