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Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier: Breed Information & Needs

Wire-haired Jack Russells have short and rough coats. They have the same characteristics as smooth-coated Jack Russells. The only difference is their coat type, which is between 1 and 2 inches long. They have a messy lovable appearance.

Jack Russells are healthy dogs with long lifespans. They can have different coat types, one of them being wire-haired.

Wire-haired Jack Russells’ hunting instinct predisposes them to several behavior issues. These behavior issues are controllable though. They can be prevented through training and socialization.

This article discusses the following elements of wire-haired Jack Russells:

  • Appearance
  • Temperament
  • Health problems
  • Grooming needs
  • Exercise needs
  • Food requirements

You will also learn about their grooming needs and how they shed.

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Characteristics Overview

Wire-haired Jack Russells are similar to smooth-haired Jack Russells, but They have coarse hair. Because of their hair type, they are also called rough-haired Jack Russells. They have floppy ears and are playful and affectionate.

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Characteristics Overview

This table illustrates some of the main characteristics of wire-haired Jack Russell terriers.

Height10 – 15 inches
Weight13 – 17 pounds
Lifespan13 – 16 years 
Dog Breed GroupPure breed
Coat TypeDouble
Coat LengthMedium 
Coat ColorWhite, black, brown, tan, yellow, red
Grooming Difficulty2
Apartment Living3
Good for Beginners2
Can Be Alone3
Cold Weather Tolerance4
Hot Weather Tolerance4
Friendliness & Temper
Friendly to Strangers4
Trainability & Needs
Easy to Train5
Hunting Instinct4
Barking 4
Energy Level5

Jack Russells with wire hair make good guard dogs. They have an increased protective instinct. This makes them reactive to strangers and intruders, as they bark a lot to protect their territory.

They have the potential of becoming aggressive. If they are early socialized and trained, this risk is considerably diminished.

Wire-haired Jack Russell are excellent family dogs. They need to be a part of an active family. 

If you don’t like going outside and engaging in physical activities, this breed is not for you.

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Appearance

Wire-haired Jack Russells are between 10 and 15 inches tall and between 18 and 22 inches long. They are predominantly white with black, brown, and tan spots. Their coat is 1 to 2 inches. Their hair grows in different directions, which makes them look messy. 

Some Jack Russells with wired hair are pure white with black noses and dark eyes. 

They are not albino dogs. Albino wire-haired Jack Russells have ping nose and skin. Their paws are also pink.

Related: Long-Haired Jack Russells

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Appearance
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Differences Between Wire-haired and Smooth Coat Jack Russell Terriers

Wired-haired Jack Russell Terriers are similar to smooth-coated Jack Russells in every aspect, except appearance.  

FeatureWired-haired Jack Russell TerrierSmooth-coated Jack Russell Terrier
Hair length1–2 inchesShorter than 1 inch
Hair directionDifferent directionsOne direction
Specific featuresHave mustachesDon’t have mustaches
Appearance Messy Shiny

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Temperament

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers are energetic and playful dogs. They are loyal and display a lot of affection. They also enjoy group activities. This makes them great family dogs.

This breed has a lot of energy. If they don’t get to use their, wire-coated Jack Russell Terriers can develop behavior problems. 

This table illustrates the behavior issues that can affect wire-coated Jack Russells.

BehaviorCausesHow To Prevent
BarkingWire-haired Jack Russells have been bred for hunting. They got used to barking a lot to let their owners know they found prey. Teach the ‘Quiet!’ command.  Engage them in physically and mentally challenging activities. Spend time with them.
DiggingWire-coated Jack Russells used to hunt small prey that lived underground. They had to dig to catch them.Don’t let your dog get bored. Play games and spend time with them. Teach them the ‘Stop!’ command.
Destructive behaviorIf a wire-coated Jack Russell doesn’t get enough exercise, they get bored and frustrated. They release their energy by destroying various items.Engage your dog in high amounts of physical activities. Spend time with them to reduce separation anxiety.
Aggressive behaviorWire-coated Jack Russells have a predisposition for aggression. This happens because of gene inheritance.Engage your dog in early socialization and early training. Keep them active to reduce frustration and anxiety.
Chasing small animalsThis happens because of their hunting instinct. They can get injured while chasing small animals in the street.Teach your dog the ‘Stop!’ command and keep them mentally engaged.

