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What is the Life Expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier?

Picture of a brown and white Jack Russell Terrier

Nearly everyone worldwide is familiar with the little white tornado known as the Jack Russell Terrier. Those that love them REALLY love them, and those that don’t? Well…they don’t. Still, it’s hard to resist the appeal of these little white mischief makers who are so friendly and filled with their very own brand of “joie de vivre.” If you’re considering adding a Jack Russell Terrier to your home, you’ll want to know what type of life expectancy you can expect from the breed. Jack Russell Terriers are typically hardy and healthy little dogs who you can expect to be around to entertain your family for many years. But just what is the life expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier?

The Life of a Jack Russell Terrier

As an extremely healthy breed whose typical health conditions are genetic, a Jack Russell Terrier from soundly health-tested parents is likely to enjoy a long life indeed. Though common hereditary illnesses for Jack Russells can include eye, ear, and patella (knee) problems as well as several genetic diseases, the most common cause of death for this breed is being hit by a car.

Why is that? 

Jack Russells are known to have intense prey drive. This drive can often cause even the best obedience-trained pooch to take off in hot pursuit of a cat, squirrel, rat, fox…or even a small dog! Since Jack Russells were originally bred as hunting dogs to accompany the Parson John Russell on his jaunts in search of fox in the English countryside, this terrier’s drive to chase overpowers all other reason. This often means the dog will chase supposed prey directly into the line of traffic where he will meet his demise with a head-on collision with a car.

Though you cannot train prey drive out of a Jack Russell Terrier, you can provide a secure backyard containment system to prevent the dog from having the opportunity to bolt. This is a very important part of keeping your Jack Russell Terrier healthy and happy…and much more likely to live to a ripe old age.

So, assuming your Jack Russell Terrier has come from a reputable breeder who screened well for all possible genetic diseases prior to a mating between your dog’s parents, you can expect your dog to have excellent quality of life for the majority of its years.

The average life expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier ranges from as low as 12 years to up to 19. It has been reported that some Jacks have even lived up to 21 years before succumbing to old age!

Bear in mind, that genetics play a key factor in how old your dog will live to be. Dogs bred from non-health tested parents or whose canine family members have a history of cancer or other serious physical ailments may pass away at an earlier age than the reported average.

So too does environment play a role. Dogs who are fed a poor diet or who are overweight are also more likely to suffer from health problems and a reduced capacity of life.

The best news of all when it comes to owning a Jack Russell Terrier is that the breed remains vibrant, energetic, and youthful well into its senior years! Many vets report that the 12 year old Jack Russell still maintains his puppy-like ways, bouncing his way around the veterinary clinic as though he were still a babe. A part of the breed’s charm, for sure! 

How long will a Jack Russell Terrier live?

With a little bit of luck and a lot of love, you could find yourself with a 19 year old Jack cuddled up on the couch next to you but still ready for adventure when the mood strikes! To know the breed is to love it, and many do!

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