Grieving a Jack Russell Terrier: How to cope with loss

To love and be loved by a Jack Russell Terrier is to know the true meaning of love. The relationship that develops when owning a Jack Russell Terriers is unconditional, deep, and without all the baggage that human relationships can carry.

For those fortunate enough to share their life with one of these incredible dogs, they will at some stage, come to know the agonising pain and grief that comes when this bond comes to an end. This grief can be overwhelming and since many terrier owners view their companions as members of the family, losing them can leave behind profound sadness.

This article will help you understand some of the common feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that may come with losing of your Jack Russell Terrier. Even though an article can’t magically resolve your grief, I hope it offers you some form of comfort and encourages you to find a way to grow through the pain and see it as yet another gift from your terrier. 

Is my grief normal? How long will this last?

Grief is completely normal.

Mourning and allowing time to process your grief will allow you to change the tangible relationship you had with your Jack Russell Terrier to one that exists within your own heart and mind. With the deliberate, mindful practice of mourning, the sharp and painful edges of your grief will soften and the joy in the life you shared will return.

Acute grief after the death of your terrier can last from one to three months, however, general symptoms of grief can continue for six to twelve months. Grieving is highly individual and can vary significantly from person to person – some will experience it much longer or and some for a shorter period of time.

It is important to remember that you do not have to ever ‘get over’ the loss of your terrier nor do you have to forget them. Your terrier will always be there, just the same as your love; nothing can take that away.

Tips to help you through the grief

While there are many things you can do to help you through your grief and look after your own welfare, here are four important ways you can take care of yourself.

#1 Allow yourself to feel your feelings without shame

A common misconception about feeling feelings is that the feeling might last forever. All emotions pass, we might feel one for a longer period of time, but it will always pass.

Avoiding or rejecting emotions, does not allow the energy of those emotions to be processed in the body. As a result, the energy is never released and stays with us until we fully allow ourselves to feel.

Allow yourself to feel without suppressing anything. You are human and you truly loved your terrier. Your feelings are real, they are important and need to be honored.

#2 Seek support to express your feelings and talk about your experience

During times of sadness, finding a safe place to open up and connect with like-minded people who are going through similar experiences can really help with your feelings of grief.

Quite often people incorrectly assume you should move on quickly from your loss. This isbecause it wasn’t their loss. If you are finding those close to you are not supportive, social media and online groups or a local pet loss support group are great places to find comfort and support.

Avoid trying to be stoic because if you don’t process your grief, it can come out in other unpleasant ways like back pain, crankiness, over-emotionality, under-emotionality, lack of ability to form good relationships etc. It’s important to understand you shouldn’t and don’t have to grieve alone.

#3 Give yourself permission to not grieve all the time

It is ok to be happy even after the loss of your precious terrier – you don’t need to feel guilty about being happy.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the company of someone close to you or other pets you may still have. You can set aside time to not grieve, or set time aside to grieve, whatever works for you, but just know – you are allowed to be happy. Your terrier would want you to be!

#4 Take care of your physical body

Not only do Jack Russell Terriers provide companionship, they also inspire us to exercise, and even give us a reason to get up in the morning. Without your beloved terrier, you may have lost the urge to do these things but, over time, these things become easier. Make sure you eat and drink, get plenty of sleep and try for some gentle exercise. Without these basic things, it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral. 

Meditation can be help ease the mind and gentle walking can have a positive effect on your mood. If walking where you normally went with your terrier brings up a lot of memories, try an alternative route until you are feeling stronger. Be kind to yourself, always.

Honoring your Jack Russell Terrier’s memory

In addition to looking after your own welfare, honouring your beloved terrier will celebrate the bond you had and allow their memory to live on. Some ideas are:

  • Hold a ceremony to celebrate your terrier’s life. This is a lovely way to honor the life of your terrier and it gives you and your family the chance to say goodbye. You may choose to do this if you bury your terrier (depending on local laws) or if you scatter their ashes in a place that holds special meaning. If this is not possible for whatever reason, a special ceremony can still be held in the absence of a physical burial or scattering of ashes.
  • Create a memorial: Plant a tree or flowers in your terrier’s favorite part of the yard – you might like to add a plaque or a special memorial stone; have someone paint your terrier’s portrait; put together a memory box with all of your terrier’s special things – collar, toy, name tag etc.; or get creative with your dog’s photographs and make a scrapbook.
  • Start a new tradition: Each year on your terrier’s birthday do something in their honor like volunteer at a local animal shelter or donate to an animal charity in their name.  
  • Professional photos: If your terrier is nearing the end of their life, having photographs of them is priceless, especially once they pass away. Having these photos of happy moments together can mean a lot once they are gone and the resulting images can help you through the grieving process.

Do Jack Russell Terrier’s Mourn?

When you lose a Jack Russell Terrier, it is important to remember that grief is often experienced by your surviving animals as well.

Even though terriers do not verbalize that they are happy or sad, many owners interpret their pets’ emotions based on their behaviors. After a dog dies, another dog in the household may show social withdrawal.

While a terrier may not fully comprehend the concept of death and all its metaphysical implications, they do know that their companion is missing. As a result, they experience grief and mourn the loss of a companion regardless of their understanding of life and death.

Signs of Grief in Jack Russell Terriers

Your terrier knows that their friend is no longer there and as a result they may display one or more signs of grief including:

  • Social withdrawal from people and other pets
  • Out of the blue aggressive or destructive behaviors
  • Crying or vocalizing in an unusual way for the terrier who has passed away
  • Looking for their companion within the home and yard
  • Clingy behaviours and following the owner around
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleeping more than usual and appearing lethargic
  • Eliminating in the home when they have been house trained

These behaviors are a normal part of grieving process and shouldn’t be harshly dealt with. Try to reassure your terrier as much as possible and gently discourage or redirect destructive behaviors.

How to help your grieving Jack Russell Terrier

You can help your surviving Jack Russell Terrier deal with their loss by giving them lots of love and attention to recover from the loss of a close friend. This will help your own grief as well.

It is important to allow your terrier to grieve in their own way. This may mean they hide more than usual – just be there for them when they are ready. Grief is personal and how long it lasts and how each terrier deals with it varies.

Ensure your terrier gets plenty of exercise and observe them when they eat so they get the necessary nutrition to stay healthy. When they are ready try a new activity together and find fun things to share with your terrier while you both mourn.

After the family has grieved, it might be worth considering whether adding another dog to your family is a good idea. This especially important if they ran around and played or spent lots of time with their old companion.

Most importantly, just be there for your Jack Russell Terrier and give them all the love and attention they need, and some.


Grieving a Pet: How to Cope With the Loss of a Dog (

Do Dogs Grieve Other Dogs? – American Kennel Club (

Scroll to Top