Although the typical life span of a Jack Russell Terrier is currently 13-16 years, many have lived long and health lives past that estimate.
The main key to a long life, is the maintaining of a healthy life style, which includes regular check ups with your vet, as well as all recommended inoculations and boosters starting when your JRT is a puppy.
In order to keep your JRT with you as long as possible, there are a few health problems that are inherent in JRT's that you will need to keep an eye out for as well.
Cardiomyopathy is a thickening of the heart muscle, and symptoms are not usually noticed until the disease is pretty far along. The disease involves pleural effusion and pulmonary edema (water in the chest cavity or in the lungs). If you notice that your JRT is breathing more quickly, shallowly, or in a some manner that seems labored, or exhibits reduce tolerance for exercise, then you will need to have your vet check them out.
JRT's, because they are so active, are prone to hernias. Umbilical hernias and inguinal hernias are the two most seen, and are observed as a bulge in the lower abdomen. If you suspect that your JRT has a hernia, have your vet check them out as soon as possible. The sooner the hernia is evaluated, and surgery scheduled, the better the outcome for your JRT.
Hydrocepholy is the accumulation of fluid on the brain. The symptoms are neurological related, and include balance problems or walking into walls out of confusion or disorientation. Although there is currently no known treatment for hydrocepholy, also know that other treatable neurological conditions may present with similar symptoms. It is best to have a vet to examine, and determine the cause as soon as possible.
Cerebellar Ataxia is another neurological condition that resulting from the deterioration of the cerebellum's cortex. Symptoms include a noticeable change in your JRT's gait when they walk, or even an appearance of wobbliness when on their feet, and disorientation.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus is the failure of the fetal vessel between the pulmonary artery and the aorta to close at birth. The result is heart murmurs, weakness or even death. A JRT that suffers from PDA must have special care taken with them. Even a moderate amount of exercise can result in heart failure or death. Only a vet can determine if your JRT has this condition.
Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy exhibits with tremors in your JRT's legs, and involves deterioration of the part of the brain that controls movements. Your JRT may also exhibit an inability to coordinate its limbs when running or playing. Although there is no cure or current treatment for PNA, as long as your dog has good quality of life, the you may be able to enjoy many years together.
Obesity is also of concern for JRT's. Although they are very active, high energy breed, if they do not get the exercise they require, or their nutritional intake is not in their best interest (namely the slipping of table scrapes), the they run the risk of obesity. You will notice if this happens, because a JRT are bred to be lean, muscular, and sturdy.
Legg-Calve-Perthes is the degeneration and dislocation of the ball joint in the hip region. This is an inherited condition, and the gold standard is hip replacement.
Ear infections are very common in the JRT breed, mainly because of how the ear is exposed. They will, most times, suffer more than once from an ear infection in their lifetime Symptoms include shaking their head, scratching their ear, or redness around the ear canal. If left untreated, ear infections in JRT's can lead to partial or total deafness.
And lastly, dislocation of the knee caps, as well as hip and joint ailments are very common in the JRT breed. Because of their exuberant and active temperament, they are hard on their legs, and leg joints, that later in life can come to be a problem. But, again, as long as they have quality of life, they will life many happy years. Ask your vet how you may manage your JRT's symptoms and possible discomfort with these types of ailments.