Will Jack Russells Kill Chickens?

Jack Russells are renowned for chasing anything that moves and acting like tough stuff around small and large dogs. However, they are not exactly truly aggressive.

Jack Russells are also known to get along great with other animals and pets, like horses or cats. But when it comes to the smaller animals you may have in your yard or farm, will a Jack treat them well?

For example, if you keep chickens, will Jack Russells kill chickens? Will they play with them? Merely tolerate them? Let’s find out.

Will Jack Russells Kill Chickens?

What might Jack Russells kill?

Their history as hunter’s companions makes Jack Russells have a strong prey drive. The Jack Russell breed can be drawn to mess with, hurt, or even kill small animals and other household and farmyard pets.

These include cats, rabbits, birds, mice, rats, gerbils and guinea pigs. If anything runs or scurries around, you can bet your Jack Russell won’t be long in chasing it.

That said, Jack Russells have been known to get along with small animals and birds like chickens. It’s all in how a Jack is introduced to other animals and how long the Jack and the chickens have known each other.

Some Jack Russells will have a go with larger animals. Foxes, sheep, and larger dogs don’t stand a chance against the tireless Jack Russell Terrier. Your Jack Russell may be chasing other animals in play but will nip them if they feel threatened.

Will my Jack Russell kill my chickens?

It’s possible. A Jack Russell kept as a domestic pet will not usually have too much interest in chasing or hurting other animals. However, their strong prey drive may prompt them your Jack to dash after your hens at any time.

The best thing to do is introduce your Jack Russell to the chickens as soon as possible. Don’t rush this process, and only let your Jack off the leash around your chickens when you are 100% okay with them being together.

How do you introduce a Jack Russell to chickens?

How do you introduce a Jack Russell to chickens?

When introducing your Jack Russell to your chickens, as we touched upon, it’s important not to rush the process.

From as young an age as possible, let your Jack Russell spend time around the chickens in a way you are comfortable. The earlier you introduce your Jack to your birds, the greater the chances of success.

When you want to allow your Jack Russell nearer the coop, do everything on your terms. Consider using a leash and harness with your Jack. This will allow you greater control of them as you approach the henhouse.

With both your Jack Russell and the chickens secure, try walking slowly towards the coop. As you advance, your Jack might lunge or bark at the chickens. If they do, tell them “No!” and stop for the day.

The next day, try introducing your Jack and chickens again in the same way, but see if you can get closer. But, again, don’t rush things – don’t get too close if your Jack Russell isn’t calm.

When your Jack Russell has appeared calm around the chickens multiple times, you can start trying to let your Jack off the leash around them. Next, see if your Jack Russell will tolerate interacting with your hens, allowing the chickens to sit on their back or near them.

If you are concerned, don’t allow your Jack to be unsupervised around the chickens. It’s also a good idea to provide your Jack and the chickens with space for alone time.

Make sure your chickens always have access to their coop or henhouse, and your Jack Russell can always go out a door or gate if they want.

Are Jack Russells good guard dogs?

Originally bred as hunting dogs, Jack Russells also make good guard dogs. They are alert and keenly aware of their surroundings, and their companion side also makes them protective of their owners and other people or animals they love, including chickens.

So, if your Jack Russell gets along well with their little brood, it’s no surprise they might hang around and protect your flock.

They may not be as effective as an actual guard dog breed, but your Jack is sure to deal with anything they perceive as a threat. Don’t leave your Jack Russell unsupervised with the chickens unless they have been raised alongside them.

Their high prey drive will make your Jack Russell chase away any fox they see. You probably shouldn’t rely solely on your Jack Russell as a protection system. Be sure to keep the coop secure with solid fencing.

How can I train my Jack Russell to guard my chickens?

If your Jack adores or tolerates your chickens, and you want to train them to guard them, you’ll need to build on skills your pooch already has.

First, when you take your Jack Russell for their walk, take them around the boundaries of their territory. When your Jack Russell notices that the chickens are within their domain, the protective instincts John Russell honed will naturally come into play.

When it’s time for your Jack to start guarding the chickens, use a long training leash or tie-out cable to keep them secure in your yard. Make sure they have enough length to run past the chickens. This will again show that the chickens are in your Jack’s territory.

Now it’s time to show them what to do. Any time you see other animals approaching the chickens, encourage your Jack to protect the hens by pointing at the animal, shouting, and calling your Jack Russell along to follow you. Your social Jack will soon catch on to what you want them to do.

Later, when you see your Jack Russell chasing other animals away, barking, growling, or attempting to drive them off, you can reward your Jack. The more delicious their reward, the better for reinforcing their protective behavior!

Keep up the walks around your Jack’s territory, behavior modelling, and the rewards for chasing, even after you are sure they have learned what to do. This will ensure they never get confused about what their responsibilities are.

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So, will a Jack Russell kill chickens?

So, a Jack Russell has a strong prey drive that may make them want to chase and kill your chickens. It’s a good idea to keep them from getting too close if you can’t keep an eye on them.

But equally, the Jack Russell has a strong drive to protect and guard, which you can use if you want them to protect your chickens. Good, consistent training is the main thing.

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