Dog Health

Do Jack Russells Shed? – The Owner’s Guide to Jack Russell Shedding

Do jack russells shed much?
Written by Richard Jeng

Dogs are wonderful additions to any family, including the lively and excitable Jack Russell Terrier. But before you bring one home, shedding can be a concern for those that are extra sensitive to dogs.

So, do Jack Russell Terriers shed? Thanks to their double coats, the Jack Russell tends to shed at a moderate pace throughout the year. However, Jack Russell Terriers may shed heavily as their coats adjust to the weather during spring and fall. Even so, the petite size of these terriers will produce very little actual shed hair.

Jack Russell Terriers aren’t hypoallergenic dogs by any stretch. Nonetheless with a little attention and care, you’ll be able to minimize shedding in Jack Russells. Read on to learn why they shed so much and how to deal with it.

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The Jack Russell’s Coat

The Jack Russell Terrier, formally known as the Parson Russell Terrier, has a coat that’s not very typical. They’re not fluffy like a Golden Retriever, nor soft and smooth like a Labrador. Their coats aren’t curly like a Poodle either.

In fact, the Jack Russell comes with three types of coats: a smooth, rough or broken coat. All of which, feature a double coat with coarse texture.

Jack Russells won’t be the most “pet-able” dogs, even with a smooth coat. The smooth variation will have a dense coat that’s packed closely to the skin. They may look soft but the coat will always have a wiry and rough feel.

Broken coats are similar in feel, though different in appearance. This coat variation will also have the smooth undercoat. However, they’ll have long wire hair that sticks out throughout the body, face and legs. Rough coats are similar but with longer wire hair.

And according to the AKC, the Jack Russell will not have soft, silky, wavy, woolly, or curly topcoat.

Jack Russell Coat Colors & Shedding

Unlike some breeds, such as the Pug, the colors of the Jack Russell Terrier doesn’t really affect the amount of shedding. As such, the Jack Russell can come in just three color variations: white, white & tan or black & white.

Because Jack Russells are predominantly white, they’ll most likely shed white fur. That being said, a home with primarily dark furniture may notice the shedding much more than one with lighter-color furniture. Just something to keep in mind.

After having lived with my housemate’s Jack Russell Terrier for so long, I’ve noticed his shed fur is not very noticeable. We rarely see strands of hair. And when we do, it’s always most apparent on the floor which is a dark brown.

Reasons Why Jack Russells Shed

Jack Russells will shed like most dog breeds. Even hypoallergenic dog breeds will slowly lose strands of hair – like with humans. This is almost unavoidable unless you decide to go with a hairless dog.

However, why is it that Jack Russell Terriers shed more than other dog breeds? We looked into all the reasons why these little dogs may be shedding. Some factors depend on coat type and nutrition, but it’s mostly all genetics and natural.

Not all coat types shed the same

Believe it or not, not all coat types shed the same. As we mentioned, there are 3 types of coats: the smooth, broken and rough. The rough coats are similar to broken coats, but just a bit longer with the wiry hair.

According to countless owner testimonials, smooth-coated Jack Russells shed more. In general, it seems logical that shorter hair tends to shed less. This isn’t always true, but it does apply for the Jack Russell Terriers.

One thing I was surprised by is that the smooth coated ones shed more. My oldest is a broken coat and sheds very little.

– Horsepoor (Chrono of Horse)

But don’t worry. Just because they shed more doesn’t mean they’re more difficult to deal with. Rather, a Jack Russell with a smooth coat is easier to maintain. Basic grooming procedures, such as daily brushing, will be easier to perform!

The Jack Russell’s double coat

The Jack Russell Terrier sports a double coat, that is, two layers of fur. This special coat quality is not exclusive to this breed, but seen in at least 78 dog breeds. As a matter of fact, most working dogs tend to have a double coats.

Jack Russells will have an inner coat that acts as an insulator – similar to that of wool. But because working dogs tend to work outdoors, they need extra protection from colder weather. If you run your fingers through the coat, it’ll feel like wool too!