Wire-coated Jack Russells are great for children because they make great play companions.

Early training and socialization are essential to keep wire-coated Jack Russells around children. This reduces unwanted behavior and aggressiveness. 

These behaviors can become problematic when the dog reaches adulthood.

Related: Jack Russell Behavior Issues  

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Temperament

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Health Problems

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers have a predisposition for several health issues. These issues include specific genetic diseases and other conditions specific to Jack Russells.

Wire-coated Jack Russell Terriers are healthy dogs. Jack Russells have the longest life expectancy among breeds. Their average life lifespan is of 12.72 years according to a study made by Britain’s Royal Veterinary College.[1]

Genetic Diseases

Wire-haired Jack Russells can develop specific health issues due to genetic inheritance. 

The following diseases specific to Jack Russells need both parents to pass on the genes:

  • Congenital deafness
  • Eye problems, such as lens luxation and cataracts
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Congenital Yasthenic Syndrome

Congenital Deafness

Congenital deafness is a disease where wired-haired Jack Russell terrier puppies are born deaf. It is usually accompanied by a lack of pigmentation. Deaf dogs can live normal lives if their owners are patient and caring. 

Eye Problems

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers have a predisposition for lens luxation[2] and cataracts. These conditions lead to blindness. 

Surgery can fix both these problems. It involves the replacement of the lens. 

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease affects the head of the femur of wire-haired Jack Russells.[3] 

This disease can cause arthritis. Arthritis is a painful health issue that affects dogs’ well-being. Surgery is recommended to treat Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. 

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Health Problems

Von Willebrand Disease

Wire-haired Jack Russells affected by Von Willebrand Disease bleed excessively.[4]  This can lead to several issues during surgeries or injuries. 

Von Willebrand disease doesn’t have a cure. 

If your dog suffers from this condition, make sure to prevent injuries. Have regular vet check-ups to identify any dangerous issues in time.

Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome 

Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome causes muscle weakness and is not curable.[5] 

When the disease is advanced, it significantly diminishes a wire-coated Jack Russell’s well-being.

Other Specific Diseases to Jack Russells

Wire-coated Jack Russells have a predisposition for other health conditions. These conditions do not need both parents to be carriers and include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Patellar luxation [6]
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Ear infections
  • Cerebellar ataxia

Related: How Long Do Jack Russells Live? 

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers Grooming Needs 

Wire-haired Jack Russells do not need heavy grooming, but they are moderate to heavy shedders. Grooming is a way to prevent shedding and to keep their coat and skin healthy.

Keep your wire-haired Jack Russell’s coat healthy and reduce shedding by:

  • Brushing your dog daily.
  • Reducing bathing sessions.
  • Using products that prevent skin dryness.

Daily Brushing

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers Grooming Needs 
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Brushing your wire-coated Jack Russell Terrier daily gets rid of dead hairs. This reduces the amount of hair your dog leaves behind on the floor and on the furniture. 

Brushing also helps moisturize your dog’s hair to keep it healthy. It spreads the natural oils dogs produce to reduce dryness. 

Tip: Use a special brush for your wire-coated Jack Russell terrier’s undercoat. Regular brushes do reach the undercoat. This coating layer is thick and results in large amounts of shedded short hairs.


Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers don’t need frequent bathing. 

Frequent bathing sessions remove the natural oils produced for healthy skin. This leads to dryness. Dryness can lead to several skin issues. These issues decrease the well-being of wire-haired Jack Russells.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner when washing a wire-coated Jack Russell. Cleaning products with high amounts of chemicals dry a dog’s skin. Skin dryness leads to excessive shedding and discomfort. 

Do Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers Shed?

Yes, wire-haired Jack Russells do shed. They have a double coat, meaning they shed larger amounts of hair than single-coated dogs. 

Wire-coated jack Russells shed more during fall and spring. Their hair least sheds during winter, when 50% of their hair is in the resting phase. This prevents their hair from falling off to keep them warm.

