Are Jack Russell Terriers Hunting Dogs? Truth and Hints

Are Jack Russell Terriers Hunting Dogs? Truth And Hints

Jack Russell Terriers are a small and energetic dog breed that originated initially in England. They are active, athletic, and affectionate dogs that are famous among dog lovers. With a small body and smooth, broken, or rough coats, JRTs are considered working dogs full of energy.

In addition, JRTs are somewhat aggressive dogs from their nature, and they need to be trained as domestic pets from the beginning of adoption. However, there is a concern about Jack Russell hunting attitude since JRTs are historically known as popular hunting dogs.

So, Are Jack Russells hunting dogs? The answer is yes; JRT is a hunting dog breed. They originated and developed before centuries as excellent hunters specialized in hunting foxes and rodents. Their prey-driven skill and digging had made them more successful in hunting. Jack Russell is very eager to work and loves hunting so much since they see it as enjoyment. Their intelligence to learn things easily and desire to work with so much energy paved the way for further recognizing them as hunting dogs. So, with good training, you can create your JRT a more successful hunter since it comes from their genes and inheritance. 

As a JRT owner for two years, I think sharing my views and experiences regarding Jack Russell’s hunting nature will be beneficial for you. I’m not hunting with my JRT, Shaggy, and he is a domestic pet for me rather than a hunter.

But it is good to know the nature of your pet while defining the causes for his behavior. So, through this article, you may be able to understand the truth of whether Jack Russell is a hunting dog or not.

Then, let’s identify the characteristics of JRTs as hunting dogs, and after that, I’ll provide you with some tips to train your JRT for hunting. Finally, it’s better to identify the current context of JRT’s hunting nature by observing whether they are still hunting dogs.

Let’s get started!

Are Jack Russells Hunting Dogs?

Yes, Jack Russell Terriers are considered hunting dogs. JRTs are a small, energetic dog breed with so much energy and willingness to work. Centuries ago, they were popular hunting supporters for people.

They have a large capability of driving prey and are eager to work outside. In addition, JRTs are famous for digging due to their small size. Even though they have transferred into domestic pets now, their hunting nature is still witnessed. 

When it comes to the historical background of Jack Russell hunting nature, they were bred in England with the fatherhood of Reverend John Russell in the early 1800s.

From the very beginning, JRTs are a hunting dog breed, and they are baying terriers that never kill the prey but flush it out with their steady barking. They were popular among hunters during the past era, and they took JRTs as gun dogs while hunting.

They were famous as fox hunters and hunted rodents, rabbits, squirrels, and birds. JRTs were known as great hunters and diggers with huge strength and capability of hunting.

Therefore, from their birth and genes, JRTs are hunting dogs, and their nature is circulated hunting capacity. 

Characteristics of Jack Russell as a hunting dog

As we already discussed, Jack Russell is a hunting dog from his origin, and they were first used for hunting as a gun dog.

There should be specific characteristics to identify a dog as a hunting dog, and before defining a dog as a gun dog, it is good to explore whether they are enriched with them or not.

However, there are several characteristics of JRTs regarding jack Russell hunting that make them hunting dogs. 

  • Excellent prey drive

Jack Russell has a stronger and good prey drive than other dogs. They can catch the smell of other animals, and they automatically adapt to hunt or chase them. Prey drive is the most important characteristic of a hunting dog, and JRTs have that ability from their birth.

I’ve witnessed this well with my JRT, Shaggy. He chased away every rabbit and squirrel that was trying to come closer to the house.

  • Energy

Jack Russell is one of the best energetic dog breeds, and their bodies are full of energy. They are eager to work and play outdoors since they need to release their excess energy.

JRTs are very energetic, and therefore hunting is not a twice-thinking task for them. They have enough energy and capacity to engage in hunting.

  • Digging

Digging is one of the prominent abilities of Jack Russell. With their small size bodies and short-haired coats, they are excellent at digging, and it allows them to hunt rodents, rabbits, and pests.

They can easily go through small pits, and it makes them more appropriate for hunting.

  • Intelligence

JRTs are very intelligent dogs, and they can learn things easily. Since they are a hunting dog breed historically, they are extremely intelligent and can grab and differentiate new things.

A dog that is specialized in hunting must have the intelligence to capture the commands, and JRTs are one of the best dogs in it.

  • Desire to work

JRTs are not lazy dogs, and they love to work and engage in outdoor activities so much. Try to take your JRT outside for playing and observe his expression.

They are extremely happy to work and play. Therefore, they have the desire to work and hunt, which is a gift from their birth.

  • Jack Russells enjoy hunting

Jack Russells enjoy hunting since it is a genetic inheritance for them. They love hunting, and it is an enjoyment for them.

I have observed that my JRT is enjoying catching squirrels, and it makes them happy. If you enjoy something, then you may automatically become an expert in that field. 

