Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd Mix: An All-Inclusive Guide (History, Appearance, and Care)

My German Shepherds recently had itchy skin. I called my veterinary doctor today to have a look. A casual conversation followed as he examined them. He spoke of a Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd Mix reared by certain dog breeders. The story was so hilarious.

Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd Mix

Think of a teenage daughter who comes home pregnant and says she got pregnant accidentally. This hybrid is the literal definition of an accidental pregnancy! They are rarely crossed intentionally, and the breed emerged inadvertently. I had to visit the breeders and see for myself. Here is what I learned.

What is Jack Russelll Terrier German Shepherd mix?

When the two pure breeds mate inadvertently, they create the Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd impure breed. In most cases, they are not crossed intentionally. If they do, it is usually searching for a brilliant medium-sized dog with an easy-going personality.

Mating the two breeds is quite risky and unsafe due to the smaller size of Jack Russell Terrier females. A very risky and illegal “quickie,” literally. Shepherd females are preferred in intentional crossing.

Let us first trace the genealogy of the parent breeds to understand the mix better.

History

Jack Russell Terrier Mix

Jack Russell Terrier staring blankly into space

The terrier is a hard-working English dog. As its name suggests, it was named after a clergyman, Reverend John Russell. Russell loved hunting. He would cross various fine strains to come up with a perfect hunting hound. JRTs are howling dogs who love drama. These dogs howl, barks, and burrow, creating enough ruckus to flush the prey out of the hiding. Ironically, they don’t bite their game. They chase.

There are different strains due to the different genetic makeup. Due to the disagreements over the standard terrier size in England, the taller variation has been named the Parson Jack Russell, with the typical short one remaining the Jack Russell terrier. They are both terriers. Don’t get confused by the names.

The German Shepherd

German Shepherd showing his eyes

The German Shepherd is the more popular breed here in the USA, appearing 3rd behind the Labrador retriever and French bulldog in the 2021 dog rankings. The large or medium size labor canine rose from Germany in the 19th century. 

The locals interbred the most obedient and responsive shepherd dogs with high cognitive abilities. The furry herders featuring sharply pointed ears and a brown or black coat would protect their masters’ flocks from predators. As a time traveler, you would likely encounter them guarding posh English estates more than two centuries ago.

German Shepherds didn’t shoot into the global limelight until WW1 when they were recruited as war dogs by the Nazis. Today, they are famous for being brave, loyal, high psychomotor skilled guard dogs. They require minimal maintenance and are less prone to diseases.

All About the Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd Mix

From the above description of the parent breeds, it is pretty obvious what to expect with the hybrid. Stay with me as we go on a learning tour.

Size

The GSD is the bigger of the two, and the terrier the smaller parent.

BREEDHEIGHTWEIGHT
German Shepherd1.8-2.2 feet22.7-40.8 kilograms
Jack Russell Terrier0.8-1.25 feet6.3-8.1 kilograms

The big difference in height and weight means that they will have to strike a balance. A Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd mix will weigh roughly between 13.6-27.2 kilos which translates to a medium-sized wedge-shaped dog. The mix can be larger or smaller spending on whether it leans towards the GSD parent or the terrier parent.

Appearance

The most notable features include the sharp GSD-like wedge-shaped face and medium body size. They also feature a smooth black or white coat with yellowish-brown body and face spots.

The coat color depends on which parental side the puppy takes. The crossbreeds may have medium-length fur similar to the GSD or shorter coats like the Jack Russell Terrier. Honestly, expect lots of shedding!

Grooming

If you have owned a GSD or Jack Russell Terrier before, grooming this hybrid is not hard. They have a hectic grooming routine, especially during the shedding season. They have to brush them three to four times a week in the spring and fall seasons. Vacuuming the whole household is such a headache!

Other cleaning tips include a bath every 1.5 to 2 months and regular teeth brushing. Nail clipping should be done once every month.

Temperament

Both GSD and JRT parents are high-energy hunting, grazing, and work dogs. Don’t expect something different from these brilliant family dogs who are fiercely loyal to their masters. These canines can be energetic, highly spirited, friendly, courageous, noisy, playful, and affectionate.

Being cat-friendly will depend on proper puppy socialization. Due to the Jack Russell Terrier hunting instincts, they view other pets as prey to be hunted. 

Since they are not apartment-friendly, they need large open compounds and frequent play to thrive. Being attention seekers, they have to give them lots of company. This breed mix creates a lively environment by barking, groaning, howling, whining, and producing other dog sounds regularly.

Trainers should stop their hunting instincts and overprotective essence to make them more sociable.

Trainability

The Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd mix thrives on making compromises. For instance, GSDs are highly intelligent and can remember and obey 95% of commands with less than five repetitions. 

