Jack Russell Terriers and Rabbits [Concerns and Tips]

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Owning a Jack Russell Terrier allows you to witness what an actual hunting dog can look like and behave like.

It also allows you to witness a strong prey drive built into the minds and personalities of the Jack Russell Terrier.

If you have recently adopted a Jack Russell, plan to do so, or have been raising a JRT, you may be curious about your Jack Russell’s ability to catch, hunt, and potentially even kill a rabbit.

Can Jack Russell Terriers Catch Rabbits?

Yes, Jack Russell Terrier’s can catch rabbits. Jack Russell Terrier’s have a strong prey drive and muscular and athletic bodies making them capable of tracking and catching a rabbit.

It is not uncommon for a Jack Russell to catch or chase rabbits with success.

While this may seem impressive that you have adopted a dog with this speed and hunting capabilities, you may be curious if catching, hunting, or killing a rabbit is ideal and what else you need to worry about with your Jack Russell Terrier.

The rest of this brief discussion will cover what you need to know about your Jack Russell hunting and killing rabbits and what precautions do you need to take.


Can Jack Russell Terriers Catch Rabbits?

Jack Russell Terriers are one of the most athletic and intelligent dogs you can potentially adopt.

Jack Russell Terriers also have a very high prey drive and initially were bred to hunt back in the late 1800s.

Jack Russell’s know how to fit into tight spots, track small animals and rodents, and hunt them down.

Not only are they good at it and 100% capable, but they also absolutely love it.

Every day that I let my Jack Russell Terrier outside, she immediately runs to the back porch and sniffs under it, looking for anything that may have walked into her territory, and begins a quick hunt and sniff before calming down.

Jack Russell’s are also extremely fast and agile.

This combination of speed, the thrill of the hunt, and a strong prey drive make a Jack Russell Terrier 100% capable of catching a rabbit, and I know that they can and will from my own experience.

Be ready for it because the chances of it happening to you at some point is much stronger than you may believe.

Up next in our discussion, I want to begin diving into some of the frequently asked questions I often see when it comes to new Jack Russell Terrier owners worried about their new dogs finding some rabbits in the backyard or while out and about enjoying the day.

Do Jack Russell Terrier’s Hunt Or Kill Rabbits

Yes, Jack Russell Terrier’s will hunt and kill rabbits.

I’ve witnessed it myself.

I’ve had Luna (my female purebred) bring me small rabbits, and small birds, and even a few mice since I’ve been raising her for 3 years.

Once again, Jack Russell Terrier’s have extremely strong prey drives.

So strong that walking your Jack Russell or running with a Jack Russell can sometimes become challenging if they pick up a scent or even see a squirrel during your walk.

They simply cannot help themselves.

Jack Russell’s will tunnel under your porch, pick up scents and consider ways to get out of a yard to continue a hunt and not stop until they know they have lost their opportunity to win that hunt or battle.

Luna is the same way and the strength of her drive and needs to finish the chase or “hunt” is so strong that I know and can say with 100% certainty that this is a Jack Russell Terrier personality trait.

A Jack Russell will hunt and kill animals they believe they can include rabbits when presented the opportunity.

It is that simple, my friends. 

Nothing more and nothing less than that explanation.

It is in their DNA and bound to happen.

Would A Jack Russell Terrier Get Along With A Pet Rabbit?

No, A Jack Russell Terrier would not get along nor be capable of living with a pet rabbit.

Jack Russell’s will always view the rabbit as prey and never remain calm and out of the “hunt” state of mind around a pet rabbit.

If possible, I would imagine it would take a great deal or tremendous amount of training, effort, and socialization. Even at that point, I do not believe it would be possible or work out.

A Jack Russell is meant to hunt animals such as rabbits, and it just would not end well for a rabbit, and I highly urge against this living situation if you were considering it.

