Jack Russel

Health Concerns for Jack Russell Terriers

Health Concerns for Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terriers are adorable miniature heart stealers that are most recognizable from the popular show "Frasier". Even though they are so cute, they do sometimes come with some pretty big health issues. Let us just discuss a couple of the health issues, remembering that these issues only represent health concerns that the breed in general are prone to.

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP):  is a condition that affects the hip joint formation. LCP is believed to be genetic. Most often seen between four months of age to one year of age. What happens is the blood supply to the femoral head is somehow blocked causing bone cells to die. If the blood supply is restored the femoral head will reform but at odds with the joint socket. The severity of the deformation differs and how it is treated will vary depending on the severity. In mild cases treatment consists of limiting the dog's activity and using anti-inflammatory medications. More severe cases will require surgery.

  • Luxating Patella: most simply put is a dislocation of the knee cap. This most often happens when there is some form of LCP putting abnormal pressure on the knee joint causing it to become displaced. Surgery is the best course of action. The earlier that this condition is diagnosed and treated, the less chance of the dog developing arthritis.

  • Congenital Deafness: this condition usually occurs in fetal development, at birth, or as a result of ear infections. When congenital deafness is a result of heredity, it is most common in with the merle or piebald gene. These two genes interfere with the formation of the sound-receptor cells. The confirmation of hearing loss is done by an elecrodiagnostic procedure. Unfortunately, there is no way to correct hearing loss.

  • Cerebellar Ataxia: this condition results from the deterioration of the cerebellum's cortex making it a neurological disorder. The dog will appear wobbly on its feet and/or become disorientated. Progression takes about one to two years, and some dogs can live relatively normal lives. Unfortunately, there is no treatment at this time.

  • Von Willebrand's Disease: this is a disease that is inherited and affects the platelet function. This is a serious bleeding disorder that could cause your dog to bleed to death if not watched carefully. Transfusions are common to attempt to replace the blood lost until the bleeding can be controlled. Special care should be taken when trimming your dog's toenails so as to not cut into the quick.

  • High Toes: this condition is not serious but mainly affects the toes of the front feet. The toes are shorter than the other toes and appear to set higher on the foot and not touch the ground. This is considered a breed defect and does not affect the life of your dog.

A responsible breeder will have their puppies hearing examined and checked for all of the health concerns for Jack Russell Terriers. As the Jack Russell dog breeder to provide a BAER certificate indicating the puppy has normal hearing. The parents of the puppies should have eye exams (CERF) and orthopedics (OFA) exams certifying their health. This is not a guarantee that the puppy will not have eye or bone troubles, one cannot guarantee this; this just insures that the parents are free of health issues.

Do not let these health concerns for Jack Russell Terriers deter you from bringing one of these bundles of love into your heart and home. Do your research; see the parents and their vet records, and most importantly take your new bundle of energy for a vet check-up as soon as possible after you bring him or her home.

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