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Short-Legged Jack Russell (Shorty Jacks): Breed Info & Needs

The Short-Legged Jack Russell is a subtype of the Jack Russell Terrier. They are similar to Jackies but have shorter legs. Shorty Jacks are affectionate and friendly to other dogs. They get along well with humans as they understand what you expect of them.

The Shorty Jack has been recognized by the American Kennel Club as a separate breed, under the name “Russell Terrier”. 

They live between 12 and 14 years according to the AKC. Some experts believe their average life expectancy is the same as Jack Russells’, between 13 and 16 years.

This article explores Shorty Jack’s origin, characteristics, appearance, and health issues. 

You will also find out more about their temperament and grooming needs.

Short Legged Jack Russell Characteristics Overview

Short-legged Jack Russells are a sub-breed of Jack Russell Terriers. They look the same in terms of color and coat types. The difference is their height. Shorty Jacks are 10 to 12 inches tall and measure more in length than in height. Standard-sized Jack Russells have longer legs and measure 13 to 15 inches in height.

Shorty Jacks are social dogs. They get along great with other dogs and are friendly to humans. 

They can become aggressive if they detect strangers and suspect them to be dangerous. 

This breed is not suited for sedentary families as they need a lot of exercise. They are playful and energetic and can become hyperactive. 

Shorty Jacks require early training because they have a predisposition for problematic behavior.

This table illustrates the main characteristics of Short-legged Jack Russell Terriers.



10 – 12 inches


9 – 15 pounds


12 – 14 years

Dog Breed Group

Mixed breed

Coat Type


Coat length


Coat color

White, black, tan, brown, red, yellow, chestnut










3 stars

Grooming Difficulty

2 stars


Apartment living

3 stars

Good for beginners

3 stars

Can be alone

3 stars

Cold weather tolerance

3 stars

Hot weather tolerance

3 stars

Friendliness & Temper


5 stars


5 stars


3 stars


4 stars

Friendly to Strangers

4 stars


5 stars

Trainability & Needs

Easy to train

3 stars


4 stars

Hunting Instinct

5 stars


5 stars

Energy Level

5 stars

3 Reasons To Get a Short-Legged Jack Russell

Short-legged Jack Russells are intelligent and affectionate. They make great watch dogs because of their high instinctive intelligence.

1. Short-Legged Jack Russells Make Great Watchdogs

Short-Legged Jack Russells Make Great Watchdogs
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Short Jack Russells detect intruders quickly. They have a great sense of smell and bark loudly. 

When Jack Russells were used for hunting, they barked to let their owner know about the location of prey. Because Jack Russells sometimes got stuck in tunnels underground, they had to bark loudly to avoid death. 

This trait has been passed on to Shorty Jacks.

2. Short-Legged Jack Russells Are Affectionate 

Short Jack Russells are loving. They form strong bonds with their families and love being around humans. Once you get their affection, you will never lose it. 

They also like to cuddle and spend time with their owners. 

Shorty Jacks are not only affectionate towards humans, but also other dogs as they like to socialize a lot. They are perfect for families that already have a dog. 

3. Shorty Jacks Are Intelligent.

Shorty Jacks are smart and can easily grasp what humans want from them. 

Jack Russells are accustomed to interacting with humans. During the hunting process, they had to learn what their owners needed from them.

As a result, short Jack Russells have outstanding instinctive intelligence. This doesn’t mean they don’t get bored or are not stubborn during training. If you are impatient, training a Shorty Jack will be difficult.

Related: Are Jack Russells Smart?

3 Reasons Not To Get a Short-legged Jack Russell

Short-legged Jack Russells are prone to behavior issues, such as barking. They do not behave well around small pets because of their well-developed hunting instinct. They are bored easily and require a lot of mental stimulation.

1. Shorty Jacks Are Loud Barkers

Shorty Jacks Are Loud Barkers
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Shorty Jacks love to bark. Jack Russells learned to bark loudly to signal they found prey. 

If you leave Shorty Jacks alone, they will bark at everything they find suspicious. They try to communicate with you or other dogs by barking. 