The outer coat is the second layer of fur. It’s also called the “guard hairs” because that’s exactly what it does – guard the dog’s skin from environmental factors. This layer is used to repel water, in addition to protecting the dog from debris.

But unfortunately, two layers of fur means double the opportunity for shedding.

All Jack Russells will have a double coat. Unless the dog is mixed with another breed, there is no way around this. And like you would imagine, two coats provide double the opportunity for shedding in the Jack Russell Terrier.

In addition, double coated dogs also shed heavier during shedding season. So as bad as it may seem year round, it does get worse at specific periods during the year.

Jack Russell & shedding season

All dogs, to a certain extent, will shed heavier depending on the season. This is just nature taking its course with these dogs. And just like the Jack Russell’s intelligence, their coats are smarter than you think – thanks to years of evolution.

The Jack Russell was developed in England, where the four seasons are very obvious. That said, the terrier’s coat will adapt to these seasonal changes. There isn’t a single coat that’s suitable for all 4 seasons in a region such as England.

During spring, the Jack Russell’s coat will prepare for summer by shedding its heavier winter coat. As a result, spring may be the heaviest shedding period for your Jack Russell. They don’t need their thick coats in warmer temperatures.

Likewise, the Jack Russell may shed heavier during fall. During this period, the dog will likely shed its lighter summer coat to prepare to grow its thicker winter coat.

We call this natural process in dogs: “coat blowing.” In addition, this differs from your typical everyday shedding. For instance, hair will fall out in clumps rather than strands. Don’t be alarmed – just know that this is completely normal!

Malnutrition leads to excessive shedding

Always pay attention to how your dog reacts to food. This is especially true when feeding them new or “cheaper” foods. According to Roy Cruzen DVM, the “number one reason for excessive shedding is a poor diet.”

Cruzen continues by saying that not all dog food is made the same. And just because they passed the basic standards for consumer selling, doesn’t mean they’re great for your dog. These cheap foods will barely meet the requirements.

People go to discount stores, by a 40-pound bag of cheap food, and then see their pets’ shedding increase.

– Roy Cruzen DVM

In most cases, cheap quality dog foods simply don’t have the necessary nutrients for a proper diet in dogs. Excessive shedding from malnutrition can happen. If your dog starts to shed heavily when it is not shedding season, consult with your vet about their food.

Roy Cruzen suggests that you don’t actually have to buy the “top-of-line” quality food for a happy and healthy dog. He estimates that $4 per pound of dog food should be enough for most dogs. And as always, consult with your vet if you have questions.

Dealing With Jack Russell Shedding

A Jack Russell Terrier will shed year-round with heavier shedding during shedding season in the fall and spring. And while this may seem inconvenient, there are ways to deal with your Jack Russell’s shedding with the proper grooming.

That being said, frequent brushing and bathing are the best ways to keep your Jack Russell’s fur from getting out of control. And if you’re sensitive to dog allergens, this daily routine will be even more important for you and your allergies.

Brushing a Jack Russell

Finding the perfect brush for your Jack Russell Terrier is crucial, especially because of their unique and dense coat. Not all dog brushes are suitable for your dog.

There’s a lot of mixed reviews regarding brushes in the JRT community. However, there seems to be two standouts that most owners would recommend. The first of which, is the Furminator, which we recommend for most double-coated dogs.

The Furminator is one of the best brushes on the market for double coated breeds. Plenty of owners will swear by it, including many Jack Russell owners. The Furminator works by getting deep into the terrier’s undercoat for a complete brush.

Even so, the Furminator may not be perfect for all Jack Russells. Keep in mind, the brush can be a little sharp and some owners report problems with the blade cutting the skin. This happens if the owner isn’t careful, or brushes too frequently.

If this is the case, we (and other owners) recommend going with a bristle brush:

This may not be as effective as the heavy-duty Furminator, but it is much gentler on the skin of the Jack Russell. If the dog is young with fragile and sensitive skin, it might be best to start off with this and later move onto the Furminator.

