Can a Jack Russell Terrier be a Service Dog

Are you looking for a Jack Russell Terrier as a Service Dog? Some people argue that Jack Russells do not make the best service dogs because of their high-energy levels and dominance. Let’s find out more.

Can Jack Russell Terrier be a Service Dog?

Many people think that the breed has characteristics and traits that are not ideal for service or therapy dogs. However, dog trainers believe that the right training and care can turn Jack Russell Terriers into terrific service dogs.

But before we find out more about Jack Russells, here is a brief overview of service dogs.

What are Service Dogs?

The term service dog refers to any assistance dog trained to serve people with disabilities. People who have hearing or vision impairments, suffer from mental disorders, have diabetes, or experience seizures can benefit from service dogs.

Although a service dog is a working dog, it is very different from other types of working dogs, such as cadaver dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and police dogs.

Service dogs need to:

  • please their handlers
  • follow their owners everywhere
  • be friendly and calm but alert
  • quick to learn
  • retain information

What are the Laws that Protect Service Dogs?

The Americans with Disabilities Act or the ADA protects service dogs. According to this Act, service animals refer to dogs that receive training to perform tasks or work for people with disabilities. The service dog is not a pet but an animal that receives training for assisting the handler with something directly related to his/her disability.

According to laws and regulations, neither therapy dogs nor emotional support dogs are service animals. As per the ADA, government and local facilities, food service establishments, and even businesses cannot deny service dogs’ entrance.

However, the law also requires handlers to control service dogs at all times, be it through a leash or a harness.

Now let’s get back to our question. Can this breed become an efficient service dog?

We will probe deeper into this breed’s positive and negative traits to determine whether these hyperactive dogs are good candidates for service dogs.

Jack Russells as Service Dogs: Positive Traits

Jack Russells can be incredible service dogs or therapy dogs in some settings, provided they receive the best training. They have no behavioral issues such as excessive barking or jumping on people.

 High Intelligence

The affectionate and smart Jack Russell is brilliant. This breed likes to be one step ahead of its owner. There is no denying that this breed has a naughty side, but their intelligence makes up for it. Thanks to their intelligence, training them is easier if you start early.

Food is one of the biggest motivations for this breed. That’s one reason dog trainers attempt teaching commands to young pups by tempting them with treats. Jack Russells can learn new things quickly. Hence, proper training can help these dogs channel their intelligence well.


Service dogs must be loyal to their handlers. When it comes to Jack Russells, the breed is incredibly loyal. For that reason, it is not surprising to see why young, and small terriers quickly bond to their owners. Many times, these loyal dogs become fiercely protective of their favorite family member.

Not only Jack Russells are overprotective of their owner. They are not shy of showing aggression to strangers who pose any threat to their owners. With the right training, this trait can help Jack Russells protect their handlers with disabilities.

Small breed

Another benefit of this breed is that these dogs are relatively small in size, which means they can easily fit into various environments. Jack Russells are versatile dogs that measure between ten and fifteen inches at the withers. The average weight of these dogs is between fourteen and eighteen pounds.

Thanks to their slim and long frame, Jack Russells previously hunted foxes. But their small size also comes in handy when they serve as service dogs because commuting with them on public transport is easy. Many types of public transport also feature uniquely designed pet carriers.

High Energy Levels

Don’t undermine these smaller dogs’ energy levels because they require plenty of exercise to live a happy and healthy life. Service dog owners can benefit from their high energy levels to customize their exercise program to keep staying fit and active, regardless of their disability.


Getting a Jack Russell Terrier service dog won’t dent your bank account. This breed is comparatively cheaper than other expensive options. Like all other breeds, Jack Russells may have specific health problems such as breathing or hearing issues. However, the average life of a JRT is between twelve and fifteen years. That means you can bond with your service dog and enjoy his services for more than a decade.


While training Jack Russells may be a bit more challenging than training other breeds, consistent and professional training can do wonders to get the best out of these dogs. For instance, a trained Jack Russell Terrier can accompany students who use wheelchairs to school and lay quietly under their desks throughout the class to pick up things they drop.

With training, they can even retrieve assignments and hand in homework. That way, these service dogs can save students’ time and energy and help them work with full concentration.


Since Jack Russells have loads of energy, they are a highly playful breed. Training can reduce their nipping and excited barking. However, their playful nature will always make them ideal playmates. You can play with them for hours, and these small dogs will never run out of energy.

This breed is famous for its devotion, commitment, and energy. These traits are just what you need in your service dog to feel safe and happy. The dogs quickly bond with people who give them enough attention by treating, playing, and feeding them well. If you train a JRT well and help him calm down his excitement, he can be a great service dog. They are also happy to play games that demand mental stimulation, such as food puzzle toys.

When choosing an outdoor play area for your Jack Russell, take your dog to a dog park or keeping him in an enclosed yard.


Jack Russell Terriers are gentle and loyal toward their handlers. These dogs know how to enjoy quality time with their handlers, and the right treatment can help them channel their energy positively. Jack Russells respond well to their handler’s emotions since they bond quickly and closely.

Your happiness is their happiness, and that’s what makes them a great service dog. People who are combating mental disorders or need an affectionate companion to help them get through challenging life situations can benefit from the positive traits of Jack Russells.

Now that you know the benefits of having Jack Russells as service dogs let’s take a few drawbacks of this breed.

Jack Russells as Service Dogs: Negative Traits

Sensitivity Level

Jack Russells may seem more sensitive than other breeds. That’s because soft punishment can have an emotional effect on their mental health. In addition to that, this dog breed is not suitable for a noisy household and does not tolerate irregular routines.

Require Plenty of Exercises

These small dogs have excessive energy, which means they need plenty of exercise and playtime. Most people do not realize that their small size does not mean they don’t have enough energy. You may have to play for an hour or two to let your Jack Russell vent out his energy.

People who have specific disabilities may find it challenging. However, designing activities that let your service dog play for extended periods is a great idea. In their case, a tired dog is a happy dog.

Can Hurt other Small Animals or Young Children

Many times, Jack Russells may hurt young children or small animals that they consider a threat. Since these dogs have a long history of hunting dogs, they can be temperamental with other small pets or children in the household. For that reason, you should never let a Jack Russell serve as a service dog without providing the right training. Many dog trainers suggest that these dogs are not suitable for families with children under six years.

Require Training

Jack Russells are famous for their dominance, stubbornness, and overprotective nature. Although they are highly intelligent, playful, and affectionate, they may require extensive training before serving as service dogs.

The best way to train Jack Russells is to start early and train young pups. Luckily, younger pups are more comfortable to train. Since they are quick learners, training them takes less time. But in some rare cases, you expect these dogs to push the boundaries throughout their lifetime.

Bottom Line

Although training is critical for service dogs, that doesn’t imply that anyone can start the training process. Many dog owners prefer training their service dogs themselves to help a family member dealing with a disability. However, that should never be the case for service dogs. For that, you should always have a professionally trained dog if you are choosing Jack Russells to be your service dog.