Jack Tzu

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
fast facts

About Jack Tzu

10-11 inches
14-18 lbs
13-16 years
Not applicable
Best Suited For
Families with older children, singles, active seniors, people who live in an apartment
Energetic, intelligent, affectionate, friendly, playful, curious, mischievous, sweet
Comparable Breeds
Jack Russell Terrier, Shih Tzu
Jack Tzu Basics

A small, spunky pooch with a heart of gold- that’s the Jack Tzu for you. These utterly adorable designer dogs have a happy-go-lucky attitude, they’re friendly and always up for playing or snuggling. No wonder that everyone who meets them instantly falls in love!

The Jack Tzu, or Russeltzu, as it is also known, is a popular hybrid breed, developed by crossing two purebred dogs. The mix of Shih Tzu and Jack Russell Terrier results in a compact dog with a cute shaggy coat, often in two colors, that can have an adorable underbite and short nose, or simply looks like a long-haired Jack Russell. The appearance of Jack Tzu, like all other crossbreed dogs, is quite unpredictable- apart from the guaranteed cuteness, that is.

Owing to his unique parentage, the Jack Russell Terrier and Shih Tzu mix will be an energetic, intelligent dog that needs a fairly active owner. These dogs are a good choice for apartment dwellers, though, as they are still a small breed and can meet their daily need for exercise even without a backyard. With proper socialization and training, Jack Tzu is an adaptable dog that will get along with anybody, and thrive in almost any living situation. If you’re thinking about getting a Jack Tzu, read on- and find out everything about this lovely mixed breed dog.

The Jack Russell Terrier and Shih Tzu mix will be an energetic, intelligent dog that needs a fairly active owner.


In the 1980s, when an Australian breeder gave a catchy name to his litter of mixed breed dogs, he probably didn’t know he was about to set off a worldwide trend that will last for decades. The creation of Labradoodle was the first time someone intentionally crossbred two purebred dogs and gave those mixes a name of their own. Instead of dubbing them mutts and moving on, the effort was to create a new breed that will boast the best of both parents. Naturally, the wild success of Lab-Poodle mixes inspired many others to join the designer dog movement and try to create hybrids who would become as popular. However, the sudden rise in popularity and the influx of new breeds made it hard to track the origin story of all individual mixes.

The origin of the Jack Tzu remains a mystery, not unlike that of many designer dogs. The best guess anyone can make is that these spunky hybrids came to be sometime in the last 20 to 30 years and that the first litter was born somewhere in the United States. Naturally, this is only speaking about the intentional mixing of the Jack Russell Terrier and the Shih Tzu- “accidents” have probably been happening for decades before their offspring became a popular breed itself.


Jack Tzu is a designer dog breed with purebred parentage. These hybrids are a result of crossbreeding a Jack Russell Terrier to a Shih Tzu. This is also known as the first generation dog or an F1 mix, and this is the only type of Jack Tzu that is currently bred. Multigenerational crossbreeding of designer dogs is not always a good idea- in some cases, it can exacerbate the health issues breeders originally wanted to avoid when they created these hybrids in the first place. At the same time, F1 hybrids are also the most unpredictable ones, especially in terms of appearance. You can never surely know if the puppy will look more like one parent than the other, and there is no set breed standard like it there is with purebreds.

The mixed breed lineage of the Jack Tzu is what some consider his advantage, but not all agree. Designer dog breeds might be popular among pet owners, but official canine clubs don’t share the same enthusiasm. Jack Tzu, same as other hybrids, is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, which means that these puppies can’t have official pedigree papers. Nevertheless, if you are getting a Jack Tzu from a breeder, you will have to ask for guarantees and proof of good breeding. A health guarantee is a must, and it would be great if you could meet the parents to make sure they are healthy and happy. The parents, after all, are the best window into your puppy’s future!


