Jack Russell vs. Rat Terrier

What's the Difference?

Jack Russell and Rat Terrier are two small dog breeds that share many similarities. Both breeds are known for their high energy levels and intelligence. They are both highly trainable and excel in various dog sports and activities. Jack Russells and Rat Terriers are also known for their strong prey drive and are excellent hunters. However, there are some differences between the two breeds. Jack Russells are slightly larger and have a more muscular build compared to Rat Terriers. They also have a more assertive and independent personality, while Rat Terriers are generally more affectionate and eager to please. Overall, both breeds make great companions for active individuals or families who can provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation.


Jack Russell
Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash
AttributeJack RussellRat Terrier
OriginEnglandUnited States
Weight13-17 lbs10-25 lbs
CoatSmooth, rough, or brokenSmooth or broken
ColorWhite with tan, black, or brown markingsWhite with tan, black, or brown markings
Life Expectancy13-16 years15-18 years
TemperamentEnergetic, intelligent, and independentAlert, friendly, and intelligent
Exercise NeedsHighHigh
Rat Terrier
Photo by Kathy Morales on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to small and energetic dog breeds, both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are popular choices among dog lovers. These breeds share some similarities, but they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of both the Jack Russell and Rat Terrier, exploring their appearance, temperament, exercise needs, trainability, and health considerations.


Both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are small-sized dogs, typically weighing between 10 to 20 pounds. However, there are some differences in their physical appearance. The Jack Russell Terrier has a compact and muscular body with a square-shaped head. They have almond-shaped eyes and V-shaped ears that fold forward. On the other hand, the Rat Terrier has a lean and athletic build with a wedge-shaped head. They have round, dark eyes and erect ears that are set high on their head.

When it comes to coat types, both breeds have different variations. The Jack Russell Terrier can have either a smooth, rough, or broken coat. The smooth coat is short and dense, while the rough coat is longer and wiry. The broken coat is a combination of both. On the other hand, the Rat Terrier has a short, smooth coat that lies close to their body. Their coat can come in a variety of colors, including white, black, tan, chocolate, or a combination of these.


Both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are known for their lively and spirited personalities. They are intelligent, alert, and highly energetic dogs. However, there are some differences in their temperaments. The Jack Russell Terrier is often described as more independent and stubborn. They have a strong prey drive and may be prone to chasing small animals. On the other hand, the Rat Terrier is known for being friendly, affectionate, and eager to please. They are generally good with children and other pets if properly socialized.

Both breeds require early socialization and consistent training to prevent behavioral issues. They thrive in homes where they receive mental stimulation and plenty of exercise. It's important to note that due to their high energy levels, both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier may not be suitable for households with very young or elderly individuals who may struggle to keep up with their exercise needs.

Exercise Needs

As mentioned earlier, both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are highly energetic breeds that require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. However, the Jack Russell Terrier is often considered to be the more active of the two. They have a seemingly endless amount of energy and require vigorous exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are essential for this breed.

The Rat Terrier, while still energetic, may be slightly less demanding in terms of exercise. They enjoy daily walks and play sessions, but they are generally content with moderate exercise. Rat Terriers are adaptable and can adjust their activity levels to their owner's lifestyle, making them a suitable choice for individuals or families who may not have as much time for intense exercise routines.


When it comes to trainability, both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are intelligent breeds that can excel with proper training and socialization. However, the Jack Russell Terrier may be more challenging to train due to their independent nature and strong will. They are known to be stubborn at times and may require consistent and patient training methods.

On the other hand, the Rat Terrier is generally more eager to please and responsive to training. They are quick learners and enjoy mental stimulation. With positive reinforcement techniques and early socialization, Rat Terriers can become well-behaved and obedient companions. It's important to note that both breeds may have a tendency to bark, so early training to control excessive barking is essential.

Health Considerations

Both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are generally healthy breeds with a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions that potential owners should be aware of. Jack Russell Terriers may be susceptible to genetic disorders such as deafness, patellar luxation, and lens luxation. They may also be prone to certain eye conditions and allergies.

Rat Terriers, on the other hand, may be prone to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and cardiac issues. They may also be susceptible to allergies and dental problems. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help mitigate the risk of these health conditions in both breeds.


In conclusion, both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Rat Terrier are small-sized, energetic breeds that make wonderful companions for active individuals or families. While they share some similarities in terms of appearance and exercise needs, they also have distinct differences in temperament, trainability, and potential health concerns. Potential owners should carefully consider their own lifestyle and preferences when choosing between these two breeds. Regardless of which breed is chosen, providing a loving and stimulating environment is key to raising a happy and well-adjusted dog.

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