Some Other Common Questions JRT Owners Have About Rabbits

Now that we have answered and discussed some of the primary questions individuals often ask when it comes to Jack Russell’s catching, hunting, and chasing rabbits, I want to explain some other common issues you need to be aware of with rabbits and your Jack Russell Terrier.

1.)    Should You Discipline A JRT For Hunting Or Killing A Rabbit?

No, you should not discipline your Jack Russell Terrier for bringing you a rabbit they hunted.

You should not discipline your Jack Russell Terrier for any animal they hunted, to be honest with you.

Jack Russell’s are bred to hunt and have the prey drive.

It is not in their control to resist those temptations, and they are only doing what they believe they should be doing.

Never discipline in a situation like this unless you want to risk damaging the bond or trust your Jack Russell Terrier has for you.

2.)    Why Is My Jack Russell Displaying Or Bringing Me The Rabbit They Captured?

Jack Russell Terriers are extremely loyal dogs.

Not to mention extraordinarily loving and affectionate.

Outside of following you everywhere, they desire to please you and seek your approval with everything they do.

When they hunt a rabbit or successfully “take care” of a rabbit, they will believe you would be happy or pleased and may even be seeking a reward.

If you do not want your Jack Russell doing this, be sure to ignore these situations and do not offer any praise.

On the flip side, you also do not want to discipline your Jack Russell for bringing a dead rabbit to you.

My Jack Russell loves to line up mice after hunting them out in the backyard.

It is just what this dog breed does and something you have to get used to and be ready for.

3 Other Dangers Rabbits Can Cause To Your Jack Russell

One of the last areas of discussion I want to touch on before wrapping up is the precautions you need to be aware of when your Jack Russell is actively searching or hunting for rabbits.

I thought of 3 that could be either potentially dangerous for your Jack Russell or extremely annoying and troublesome to deal with in general.

Here is a look at them.

1.)    Escaping The Yard

Escaping the yard is something you always have to worry about with a Jack Russell Terrier.

It is part of the reasons I have a post dedicated to explaining the best fences you can use for your JRT.

It is also partially due to their high jumping ability.

Not to mention their ability to dig and fit into tiny spots.

This makes it imperative for you to understand that chasing a rabbit or smelling a rabbit will make your Jack Russell Terrier even more interested in leaving the yard.

Be cautious of this and ensure you puppy-proof the yard to keep your Jack Russell safe.

2.)    Roaming Near Traffic

I just mentioned that yard escape or running away is likely with a Jack Russell Terrier.

Not because they want to but because they have the ability, and the prey drive will overtake them.

Remember this if they are trying to sniff rabbits near a fence line or getting close to getting out.

You don’t want to risk your Jack Russell getting out of the yard and something terrible happening by walking or running into traffic chasing a rabbit or any animal for that matter.

3.)    Ticks or Fleas

Any wild animal such as a rabbit has the potential of carrying fleas, ticks, and another troublesome pest that may find their way onto your Jack Russell.

Clearly, this will cost you time and money to fix and bother your Jack Russell Terrier until it is taken care of.

Not to mention a lengthy grooming process will likely be forced into your schedule.

Be careful with overpopulated areas of rabbits or other animals that your Jack Russell is near or trying to seek out to avoid issues such as flea and ticks now and in the future.

Rabbits Will Always Intrigue Your Jack Russell, Prevent It Or Get Used To It

If you live where rabbits roam or frequently end up in or around your yard, you can guarantee that your Jack Russell Terrier is going to give them a chase and attempt to hunt them.

You have to get used to it or find a way to prevent it.

Jack Russell’s have a prey drive and hunting behavior built into their DNA.

Nothing you do is going to do much to suppress these behaviors.

Nonetheless, Jack Russell Terriers make for one of the best dogs you can potentially adopt.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell Terriers and happy hunting for both of you in the future.

Does Your Jack Russell Terrier Chase Down Rabbits?

Does Your Jack Russell Terrier chase down rabbits and hunt them when outdoors?

Do You have any further advice you can share with the community about this topic?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today, and we will see you again next time.

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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