French Bull Jack

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult French Bull Jack
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The French Bull Jack is a hybrid dog, which is a mix between a French Bulldog and a Jack Russell Terrier. Personality-wise, the parent breeds are at opposite ends of the energy spectrum, with the Jack Russell ever-ready for exercise and the French Bulldog a willing coach-potato. There is no hard rule as to which trait a hybrid dog will follow, thus owners need to be prepared for a pup anywhere from an energy ball or a snuggle bug.

We can say with confidence that the French Bull Jack is a small but sturdy dog, with a reputation as a playful clown. When well-socialised as a puppy, these fur-friends make great family dogs that are bound to raise a smile, whilst their short coat takes little by the way of maintenance other than a quick slick over with a brush.

About & History

In common with most hybrid breeds, their history is sketchy and it is more pertinent to look at the story of the parent breeds.

The Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is a feisty soul, thanks to their original purpose as a working dog. It is the Rev. John Russell that is credited with developing the breed. Their purpose was to be a bold hunting dog that would sniff out foxes and chase them to ground, whilst alerting their handler by barking.

The breed originated from a mixed bag of terrier breeds with the dog as we recognise them today putting in an appearance in the 1800s. They became the consummate farm dog, ideal for keeping down vermin. Indeed, they were bred to attack in the face of danger, rather than back down, which may make their behaviour unpredictable when outside their comfort zone.

The French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is a much gentler soul. Despite their name, they originated from England, bred as a pint-sized version of the English Bulldog. In the 19th century, they were especially popular with the Nottingham lace workers, and when the latter emigrated to France for better work prospects, they took their little dog with them. Understandably, the French fell in love with this bat-eared fellow, and soon claimed ownership of the breed.

Appearance

The French Bulldog and Jack Russell are similar in size but very different in appearance. As with all hybrids, each individual dog’s appearance may favour either one of the parents or be a true mix of both.

Let’s consider those pups with an equal share of their looks from both side of the family tree. These dogs will be small but sturdy, with a deep ribcage and tucked up waist. When viewed from above some dogs will be broader across the chest then the hips, giving their silhouette a wedge or pear-shape.

The French Bull Jack has a longer snout than the snub-nosed Frenchie, but larger, more bat-like ears than a Jack Russell. They have wide-set eyes and a quizzical expression that hints at their playful nature. The French Bull Jack has a short coat that comes in a range of colours from fawn with a black mask, brindle, black, or bi-colour.

Character & Temperament

A dog’s temperament depends on genetic traits bred into the breed, along with their early socialisation experiences. Given that Jack Russell’s can be feisty souls, it is important that French Bull Jack pups are given appropriate handling and training in the first 18 weeks of life in order to make them steady and reliable adults.

Again, with the parents having temperaments at opposite ends of the scale which means the French Bull Jack’s character is not a given. For example, you may acquire a docile, sleepy pup that wants to spend all day in their owner’s company (a Frenchie trait). But, on the other hand, the dog may be a pocket dynamo that needs constant activity and outlets for their energy in order to be content.

However, what can be said is that a well-adjusted French Bull Jack is going to be a loving companion that adores being with their owner and is as equally prepared for snuggles as activity. But either way, if the dog lacks exercise or companionship this may bring out their naughty side, as they make their own amusement with barking, digging, or chewing.

Trainability

A French Bull Jack is something of a training challenge. The strong-headed attitude of the Jack Russell mixed with the laid-back Frenchie traits means they aren’t the easiest dogs to train.

The wise owner uses reward-based training methods and makes training into a game. With the dog’s attention fully engaged, and rewarding their compliance with praise or treats, all that’s left is to commit to regular training session on an on-going basis in order to have a well-behaved four-legged buddy.

Health

As yet, there are no recognised studies into the health problems prevalent in the French Bull Jack. However, some conditions are strongly linked to the parent breeds, which place their off-spring at risk of perhaps acquiring these problems.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, also described as ‘wobbly kneecaps’, is a condition affecting the back legs of many small dogs. The kneecap (or patella) is an anchor on which the thigh muscles pull to straighten the leg. To work successfully, the kneecap must sit dead-centre in a special groove at the bottom of the thigh bone. If the bottom of the thigh bone or top of the shin bone is slightly angled, this means the kneecap is dragged to one side or to ‘luxate’

The characteristic sign of patella luxation is a dog that skips steps with a back leg. Those dogs that are mildly affected may only need occasional pain relief, however, the worst affected animals require corrective surgery to maintain mobility and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Legge-Perthe’s Disease

This is a growth problem affecting the hip joint. If the blood supply to the growing hip is damaged, the head of the femur doesn’t receive sufficient nutrition and grows poorly. Typically the femoral head becomes misshapen and the bone is crumbly. This leads to hip pain and lameness.

Surgical removal of the affected femoral head will prevent pain and give the dog excellent mobility, albeit that leg will always be slightly shorter than the other side.

Skin Allergies / Atopy

Dogs that suffer from allergies often manifest their sensitivity as skin irritation and itchiness. Symptoms include excessive licking and scratching of the legs and belly, along with recurrent ear infections. Unfortunately, these issues characteristically get worse with age, and can lead to severe damage to the skin.

Allergies cannot be cured but they can be controlled. A raft of measures that promote healthy skin, such as dietary supplements, skin cleanliness, and a good quality diet can help improve the dog’s natural immunity. In addition, medications are available that suppress the allergic reaction to keep the dog comfortable. For severe flare-ups, antibiotics may be necessary to control secondary infections.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The French Bull Jack’s exercise requirements will be governed by which parent they most favour. This could mean a dog that would happily run all day long, to a sleepy fellow who prefers to snooze.

Crucially, whatever the dog’s leaning, it is imperative to meet their needs for mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Even the docile Frenchie requires plenty of human contact during the day (even if this is just a warm lap to snuggle next to) and not to provide this will cause distress.

Grooming

Happily, the French Bull Jack is low maintenance when it comes to grooming. That short coat will polish up a treat with a regular slick over with a grooming mitt, but requires little else by way of maintenance.

If they get particularly muddy, then washing with a mild, dog shampoo is recommended, but ideally limit this to once a month to prevent over drying. Another tip is to brush their teeth daily. This removes plaque before it can harden into tartar and will reduce the need for dental treatment in later life.

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