Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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Jack-A-Poos are the result of mixing the active Jack Russell Terrier and the intelligent Miniature Poodle. They are a small and sporty dog with a big personality and a heart of gold. Their fur may be curly, wiry or a mix of both and they do not tend to shed a lot. Their brown eyes are full of humour, while their floppy ears lend them a playful appearance.

The Jack-A-Poo needs near constant stimulation and is not the kind of pet to sit around and do nothing. They love to learn and can be taught to perform a high number of tricks and tasks. Though some individuals are cautious around new people, they do not do particularly well as watch or guard dogs.

About & History

The Jack-A-Poo, or Jack-A-Doodle, is a cross between the Jack Russell Terrier and the Miniature Poodle. A relatively recent dog breed addition, the Jack-A-Poo is a fine example of a ‘designer dog’ that was specifically engineered to be a fun family pet. The Poodle is one of the breeds most used to create designer dog breeds as they are known to be hypoallergenic, highly intelligent and long-lived.

While the Miniature Poodle originated in Europe (most likely Germany) in the 1700s, the Jack Russell comes from England, and was develop more recently in the 1800s. When exactly the Jack-A-Poo came to be is unknown, however, it was likely first bred in the USA around two to three decades ago and has been rising steadily in popularity since.

As is the case with other ‘cross-breeds’, the Jack-A-Poo is not recognised by any major Kennel Club, though their parents are big names in the pedigree dog world. The Jack Russell belongs in the Terrier Group, while the Miniature Poodle is part of the Sporting Group.


While the individual first-generation Jack-A-Poo may happen to inherit more physical characteristics from either of its parents, the appearance of this breed becomes more uniform down the line.

Most fully-grown Jack-A-Poos weigh from 5.5kg to 9kg and measure between 25cm and 38cm. Their skull is relatively flat and their medium-sized ears flop downwards. Their oval-shaped eyes are a dark brown colour and portray an alert and friendly expression. Their body is well muscled and lean, always in good proportion and athletic. They have relatively short, straight limbs that end in compact feet. Their gait is lively and fluid.

Pups may have the straight, wiry coat of the Jack Russell Terrier, the curly, hypoallergenic coat of the Poodle or a mixture of both. Even within the same litter there can be a huge variability. In general, the coat tends to be low maintenance and is not prone to excessive shedding. Coat colour is wide-ranging, with pups often having a mix of colours in their coat, including white, black, brown and grey.

Character & Temperament

Renowned for their bubbly personality and jovial nature, the Jack-A-Poo makes a truly delightful companion. Fawningly affectionate, this breed will always be delighted to greet you each day and makes a wonderful playmate for children of all ages. A loyal pet, they bond closely to all family members and feel most comfortable when surrounded by those they are familiar with.

With notably high energy levels and a need to be constantly doing something, this breed can be quite the handful. Jack-A-Poos require attention practically all of the time and are very sociable. They constantly crave human companionship and have the potential to become bored and destructive if left to their own devices for too long.

Jack-A-Poos have been known to be wary around strangers, however, this trait can be overcome with the appropriate socialisation at an early age. Despite this wariness, these dogs are not especially well-known for their territorialism or watchdog abilities.


Both of the parents of the Jack-A-Poo are known for their brains and desire to learn, making them a superb pet to train. However, some Jack-A-Poos can be too clever for their own good, often manipulating training sessions to suit them! They require a firm and consistent trainer who is used to working with clever dogs. Known to be stubborn, while they may understand every instruction given to them, they may simply decide to not oblige. In the right hands, they can excel in a huge number of tasks, both physical and mental.

The Jack-A-Poo responds best to positive reinforcement training and enjoys doing things to a high standard and pleasing their master. Lots of treats and praise will work far better than any form of punishment or firm words.


A hardy little dog, the Jack-A-Poo, much like its parents, is known to live a long and healthy life. As with many crossbreed dogs, many of the health conditions that affect their parents can skip right past them and never affect them. In some cases, however, they can inherit conditions from their parents and so owners and breeders should be aware of the following conditions:

Patellar Luxation

When the knee cap (patella) does not sit well in its groove, it may slip in and out of place from time to time. When out of place, a dog will often skip on one leg for a few steps before the patella ‘pops’ back in. For some dogs, their quality of life is not affected and they cope well with this orthopedic complaint.

There are individuals, however, who can have a more severe form of the disease that will require surgery to prevent the development of painful and arthritic knees in later life.

Cushing’s Disease

A hormonal condition whereby there are excess cortisol levels and the body is constantly ‘under stress’, Cushing’s Disease can result in a variety of symptoms. Affected dogs are often PUPD (excessively thirsty and urinating more than usual) and polyphagic (excessively hungry). Alopecia (baldness) and skin infections are common. A pot-bellied appearance due to muscle wastage and an enlarged liver can appear later on in the course of the disease.

Many affected dogs will pant excessively and inappropriately. While there are a number of tests that can diagnose Cushing’s, most vets will either use the ACTH stimulation test or the Low Dose Dex Suppression Test (LDDST) – both of which are blood tests. The condition may be treated surgically in some cases, though is often managed well with life-long medication.


Seizures (also known as fits) can occur for no apparent reason in young and otherwise healthy dogs. When no specific cause for the fits is found, the dog is said to be epileptic. As epilepsy is a diagnosis of exclusion, animals often have to go through a series of diagnostic tests before they can receive an official diagnosis.

Thankfully, most epileptic canines are well-managed with anti-seizure medication. Medication is given on a daily basis and the drug levels are monitored around every six months. At the same time, the animal’s liver function is checked to ensure the medication is not having any adverse effects on hepatic function.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Thanks to their Terrier ancestry, the Jack-A-Poo is definitely high energy and requires plenty of physical activity to keep him entertained. Anything from 40 to 80 minutes of activity a day will be needed, depending on age and individual personality. Ideally, the exercise provided should be fun and varied, including runs, hikes and activities, such as agility, obedience training and frisbee.

Whether or not a Jack-A-Poo can be homed in an apartment or small house will be dependent on the level of exercise an owner is willing to commit to. Well-exercised dogs can live quite happily within confined quarters and don’t require too much space. They do enjoy having the freedom to run around a fenced-in garden off-lead if possible.


Regardless of which parent the Jack-A-Poo more closely resembles, they tend to be a low-maintenance breed on the whole, requiring little in the way of grooming. Their short coat can be brushed through once or twice a week and their tough claws may need to be trimmed every few months or so (particularly in older individuals who may not have the opportunity to grind them down as often as they would have in their younger days).

As the ears of the Jack-A-Poo flop forward, they should be cleaned every one to two weeks with a canine specific ear cleaner. At the same time, owners should be checking for ear infections, which generally require veterinary treatment to cure.

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