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Jack Russell Terrier vs. Beagle: Breed Differences & Similarities

Thinking the Beagle or the Jack Russell Terrier may be the next canine companion for your family? Find out which of these breeds are a better fit for your lifestyle!

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: January 27, 2021 | 9 min read

Jack Russell Terrier vs Beagle

Comparing the Jack Russell Terrier vs. the Beagle for your next canine companion? If you are considering getting a medium-small dog, these are two of the most popular pups around. These breeds are beloved members of many families. They both are loyal, energetic, friendly, and intelligent.

But how do you choose which breed is the best for your family? While both of these dog breeds are very family-friendly, they certainly aren’t the right breed for everyone. The Jack Russell specifically has a significant amount of energy, and both breeds can be very stubborn during training.

Both breeds have a long history and were bred for completely different purposes. So which is better for your next four-legged family friend? In the guide below, we compare both dog breeds to help you figure out which one is the best dog for your lifestyle. Let’s jump in!

Breed Comparison

Jack Russell Terrier

  • Height 10-12 Inches
  • Weight 9-15 Pounds
  • Temperament Intelligent, Friendly, Stubborn
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 13-16 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Beagle

  • Height 13-15 Inches
  • Weight 18-30 Pounds
  • Temperament Loving, Loyal, Curious
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Breed History

Jack Russell Terriers have long been a beloved family dog breed. Since their genetic start in the early 1800s, they have remained mostly the same, compact, energetic, friendly, and intelligent. These dogs are excellent for families who can give them lots of exercise and stimulation, both intellectually and physically.

Meanwhile, Beagles have been popular dogs for more than a century. Intelligent, affectionate, and stubborn to a fault, they are known for being difficult to train. However, they are also energetic and loving, making them excellent family dogs. Let’s learn a little more about each of their histories.

Jack Russell Terrier

Small Dog Playing Alone in Grass
This breed has a long history of chasing rodents and other vermin.

Jack Russell Terriers had their start in the early 19th century. The Rev. John Russell of Devonshire, England, bred a terrier to help him on fox hunts. His breeding efforts led to two distinct terrier breeds, the Fox Terrier and the Jack Russell, which took its name from the reverend.

The breed didn’t start out as purebred in the traditional sense. They are the result of widespread crossbreeding. But this process developed the typical characteristics of the Jack Russell, which breeders have carefully preserved since the early 1800s.

Beagle

Small Hunting Dog in Green Field
Beagles have a reputation as hunting and family companion dogs.

Experts aren’t exactly sure when or where Beagles got their start as a breed, on the other hand. Records of similar dogs go back as far as 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. These hunting dogs are often called the first Beagles.

Beagles, as we know and love them, came to be in the mid-1800s. The rise of hunting in the 19th century increased enthusiasm for Beagle breeding, eventually creating the “Patch” Beagle with which most of us are most familiar.

Appearance

Two Dogs Outdoors in Fields With Yellow Flowers
While these breeds share similar colorings, they are different in size and appearance.

Jack Russells are medium-small dogs. They usually weigh between 9 and 15 lbs. and are 10 to 12 inches tall. There are several different coat types among the breed, but all are mainly white with offset markings of black or brown.

They are often muscular, despite their small size. Their small bodies are flexible and full of energy. They have long legs for a short breed, which makes them able to run at high speeds. The terrier was not only bred for hunting but also for burrowing. This means that they have a compact, muscular body that can move quickly, even in tight spaces. Jack Russells usually weigh no more than 15 pounds.

There are several types of Beagle, one slightly larger than the other. The larger variety has a shoulder height of as high as 15 inches, while the smaller has a shoulder height of 13 inches. Beagles usually weigh a maximum of 30 pounds.

Beagles have a reputation for being all kinds of colors and color combinations. However, the most recognizable pattern is a black back with a tan head and white belly, paws, and tail. Some Beagles also have red coloring. One near-universal is the white tail, which originally helped the dogs stay visible while hunting.

