It may be similar to the Jack Russell Terrier, but the Parson Russell Terrier is a breed all its own. In fact, it was distinguished as its own breed in 2003. But while the name is different, the essential look, temperament, and genuine qualities inherent to this breed have not been shaken in the slightest. This is a smaller dog with the bright, energetic personality that many expect from smaller dogs, with a high propensity toward playfulness and confidence.
The Parson Russell Terrier is a breed of small white terrier that was the original Fox Terrier of the 18th century. The breed is named after the person credited with the creation of this type of dog, the Reverend John “Jack” Russell. It is the recognised conformation show variety of the Jack Russell Terrier and was first recognised in 1990 in the United Kingdom as the Parson Russell Terrier. In America, it was first recognised as the Jack Russell Terrier in 1997. The name was changed to its current form in 1999 in the UK and by 2008 all international kennel clubs recognised it under the new name.
A mostly white breed with either a smooth, rough or broken coat, it conforms to a narrower range of sizes than the Jack Russell. It is a feisty, energetic terrier, suited to sports and able to get along with children and other animals. It has a range of breed-related health issues, mainly relating to eye disorders.
AKC group: Large/medium-sized Terriers
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 13-15 years
Average size: 14 – 18 pounds
Coat appearance: Dense, Harsh and Rough, and Short
Coloration: white with black, tan or grizzle markings or a tricolor combination
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
Temperament: Friendly, bold, intelligent, independent
Comparable Breeds: Jack Russell Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This breed shares a common history with the Jack Russell Terrier until the early 1980s.
This type of small white terrier dates back to the work of the Reverend John Russell, born in 1795.In 1819 he purchased a small white and tan terrier bitch named Trump from a milkman in the hamlet of Elmsford. She formed the basis for his breeding programme, and by the 1850s the dogs were recognised as a distinct type of Fox Terrier.
In 1894, the Devon and Somerset Badger Club was founded by Arthur Blake Heinemann who created the first breed standard for this type of terrier. The club was formed with the aim of promoting badger digging, rather than fox hunting. By the turn of the 20th century, the name of John Russell had become associated with this type of terrier. The Devon and Somerset Badger Club would go on to be renamed the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club and continued until just before World War II when the club folded.
The Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain was established in 1974 as the parent club for the Jack Russell Terrier in the UK. The club has actively opposed recognition of the Jack Russell Terrier by Kennel Club .In 1983, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club was reformed with the aim of seeking Kennel Club recognition for the breed. The initial application was turned down, but after several further rejections, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier was recognised on 9 January 1990 as a variant of the Fox Terrier, with the United Kennel Club following suit in 1991.The American Kennel Club recognised the breed as the Jack Russell Terrier effective 1 November 1997.
On 1 August 1999, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club successfully petitioned the Kennel Club to change the name of the breed to the Parson Russell Terrier, with the name of the breed club following suit. The international kennel association, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, recognised the Parson Russell Terrier on 4 June 2001. The American Kennel Club updated the name of the recognised breed from Jack Russell Terrier on 1 April 2003. The United Kennel Club adopted the new name on 23 April 2008.
The Australian National Kennel Council , New Zealand Kennel Club and United Kennel Club are the only three major kennel clubs to recognise both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier separately. In 2009, there were 18 Parsons registered with the ANKC compared to 1073 Jack Russells.
A humorous and active person who seeks mischief and entertainment will find an ideal companion in this dog. As the dog loves adventure and action, it often tends to get into trouble. It is a real hunter, fond of exploring, chasing, wandering, and digging whenever given an opportunity.
The intelligent and playful Parson Russell Terrier mixes well with both strangers and children. It is better than most terriers but may still get scrappy with unknown dogs. It may also chase cats or rodents, but gets along well with horses. Additionally, many Parson Russell Terriers have the tendency to dig and bark.
The average life span of the Parson Russell Terrier is 13 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, cerebellar ataxia, congenital deafness, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, lens luxation, myasthenia gravis, patellar luxation and von Willebrand disease.
The Parson Russell Terrier does best when it has access to the garden and the house; however, it does not make a good apartment dog. The Parson Russell requires a great deal of physical and mental activity daily. As it is not a dog that will sit idly indoors, the Parson Russell requires an energetic game or a long walk daily, in addition to a brief training session. Given the chance, it will definitely wander on its own; therefore, allow it to roam in safe areas. Be attentive, however, as it has a tendency to invite trouble by exploring down holes.
For the smooth variety, coat care comprises just weekly brushing to get rid of dead hair, while the broken coat Parson Russells require the occasional hand stripping.
The Parson Russell Terrier will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. These dogs are very active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard.
Parson Russells are highly trainable dogs and soak up new tasks like a sponge. They are terriers, however and like all terriers, Parsons can exhibit stubbornness if they don’t like the attitude of the person training them. Positive reinforcement and mixing up the daily training routine will keep your Parson Russell engaged and interested. Discipline and harsh tones will cause this dog to become defensive which may lead to snapping or biting.
Once basic obedience is mastered, Parson Russells should move on to advanced obedience, trick training and agility work. They thrive on new activity and will be at the top of their class in just about every activity they participate in.
This dog loves plenty of space and requires good, thorough daily exercise; a properly-exercised dog has had his change to point his energy somewhere and this means it will generally have a more pleasant and balanced personality. This dog will enjoy a good open area like a park or even a country home, and can be both a city and country dog but will definitely require regular exercise in either case.
All coat types are easy to groom. Comb and brush regularly with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. To show, owners must strip the coat. Like the rough coat, the broken coated Parson needs to be stripped out also.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.
Is the Parson Russell Terrier the Right Breed for you?
Moderate Maintenance: Regular grooming is required to keep its fur in good shape. Occasional trimming or stripping needed.
Minimal Shedding: Recommended for owners who do not want to deal with hair in their cars and homes.
Moderately Easy Training: The Parson Russell Terrier is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.
Very Active: It will need daily exercise to maintain its shape. Committed and active owners will enjoy performing fitness activities with this breed.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.