10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Jack Rat Terrier


The Jack Rat Terrier, also Known as the Jersey Terrier to some, is a fascinating member of the canine family. Fast, agile, stubborn and loyal, this little powerhouse has been around since the 1800’s. While the breed seemed to lose fans, it regained them and more during the 1990’s. In fact, American Idol singer Carrie Underwood is the proud owner of a Jack Rat she named Ace. These are warm, sweet and active dogs that deserve their resurgence in popularity. Below, we’ve searched for some interesting facts about this historic breed that you may find interesting, especially if you’re contemplating ownership of one.

1. The Jack Rat Terrier is a Designer Dog

The Jack Rat Terrier is a designer breed of sorts. Designer dogs are those that are not a recognized breed themselves. Instead, they are created by taking two different recognized dog breeds and breeding them to produce pups with the personality traits of both parents. In this case, the Jack Rat Terrier is a mix between a Rat Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier.

2. The Jack Rat Terrier is Fearless

The Jack Rat Terrier is a delightful and playful pet when they’re with their family and friends. However, this angelic family pet soon becomes an absolute terror of terrors when it finds itself in a position of defending itself or loved ones. Make no mistake about it, this guy might be small in size, but has the heart of a lion and agile speed of an eagle.

3. A Jack Rat Terrier was the Star of the Film, “Vampire Dog”

In 2012 a family movie titled, “Vampire Dog” was released. The movie followed the antics of a vampire dog who exists by eating jelly pudding and going by the name of Fang. Being a vampire dog, Fang not only talks but can also hypnotize others. This sweet and simple children’s film needed a certain type of dog to play Fang. In the end, the role went to a Jack Rat Terrier. This isn’t the first time Jack Rats were seen in movies. So far, Jack Rats made appearances in 1978’s The Great Train Robbery, and 1962’s The Music Man.

4. Jack Rats Can Be Very Aggressive

This may be a small dog, but don’t let that fool you–ever. No matter how cute, cuddly and adorable they may look if they haven’t been properly socialized, they can be aggressive. Not only that, they can also become little terrier terrors if bored. In other words, chew up your furniture, scrape at carpeting, gnaw on your shoes, and so on. If you aren’t sure you can properly socialize your Jack Rat, then contact a professional dog trainer to do it for you. A properly socialized and trained Jack Rat is a loyal and fun pet, well worth the investment of a professional trainer.

5. Jack Rats Make Great Guard Dogs

When we usually think of guard dogs, Doberman’s and German Shepherds come to mind. However, don’t discount the Jack Rat because it’s a little guy. Even though they are considered medium-sized, they are extremely muscular, agile and fast on their feet. Indeed, the Jack Rat can deliver one powerful punch, not to mention its bark acts as a deterrent. They are brave, smart and obedient if well trained, a great guard dog for those in apartments or smaller homes where keeping a large breed isn’t a logical choice.

6. Jack Rat Terriers Don’t Have Doggy Odor

Some of you may appreciate that owners of Jack Rats report that they lack the doggy smell found in other breeds. That’s not to say that they have no smell. It does mean that if properly maintained, they don’t carry the doggy smell as heavily as you’d find in other breeds, like the German Shepherd.

7. Jack Rat terriers are fine with families

Jack Rat terriers are fine with families, as long as they’ve been well trained and socialized as pets. While these are wonderful dogs, they do have a stubborn streak and a bit of a temper, so should not be around young kids, especially unsupervised. After all, young kids can be a little rough with dogs, and may pull at their ears and so on. So, it’s a good idea to stick with breeds such as the Boxer dog if you have young children in the home.

8. Artist and Film Maker Made a Documentary of Her Jack Rat

Avant garde artist and film maker, Laurie Anderson loved her Jack Rat Terrier so much that she filmed a documentary entitled “Heart of a Dog“. Named Lolabelle, her documentary centered on her memories of her friend. The film premiered at te Telluride Film Festival in 2015, and released in theaters October 21, 2015. “Heart of a Dog” was well-received by critics and public alike, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, as well as nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars.

9. Professional Trainer Michele Welton Believes “Respect Training” is Best for Jack Rats

Professional dog trainer Michele Welton firmly believes that respect training is best for Jack Russell’s. With respect training, it’s you who must do whatever they can to get the dog to do things, such as “sit” or “Stay” while earning their respect. In respect training, there is no negative reinforcement. This means that during training, you are to establish boundaries without yelling, shaming or hitting your dog.

10. Jack Rats were Bred for a Specific Purpose

Though Jack Rats have been around since the 1800s, they didn’t become recognized as a breed by the AKC until 2013. The early “designer dogs” were bred specifically to limit the amount of rodents found in farms. It is suspected that the Jack Rat was created by breeding the Smooth Fox Terrier, Old English White Terrier, Bull Terrier, Italian Greyhound, Beagle and Manchester Terrier. With all of those breeds involved in their early days, it’s not surprising that the Jack Rat comes in various sizes:

  • Toy: Weigh in at around 5 pounds and stand no taller than 12 inches
  • Miniature: Between 12 and 15 inches tall, weighing in at around 14 pounds
  • Decker Terrier: Can reach a shoulder height of 19 inches and weigh around 40 pounds
  • Standard: Between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at 25 pounds

Final Thoughts

There you have it, an introduction to a playful, loyal and happy dog, the Jack Rat Terrier. These are a fabulous dog to own, always full of laughs, energy and surprises. However, they aren’t the easiest to handle. As such, it’s recommended that you socialize your Jack Rat Terrier when young. This socialization will get your Jack Rat ready to deal with kids and other animals. If you’re looking for a Jack Rat for your very own, it’s strongly suggested that you visit a Jack Rat Rescue organization who can help you adopt one that has no home. You can find out more here. If you’ve decided to get one for yourself, then congratulations are in order. This is a historic breed, always ready to cuddle with you in front of the TV for an evening of binge watching.

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