Do JRTs Have A Good Sense of Smell?

by Mary Coldsmith
(Chambersburg, PA)

Reader Question: Are Jack Russell's Suppose To Have A Good Sense Of Smell?

My jack Russell, Biscuit, can't find his tennis balls even they're right in front of his face he is only a year old. He doesn't smell too well either he sticks his nose on the ground to try to find his ball that I am hiding in the room (mainly behind my back) even when it’s a treat or something. Which made me wonder if it’s just how he was born or is it a JTR thing?

Veterinarian Answers Reader Question Regarding JRT's Sense of Smell


There is some breed variation in how well dogs can smell. However, Jack Russell Terriers are often used to “sniff out” prey, so if anything, their sense of smell is probably better than that of a short-nosed, toy breed like a Pekingese. It is possible that there is something wrong with your dog’s olfactory system or with the part of the brain that decodes smells, but I think it’s more likely that you’re seeing something that’s just unique to his behavior. Have you tried playing games with something “smellier” than a tennis ball?

It would be interesting to see how he responds to a scented toy.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Apr 12, 2023
JRT Smell
by: Anonymous

I have an eight month old Jack rat and she can track a rabbit trail on a dead run, which is amazing and fun to watch

Jan 22, 2013
Good sense of smell
by: Deborah

Yes JRT,s have a great sense of smell they were bred for hunting and getting Badgers out of holes for farmers...They are awesome on the nose thing I own 2 boy Jacks Elvis and Patch and they are both awesome when it comes to this.

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