The Jack Tzu is a small but active dog, and their diet should reflect that. The goal is to have a meal plan that would give them the fuel for their daily adventures and support their overall health at the same time, but without being fattening. Most experts agree that a high-quality dry food for small dog breeds is the best choice for a Jack Tzu. Premium kibble, that’s made from high-grade ingredients will meet all of your pet’s dietary needs and to boot- it’s readily available at every pet store. In addition to picking out kibble suitable for your designer dog’s size and activity level, make sure to consider their age, too. Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors don’t have the same nutritional needs, and your choice of their food should account for it.

As a dog of small stature and compact build, the Jack Tzu is prone to obesity. It doesn’t take much for the “fluff” to stick to all the wrong places- which is anywhere, as the petite body of this hybrid doesn’t handle extra weight all that well. To prevent the myriad of health issues that come with excess weight, stick to recommended serving sizes. In most cases, these dogs need only a cup of premium kibble each day. Split their daily dose into two separate meals- it will give them double the reason to be happy, and prevent them from gobbling down everything at once and ending up with digestive issues.

These hybrids are usually friendly and cheerful, and won’t hesitate to get belly scrubs even from complete strangers.


Sure, the Jack Tzu might be a pretty pooch, but he’s in no way a beauty without brains! These hybrids are quite smart, in fact, and will excel at training with a right handler by their side. However, don’t let their intelligence lull you into thinking that teaching these dogs manners will be easy peasy: Jack Tzu can be a bit stubborn and willful. They will need an experienced owner who will know how to deal with their quirks and what to do to get the best results. Hint: it involves treats and excited praise.

Not unlike most dogs, Jack Tzu responds best to positive reinforcement training, paired with a confident, firm attitude. You will have to be consistent with training and strict with these mischievous puppies- but don’t mistake that for cruelty. Yelling, punishing, or any other aversive method is simply not going to work with these dogs.

Once you finish with the basics, such as potty training and teaching simple commands, you can move on to more advanced stuff. If you see your pooch is a quick learner and enjoys training, you can steer them in the direction of dog sports, such as agility.


An adult Jack Tzu will weigh between 14 to 18 pounds.


With mixed breed dogs, all bets are off. Sometimes one parent’s genes are more dominant, in other cases, both of the parental breeds bring something to the table. You can never know what your adorable puppy will grow up to be like! However, with timely training and socialization, most Jack Tzus end up being alike- all thanks to their lovely parentage.

These hybrids are usually friendly and cheerful, and won’t hesitate to get belly scrubs even from complete strangers. They are also a good choice for big families, as they get along with older, respectful children and other pets. Active singles will also love these designer dogs, as they’re sweet and affectionate with their special human, and love to show that emotion through shared activities.

Common Health Problems

A lot of people believe that designer dogs are inherently healthy, simply because of their mixed breed origin. Unfortunately, while a lot of breeders speak of ‘hybrid vigor’ as a guarantee of sorts, the jury is still out on if this concept of improved resilience in hybrid offspring applies to designer dogs, as well. What we do know, though, is that a Jack Tzu can either be healthy and dodge the majority of his parents’ breed specific issues, or be at risk for two sets of them. It will all depend on your puppy’s luck and breeding- good selection of parents and responsible practices will improve their odds.

Whatever the case may be with your own Jack Tzu, you should be aware of some very common health problems that might potentially affect them. A variety of allergies, issues with eyes, patellar luxation, congenital deafness, and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. Also, if the build and face shape of your puppy resembles a Shih Tzu more, issues such as canine disk disease and brachycephalic syndrome are also a possibility.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Jack Tzu is between 13 to 16 years. This easily places them amongst the breeds that boast high longevity. With an average maximum lifespan for most dog breeds being 15 years, the Jack Tzu really has it good! This, of course, means that you will have a solid and affectionate doggo friend by your side for many years to come. Of course, in order for your pet to reach this advanced age, you will need to take good care of them. Regular vet checkups, plenty of exercise, and a balanced diet are just some of the basics you need to cover.

