Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers: A Complete Breed Guide

Long Haired Jack Russell on a chair

Jack Russell Terriers are energetic, hard-working dogs that make for loyal, affectionate pets. They can sometimes get into some mischief, which adds to the fun they bring into your life.

In general, Jack Russell Terriers do not have extensive grooming needs. But if you are looking for a JRT that is a relatively light shedder, you might consider a long-haired Jack Russell Terrier, also known as a “wire-haired” or “rough coat” JRT. 

In this post, we will answer all of your questions about rough-coat Jack Russell Terriers. We will go over their care needs, personality, and more. Near the end, you will even learn where you can get a wire-haired JRT of your own. 

Height10-15 inches
Weight13-17 pounds
Life Span15 years
Good withOlder children
TemperamentEnthusiastic, loyal, fun-loving, mischievous, energetic
IntelligenceHigh
Shedding amountLow
GroomingAverage
Energy levelHigh
Barking levelHigh
Drool amountLow
Coat length/textureShort and wiry
ColorsMostly white. Markings may be black, brown, or tan. They may not be brindle

Where Did Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Originate From?

Before we tell you more about long-haired JRTs, let’s briefly explain the three different types of Russell Terrier dogs.

  • Jack Russell Terrier (NOT recognized by the AKC—this is the type of terrier this post focuses on)
  • Parson Russell Terrier (recognized by the AKC)
  • Russell Terrier (recognized by the AKC)

These three types have a shared history and characteristics but are not interchangeable. This can get confusing as some people refer to them as if they are.

All three types of Russell Terriers can trace their roots back to dogs bred by Reverend John "The Sporting Parson" Russell in England in the 19th century. He developed the terrier breed to hunt foxes. They had a strong instinct to hunt and dig since their prey sometimes hid inside dens. 

Over time, the original breed branched out into three breeds. Some dogs stayed in Europe, while others went to North America. The breed we call the "Russell Terrier" is sometimes known as the "European Jack Russell" and is the type of Russell Terrier that remained in Europe. The American breeds split into the Parson Russell and the Jack Russell Terrier also called the "American Jack Russell." 

Hepper explains why the Parson Russell and the American Jack Russell Terrier became different: "Unlike the Parson Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier, the modern Jack Russell Terrier is not officially recognized by the AKC. This decision was actually made by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, which feared that allowing the breed into the AKC would shift the breed standard away from its hard-working background."

Here is a little more info on the three types of Russell Terriers and how you can tell them apart. As you can see, the size and proportions of the dog can give you a clue which one it is, even though they look very similar in other respects.

  • Jack Russell Terrier: The JRT is rectangular and stands between 10 to 15 inches at the shoulders. 
  • Parson Russell Terrier: The Parson Russell Terrier has a square body measuring 13 to 14.5 inches in height. Compared to the wither's height, the length of the body is just a little longer.
  • Russell Terrier: The smallest of the three types, standing between 10 to 12 inches at the shoulders. It also has a longer body, and its legs are short. 

What Do Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Look Like?

Now that you have a better idea of the JRT history let's talk about the appearance of rough-coat JRTs.

These dogs are athletic and compact, with drop ears, black noses, dark eyes, and high-set tails. According to the breed standard, their coats should be 51% or more white, and the markings can be black, brown, or tan. 

Long-haired JRTs, unlike short-haired JRTs, have a rough, wiry coat texture. 

There is also a type of JRT called a “broken-coat Jack Russell Terrier.” This is a JRT with a coat that combines aspects of the rough and smooth coat textures. 

Why are Jack Russell Terriers Mostly White?

Today, Jack Russell Terriers are primarily white. So, it may surprise you to learn that their coats were brown when they were first bred in the 19th century. 

The reason that they developed to be mostly white was so that they would stand out more readily from foxes.

Where Did Jack Russell Terriers Get Their Name?

The name "Jack Russell Terrier" refers to their original 19th-century breeder, Reverend John "The Sporting Parson" Russell. Yes, his name was John, but he apparently went by "Jack." 

Are Any Jack Russell Terriers Famous? 

Yes, there are a few famous Jack Russell Terriers. One example is a dog named Bothie, who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records by visiting the North Pole and the South Pole alongside explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

There have also been several JRTs that have appeared in films. One of them, Uggie, played an iconic role in the movie The Artist and Water for Elephants. He was honored by being given a spot to mark with his paw on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, making him the first dog ever.

How High Can Jack Russell Terriers Jump?

