Jack Russell Terrier Growling: Top Reasons A Jack Russell Terrier Will Growl [and What to Do]

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If you recently adopted a Jack Russell Terrier, you may have a couple things that are causing stress or anxiety, and you are looking for information to help deal with specific behaviors.

Growling is a behavior that isn’t uncommon with a Jack Russell due to their overall demeanor and temperament but does require some training, patience, and discipline to rid the behavior.

Or at least, reduce the behavior as much as possible.

No one wants to be dealing with a Jack Russell Terrier that always shows aggression towards other animals or people.

The good news is that you are not alone, and the Jack Russell Terrier is a dog breed known to growl and show some aggression at times.

The rest of this discussion will cover the most common reasons growling will occur with a Jack Russell Terrier.

Additionally, we will cover the steps you should take to help reduce growling and your Jack Russell showing any aggression.

Let’s start diving into those details now.

Top Reasons Jack Russell Terriers Will Growl

1.)   Growling As a Warning to Individuals or Animals

In many situations, dogs try to tell us something if we are willing to listen. The same can be said about the body language and behavior they may display towards other animals.

To give you an example, my Jack Russell Terrier has no issues at all with being handled or picked up. In fact, she welcomes it and craves it.

However, my son, when he was younger than he is now, would struggle to handle her properly and would often try to pick her up in awkward positions that were uncomfortable or even painful.

This was one of the situations where growling took place for me, and it would likely take place for you as well.

This is what I call the warning growl. It’s not meant to be aggressive and won’t necessarily turn into anything more aggressive, but it should still be taken seriously.

Jack Russell Terrier Growling

2.)   Growling To Show True Aggression

Of course, you will run into situations where growling indicates actual aggression with most dog breeds, including the Jack Russell Terrier.

In my experience, this happens most often when my Jack Russell meets a new dog, cat, or animal in general that she is not comfortable with or socialized with.

Jack Russells, without proper socialization that began at a young age, do not do well with new animals.

Jack Russells have a strong prey drive, like to be in charge, and don’t like taking a back seat when it comes to getting attention from you as the owner.

Aggressive Jack Russell Terrier

The point is that while sometimes growling is harmless or a warning sign, it can be a true sign of aggression at time.

Especially with a dog breed like the Jack Russell Terrier.

Training and discipline will go a long way, along with proper socialization to avoid potential aggression issues.

3.)   Growling To Prove They Are in Charge

Anyone who raises a Jack Russell Terrier understands that this dog wants to be the alpha in every relationship.

You need to establish with Jack Russell immediately that this is not the case.

I own two dogs, so I get to hear this relatively frequently. Again, this is a form of growling that doesn’t lead to any further aggression but may catch you off-guard if you don’t understand it can happen.

My Jack Russell will frequently growl with my yellow lab, but after dealing with it for years, it’s clear that it’s relatively playful but still sends a message simultaneously.

She wants my yellow lab to understand that she’s in charge of the two.

This is humorous when you think about it, considering my other dog weighs 100 pounds more than her.

With Jack Russell Terriers, it doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t matter.

Growling can occur with a Jack Russell for no other reason except to let everyone and every animal around them understand that they run the show.

Make sure they don’t continue this behavior, especially towards you as the owner.

Establish early and often that you are in charge of this dog for the most success (more on this later).

4.)   Growling To Express Jealousy

Expressing jealousy can come in various behaviors with the Jack Russell Terrier. I’ve seen them all at this point.

Depending on the scenario, jealousy can produce growling behaviors in a Jack Russell Terrier.

No doubt about it.

Typically, it comes out as a slight frustration growl or almost like a grunt mixed with a growl.

Once your Jack Russell has grown accustomed to its surroundings, family, and others pets in the home, this will begin to fade.

However, it would never surprise me at this point if it occurred. Jack Russells are very clingy, jealous dogs.

Jack Russells are very clingy, jealous dogs.

How To Begin Reducing Growling with Your Jack Russell Terrier

Now that you understand what I would consider the primary 4 reasons that a Jack Russell may growl, you probably would like to know what I recommend you do about it.

It doesn’t require anything too crazy.

First, you need to become the alpha on day 1. Training and discipline need to begin immediately after the adoption.

Secondly, socialization needs to start taking place immediately. Especially if you have other pets in the home.

The key to my Jack Russell getting along so well with my yellow lab is that I started this process immediately and remained patient the entire time.

Lastly, you need to understand that even in a perfect scenario, growling with this dog breed will sometimes occur.

It’s in this dogs DNA and can’t be avoided 100% of the time.

Final Thoughts, JRTs Will Growl, but You Have Active Steps You Can Use to Reduce the Behavior

Growling is what dogs do at times. Sure, it can be a bit concerning, especially if it seems to be a behavior that is growing in frequency.

In these cases, we highly recommend seeking a professional’s opinion.

However, some growling here and there from a dog like the Jack Russell is nothing to be overly concerned with.

The Jack Russell has a crazy intense prey drive, the need to be the center of attention, and doesn’t always enjoy the company of other pets.

All these scenarios may potentially be the cause of the growling at some point.

Do your best to provide solid training and discipline in addition to socialization, and you will be in great shape.

We wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russells and the journey you have ahead of you.

Also Read: Curbing Aggressive Behaviors With A Jack Russell Terrier [Top Tips]

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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