Why do Jack Russells Growl? How to Stop Your JRT’s Growling

Why do Jack Russells Growl? How to Stop Your JRT’s Growling?

Growling is something we never expect to see from our beloved dogs. Therefore, most Jack Russells owners and potential JRT owners ask, ‘why do Jack Russells growl?’.

However, growling is a quite normal behaviour of most energetic dog breeds towards other animals or strangers. If your JRT growls at you or your family members, there should be something extraordinary to take care of.

So, Why do Jack Russells growl? Jack Russell Terriers have ancestral predatory heritage. They growl towards strangers to protect the territory, as a warning, as a way of showing aggression and defending the owner. Sometimes, JRTs growl towards their owners because of showing annoyance, fear or jealousy. And also, Jacks growl for releasing their unused energy. Therefore, understanding your JRT is important to stop his growling.

There are several situations and reasons for JRT’s growling. Therefore, it would be better to discuss the situations more intensely to get a clear idea.

I have listed below the main sections that I intend to discuss in this post. You can click on the topic to jump straight to the topic you want. Let’s get started!

Why do Jack Russells growl at strangers and other animals?

There are several common reasons for Jack Russells growling. As we know, JRT’s are energetic and active dogs. They have got some of the aggressive behaviours from their ancestors. 

Jacks were used as hunting and working dogs in the early days though they become family dogs nowadays. Therefore, they still have the same strength and protective attitude.

Read – Jack Russell Terrier’s breed facts

As a Jack Russell owner who raised two dogs, I have noticed several common situations that JRTs growl. Let’s have a look at those.

1. Jacks growl as a warning

Typically, Jacks have a higher suspicious level than other small dog breeds. They don’t build trust quickly towards strangers or other animals. 

Read – Are Jack Russells Good with Cats? Reality and Guide

So, they don’t let others come closer to them. In that case, Jacks start growling to warn them. That is the way JRTs show their resistance. In fact, it is a sign of warning to protect his space. 

I have noticed this situation several times from my Jacks. When they start building trust, the tone of growling and the aggression fades away. Still, they try to keep their distance. If the stranger tries to cross the line, they start growling louder than earlier.

2. Jack Russells growl to show their power

We know that JRTs have excessive energy. So, they expect to take the lead in a group when Jacks play with other pets.

They try to make others afraid of them and take leadership. It is the nature of most energetic dog breeds.

3. JRTs growl to protect the territory

Jacks are excellent protective dogs. They are loyal and trustworthy companions. Jack Russells don’t like to curl on the owner’s lap all the time. 

They think they are the protectors of the family. Therefore, you can expect some aggressive behaviours like growling and barking when someone crosses your territory. 

Also, I have noticed that JRTs are overprotective about their owners. When I go out for a walk with my Jacks, they take the lead. They sniff everywhere and drag me the way they want.

In that case, Jack Russells growl to keep you and your family safe. Isn’t it lovely?

4. Growling to show the aggression

Jacks are a little bit aggressive towards other animals. As we discussed earlier, they show aggression when they don’t tolerate something or someone.

Mostly, Jacks are aggressive towards other dogs contrary to their small size. In that case, you have to be careful when your JRT is with other dogs. Small dogs tolerate JRT’s aggression because of the fear but not the larger dogs.

Therefore, try to make them socialize at a young age to be a good team player.  

Those are the most common situations that JRTs growl at strangers and other pets. Let’s see why do Jack Russells growl at their family members. 

Why do Jack Russells growl to their owners and family members?

Why do Jack Russells growl to their owners and family members?

Most dog owners complain to me that their JRTs are growling at them. This is not a situation we expect as dog owners.

In my experience, there are some reasons for Jacks to growl at their owners. However, it depends on your dog’s training and behaviour.

1. Jacks growl when they feel threatened

Jacks are an independent dog breed, not like other small dog breeds. Therefore, they like their space and freedom. It doesn’t mean that they are not good dogs.

Indeed, Jack Russells are good family dogs. Even though they are loyal companions, they like to be independent. If you are looking for a dog that curls on your lap all the time, Jack is not a good choice for you.

Jacks are stubborn sometimes. They intentionally refuse to obey your commands when they are in a mood. In that case, if you compel him to follow your orders, he might be growling at you.

It happens because they feel threatened. Don’t forget that they have a predatory heritage. That is why we advise JRT owners to train their dogs regularly.

2. Growling to show the annoyance

Jack Russells growl when they are annoyed. Mostly, it happens when someone tries to breach his space or compel him to do something.

Read – Why Do Jack Russells Shake? Reasons and Curing Guide

In this case, it is better to let him enjoy his space without having more troubles. Jacks love to have their freedom. Also, they don’t like to hear the same orders again and again.

3. To show the fear

Most animals become aggressive when they are afraid of something. It is the same for the Jack Russell Terriers.

We know that Jacks have a predatory history. Therefore, they still carry their aggressive attitude towards threats. So, JRTs growl when they fear something or someone.

My two Jacks are afraid of loud noises. I had to put a lot of effort to calm them down every 31st night because they are afraid of the firecrackers sound. They started growling at me when I tried to calm them down.