Jack Russell Terriers are known for leaping and bounding about, sometimes up to five feet off the ground! They also have a penchant for wandering. So, be sure to have a high fence around your backyard. 

Do Jack Russell Terriers Hunt Snakes?

While JRTs were bred to hunt foxes, they have a reputation for also hunting and killing snakes. So, if you have snakes in your area, don’t be surprised if your JRT goes after them in your yard.

Are Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Rare?

Rough-coat Jack Russell Terriers are not incredibly rare but are less common than their smooth-coated counterparts. They are simply not bred as frequently. Later on in this post, we will give you tips for where you can find one.

How Much Do Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Cost?

The general price range for Jack Russell Terriers is anywhere from $800 to $2,000. Since wire-haired JRTs are not as common as smooth-coat JRTs, you may need to pay closer to the upper end of that range when you purchase a long-hair JRT.

What is the Wire-Haired Jack Russell Terrier’s Personality?

Jack Russell Terriers are energetic, enthusiastic, hard-working, loyal, and fun-loving. They have a mischievous streak.

How Smart are Rough-Coat Jack Russell Terriers?

Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent dogs, whether they have rough or smooth coats. This can make them easy to train. 

Do Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Have Behavioral Problems? 

Sometimes Jack Russell Terriers can be overly aggressive or get into things they shouldn't. Both are a result of their strong instinct to hunt. If you can start training a JRT when the dog is still a puppy, you will have the best chance to socialize your pet well and avoid behavioral problems.

Do Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Love to Dig?

Yes, Jack Russell Terriers love to dig. Often, their goal is to try and hunt rodents that might be living underground. Do not be surprised if you find holes in your yard (and possibly dead rodents).

Are Rough-Coat Jack Russell Terriers Good with Family?

Rough-coat Jack Russell Terriers can be good with children, but they are better suited to older children and those with calm dispositions. The dog may respond aggressively if a particularly rambunctious child upsets a JRT. But if your child can treat the JRT well, you can expect them to get along great.

Are Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Good with Other Pets?

Alas, no. One of the drawbacks of Jack Russell Terriers is that they frequently do not get along with other animals. In particular, they may decide to hunt, injure or kill cats or smaller pets. But they are sometimes aggressive toward other dogs, especially other Russell Terriers.

In fact, JRTCA says, “NEVER keep more than two Jack Russells in one area when you are not home to offer leadership and protection to them.”

Do Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Have Health Problems?

According to Animal Health Clinic Fargo, common health conditions in JRTs include infections, dental problems, obesity, parasites, eye problems, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, knee and elbow problems, and blood diseases such as Hemolytic Anemia and Thrombocytopenia. The page lists some additional conditions as well.

While the list on that page is pretty thorough, don’t worry—JRTs are not more prone to health problems on the whole than other breeds. So long as you take care of your Jack Russell Terrier, your pet can probably enjoy many years of health.

Are a Lot of Long-Haired Jack Russell Terriers Deaf?

You may have heard that Jack Russell Terriers are prone to deafness. This does sometimes show up as a congenital problem.

That said, this study reports, “The prevalence of deafness in Jack Russell terriers is lower than initially reported … Significant association with deafness was identified with white coat color and parental hearing status, but not with sex or coat type.”

So, a long, wiry, rough coat does not mean a JRT is more likely to go deaf than one with a smooth coat. Also, do not let deafness put you off a JRT you love. These dogs can lead happy, fulfilling lives with the proper care.

How Do You Care for a Wire-Haired Jack Russell Terrier?

Now you know some fun facts about Jack Russell Terriers and a bit more about their health, appearance, and personalities. Are you thinking about getting a JRT of your own? Let's go over what a JRT needs from you to live a happy, healthy life.

How Much Space Does a Rough-Coat Jack Russell Terrier Need?

Jack Russell Terriers are used to being able to roam and hunt in the countryside with their owners. With their high energy levels and hunting instincts, they will be happiest if they have a lot of open space.

For that reason, a house with a fenced-in backyard is ideal. If you live in an urban area, you must be ready to take your pet out on lots of walks.

Exercise

You might think that as a small dog, a Jack Russell Terrier will not need much exercise, but you would be wrong. These dogs need around an hour and a half of daily exercise, including walking and playing.

One cool thing about JRTs is that they often retain their high energy levels as they age.

Training

Jack Russell Terriers are smart dogs, but here’s the thing. It is critical to start training them as young as possible. Not only that, but you need to take them in for basic obedience training. 

