How Long Do Jack Russell Terriers Live?

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When thinking about Jack Russell Terriers, the first thing that comes to my mind is joy and vitality. They are the energizer bunnies of the dog world. Their never ending energy reserves aren’t surprising since this member of the Terrier Group was originally bred for fox hunting. As any Jack Russell owner knows they are known for having the ability to jump quite high and do so frequently. I don’t think I have ever seen one with all four paws on the ground for more than a few seconds at a time. With these dogs being such a wealth of liveliness it begs the question, how long that life usually lasts?


What is the average life expectancy of a Jack Russell Terrier?

Jack Russell Terriers are a small breed dog; this tends to lend itself to a longer lifespan compared to some of our larger dog friends. On average, a Jack Russell Terrier’s life span is between 13 and 15 years.

The general rule of thumb for canines is that the smaller the breed, the longer the life expectancy. As with any dog or breed, there are health issues that our four legged friends can get. These unexpected health problems can sadly shorten or change their expected life span. Thankfully, there are things that we can do to help keep our dog healthy which we will discuss shortly.

How does a Jack Russell’s lifespan compare to other terriers?

With the Terrier Group having both large and small members, it is interesting to see how Jack Russells compare to the others. On one end we have the much larger Airedale Terrier, which weighs between 50 to 70 pounds. This sizable terrier has a slightly shorter life expectancy of 11 to 14 years.  On the other end of the spectrum is the Norfolk Terrier, weighing in at a whopping 11 to 12 pounds. This tiny terrier boasts an average life span of up to 16 years.

See also: Jack Russell Old Age Problems

It is to be expected that the Jack Russell is closer to the Norfolk’s longevity since they are very similar in size. As far as the rest of the AKC recognized Terrier Group goes, the majority have a life expectancy of around 13 years. So it seems to be that the rule, the smaller the dog the longer the life holds true when Jack Russells are sized up to both the biggest and one of the smallest members of the group.

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What Age is the Oldest Living Jack Russell?

With the average life span being up to 15 years, a Jack Russell making it into his 20’s is a very impressive feat. Charlie, the Jack Russell terrier who lived in Malvern, Worcestershire, did just that. He is currently the oldest documented Jack Russell Terrier. Sadly, he has since passed away at the ripe old age of 23 years old.

While Charlie is the oldest documented Jack Russell, another well known dog who made it far into senior citizenship is Willie; he passed away in 1994 at the impressive age of 20 years and 106 days old.

As much as we all wish our best friends could live as long as we do, or at least as long as Charlie did, it sadly isn’t realistic. Thankfully there are things that we as pet parents can do to help our dogs live the longest and healthiest lives possible.

How do you increase the lifespan of your Jack Russell Terrier?

In general, this breed tends to have fewer health issues compared to some others. Howerever, as they age they can still get arthritis, and changes in vision and hearing, all of which are very common old dog problems.

While Jack Russells aren’t known for being predisposed to any major health problems, they are still susceptible to a range of diseases and injuries. To help combat this, veterinary care is a key component in your pet parent arsenal to having a healthy dog. Not only is it important to have a relationship with a veterinarian for routine health care such as vaccines, but also for treatment when our rambunctious friends have an injury or fall ill. Annual visits are especially important as dogs get older to monitor for any age related changes.

See also  Jack Russell Old Age Problems and How to Care

At home, we as pet owners can help promote both health and happiness by keeping our four legged friends active. Since Jack Russell Terriers have such an extremely high energy level this is especially important for their health, their happiness, and our sanity. Afterall, a bored or mentally unstimulated dog can quickly turn into a dog who might find your favorite shoes to be a fantastic new toy to keep themselves occupied.

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Lack of exercise can also lead to obesity which may cause many unwanted health issues. So keep the walks frequent, playtime fun, and exercise plentiful in order to keep your Jack Russell a lean, mean, fetching machine. Ok, maybe not the mean part, but you get my drift.

After all that exercise your pup is going to be nice and hungry which leads us to the next health point: food. When it comes to choosing a healthy dog food there are many options, sometimes too many. It can be very overwhelming when walking down the dog food aisle. If your dog has health issues, including food allergies, have a chat with your local veterinarian for some recommendations.

In general, it is suggested to stay away from grain free diets as they are being shown to have an association with a heart disease known as dilated cardiomyophathy. Ideally, when picking a food it is good to look for an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement. What this means is that the food meets AAFCO’s standard of being a “complete and balanced” diet.

Between feeding a good food, having a healthy amount of activity, and routine veterinary care, you and your beloved Jack Russell are well on your way to a long and happy life together.