Why Do Jack Russells Shake? Reasons and Curing Guide

Why Do Jack Russells Shake? Reasons And Curing Guide

It is not a funny sight to see your Jack Russell is shaking. As an owner of two JR’s, I know how you feel now. Most Jack Russell owners ask me, ‘Why do Jack Russells shake?’ and ‘How can we help a shaking JR?’. Let’s find out!

So, Why do Jack Russells shake? There are few reasons for a shaking Jack Russell. The first one is their behavioral reasons such as pain, cold, emotions, and old age. The most common reason is Jack Russells shake to expel and burn off their excess energy when they haven’t enough exercises. And also, there could be some other medical concerns rarely, such as shaker syndrome, hypoglycemia, wobbler syndrome, nausea, or myokymia.

Many of them think that JR’s shake due to the cold. I also thought like that in the first instance. My Jack, named Shaggy, started shaking for the first time in his life around 7 years ago. I picked him up and popped a blanket around him, thinking that he caught a cold. 

I was so worried about my puppy and started investigating the reasons why Jack Russells shake. After thorough research, I know A-Z about their shaking problems. 

Therefore, I thought to share my experience and insights with you. I hope this post will be helpful for dog owners who are worrying about their pets. Once you finish reading this post, you will be able to manage the situation by yourself.

I hope to cover the following topics in this post today. Feel free to jump straight to the section you want.

Fast facts; Why do Jack Russells shake?

Why Do Jack Russells Shake Sum-up?

As I mentioned earlier, Jack Russells may be shaking for many reasons. Most of the time, it could be a behavioral situation that is nothing to take seriously.

Since Jack Russells are an energetic and active dog breed, they tend to release their energy out of the body. When they don’t have enough exercises and activities, we can see they are shaking from time to time.

This situation is completely normal for most hyper dogs. Therefore, you don’t need to worry if you are sure that your Jack didn’t have enough exercises in previous days before shaking. It is not something that harms your pet. Just try to keep him active and take him outside to release his stored energy.

However, there are some situations that you should take seriously. If your Jack is shaking for some medical causes, you should meet the vet immediately. That is why this post will help you to identify why do Jack Russell’s shake.

Let’s dive into the deep.

Behavioral Causes for Jack Russell’s Shaking

  • Letting out excess energy

Shaking is one of the natural behaviors of JR’s like any other dogs. As we discussed earlier, dogs shake to release their excess energy. Since Jacks are a relatively energetic dog breed, most of JR’s owners have seen this often.

You might be interested in reading – Jack Russell Terriers Breed Info (All you need to know)

We know that Jack Russells have a hunting heritage. Even Though they don’t hunt, they are still hyperactive dogs. They love playing, running, and jumping all the time. When they have enough space and time to play, they have the chance to vent their energy naturally.

Behavioral Causes for Jack Russell's Shaking

However, JR doesn’t have an opportunity to release his power, his physical and mental stability get confused. That is the most common reason Jack Russell’s are shaking.

You can find detailed information about ‘how much exercise a Jack Russell needs’, find it here.

  • Age causes shaking

Dogs also have some troubles in old age like humans. The strength and energy fade away in senior dogs as a universal fact. Older dogs may have lots of troubles in their muscles, bones, and everywhere. Those pain and weaknesses create uncontrollable shaking.

You can read an in-depth review about ‘Jack Russell’s old age problems – How to care guide’ here.

  • As an emotional response

We have seen Jack Russells shake as a result of an emotional response. Dogs tend to naturally respond to emotions such as fear, pain, anxiety, and other psychological imbalances like human beings.

And also, when they are trying to mask their emotions, it comes out as shaking. That is why you should read their emotions well. You don’t need to have professional qualifications for it; just a trained eye is enough.

“You don’t need to have professional qualifications to identify why do your Jack Russell shake; Just a trained eye is enough” Jack Russell Owner

And also, Jacks are so sensitive to excitement. It can cause them to shake uncontrollably. Especially when you give something that he likes unexpectedly or if you make them afraid suddenly. For instance, fireworks or thunderstorms can make them shake.

