Why Does My Jack Russell Have Pointy Ears? [Prick Ear Jack Russell]

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When I first adopted my Jack Russell, I was extremely excited but I also had a ton of questions that I was searching for the answers to.

I’ve been in your shoes and it likely went something like this for you. Especially if you have landed on this specific topic.

You’ve just welcomed an adorable Jack Russell Terrier into your home, and you can’t help but notice its distinctive pointy ears. What makes them so pointed, and is it unique to your Jack Russell and should it cause any concern?

This article will explore the subject of Jack Russells with prick ears, providing you with all the information you need to understand this characteristic better.

For the uninitiated, ‘prick ears’ is a term used in canine circles to describe pointy, upright ears – a feature that isn’t unheard of in Jack Russell Terriers.

Why Does My Jack Russell Have Pointy Ears

Lets dive into all of the specifics about prick ears beginning with how to recognize it.

Jack Russell Terrier Standard Ears

According to the Kennel Club in the UK, the standard for Jack Russell ears is:

“Button or dropped, carried close to the side of the skull, of good texture and great mobility. The top of the ear is level with, or very slightly above the skull. The tip of the ear is in line with the eye.”

Jack Russell Terrier puppy

Prick ears is what the Kennel Club would consider a “fault.”

But unless you are planning on entering your dog in Crufts Dog Show, they are generally not something to be worried about.

Recognizing Prick Ears

Prick ears are a notable feature that can be seen in certain Jack Russell Terriers among other dog breeds.

However, for first-time owners or those unfamiliar with this breed, they may not know that Jack Russells with pointy ears even exist.

I’ve been in your shoes and clueless about many aspects of Jack Russell ownership so lets go over this in more depth.

Here’s a detailed guide about Jack Russell prick ears.

Prick Ear Jack Russell Terrier

Shape and Position

Prick ears are defined by their shape and position. They are pointed at the top, hence the term “pointy ears.”

True prick ears stand erect on the top of the dog’s head, fully upright, unlike the dropped or folded ears seen in other Jack Russells.

However, it is not unusual to see different levels of prick ears ranging from semi-erect to fully erect.


Typically, prick ears are medium sized in proportion to the dog’s head.

They aren’t overly large, nor are they tiny.

The size allows them to stand upright without flopping over, which contributes to the characteristic pointed look.

Ear Placement

When viewing your Jack Russell’s head from the front, you’ll notice that the base of prick ears is set somewhat wide apart but tilts inwards.

This inward tilt gives the ears their alert, interested expression.

Cartilage and Muscle Strength

Prick ears owe their erect position to strong ear cartilage and muscles.

You’ll notice that the ears remain upright most of the time, barring instances of extreme fear or submission, when they might momentarily fold back.

Prick Ear Jack Russell Terrier

Inside the Ear

The inner side of the ear in prick-eared dogs is more visible compared to breeds with floppy ears.

A healthy inner ear is light pink and clean, without any signs of infection or mites.

It’s worth noting that as puppies, some Jack Russells might start with ears that are not fully erect.

As they grow and their muscles and cartilage develop, their ears may gradually rise and take the prick shape.

Understanding your Jack Russell’s physical traits, including their ears, is part of the joy of owning and bonding with this lively and lovable breed.

Whether they end up with prick ears or another ear type, rest assured that they’ll be just as endearing and full of character.

Prick Ears and Breeders

If you’re considering adding a Jack Russell to your family, you might wonder whether you should expect those prick ears.

Breeders are a valuable source of information.

I was able to get a lot of valuable information from my breeder during my adoption of my Jack Russell.

They can explain the genetics of their breeding dogs and the potential for prick ears in their litter.

They can also guide you on how to care for a Jack Russell with prick ears and provide valuable advice on what this could mean for your prospective pup.

The Prevalence of Prick Ears in Jack Russell Terriers

Prick Ear Jack Russell Terrier

Prick ears are not as common in Jack Russells as they are in some breeds (like German Shepherds), but they are not rare either.

The presence of prick ears may vary from one litter to another and from one breeder to another.