Temperament

Two Dogs in Sun on the Beach
Both dog breeds are excellent with families and working dogs.

Both dog breeds are friendly, social dogs with above-average intelligence. But despite their similarities, they also have some marked differences in temperament.

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their energetic, friendly personalities. They are also extremely intelligent, as you might be able to tell from their bright eyes. Because they began as baying dogs, they can be highly vocal.

They are also aggressive hunters, which means that they cannot be around smaller housepets like birds and rodents. The instinct to hunt is simply too deeply bred in them. If owners socialize them with other animals in puppyhood, they may be able to get along.

You may also see your Jack Russell frequently digging in your yard or even hunting birds and rodents. They are highly intelligent and love to play games and solve puzzles. They are also very easy to train.

Beagles have a sweet and affectionate temperament. However, they are notedly stubborn and mischievous, which can make them hard to train. This, combined with their above-average intelligence, makes them a challenge for owners.

Beagles are social and enjoy being around adults and children alike. However, they may be overly enthusiastic playmates. Early socialization helps teach them to play gently with human companions. Because of their strong pack instinct, Beagles dislike being left alone for long periods. They often thrive in homes with multiple housepets.

Exercise

Two Dogs Exercising Vigorously Outdoors
Jack Russells have higher exercise requirements than Beagles do.

Since JRT’s are hunters, they have a lot of energy, and a high prey drive. They need a lot of exercise. The best environment for them is a closed-in outdoor space with plenty of room to run. Many terriers need a fence or leash to stay in their yard. They have an instinct to hunt and roam, which means they are prone to wandering off.

If they are kept indoors without access to a yard, JRT’s need frequent, energetic walks. They also love to hike and play fetch. These dogs are not one to lay napping all day.

In their youth, Beagles are high-energy dogs who need a lot of exercise. Going for walks, runs, or hikes are perfect for them. However, owners should never leave them to exercise without supervision — or at least, without a fence. Their heightened sense of smell and instinct to hunt makes them prone to wandering off. Never leave a Beagle in an open yard unattended.

As they age, Beagles can become lazier and often spend more time napping throughout the day. However, owners should still make an effort to help them exercise. Beagles tend to become obese without a fitness routine.

Training

Two Dogs Sitting During Training Classes
These two dog breeds are both intelligent and easy to train.

Jack Russells are intelligent and highly trainable dogs. Their instinct for solving puzzles and meeting challenges makes them cooperative and engaging. But keep a sense of humor and patience while training. They also love to play around. They need a lot of stimulation.

If the training process stays engaging and challenging, they will eagerly comply. However, if there is not enough variation, they may become bored and uncooperative. Approach training a Jack Russell with this knowledge in mind, and remember they love learning tricks and showing off for their owners. Their energy and capability make them perfect for professional showing and even canine sports.

Beagles are friendly, affectionate dogs, but they also have a stubborn steak. Training is vital for them to ensure that they remain cooperative and don’t become out of control. Luckily, with training, they can become happy, obedient dogs.

However, Beagles are known for being difficult to train. Keep the training process engaging to ensure they don’t get bored. Similarly, focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. A Beagle’s stubborn nature is less receptive to these techniques. They are notoriously curious walkers, so leash training at an early age is recommended. Use a Beagle-friendly dog harness for best results.

Health

Two Healthy Dogs Playing in Woods During Autumn
Both dog breeds are generally healthy, with lifespans that often extend past 10 years.

In general, Jack Russells are healthy dogs. Since they have a wider gene pool than many breeds, they aren’t prone to as many health problems as other purebred dogs.

Owners may want to have their dog examined for loose kneecaps, one problem to which JRT’s are prone. The National Breed Club also recommends testing for hearing problems and eye disease. They may also have problems with hip or eye degeneration. This risk increases with age. Your vet may need to correct them with surgery.

Beagles, like many other purebred dogs, are prone to several health problems. Getting a purebred Beagle does not guarantee an unhealthy dog. Good breeders will ensure that the dog you adopt is as healthy as possible. The health issues Beagles may develop generally fall into four main categories: eye problems, bone problems, neurological issues, and hypothyroidism.