Environmental factors may cause Jack Russell’s shaking

We know JR’s have relatively shorter hair than other dogs. Therefore, they are vulnerable to extremely cold environments. And also, they don’t have much body fat due to their small body size. It makes them more difficult in cold climate conditions.

However, Jack Russells are hyperactive dogs that produce so much energy. Therefore, in cold situations, they can produce body heat by shaking. They may shake from time to time constantly until their body temperature is balanced.

JRTs shake to clean his skin

JR’s shake to clean his skin

If some minor encumbrances stick on our skin, we can remove them using our hands. Your Jack Russell cannot do it. He uses his teeth as much as possible, but there are places in his body that teeth cannot reach. At that time, Jack Russell started shaking his body to remove those obstacles.

And also, we know that dogs shed no matter their coat’s thickness. When they shed, some hair may not fall off the ground and stick into the coat.

As same as other dogs, Jacks shake their body to clean those hairs. It will be enough to give them a gentle brushing to stop this shaking. That is why you should understand adequately why do Jack Russells shake.

Why do Jack Russells Shake? – Medical Conditions

This situation is different from the others we discussed earlier in this post. If you recognize your JR is shaking continuously or shaking in severe pain, there could be a medical condition. Therefore, it would be better to meet your vet as soon as possible.

Some common medical conditions cause Jack Russell’s shaking;

This is a common health issue for most hyperactive dog breeds like Jack Russells. It happens due to the lower level of blood sugar. This type of shaking episode lasts 15 – 20 minutes or more, depending on the size and health of your Jack Russell.

Physical exercises and intense activities consume lots of energy in the blood. Even if we like to see our dogs active and playful, it may cause them to end up with hypoglycemia. Therefore, we always have to care about their nutrition.

This is not a common health issue. However, female dogs have more potential to have this disease. It comes with shaking and several other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, excessively thirsty, unstoppable urination, and severe weight loss.

Addison’s disease is known as adrenal insufficiency. It happens due to the deficiency in certain hormones such as adrenalin and more.

Why do Jack Russells Shake? - Medical Conditions
  • Nausea

This is also a common medical cause for Jack Russell’s shaking. This happens when they eat something that their body does not accept. Therefore, medical attention is needed for this type of shaking.

This is also a common medical cause for Jack Russell’s shake. It is an involuntary shaking condition that affects the muscles of the dog. Most of the time, this situation may affect the muscles in the neck, legs, or eyes.

There are several reasons for Myokymia, such as anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, intense exercise, or dehydration. If you recognize this situation with your Jack Russell, it would be better to consult your vet.

This is a serious health condition that needs immediate medical attention. Wobbler syndrome is a neurological disease caused by a series of shaking episodes. This affects the top of the spine close to the neck, which is called ‘Cervical spondylomyelopathy.

You can identify this situation when your dog is walking extra slowly, having a wobbly posture. This illness also creates enormous pain, so your Jack Russell may walk, keeping his head low.

Once you identify this situation, consult your vet immediately. Otherwise, this syndrome can spread to all four legs and ultimately can end up with paralysis. Therefore, if you see your dog is having severe pain in its back and is constantly shaking, go for medical treatments ASAP.

Those are the most common medical reasons for shaking Jack Russell. Now you know the answers for why do Jack Russells shake.

Read – How Many Puppies Do Jack Russells Terriers Have?


We have discussed all the reasons for the trembling or shaking of Jack Russells. Some situations can be managed by yourself, such as behavioral shaking and shaking due to weather situations.

However, there are some situations where you need professional medical intervention. Therefore, if you see something strange or extraordinary in your Puppy, consult your vet immediately.

I believe that I answered your question, ‘Why do Jack Russells shake?’. If you have anything to share with our community, Write us on our contact page.

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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