If you live in a quiet neighborhood, Shorty Jacks are not for you.

2. Shorty Jacks Are Bored Easily

Shorty Jacks are intelligent. This intelligence comes with a major downside: they get bored. When this happens, they engage in destructive behavior or bark. 

To prevent this, they need mentally-engaging activities. Busy people who don’t have much time to spend with their dogs are not suited as Shorty Jack owners.

3. Shorty Jacks Are Not Well-behaved Around Small Pets

Shorty Jacks love to chase small animals. This is because they have been used for vermin control. 

If you have small pets, Shorty Jacks might attack them. They will not kill them, because they engage in hunting aggression rather than killing aggression. 

Shorty Jack Origin

The Shorty Jack is a sub-variant of the Jack Russell Terrier. Jack Russells originated in England, dating back to the 1800s. The initial purpose of Jack Russells Terriers was to hunt foxes. Now they are used as companion dogs or for vermin control. 

There have been various discussions about the recognition of Jack Russell Terriers. 

The American Kennel Club recognized the Jack Russell Terrier as a separate breed in 1998. In 2003, they changed their mind and included the Jack Russell Terrier in the Parson Russell Terrier category. 

The Shorty Jack has its own category called the Russell Terrier, recognized in 2012.

Shorty Jack Russell Appearance

Short Jack Russells are small and athletic. They are shorter than they are long. They are lean and can easily fit through tunnels. Their colors and coat types are identical to the ones of regular-sized Jack Russells Terriers.

Shorty Jack Russell Size

The Shorty Jack measures 10 to 12 inches in height and weighs between 9 and 15 pounds. It is a small dog with a bulky appearance. They are muscular and athletic. Even if they have short legs, they are agile and lean.

Related: Mini Jack Russell

Shorty Jack Russell Appearance
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Shorty Jack Coat Types

Shorty Jack Russells’ coat is similar to that of Jack Russells. The Short Jack Russell can have one of three coat types: 

  • Smooth
  • Rough
  • Broken

The latter one is a combination of the first two types. 

The smooth coat type is shorter than one inch. The hair grows in one direction, giving it the smooth look.

Rough-coated Shorty Jacks have a messy appearance because their hair grows in multiple directions. Their coat measures between 1 and 2 inches in length. 

The coat of a Shorty Jack is waterproof. They have a dense undercoat that protects them from cold weather. 

Related: Jack Russell Coat Types

Shorty Jack Color

The Shorty Jack is mostly white. The standards require at least 51% of their coats to be white. 

The white parts of a Shorty Jack Russell are depigmentation patches, not their base color. On rare occasions, Short Jacks are pure-white. 

The Short Legged Jack Russell can have markings of several colors: 

  • black
  • brown
  • tan
  • chestnut
  • red
  • yellow

They have black noses and dark eyes. They can also have dark patches on their faces. These patches look like masks and are called melanistic masks.[1]

Related: Jack Russell Colors

Shorty Jack Temperament

Short Jack Russells are intelligent but stubborn. It is difficult to train Shorty Jacks if you are impatient. They are highly active and like engaging in mentally challenging activities. With a well-developed hunting instinct, they make great watchdogs.

Jack Russell Terriers have been bred for hunting, which shows in their temperament. 

A study[2] conducted on numerous breeds concluded that dogs’ brains evolve differently, depending on their purpose. 

This means that some specific traits needed for hunting are more developed in breeds used for hunting.

Shorty Jack Temperament
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As a result, Short Legged Jack Russells have the following traits:

  • Great stamina.
  • Exceptional running and swimming abilities.
  • A well-developed sense of smell.
  • Space-oriented.
  • Bark loudly.
  • Understand human requirements well.
  • Are obedient and like to please their owners.
  • Like chasing small animals, such as squirrels and rats.
  • Love digging.

Are Shorty Jacks Aggressive?

