Common Jack Russell Health Problems


jack russell health issues


Jack Russells are full of energy and will need plenty of physical activity to prevent boredom. They will reward you for the time you invest in them with life long dedication and love. However you should also be aware of some common Jack Russell health problems to ensure you well informed and can keep an eye on some of the more common Jack Russell health issues.

Jack Russell Health Problems

Generally Jack Russell’s are healthy and tend to live a long and lustrous life however the following conditions can be found in this wonderful breed.

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)

Primary Lens Luxation is an inherited abnormality of the eye and is characterized by a discoloring of the lens in the eye(s). Symptoms of PLL show up after age 2, and the disease is treatable when caught in the early stages. If left untreated Primary Lens Luxation can cause glaucoma or blindness.

Early warning symptoms include: excess blinking, watery eyes and squinting.


The heart enlarges as it slowly degenerates in this common health problem of Jack Russells. As the heart muscle degenerates it functions less and less effectively, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure.

Cardiomyopathy may be present in a Jack Russell for some time before any symptoms occur.

Regular veterinarian visits is the only preventive measure. The vet may be able to detect early warning signs of cardiomyopathy and start treatment early enough to prevent death.

Symptoms include: shortness of breath, coughing, blue tongue, excessive drooling, distended abdomen and weakness. In advanced cases, a Jack may suddenly fall over dead without any noticeable warning signs of the disease being present.

Legg Perthes

Also known as Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) is a disease that affects the hip joints of small breed dogs.

The ball joint which fits into the hip socket, known as the femur, slowly disintegrates and dies. This causes the Jack Russell pain when walking or running and will lead to an arthritic hip joint.

Legg Lerthes is a hereditary disease in Jack Russells that often shows up between the ages of 6-12 months and can be corrected surgically. The head of the femur is removed during surgery and the muscles form a false joint for the hip.

Luxating Patella

The knee cap, patella, moves out of position in this common Jack Russell health problem. The patella can be moved by a trauma or genetic pre-disposition.

Jacks can live their entire life with a luxating patella, if it does not cause them pain, mobility issues or arthritis. If pain of other issues arise, surgery may be needed to re-position the knee cap.

Symptoms are visible early in the dog’s life and include: limping, skipping, unusual sitting posture and/or sudden loss of the support of one leg. These symptoms are intermittent unless the problem is severe.


This is same condition that humans sometimes develop – it’s the inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas produces enzymes which are needed to help the body digest food and to regulate hormones. Pancreatitis occurs when the enzymes are released inside of the pancreatis instead of in the digestive system. Inflammation occurs after this premature release of enzymes, causing severe pain and swelling of the pancreas. Other nearby organs can be damaged by the inflammation as well.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate and weakness. Treatment for mild pancreatitis include a change in the Jack’s diet, more severe causes of pancreatitis may include a short hospital stay.

Cruciate Rupture

The cruciate consists of two ligaments that criss-croos over the knee joint in a Jack Russell. When one or both of these crossed ligaments become torn, it’s known as a cruciate rupture. The torn ligament causes the Jack Russell pain and limited range of motion.

Jacks Russells are prone to developing a cruciate rupture because of their high energy level that leads them to run and jump at every opportunity.

Symptoms include: limping, not putting weight on the injured leg, reduction in activity, unusual sitting position and difficulty getting up into a standing position. Some prevention against this health problem is to keep the dog’s weight within a normal range.

Cushing Disease

Cushings occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much steroid hormone. A common cause is a benign tumor on the Jack’s pituitary gland or adrenaline gland.

Cushing disease is not curable, but it is manageable and your Jack Russell can lead a fairly normal life with medication and regular visits to the veterinarian.Treatment typically includes medication which the Jack Russell will have to remain on for life to manage the disease. Close monitoring by dog owner and veterinarian will also be needed for life to ensure the powerful medications help the dog without causing any sudden adverse reactions which can be life threatening

Early signs include: increased thirst, increased urination, loss of hair, reduced activity, thin skin and the development of a pot belly.