How Long Do Jack Russell Terriers Live?

By John Martin - February 15, 2024

Jack Russell posing

Are you planning to get an adorable Jack Russell Terrier puppy and worried about how long it will live? Well, we have got great news for you!

Jack Russell Terriers live a pretty long life compared to the average lifespan of other breeds of dogs, often living till the age of 16 years! The oldest Jack Russell Terrier, Charlie was 23 years old when he died in 2019.

History of the Breed

The Jack Russell Terrier was originally developed as a hunter-dog in England in the early 18th century by Rev. John Russell. He developed these small but feisty dogs to hunt down foxes in the fields.

Jack Russells are known for their highly energetic and friendly nature and could make excellent guard dogs if properly trained. They are predominantly white with an average height of 12 to 14 inches and weigh in the range of 13 to 17 pounds.

Average Lifespan of a Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers generally live a long and healthy life devoid of any major ailments. While most dogs live till 9 to 11 years of age, Jack Russell Terriers are said to outlive most of the dog breeds with an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years.

There have been instances of Jack Russell Terriers living well above 16 years with minor health issues. The life expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier depends a lot on its parentage and genetics.

The Jack Russell Terrier’s Life Cycle

Let’s have a look at the different stages in the life cycle of a Jack Russell Terrier to understand the breed better and care for it.


On average, there will be around 5 to 8 puppies in a litter. The newborn Jack Russell Terrier puppies will have their ears and eyes tightly shut.

The neonatal stage begins at birth and lasts for 2 weeks and during this time, the puppies would be mostly sleeping and drinking milk. The transitional stage is from 2 weeks to 4 weeks and during this time, the puppy will open its eyes and ears and start walking.

The next stage is the socialization stage, which begins from 4 to 12 weeks and the puppies would become aware of their surroundings and will begin to interact with them.

Also Read: How To Stop Your Jack Russell From Biting and Nipping


The adolescence stage, which starts at 5 to 6 months of age is when the personality of the Jack Russell Terriers begins to show. Don’t be surprised to see your puppy acting all dominant and disobedient at this stage.

Adolescence is the right time to start disciplining and training them so that they don’t act out in the future. The Jack Russell Terriers would also begin to exhibit sexual behaviors during this time.


Jack Russell Terriers are considered fully grown at 12 months of age. If properly trained and disciplined, your Jack Russell would be a happy working dog who loves to do outdoorsy activities with you and engage in plenty of exercises.

A Jack Russell Terrier is considered an adult from one to nine years of age, and a senior dog from 10 years of age.

Factors That Affect the Lifespan of Jack Russell Terriers

Though Jack Russell Terriers have the advantage of a good gene pool that protects them from developing any serious health ailments, there are a lot of other factors that could have an impact on their health and lifespan. Let’s have a look at the major factors that could impact the lifespan of Jack Russell Terriers.

Physical Exercise

Jack Russell Terriers, by their inherent nature, want plenty of physical exercises to keep their prey drive under control. They have to be regularly taken for exercise to keep them fit and engaged, or they might show behavioral issues and could turn aggressive.

Exercises are also essential to keep a tab on the body weight of Jack Russells as they tend to gain weight without ample exercise, ultimately affecting their health. Make sure that your Jack Russell Terrier won’t become obese at any cost.

Find time to take out your Jack Russell for exercise every day for at least an hour. You could also incorporate their playtime into this one hour, along with plenty of walking or running.


It is of utmost importance that you provide your Jack Russell Terrier with a high-quality diet suitable for its age and body mass. Jack Russells tend to indulge in overeating, so make sure that they are fed only twice every day.

Ensure that the food fed to your Jack Russell Terriers is well balanced and made of high-quality ingredients. The high energy levels and high activity levels of Jack Russells entail that their diet is enriched with nutrition.

Avoid cheap quality-dog foods at any cost as they could make your Jack Russell sick.

Games and Activities

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their brilliance and smartness. They will thrive in the outdoors and would love to play games and tasks that are interactive and require mental effort.


Though not prone to severe health problems, Jack Russell Terriers are susceptible to ear infections and eye problems. Bacteria is the common cause of ear infections in Jack Russell Terriers and sometimes fungus and yeast could also infect their ears, causing wax discharge and itching.