Shorty Jacks have the potential of becoming aggressive. Small breeds are more predisposed to aggressive behavior than large breeds[3]. Jack Russell Terriers came 17th among 23 breeds in a study that measured canine aggression[4]. Shorty Jacks’ aggression can be controlled through physical exercise and early socialization.

Shorty Jacks are predisposed to aggression. This doesn’t mean all Short Legged Jack Russells are aggressive. Genes predispose but do not doom a dog to be aggressive. 

The environment and the way you raise your dog can reduce aggression.

Control a Shorty Jack’s aggressive behavior by:

  • Starting training in puppyhood.
  • Socializing them while they are puppies.
  • Engaging them in long daily exercise sessions.
  • Engaging them in mentally-stimulating activities.
  • Feeding them nutrient-dense foods.
  • Spaying or neutering them. [5]

Related: Jack Russell Behavior Issues

Short Jack Russell Health Issues

Short Jack Russells are healthy dogs, but they can suffer from several predisposed diseases. These health conditions include genetic diseases that need both parents to pass on the genes. Senior Shorty Jacks are often confronted with common health issues.

Recessive Diseases Short Legged Jack Russells Are Prone To

Recessive diseases are health conditions that require both parents to pass on the gene for them to manifest.[6] 

Some of these conditions manifest at birth and others have a later symptom onset. 

The recessive diseases a Shorty Jack can inherit are:

  • Primary Lens Luxation[7]
  • Congenital Deafness[8]
  • Myasthenic Syndrome[9]
  • Von Willebrand Disease[10]
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease[11]
  • Hereditary Cataracts[12]

Some genetic diseases often result in early death, while some are treatable. 

To prolong the lifespan of a Shorty Jack, make sure to run these tests:

  • Primary Lens Luxation DNA test
  • Ophthalmologic evaluation
  • BAER test

Related: How Long Do Jack Russells Live?

Short Jack Russell Health Issues
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Health Conditions Affecting Senior Shorty Jacks

Senior Shorty Jacks often experience loss of muscle tone and mental acuity. They are also predisposed to a loss of immunity. This is caused by the deterioration of the microbiome composition.

The most common old age Shorty Jack health issues include:

  • Dental Issues
  • Diabetes 
  • Wobbler Syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Obesity
  • Blindness 
  • Arthritis
  • Cerebellar ataxia

Some of these conditions can be avoided by keeping your Shorty Jack engaged in daily physical exercise. 

A healthy diet is an essential key used for delaying the installation of these diseases.

Related: 11 Jack Russell Old Age Problems

Short Jack Russell Terrier Feeding Requirements

Short Jack Russell Terriers are active dogs. If they have a daily exercise routine, you need to split their daily food into multiple meals. Vets recommend this to avoid hypoglycemia. The amount of food they need depends on their weight and activity levels.

Shorty Jacks can experience exertional hypoglycemia. This is also called hunting dog hypoglycemia. This condition affects dogs that engage in prolonged or intense exercise. 

Their bodies use the glycogen stored in their body to provide enough energy. When they run out, they experience hypoclycemia.[13]

To avoid this, Shorty Jacks need to eat often. This is essential, together with providing all the necessary micro and macro-nutrients all dogs require. 

Shorty Jack Russell Terrier Grooming Needs

Shorty Jack Russell Terriers are moderate to heavy shedders. They need daily brushing during spring and autumn. During winter and summer, brushing them weekly is enough. Their teeth need to be brushed regularly to prevent periodontal disease.

Bathing Shorty Jacks too often is not recommended. This can increase skin dryness, which leads to more shedding. 

Talk to your dog’s vet to determine how often you should bathe them. Each dog has different skin types and the recommendations differ accordingly.

Related: Do Jack Russells Shed?


Shorty Jacks have the same characteristics as Jack Russell Terriers. Even though they are small and have short legs, they are not considered dwarf dogs. They are highly energetic and fun to be around. 

Short-legged Jack Russell Terriers are healthy and long-living. They don’t require intensive grooming but need a lot of mental stimulation. Sedentary owners will not be happy with a Shorty Jack because they get frustrated if they don’t exercise enough.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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