A prick ear Jack Russell does not necessarily indicate that it is a Jack Russell mix, although certain mixes like the Jack Rat Terrier are more likely to have prick ears.

The Duration of Prick Ears: Temporary or Permanent?

The question of whether your Jack Russell Terrier’s prick ears are a fleeting puppy trait, or a more lasting feature can stir considerable curiosity.

The answer, while not always straightforward, is often tied to developmental stages and genetics.

Puppies and Changing Ear Shapes

It’s crucial to understand that puppies go through various growth stages, and these changes can significantly impact their physical appearance, including the shape and position of their ears.

It’s quite common for puppies to sport prick ears during their early weeks and months, which may or may not persist into adulthood.

The Impact of Teething

One interesting aspect to consider is the influence of the teething process.

Teething can cause a puppy’s ears to change shape temporarily due to the redistribution of calcium in the body to aid in the development of new teeth.

During this phase, which typically occurs between 3 to 5 months of age, a puppy’s prick ears might droop or appear to change shape.

However, once the teething process is complete, their ears may return to the prick position.

Genetic Influence and Prick Ears

As mentioned earlier, genetics play a significant role in determining the ultimate shape and position of a dog’s ears.

If both parent dogs have prick ears, there’s a higher likelihood the trait will be passed down and remain into adulthood.

However, if one or both parents have different ear shapes, the puppy’s final ear shape can be a toss-up.

The Timeline for Final Ear Position

Typically, a Jack Russell’s ears should take their final position between 6 to 8 months of age.

This is when the muscles in their ears strengthen, and the growth mostly ceases.

Therefore, if your Jack Russell still has prick ears around 6 to 8 months of age, it’s quite likely that they’ll remain that way into adulthood.

Proper Care for Prick Ears

While prick ears don’t generally demand extra attention, their nature of being more exposed can make them more susceptible to certain issues.

However, with a little attention to detail and regular checks, you can keep your Jack Russell’s ears healthy and problem-free.

Regular Inspection

A crucial part of caring for your Jack Russell’s prick ears is regular inspection.

This involves looking inside your dog’s ears for signs of redness, irritation, discharge, or any foreign objects.

The interior of a healthy ear should be a light pink color and free of any strong, unpleasant odors.

If you notice any changes, such as a dark discharge or a foul smell, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian immediately, as these could be signs of an ear infection.

Gentle Cleaning

While ears are self-cleaning to some degree, sometimes a little extra help is needed.

Use a vet-recommended ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball or gauze to gently clean your dog’s ears.

Never use a cotton swab or insert anything into the ear canal, as this can cause injury.

Preventing Injury

Since prick ears are more exposed, they are prone to injuries.

Ensure your dog’s play area is safe from any sharp objects that could potentially harm their ears.

Additionally, when you are out on walks or hikes, be mindful of thorny bushes or low-hanging branches.

Protection from Extreme Weather

The exposed nature of prick ears can make them more susceptible to extreme weather conditions.

In summer, ensure your dog has plenty of shade to prevent sunburn on the ears.

In winter, when going outside in very cold conditions, consider an ear cover or a doggy hat that covers the ears.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Even with the best home care, regular vet check-ups are still essential.

The vet can examine the ears for any issues that you may have missed and provide professional cleaning if necessary.

If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, such as excessive head shaking or scratching at the ears, these could indicate discomfort and should be addressed with a vet promptly.

By following these guidelines, you can help keep your Jack Russell’s prick ears in the best health possible.

Remember, while prick ears can be a charming feature, they also need regular attention to remain healthy.

The Takeaway

Trying to understand every aspect of a Jack Russell Terrier can be daunting.

Learning along the way and providing the best care possible is all you can do.

Prick ears in your Jack Russell Terrier are a distinctive trait that adds to their unique charm.

Though genetics play a big part, the occurrence can vary, making each Jack Russell special.

So, whether your Jack Russell’s prick ears are here to stay or just a temporary puppy feature, embrace them.

They’re a part of what makes your dog truly one-of-a-kind.

Luna and I wish you luck if you intend on adopting a Jack Russell in the future.

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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