4. Jack Russells growl to show the jealousy

Typically, Jacks don’t like to be cuddled much. It doesn’t mean that they are not lovely. They have a unique loyalty that comes with a protective attitude.

However, Jacks expect a lot of attention from their owners. They become jealous when you draw attention to something else, especially if you try to cuddle another pet.

In that case, Jack Russells start growling at you. It is a sign that he doesn’t like you to pet other animals except him.

Those are the situations I noticed from my Jacks relate to their growling attitude. If you have noticed something else than the above, we would love to hear it.

How to stop your JRT’s growling? How do you calm a Jack Russell?

We discussed the reasons for JRT’s growling. Now is an excellent time to talk about the solutions.

I am not wrong if I say that every dog owner expects an obedient dog. It would be sad to see our beloved dogs growl at us.

Therefore, I researched their growling attitude and found some practical solutions to stop their growling towards family members. I could reduce their aggressiveness to some extent using impactful but straightforward ways. Let’s jump in!

1. Don’t reward their growling

Most dog owners try to please their dogs when growling. They think showing love will make their JRTs calm. It is not correct.

Your intentions might calm down your dog and make him comfortable. Though, your dog will take it as a reward. It makes him motivated to growl more and more to be pleased.

Therefore, don’t pet your dog when he growls at you. Try to say ‘Stop’ or ‘Quiet’ once with a high tone. Let him know that you are not satisfied with his growling attitude.

Then, ignore him for a while. Most of the time, he will understand that he did the wrong thing because Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent.

Read – Jack Russell’s Old Age Problems – How to Care Guide

This method works well for me. I neglected my dogs when they growled at me. Then, they understood that growling is a destructive behaviour that I don’t tolerate.

2. Give your Jack some space

As we discussed earlier, Jacks may growl for different reasons. Therefore, give some space for them until they calm down.

Jacks have an independent attitude. So, it would be better to give time and space to reduce their anger than try to please them.

Let him know that you respect his independence. It will make him calm down and feel sorry about his attitude.

3. Train your dog correctly to stop growling

We know that Jacks are an energetic and aggressive dog breed. Therefore, it is essential to train them correctly at a young age. Proper training will reduce their destructive behaviours.

In fact, we recommend every dog owner to train their dogs no matter what breed. It helps for a healthy relationship with our dogs and family members.

Training will teach them to act on demand. It gives you more control of your dog. You can expect an obedient dog after proper training.

4. Give him enough exercises

Jacks are excessively energetic in nature. So, they expect a lot of physical activities. If they don’t get enough exercise, they will lose their mental and physical stability. That will drive them messy that causes lots of destructive behaviours.

Try to give them 30 – 40 minutes of daily exercises to release their excessive energy. It will make him healthy and will have a longer lifespan.

Also, enough exercises will reduce Jack Russells growling attitudes.

5. Provide your Jack Russell enough toys

Playful dogs love their toys. Toys can make our Jacks busy and distract from their aggressive attitudes.

As I mentioned earlier, Jacks have unlimited energy for playing the whole day. You will not be able to play with your dog all the time.

Therefore, provide enough toys and make him busy. It will help to reduce Jack Russell’s growling.

6. Teach your kids the correct way of approaching the dog

Mostly, kids don’t know how to approach the dogs. I have seen many kids try to disturb dogs when eating, sleeping or in a bad mood. That could make the situation worse.

Therefore, teach your kids to be gentle with your JRT. Also, tell them the correct way of showing love and approach your dog.

Mutual understanding is the best solution for most of the issues.

FAQ 1 – Are Jack Russells snappy?

Yes, sometimes. We can see that most energetic dogs are snappy. It doesn’t mean that they are bad. Typically, they have a relatively higher suspicious level than other small dogs. 

Therefore, they don’t make friends quickly. Once they become friends with someone, they are so loyal to them. 

So, I think even though Jack Russell Terriers are snappy, they have their own qualities.

FAQ 2 – Are Jack Russells aggressive?

Yes. Jack Russells Terriers have aggressive behaviour in nature because of their predatory heritage.

Read – Pros and Cons of Jack Russell Terriers

That is why I recommend early age training. Proper and continuous training will help to reduce their aggressive attitudes. 

FAQ 3 – Do Jack Russells bark a lot?

Typically, Jacks are more yappy dogs than other small dog breeds. There are several reasons for their barking, such as releasing energy, boredom, excitement, fear and looking for attention.

Also, they are excellent protective dogs. They excessively bark when someone enters into his territory. 

Read – Do Jack Russells bark a lot?

Conclusion – So, why do Jack Russells growl?

We discussed Jack Russell Terrier’s growling attitude extensively in this post. The reasons for Jack’s growling at strangers and family members have been discussed thoroughly. 

And also, I explained the way to stop your JRT’s growling using some practical and simple solutions.

Moreover, I have answered some frequently asked questions about Jack’s behaviour. I hope this post was helpful to answer your question ‘why do Jack Russells growl?’.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about our four-legged friends.

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.

    [email protected]

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