The hair of wire-coated Jack Russells is of medium length. This means their hairs reach their full length fast. When a strand of hair reaches its full length, it falls off.

Wire-haired Jack Russells have thick double coats. One coat layer has an insulating role. The other coat layer has a protective role.

Related: Do Jack Russells Shed?

Do Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers Shed
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Are Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers Hypoallergenic?

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers are not hypoallergenic. They shed a lot, unlike hypoallergenic dogs. This means they also shed dandruff. Humans are allergic to dogs’ dandruff, not to the hair.

Hypoallergenic dog breeds are those better suited for people with allergies. While no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, some are more allergy-friendly. 

Dogs suited for allergic people don’t shed, or shed low amounts of hair. In these cases, dandruff is reduced. This reduces the number of allergic reactions people have.

If you are allergic to dogs, wire-coated Jack Russells are not suited for you.

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Exercise Needs

A wire-haired Jack Russell terrier needs at least 60 minutes of daily exercise. The ideal amount is 90 minutes. This includes daily walks and playtime. 

Wire-coated Jack Russells are active dogs with high amounts of energy. Physical exercise helps release this energy. This reduces anxiety[7] and aggressiveness. 

They were originally bred for hunting. They are highly energetic and like to play and move a lot. Incorporate daily walks into their schedule. Playtime with other dogs is also highly recommended. 

Spend as much time as possible with your wire-coated Jack Russell Terrier. Games like fetch or jogging together will keep them happy and healthy. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, avoid getting a wire-coated Jack Russell. 

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Exercise Needs

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier Food Requirements

Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers should eat between 1 and 1.3 cups of food per day.[8] This depends on their weight. The amount of food they eat should be spread over 2 to 3 meals a day. This keeps their energy levels stable.

Because wire-coated Jack Russell Terriers are active dogs, they need a wide variety of micro and macronutrients. This helps keep them healthy, as they use a lot of energy.

The following table details the nutrients a wire-haired Jack Russell requires.

NutrientsWhy They Need ThemWhere To Get Them From
ProteinTo build and keep muscle mass.Meat, eggs, fermented cheese.
Carbohydrates Immediate release of energy.Veggies and grains.
FatProper cell function.Fish and olive oil.
VitaminsTo prevent disease and function properly.Meat, eggs, fermented chees, veggies, and grains.
MineralsTo prevent disease and function properly.Meat, eggs, fermented chees, veggies, and grains.

Diet-Related Issues

Wire-coated Jack Russells develop several health issues if their diet is not adjusted to their needs.

The diet-related issues of wire-haired Jack Russells are:

  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Hypoglycemia


Wire-coated Jack Russells suffer from allergies to certain types of proteins or food additives. Watch your dog’s behavior to see if they scratch more than usual.

A visit to the vet will reveal if they have food allergies.


Wire-haired Jack Russells are highly active. This is why they have a predisposition for excessive eating. Watch your dog’s activity levels and dose their food accordingly. 

Canine obesity is linked to a shorter lifespan.[9] Owners’ feeding habits are also related to dogs’ weight. If you are overweight, your dog is more likely to be overweight too.


Wire-haired Jack Russell Terriers have a predisposition for hypoglycemia. This is due to their high exercise levels. 

Hunting dogs commonly suffer from hypoglycemia[10].  Wire-haired Jack Russells were once bred for hunting. Since their exercise level requirements are similar to hunting dogs’, they also fall into this category.

Make sure to provide enough food and to feed them at least two times a day. Include snacks when they engage in physical activity more than usual.

How Much Does a Wire-haired Jack Russell Cost?

A wire-haired Jack Russell costs between $600 and $1500, on average. If they come from a renowned breeder and their parents are champions, they can cost up to $4500.

The costs of a wire-coated Jack Russell terrier don’t stop at the purchase price. Taking care of a dog also includes food, visits to the vet, pet insurance, and more. The annual expenses for a wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier can go up to around $1000.

Related: Jack Russell Price 

Final Thoughts

Wire-haired Jack Russells are great companions. They are playful, loyal, protective, and affectionate. They are great assets for people who want long-living dogs. They experience few health problems throughout their life.

If you take proper care of your wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier, it can live up to 16 years, or even longer.

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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