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How to Care for an Older Jack Russell Terrier

There inevitably comes a time in life when your dog won’t be as perky, energetic, patient, and healthy as it used to be. These are all perfectly normal signs of aging and as your dog gets older you must consider making some extra effort to make sure that your beloved companion is happy and healthy.

Jack Russell Terrier’s life expectancy is about 15 years but, just like humans, not all dogs age the same way. Some won’t show signs of aging at all, while some start aging sooner than you would expect. They are individual and unique in their own way with their own likes and dislikes, preferences and annoyances, nevertheless here are some surefire ways to spot how old your dog is feeling and how to care him/her in the best way possible.

Is your dog grumpy?

Do you know how older people often complain how the things used to be better in the old days, the music today is too loud, young people have no respect for the elders, they don’t have a lot of understanding for young people and their “partying” and most things seem to bother them on a daily basis? The same happens to some dogs. They become grumpy and impatient, start barking at the smallest provocation (even if often you don’t know what could have possibly provoked them). Often they’ll want to be left alone more than before and won’t have much understanding for other dogs and animals, and people trespassing in their space, even those that they got along with nicely before. They may even lose interest in toys that were previously their favorites and could even have short temper around small children. This is all perfectly normal.

Your pets, as they age, will lose patience for some things and gain interest in others (especially napping), just as humans. The most important thing is to not force them into doing things that they don’t want to. Observe and listen to your four legged buddies, they’ll always show you what they want to do. Be patient and full of understanding for your dog’s needs and wants. Make sure that you explain the situation to other people, especially children. Set up some boundaries regarding your beloved companion and make sure that everybody knows and understands them so that you all have a good time.

Is your dog low on energy?

As we age we often aren’t up to such physical strains as we were when we were young. Most of us won’t go running marathons or attempt record braking weight-lifting in our sixties. The body becomes more fragile and we get tired more easily. The same thing applies to our pets, the only difference is that they age much faster and grow old much sooner then people. Your exercise loving JRT might start to like shorter walks. Your adventurous Jack Russell might be more domesticated and tranquil than he was in his youth. He just wants to enjoy the small comforts of life in their old age, just like your grandparents. Make sure that they are warm enough and that they have everything they need for their comfort – a comfortable place to sleep and call their own, their favorite toys, fresh water nearby and plenty of love and affection as always.

Is your dog healthy?

As your Jack Russel ages his health will deteriorate just like any humans. If he has some chronic condition like diabetes, or problems with their joints, sight and hearing it’s possible that they will worsen with time. You should be careful and observe if they are avoiding exercise because they are in pain – divert your attention especially on their hind legs because there are diseases common in smaller dogs that attack the hip joints of our beloved companions (such as hip dysplasia). Always consult your veterinarian about any unusual changes in behavior and appearance that you observe in your loving pet. They will set your mind at ease and instruct you in proper care and possible treatment for your furry friend.

Make sure that your pet receives their medication (if needed) regularly and in appropriate doses.

Be careful with the diet!

Jack Russell’s are generally prone to overeating and that can only become worse over time. Make sure they eat regularly, preferably two meals a day, but measure their portions carefully so they don’t start gaining excess weight. Adult active JRT should daily eat approximately 1,25 to 1,75 cups of high-quality dog food. When giving them food you must always consider their body structure (stature, weight) and their activity during the day. If they are less active during the day (as they sometimes are when older) you should give them less food to avoid them being overweight. Excess weight in Jack Russell’s could lead to many problems and diseases for your pet – diabetes, heart and breathing problems, etc.

Remember to always feed your loved one only the best high quality dog food or really good adjusted homemade food with all needed supplements. If you notice changes on the skin and hair of your dog, or he/she suddenly becomes itchy and incessantly scratches it might be a sign of a food allergy – take your dog to the vet immediately for a checkup.

Caring for an older dog isn’t even half as much trouble as it sounds. Sure, he can sometimes be grumpier than when he was younger and maybe doesn’t have as much energy to chase every single squirrel that he comes across in the day but he is still the same lovable furry, four legged hunk of love with which you decided to spend a life with. We care for our humans when they get older and our pets deserve nothing less of us than our very best.

My sweet Kala will soon be eight years old which is considered senior age in dogs. Even though I see some changes in her fur – her eyebrows and cheeks were brown before and now they are white, but her energy level is still on it’s high. I do try to keep it that way with long walks, lot of running and playing, and most importantly with keeping her mind young. We still learn new tricks and try to improve those she knows from young age. Also, I really try to feed her with the best quality food – Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food and some homemade balanced dog appropriate food.

Do you fear your Jack Russell’s old age? Or maybe you have one old soul curled up next to you while you’re reading this? Please share your thoughts in comments below.


  1. I have a 13 year old jack. He went completely blind 3 years ago. He has had a dry hacking cough for over a month. The vet said that he did hear something off in his lungs. He lost his balance and fell over the other night and could not get back up for about 30 seconds no matter how he tried. I think it’s time to put him down. My heart is broken.

