Why do Jack Russell’s shake?

Jack Russell's shake mainly to expel excess energy that has built up. Since the Jack Russell breed are known to have high energy levels, it's in their genes, they need to burn it off, and if they don't, they tend to burn it off by shaking or trembling. Expelling excess energy is the most common reason why they shake. However, there are a few other possibilities to consider please see below.
Jack Russell Terrier on the bed
Jack Russell Terrier

Is your Jack Russell shaking now? It’s a funny old sight isn’t it, seeing your Jack Russell shake, it kind of makes you want to hug them as you automatically think they could be cold. I remember when mine first started shaking; it was like a constant tremor throughout my dog’s body, and I instantly picked him up and started to cuddle him. With no effect, it didn’t stop him from shaking, so I got a blanket and popped it round him, again this didn’t stop the shakes. After a lengthy investigation, I found the reason why, or should I say the reasons why. Here I will tell you the most common cause and the other potential ones as well, and how I resolved my dogs shakes.

Why do Jack Russell’s shake? Jack Russell’s shake to expel excess energy that has built up. Since the Jack Russell breed has high energy levels that they need to burn it off, and if they don’t, they tend to burn it off by shaking or trembling. Expelling excess energy is the most common reason why they shake. However, there are a few other possibilities to consider.

Serious medical conditions (Rare)

Please don’t be alarmed by the possible medical reason why your dog shakes. It’s more than likely that your dog doesn’t have any of the below conditions. However, there is always a tiny chance, so, it is best to educate yourselves, and this way you can check for signs and rule it out.

Hypoglycemia – Jack Russells can suffer from Hypoglycemia. It’s when their blood sugar levels are of an unexplained level. Your dog will also show other signs of Hypoglycemia if this is the case. Such as lack of coordination, muscle twitching, weakness, and they can also get discolouration on the skin and gums. If your dog is shaking and has these other symptoms as well, then its a trip to the vets.

Wobbler Syndrome – Wobbler syndrome is a condition that affects the cervical spine and the compression on the spinal cord can result in excessive shaking in dogs. But this is very rare for Jack Russells; however, it is something to be made aware of.

Myokymia – Is a problem within specific muscles of a Jack Russell and its often affects one muscle at a time, like the leg muscle, neck or even the eye muscle. The condition is mainly due to lack of sleep, dehydration, fatigue, over-exercised and anxiety can cause it.

Addison’s Disease – Don’t panic, as it’s infrequent in dogs, however its slightly more common in girl dogs. Addison’s disease is not only shaking or trembling but also several other symptoms alongside it, like diarrhoea, vomiting, increased thirst, increased urination, and even unexplained weight loss. 

If you think your dog has any of the medical conditions above. You must see a veterinary professional as soon as possible and get it diagnosed, treated or ruled out.


Jack Russells are very tough little dogs, and they tend to hide their pain as much as they can from us, however, if the problem that they are experiencing is too much it can cause them to shake uncontrollable. 

Old age

Old dog laying on bed and text saying 16 years old
My Jack Russell Pippy at 16 years old

Jack Russells, unfortunately, grow old, and I know this too well, and it’s a sad fact that they aren’t around forever. But this can also be a possibility as to why they shake. It doesn’t mean they are sick or in pain or have a medical condition; its simple means that they are just old and frail.


  • Fear can make your dog shake
  • Anxiety can make your dog shake
  • Excitement can make your dog shake

Think about what is happening around your dog at the time of the shaking. Has your Jack Russell just had a traumatic event, perhaps he or she has been left at home alone for too long, or maybe the kids are overplaying and making your Jack Russell excited if so then this could be the reason why?


If your jack Russell is cold, he or she will shake like us humans but let’s not forget they have two layers to their coat, its called double coated. The undercoat is soft, dense and fluffy, and the topcoat can be long/short and straight, sometimes rough. There are three types of coats on a Jack Russell; they are smooth, broken and rough. So if your not cold and your lips aren’t blue your Jack Russell will certainly not be cold.

MOST COMMON REASON – Excessive energy

The most common reason that Jack Russells shake is to expel excess energy. The temperament and personality of Jack Russell make this very common in them, and it doesn’t harm your Jack Russell in any way, shape or form. They are naturally hyper dogs, and they love to be active, they love to be out and about digging and searching.

How I resolved my Jack Russell from shaking

Jack Russell walking on the beach
Take your Jack Russell for a walk

It was quite simple, Pippy that’s the name of my dog needed to expel some extra energy, so the best way to do that, I took him for a walk. We had a nice long walk, we got back home, and we chilled on the sofa like we do best, shake-free.


Some of the reasons are quite frightening above concerning the medical conditions; however, they are of extremely low percentage the reasons why dogs shake. Understanding your Jack Russell is crucial to diagnose the cause of why they shake. Remember Jack Russell’s have double-layered coats and often don’t get cold unless it is freezing weather. The best thing to do is what I did take them for a walk or give them some dedicated playtime to burn some of that energy off. Good luck I hope I have settled your nerves and also resolved your dogs shakes. Be brilliant if you could let me know, and I would very much appreciate it.


Read this for more information on the breed, Jack Russell Terrier Personality.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016



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This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.