Jack Russell Terriers need to be brushed just once a week. However, during “coat blowing” time, you may want to consider brushing them every other day.

Bathing a Jack Russell

Bathing a Jack Russell Terrier will vary depending on your dog’s habits. Because most dogs of this breed like to play outdoors, they may get dirty quicker. Thus, they may need more frequent baths to stay clean and comfortable.

However, your Jack Russell Terrier should take no more than 1 bath per month.

In fact, most of the time they will need less than that. There’s a balancing act when it comes to baths and dogs. While you want to keep them clean, too frequent baths can be bad for their coats.

The Jack Russell’s coat contains a lot of natural oils that protect the skin of the dog. Frequent baths will wash this away before they have time to fully recover after the last bath. In addition, your dog may lose the shine and luster of the coat.

Dog Shampoos for Jack Russells

The best shampoos for dogs are oatmeal-based dog shampoos. They’re typically very effective while also being all-natural. In other words, it’s easy on the skin. These are the shampoos that we use with our dog (so we can recommend them):

  1. Pro Pet Works All Natural Dog Shampoo – Made in the USA from all-natural oatmeal. We have used this with our Aussie and Corgi with no problems. Extremely high quality shampoo and it smells great!
  2. Earthbath All Natural Dog Shampoo – Earthbath is one that we just started using. It’s a time-tested product and we’ve heard so many good things about them from our dog-parent friends.
  3. Paws and Pals Dog Shampoo – We have used this in the past with our Corgi and it worked like a charm. It keeps our dog fluffy and it smells great! Plus, Paws and Pals is a very reputable brand in the dog grooming industry.

What’s most important is that you never give your Jack Russell human shampoo. It’s a lot harsher for dogs and disrupts their acid mantle, leaving their skin vulnerable to various health problems such as viruses, bacterial infections and parasites.

Some people may recommend baby shampoo because it’s a lot softer and gentler on the skin. But with how cheap dog shampoo is, we recommend just picking up a product made for dogs.

How Much Do Jack Russells Shed?

The Jack Russell Terrier sheds heavily, but how much do they actually shed? The best way to gauge this is by asking real owners themselves. That said, we surveyed real Jack Russell owners to ask them this question.

From the Jack Russell Subreddit to various dog forums, here’s what the owners had to say about their Jack Russell’s shedding:

Real Owner Answers

1. Depsi says Heavy: “We have a 4 year old healthy wonderful brown & white smooth coat JRT which sheds more than I ever realized a dog could.”

2. Wrdwardog says Heavy: “Our jack russell sheds sooo much. Make sure you don’t have black rugs or furniture around the home.”

3. Joepyeweed says Heavy: “As someone who has owned two JRT’s in the past, I can attest that even on the best diets they will shed – and it makes one wonder where all the hair is coming from because the dogs is just not that large.”

4. Escapedogs says Heavy: “I was told that Jack Russells shed quite a bit but did not expect them to be literally shedding machines. Be warned!”

5. Cianer says Heavy: “I find that JRTs shed a lot more than some of the other breeds. I got a JRT as a second dog thinking it would shed less than my longer haired collie. How wrong I was.”

6. Zoeyzipties says Moderate: “Maybe because we have a broken coat JRT, but my dog does not shed as much as everyone make them out to be. Though he’s only 1 year old.”

7. Patmac says Moderate:My JRT used to shed a lot but it has reduced lately since we started giving her the olive oil. Mind you one teaspoon a week is enough.”

8. Zillowtozilion says Heavy: “These little dogs actually shed a lot more than you would think. It’s just that they’re such small dogs with mostly white hairs, so it’s hard to notice.”

9. Davidbber says Moderate: “We see that when we don’t brush the dog for over a week (and often times a few days), the shed fur becomes really noticeable. But if you’re on top of grooming they are not that big of a shedder.:

10. Enathejackrussell says Heavy: “Having owned GSDs, Border Collies and a Maltese, our Jack Russell takes the cake as the heaviest shedding breed.”


Does your Jack Russell shed much? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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