This is a must regardless of the individual; JRTs are prone to aggression and tend to fight their owners for dominance. So, you need to nip that in the bud as soon as possible. But remember, only use positive reinforcement with your dog. 

Grooming

Something you will appreciate about long-haired Jack Russell Terriers is that they do not shed as heavily as smooth-coated JRTs. That might sound counterintuitive, but it's because wiry hair does well trapping loose hairs. That said, they still are not hypoallergenic dogs.

Once or twice a week, you will need to groom your pet to prevent tangling. You can use a slicker brush or a wide-toothed comb. 

Along with brushing, you need to take an additional step with a rough-coat Jack Russell Terrier, and that is to "strip" the coat. You should search for dead hairs and use a stripping knife to pluck them out. It sounds painful, but your JRT won't complain if you are doing it right.

Thankfully, you only need to do this a couple of times a year. If it is too much work, a professional groomer can handle it.

A rough coat JRT should only need the occasional bath. Be sure to use dry shampoo to preserve the coat's rough texture; it helps repel water. 

As always, do not forget to clean your pet's ears and teeth and clip his nails.

Diet & Nutrition

Your Jack Russell Terrier should eat a diet that contains balanced nutrition. Since they exercise a lot, JRTs need plenty of protein.

JRTCA says that you should give your pet an appropriate amount of food each day based on the label on your product, but that a good way to determine if your pet is eating the right amount is to check the ribs. They should not be visible, but they should be palpable.

Where Can You Buy a Long-Haired Jack Russell Terrier?

Ready to bring a rough-coat Jack Russell Terrier into your home? You can start by calling local shelters to see if any are available for adoption. But since you are looking specifically for a wiry coat, you may not find any. If that is the case, you will need to buy one from a breeder.

Thankfully, it is easy to find a reputable JRT breeder near you. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America offers a couple of handy resources:

  • Directory of JRTCA Breeders: You can view an alphabetized list of all JRTCA breeders in this directory. You can also view a breakdown by state, making it a breeze to find options near your location.
  • Terrier Boutique: On this page, JRTCA maintains a list of puppies and adult dogs currently available from the breeders in its database. These listings can offer a shortcut to finding some beautiful Jack Russell Terriers eagerly awaiting their forever homes.

Is a Long-Haired Jack Russell Terrier Right for You?

Normally, if you are considering any particular dog breed, our advice leans toward "go for it!" as there are only a few caveats. But our direction is slightly different in the case of a Jack Russell Terrier.

JRTs are wonderful dogs, but they are not the easiest ones for beginners. They also are not suitable for every household.

To ensure that you can provide your new pet with a forever home, you should only get a Jack Russell Terrier if you are sure that your household will be the right fit for this breed.

Pros:

  • Long-haired Jack Russell Terriers are energetic and fun. You will be able to play and exercise with your pet every day.
  • These are intelligent, trainable dogs.
  • Your dog may still be active as a senior, allowing you to keep exercising and playing together when other breeds can no longer keep pace with you.
  • As a bonus, your JRT may keep your yard clear of certain pests (i.e. rodents).Rough-coat JRTs do not shed much. 
  • Rough-coat JRTs do not shed much.
  • This dog’s beauty is matched by its loyal and fun personality. The mischief your pet gets into may frustrate you sometimes, but it will also make you laugh.

Cons:

  • Jack Russell Terriers are not always good with other pets. If you have cats, rodents, other dogs, or other pets in your home now, a JRT may not get along with them. The JRT might even mistake them as prey.
  • These energetic pets can be too much for some children. You know your kids' personalities best and whether or not they would mesh well with a JRT.
  • JRTs may contest you for dominance which can be annoying, to say the least, especially if you do not know how to handle it.
  • Obedience training is necessary. This is an added expense and takes time and effort, even if you are working with a professional trainer.
  • It may be hard to prevent your JRT from escaping. If your pet sees a rodent, snake, or something else of interest, he may go tearing after it. If you do not have a high enough fence in your yard, you will also need to get one before allowing your JRT to run around out back.
  • A long-haired JRT will need extra grooming since you will need to pluck the dead hairs out twice a year. 

Summary

Rough-coat Jack Russell Terriers have the same hunting instincts, high energy levels, and mischievous personalities as smooth-coat JRTs, but with a low-shedding wiry coat texture that repels water.

If you have the vigor, space, and dedication to keep up with a Jack Russell Terrier's unbridled energy, you will have a loving companion who will reward you with a lifetime of fun and affection. 

Featured image: jansthejackrussell/Instagram

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