Jack Russell terriers are much dumb ranking in the mid-40s on dog intelligence tests 2021. They can recall and obey orders half of the time with 24-49 repetitions. The cross is, therefore, relatively intelligent and easy to train. Correct training can bring their command obedience rate under 55 orders.

But as with all the other features, their intelligence will depend on which parent they lean.

Lifespan and Biteforce

The Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd cross has a fairly long lifespan. They can typically live for 12-15 years, depending on the type of maintenance and healthcare they receive.

The crossbreed’s bite force is not documented though it is thought to be pretty strong, around 100psi. Speed is something both GSD and terriers have in common. Their offspring have an undebatable speed of 30-35m/h.

Feeding and Exercise

Usually, they need frequent intense exercises—one to one and a half hours, to be precise. The dealers have to keep them engaged most of the time. Otherwise, they can be very destructive. Thankfully, they have a large open compound to give them plenty of playing space.

The bottom line? Keep them mentally, physically, and emotionally engaged most of the time.

German Shepherd Jack Russell terrier mix is a high-energy hybrid, meaning it has high energy requirements. Include high calorie foods and proteins into their diet to provide them with enough energy.

Dog food should contain essential mineral salts, vitamins, and quality roughage or kibble. Vitamin D is vital in the prevention of muscle and skeletal problems associated with this hybrid.

GSD terrier mix eats a lot and consequently gains weight fast. Remember, hip and elbow dysplasia is caused by being overweight. They should be trained to stop gluttony to avoid obesity complications. 

Here is a perfect diet program to follow. Feed them with 1.5 cups of balanced diet once in the morning and once in the evening. However, age and health determine nutritional needs. Consult a qualified vet for a customized GSD Jack Russell diet plan.

This hybrid dog requires high-calorie foods because of its high energy levels. Ensure the food is full of proteins to ensure enough provision of energy. Other than that, ensure the foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality kibble.

Quality kibble and vitamin D will help decrease the chances of developing musculoskeletal problems associated with this breed mix. Feed them 3 cups of a balanced diet divided into two portions daily.

This breed can quickly gain weight. However, contact your vet for advice on the best high-quality food for German shepherd terrier mix.

Also read: German Shepherd Feeding Guide: Nutritional Needs, How Much, & How Often

The Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd Health

The following diseases and disorders affect this hybrid;

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia affects both the German Shepherd and Jack Russell terrier breeds. The hip and elbow are made of ball and socket type of joints. Sometimes, the ball may grow faster than the socket or vice versa, resulting in dysplasia. GSDs are large, while the terriers can overgrow. 

The excess body masses pause a greater risk of hip and elbow disconnection. A German Shepherd Jack Russell mix will therefore be more predisposed to suffer from this body condition. 

Watch out for limping, pain, and dragging in the hind legs. The pet may also be reluctant to get up from the lying or sitting position. Jack Russell terriers often suffer from luxation patella. The kneecap slides out of its place due to extreme work or play.

Eye and Skin Conditions

Eye luxation, glaucoma, and other eye disorders common with the parental breeds. Glaucoma affects the optic nerves and may cause total blindness if not treated.

Watch out for any signs of infections such as flaking, irritation, swelling, and oozing of excess fluids. In case of frequent pawing and scratching, reach out for help.

Scaly patches, reddening, and stubborn peeling of scalp skin signify seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition common with this crossbreed. Luckily, it is curable. Extreme itchiness points out to a skin condition, either bacterial or viral infections. Skin conditions may or may not be passed from the parents though inherited genes raise the likelihood.

Spinal Column Disease

Old age tags along some health issues not just in humans but pets too. The intervertebral disease affects dogs in their final years. The spinal column is made up of a series of short bones separated by cushioning discs. These discs wear out with time and can slip off, leaving pain and total paralysis at worst.

Bronzed skin disease also affects this breed mix. It is a condition where the adrenal glands produce insufficient quantities of steroids. Chronic adrenal insufficiency is characterized by skin discoloration, which looks bronze.

Get a puppy from authorized dog breeders to avoid some of these problems in the future. They should be willing to disclose all necessary information about the puppy and its lineage. 

Potential dog owners should do their homework properly before settling on a pup. Ensure the canines follow their vaccination schedules. Always consult a professional veterinary doctor if you spot something queer with your pets as a responsible dog owner.

Wrapping Up

Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd mix is an accidental, high-energy medium-sized wedge-faced crossbreed with a medium or smooth coat. A GSD female has to carry the pregnancy due to their strong physical body and strength. The offspring usually takes lots of features from both parents. 

The dogs are overprotective, family-friendly, intelligent, and loyal. A Jack Russell Terrier German Shepherd mix needs lots of attention and thrives on playfulness. Taking care of this hybrid is somewhere between caring for a GSD and a terrier. Given proper care, these dogs can offer protection and company for over a decade.