    • Hi Michele, I’m so sorry to hear about the condition of your Jack. You are facing the hardest decision, but before you make it consult your vet and go through all options and possible outcomes before you decide what’s the best. Consider even going for a second opinion – it doesn’t tell that you don’t trust your vet, just worried for your pup and everyone should understand that. Regards, Ana

  2. I’m thinking about adopting a 12yo female. I’ve never had this breed, but I just spent 2 hours with her, and she seemed sweet and laid back…kind of a lapdog. Any advice before I commit?

    • Hi Dale, adopting senior dog is very rewarding. Jacks can be very different by nature, some of them are laid back but most of them are hyperactive lunatics for their whole life and they are gorgeous for it. Only advice I could give you is to adopt her and shower her with love and affection, provide her with proper nutrition, but don’t forget about giving her enough activity. Monitor her reactions and adjust levels of activity to her needs. She’ll tell you the best. Good luck, Ana

  3. We have a 14 year old jack russell bitch and recently every time we take her out she licks urine puddles from the street. We always try to stop her doing this as we don’t want to make her sick. Why is she doing this and is it bad for her? Thank you.

    • Hi Benjamin, did she start doing it recently? All sudden changes in behavior can be a sign of an illness or lack of some nutrients. Also, dogs have the vomeronasal organ which is placed on the roof of dogs mouth and it is olfactory organ. So maybe she licks urine to smell it more properly with the vomeronasal organ. It would be the best to take her to the vet for a check up and to talk with the vet about that behavior, he/she might have better insights in it, especially after taking some tests. Good luck with it.
      Cheers, Ana

  4. My JRT is 11 and just lately he has been doing strange and unusual things ! he hides a lot, and seems to be terrified of loud noises in the house and is frightened of everyone that he used to love :( very upsetting to see ……

    • Hi Bea, sudden change in behavior can be a sign of illness or pain. Are you sure he’s ok? I suggest to go to the vet for a check up or think if he had some encounter that frightened him. It might be something that seems totally harmless to you but it somehow developed fear of noises of people. Hope it’s nothing serious. Cheers, Ana

  5. My Daisy will be 13 in October. Her high energy level still completely amazes me, she chases every critter going, attempts to run after deer, still loves playing with her toys and basically never misses a trick. I used to think to myself….when is she going to settle down… now I marvel at how young she acts compared to dogs her age. JRT s have so much stamina, they are an amazing breed. I have noticed that she does not like the cold anymore, she starts shaking frantically at the door on a cold morning when I let her out. She also has developed a few fatty lumps underneath, they don’t appear to bother her but I think they are getting bigger. She also gets grumpy when her regular routine is off. I enjoyed reading your article.

    • Hi Shirley, than you for writing. It’s amazing how long they stay young. Although they show few signs of getting old, their souls remain alway young.
      Enjoy your time with Daisy :)

  6. Maisie is 14 in July.. Very grumpy ..she breathes very fast most days..her appetite is good ..has trouble sometimes getting herself on our sofa..but she can do this if she wants to sometimes she decides she can’t so we poxk her up…she has some fatty lumps on her..they dont seem to bother her..also has a wart on her too..and I’ve noticed this her barking has changed to..sounds like she is losing her voice but I don’t think she has but a different sound..otherwise she is growing old like me gracefully …

    • Hi Gail, happy to hear you two are growing old together. Although some things changed in Maisie’s life, I’m sure her senior years have some specials that still warm your heart, and still when life gets hard you are here for her (you pick her up) and she’s here to cheer you up. Thanks For sharing, cheers, Ana

  7. This is a great article! My Jack Russell , Holly is 20 years old! She’s been with me since she was only a few months old! I was 12 when she was born and I’ll be 33 this year, she’ll turn 21. She does have her days… some good some bad but she just keeps going and going! JRTs are very special! ?

    • Hi Jordan, 20 years for a dog is really impressive, you might have taken great care of her. I’m so happy to hear you grew happily together, always having a good friend by your side is priceless. Thank you for sharing and give Holly belly rubs from me :)

    • WOW!!!!! 20 years old! This makes me happy! My sweet JRT, Sony, will be turning 16 in Novemer! He seems to be doing really well for his age, with the exception of his eyesight and hearing…which have declined just a bit! He eats a clean “senior” diet with appropriate mess/vitamins! He is a solid white Jack which hides all of his gray hairs. Everybody thinks he is a puppy! It just warms my heart to hear it!

      • Hi Shelia, 16 years are also respectable years for a dog, but it really comforts us that they are long living breed. I’m so glad to hear you’re taking good care of your JRT, as nutrition and proper exercise is really important.
        Cheers, Ana (sending belly rubs for Sony :))

  8. claire yvonne mackay

    I am sitting reading this with my 14 year old JRT, Spot. A lot of the things you have said are so true and i try to implicate this into my household especially with my 12 year old daughter who still thinks that he is 2 years old. Hi to you and Kala and have an Amazing Christmas. x

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