AKC Dog Breeds: Parson Russell Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height:10-12 inches  Weight: 14-18 pounds  Color: Black, Tan, Brown/Tan, Black/Brown, Tan/Red, White/Tan

The Parson Russell Terrier is a true working foxhunter, possessing a ready attitude, alertness, confidence, and great strength and endurance. Today, many Parsons are also found working in stables and exhibiting at agility and obedience trials. Named for the respected huntsman Rev. John Russell, the Parson Russell Terrier was first bred in the south of England in the mid-1800s to hunt red fox. Traditionally, the Parson followed the fox underground to flush him out for the hunter. Authorities claim that after Rev. Russell’s death some of his bloodlines were crossed with the Welsh Corgi and other terrier breeds, creating a different type dog, the "Jack Russell Terrier." The parent club for the breed requested a name change from Jack Russell to Parson Russell Terrier. This breed was registered with the AKC in 1998.

General Appearance
Formally known as the Jack Russell Terrier, the Parson Russell is now recognized by the American Kennel Club. This small, compact, athletic dog looks like a less refined working Fox Terrier. White (at least 51%) with reddish black, tan, or brown markings, especially in the head and tail. The skull is flat between the ears, then tapering. The stop is defined, but not abrupt. The nose is black and the almond-shaped eyes are dark. The v-shaped ears fold forward. The Parson Russell has a flexible body and fairly small chest (easily spanned by the average man's hands) to enable him to go to ground after his prey. The docked tail is carried gaily and set fairly high. Comes in smooth, broken, and wire-haired varieties. The broken coat is a cross of rough and smooth coat - long body hair, a slightly fuzzy face and a smooth head..


This is an active and determined breed with plenty of spirit. The Parson Russell Terrier is enthusiastic about everything that he does, and has bags of stamina and courage. He is fearless and will take on a dog five times his size if he feels like it. These dogs are playful, love to be part of family activities, and are very affectionate. They also have a strong independent streak. The Parson Russell Terrier does need plenty of exercise and activity, but due to his inquisitive nature he needs to be kept in a safe and secured area whenever he is not on a leash. This is not the dog for those with little time for their pets, as he can get easily bored without interaction and stimulation, and this can result in destructive behavior. These dogs love to dig, and his tendency to bark makes the Parson Russell Terrier an effective watchdog. The Parson Russell Terrier is an intelligent dog and a quick learner, but his stubborn and assertive personality can make him a handful when it comes to training. The breed is therefore best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. With praise and reward based training methods the Parson Russell Terrier can do very well in obedience, however you will need a lot of patience and consistency with this breed while training. He will get along well with children that are gentle and considerate, and will usually get along fine with strangers. However, the Parson Russell Terrier can be aggressive with other dogs, and his high prey drive means that he may chase smaller animals and move in for the kill. He will terrorize the cat and make lunch of the pet rabbit. They should never be left unsupervised with another Parson Russell Terrier, as this could result in tragic consequences.


The grooming requirements for the Parson Russell Terrier can vary depending on whether he has a broken coat or a smooth coat. For the broken coat brushing is required once weekly, and his coat may need to be clipped every few months. The dead coat will need to be stripped every few months for show dogs. The smooth coated variety is more low maintenance, and his coat simply needs to be brushed occasionally to keep it looking good. These dogs are medium shedders, and do shed all year round. Bathing should only be done when necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of the Parson Russell Terrier is around 13-16 years, and although generally a hardy and health breed there are a few health problems to look out for. Parson Russell Terrier's are prone to such health issues as Legg-Perthes, eye disease, and deafness.

Activity Level
A highly active breed, the Parson Russell Terrier requires an inordinate amount of exercise and activity. This breed does not do well in an apartment if left alone for extended periods of time. They do best with a securely fenced yard, provided the fencing is buried into the ground and of sufficient height to contain these diggers and jumpers. They thrive on and enjoy family activity, tracking, hunting, agility, and performing tricks.


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