Exercise Requirements

The exuberant, feisty Jack Tzu is really what you’d call a tiny ball of energy! In most cases, these hybrids will always be up for some kind of adventure (another word for trouble) and will love to be out and about. Granted, even with all that liveliness, these petite pooches don’t need as much exercise as a large breed dog. As a result, they make a good apartment or condo pet- if they get enough outdoor activity. On average, 30 to 60 minutes of exercise is what a Jack Tzu needs to be happy and healthy.

Remember that it is quite important not to neglect their need for exercise even though they are not a big breed. The Jack Tzu has a ton of energy that needs to be spent efficiently. This means that they will need you to provide a good outlet: long walks, play in the park, running about in the fenced-in yard, or plenty of toys around the house. Fail to do this, and your pet might resort to any means at their disposal to spend their energy. This can often result in a big mess around the home. What is more, if you keep your pet cooped up at all times, you risk a number of issues down the road. Some of

these could be obesity, lethargy, and apathy. And from there on, it’s a short way to some more serious health problems.

Another important thing to note is that these designer dogs can be escape artists and have a high prey drive- they often chase after a small critter without any thought about their safety. This means that you should only let your pet out in a secure backyard, where they can’t dig or jump their way out. Similarly, you should always keep them on a leash – lest they take off after a squirrel in the middle of the street.

On average, 30 to 60 minutes of exercise is what a Jack Tzu needs to be happy and healthy.

Recognized Clubs

The AKC doesn’t recognize the Jack Russell Terrier and Shih Tzu mix as an actual breed. Of course, there are smaller clubs that do- Designer Breed Registry, Dog Registry of America, and International Designer Canine Registry all recognize the Jack Tzu. These clubs and organizations are most often run by long-time owners of designer breeds, and those who are devoted to making Jack Tzu a well-known and accepted designer breed. As such, these clubs make for an ideal place to get all the needed information about your dog. If you are a new or future Jack Tzu owner, it’s advisable to join one of these clubs as soon as possible! That way, you can quickly get the grip of the basics – what is important to know about the breed. This includes their daily routines, habits, do’s and don’ts, pros and cons. Learn about their health, and how best to care for them. And of course, you can get a good insight into the Jack Tzu pedigree – the set of physical characteristics that makes them who they are!


When it comes to coat type and qualities, the Shih Tzu and the Jack Russell Terrier are at the opposing side of the spectrum. This means that the Jack Tzu can either have a short, closely cropped sleek hair or longer, softer coat. The majority of these hybrids, however, are somewhere in the middle- with a ridiculously cute shaggy, wiry medium coat. There are many potential coat colors, as well, but most have a bi-color or tri-color coat; red and white, brown and white, and black and white being the most common options.

As for the grooming, Jack Tzu is quite a low-maintenance dog. They are moderate shedders and won’t need fancy products or visits to a professional salon to stay in top shape. Regular brushing will suffice- and baths, when the “nose test” calls for decontamination.


Jack Tzu puppies are equal parts cute and troublesome. These energetic, smart dogs will be super curious and lively in their puppyhood, so it’s important to start training and socialization as soon as possible. That way, your new pet could learn about good manners and desirable behavior- as they grow up into a lovely dog they have the potential to be. To do this efficiently, make sure that they are introduced to new friendly dogs, children, and adults that don’t live with them. This can be a crucial point in the upbringing of a puppy. This way, they can get used to dogs and people around them, and grow up into friendly and affectionate pets. If you fail to socialize your pet early on, you are risking a number of behavioral issues. These include fear, anxiety, and aggression. A Jack Tzu that hasn’t been socialized can become snappy, aloof, and overly aggressive. Many small breeds that have not been socialized have a nasty tendency to become nippy and yappy, and that’s something no owner wants to happen. In order to avoid this altogether, and to avoid having to resort to tiresome behavioral correcting training later on, make sure that socialization is your number one priority in your pet’s puppy years!

Photo credit: Krysten Brown/Shutterstock; Pinar_ello/Shutterstock; By Bronty Hannah/Shutterstock

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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