Eye infections are also a common problem among Jack Russell Terriers. If left untreated, ear and eye infections could severely hamper the quality of life of your Jack Russell, often resulting in deafness and blindness in them.

Make sure that you don’t skip the regular appointments with the vet so that any onset of diseases could be identified early and treated well.

Family History

When you get your puppy from the Jack Russell Terrier breeder, do ask them about its family history. The family history of a puppy could give you an indication of the kind of diseases it may develop in the future.

For example, Jack Russell Terriers are known to inherit deafness from their ancestors.

Common Health Problems in Jack Russell Terriers

The great news is that Jack Russell Terriers don’t normally develop serious health disorders but they are still prone to certain conditions they may have inherited from their gene pool.

Let’s have a look at the common health problems that Jack Russell Terriers are prone to develop.

Lens Luxation

Jack Russell Terriers could develop an eye disorder called lens luxation. It happens when the zonular ligaments that suspend the eye lens break down, resulting in the dislocation of the eye lens.

Lens luxation can cause glaucoma in Jack Russell Terriers, making their eyes look red and cloudy. Lens luxation could also result in uveitis or inflammation of the eyes.

Both glaucoma and uveitis could lead to blindness if not identified at the right time and treated correctly.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy is a spinal cord disease that tends to occur in older Jack Russell Terriers. With this condition, the hind legs of the dog would be affected as they tend to lose their balance while walking.

This could first occur in one leg and later spread to the other one. As time passes, a Jack Russell Terrier with degenerative myelopathy may find it difficult to even stand.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a condition of the retina. It occurs when several diseases in the retina gradually lead to complete vision loss. A Jack Russell Terrier with retinal atrophy will have premature development of the retina and this condition is bound to affect both the eyes.

Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar ataxia refers to a condition when the cerebellum of the Jack Russell Terrier becomes unable to coordinate its body’s movements. Though it doesn’t make the dog any weaker, it may lose its balance and could fall often.

If you have a Jack Russell Terrier, or if you are planning to get one soon, make sure that you take your pet to the vet regularly for health checkups. Timely intervention and monitoring could add years to your Jack Russell’s life and improve its quality of life.

How to Improve the Life Expectancy of Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers are loyal dogs who seek the constant love and companionship of their masters. They are sure to live a long and happy life when provided with lots of exercise, a proper diet, and ultimately, your love.

Here are some tips to make your Jack Russell Terrier’s life a long, healthy, and happy one.

Plenty of Exercises

A Jack Russell Terrier is anything but lazy. Their high energy levels and tendency to put on weight fast warrant that you take them out for exercise regularly.

You could take them for walks or runs and play fetch or jump with them. It will also be a lot easier to tame them and discipline them when they are provided with regular exercise and activities.

Hygiene Factor

Another important factor that affects the health and lifespan of Jack Russell Terriers involves maintaining basic hygiene under all conditions. From grooming to dental hygiene, you need to ensure that your Jack Russell Terrier is well taken care of.

Even if you couldn’t take your Jack Russell Terrier to a fancy grooming shop, you must ensure that they are bathed when dirty, their nails are clipped, and their teeth brushed regularly.

Also Read: Top 5 Shampoos for Jack Russell Terriers

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Jack Russell Terriers tend to overeat, owing to the high energy levels that they have. You need to ensure that they are not overfed and have only two well-balanced meals per day.

Owing to their small size, overeating could make them overweight and obese pretty fast. The ideal body weight of a healthy Jack Russell Terrier is only 13 to 17 pounds and you need to ensure that it remains like that.

Being overweight or obese could lead to myriad health issues that could ultimately affect the lifespan of a Jack Russell Terrier.

Quality Diet

Make sure that your Jack Russell is fed only a high-quality and nutrient-rich diet according to their size and age. Having a healthy diet is certainly going to help in increasing the life expectancy of your Jack Russell Terrier.

Parting Thoughts

If you are looking forward to bringing home a dog breed that is certain to live a long life, a Jack Russell Terrier would be a great choice. But don’t forget to provide it with all the necessary conditions for it to thrive, including ample activities and exercise, a proper diet, and of course your love!