Eyes

Beagles and Jack Russells are both prone to developing issues with their eyes. This can include glaucoma, degenerative disorders, or infections of the glands around the eyes. Some of these issues can cause severe pain or blindness.

Bones

Some Beagles can have spine, hip, or leg problems. One of these, hip dysplasia, can lead to arthritis and may cause severe pain, especially in older dogs. Meanwhile, Jack Russels can have loose kneecaps that could lead to difficulties. Many of these problems can be corrected or improved through surgery.

Neurological Conditions

Some Beagles, like many small dogs, have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy. It may range from mild to severe cases, with seizures triggering either slight unusual behavior or full unconsciousness. The good news is that epilepsy in dogs can be managed with medication and usually does not indicate a shortened lifespan.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism may be related to epilepsy in Beagles, or it may be completely separate. Untreated, it may cause obesity (which can occur in both Beagles and Jack Russells), hair loss, and several skin conditions. Fortunately, it is easy to manage through medication.

Nutrition

Two Dogs Hungry For Dog Food
Both breeds should be fed age-appropriate dog food that’s high quality and fits within your budget.

Both dog breeds should be fed nutritious dog food that is appropriate for their age. Both breeds tend to become obese, so owners should keep careful track of feedings to avoid overfeeding.

How much you feed your Beagle depends on many things, including their age, size, and fitness level. Buy high-quality dog food that will provide them with healthy nutrients, not empty calories. Bear in mind that Beagles are notorious for begging and stealing human food. This can be problematic, as the breed is also prone to becoming overweight.

Jack Russells Terriers usually eat around 1 to 2 cups of age and breed appropriate dog food per day. The beagle will generally eat the same, about 1 to 2.5 cups per day. So Beagles will be slightly more expensive to feed depending on your dog’s activity levels.

Grooming

Two Small Dogs Being Bathed
Both dog breeds will need to be bathed regularly.

JRT’s have simple grooming needs. Their short coat does not shed heavily, although there is some shedding. The breed has three types of fur: smooth, broken, and rough. To keep them in the best condition, owners should give them a gentle brushing once a week. Like with most other dog breeds, check their ears and trim their nails monthly.

Beagles have short coats made to repel water. They do shed, but not heavily when compared to other breeds. A basic grooming routine is sufficient to keep their fur in order. However, because of the way their ears hang down, they do need regular ear cleaning. Owners should make sure they clip their Beagle’s nails at least monthly and brush their teeth regularly.

Puppy Prices

Two White and Tan Puppies Sitting in Grass
Expect to pay at least $1,000 and up for a purebred puppy of either dog breed.

Adopting a Jack Russell Terrier from a shelter won’t usually run you more than a standard adoption fee. However, buying a purbred puppy from a certified breeder can be much more expensive. If you want a purebred puppy, you can probably bank on spending at least $1,000. You will spend much more on a puppy that comes from championship breeding lines.

Adopting a Beagle puppy from a shelter or foundation isn’t likely to be expensive. However, if you want to adopt a purebred Beagle with a distinguished lineage, costs will be much higher. A pedigree Beagle puppy is likely to cost between $1,000 and $2,000. This, however, depends on several factors, including the breeder, the puppy’s lineage, and its bill of health.

Final Thoughts

If you want a medium-small dog, it’s no wonder that these family-friendly dog breeds come to mind. These friendly and affectionate breeds have been some of the most popular for more than a century.

However, there are things to consider before adopting a puppy of either breed. Beagles are less aggressive and get along better with other pets and children, especially if socialized at a young age. On the other hand, JRT’s are easier to train and less prone to health problems. However, they also have high needs when it comes to exercise, making them less ideal if you do not have a yard or nearby green space.

There are many things to consider before choosing one of these dog breeds. But one thing is certain: they are both excellent choices for intelligent, affectionate dogs that will be part of your family for years to come.

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