Tips for training a Jack Russell to hunt

When discussing Jack Russell hunting dog nature, they are born hunters and have a large capability on it. However, you have to train them well and teach them the necessary skills and abilities to make them good hunters.

The training is an essential task of adopting a Jack Russell. You have to start from the very beginning of adopting them.

Whether you are hunting or not, training your JRT to hunt may bring you advantages, especially in pest control and chasing harmful animals. So here are some tips for jack Russell hunting training, and you can try them out with your JRT. 

  • Make him obedient

Making your JRT obedient to your commands is necessary. If not, you will be unable to control them while hunting. Therefore, train them to obey your voice and commands such as ‘start,’ ‘stop,’ ‘stand-up,’ ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘come,’ and ‘leave it.

Obedience is important to reduce the destruction that your JRT can cause for your neighbors’ private property and the pets. You have to recall them when they are acting in that way.

  • Practice the Leash

When training your JRT for hunting, you have to practice using a leash. Try the leash with them, and at the beginning, start training with the leash on to control the aggressive behavior of your JRT.

Then when the training is going on, you can start practice with the leash off after making sure that they are obedient and controlled. 

  • Hunting tools

Practicing your dog with hunting tools is necessary to train him for hunting. Guns, weapons, equipment, tactics in hunting, and other sounds and objects used in hunting should be familiar to your JRT to make them good hunting dogs.

Therefore, introduce them to hunting tools and teach them the way they were used. Since JRTs are intelligent dog breeds, they will be able to grab them easily.

  • Prey drive skills

Your JRT is prey-driven, and therefore you have to train them prey drive skills to make their hunting more smooth and specific. Introduce them to the prey animals and their smell and reduce their hunting of other animals.

Train them with the specific target animals of hunting and make them familiar with their smell, shape, and sounds. Discourage your dog to drive other preys rather than the prey animals you introduced.

  • Exercise

Physical fitness is important for hunting dogs, and you have to provide them with enough exercise. Try regular walking as well as training with outdoor activities to make your dog capable of enduring the distance and barriers of hunting.

Your dog needs to stay active without retiring during the hunting, and exercise is necessary for training.

  • Scent trails

You can take the scent from the focused prey animal that your JRT has to hunt and create a scent trail by applying it to drag. Then plant the trail somewhere and let your dog find it.

Start with simple trails, and then you can develop them gradually into complex ones. This will be a good training method for your JRT to hunt.

  • Rewards

To encourage your JRT in training, you can reward it for good performances with meat or cookies that it loves the most. Dogs love rewarding so much, and then they will try to perform better in the next instances. 

Are Jack Russell Terriers still hunting dogs? Truth

As we already discussed, Jack Russell Terriers have been hunting dogs from the beginning centuries, and they were developed as hunting dogs historically.

In that era, hunting was a practice of human civilization, and JRTs acted as supporters for people in hunting animals. Due to their energetic, barking, and digging skills, they were continued as well-performed hunting dogs.

JRTs are famous for hunting rabbits, squirrels, rats, snakes, moles, and some other small animals. 

However, when concerning the contemporary aspect of jack Russell hunting, hunting has now become a less and far-gone practice in human society, and there are fewer chances to hunt in jungles due to laws and regulations in the system.

Therefore, Jack Russell has transformed into a domestic pet with the time, and they are no longer used for hunting foxes like before. Then the matter comes to mind that “are they still hunting dogs?” The answer is yes.

Even though they are transferred into domestic pets now, their inherited hunting nature may not disappear. You may also face some difficulties with their hunting nature, such as digging your yard, chasing neighbor pets, excess barking, aggressive behavior, or tearing open the sofa.

However, if you are not going to hunt with your JRT, then you can use his hunting nature for pest control and reduce the attack of small animals on your garden. They are very good pet drivers, and with proper training, you can make them more advantageous in pest control. 

As a JRT owner, I have trained my JRT, Shaggy, for this pest control purpose and am so glad to say that he is doing a brilliant job in it.

So, please don’t get discouraged by concerning the hunting nature of JRTs as an irritation for you and train them well and make use of it. Then your JRT may be a beneficial domestic hunter for you.


Now, you have a clear definition of Jack Russell’s hunting nature, whether they are hunting dogs or not. When adopting a hunting dog JRT as a domestic pet, you need to identify their nature and characteristics better. If not with the difficulty of defining their behavior, you may face hardships. So, identify your JRT as a hunting dog and train him to perform as a domestic dog while making his hunting behavior advantageous for you.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about your favorite dog breed.

Cheers from Shaggy and Lenny!


  • George Brown

    George B. is the founder of the JRO Organization. He believes in creating a better world for domestic animals. He believes domestic animals are more vulnerable than other animals, especially dogs, since they have been used to depending on their owners for generations. So, he started JRO to share his ideas and insights while helping vulnerable dogs worldwide. George runs multiple projects on street dogs in developing countries, especially Sri Lanka.

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