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Parson Russell Terrier

Quick facts

Parson Russell Terrier AKC Group: Terrier
Height: 13 - 14 inches
Weight: 13 - 17 pounds
Colors: white with black or tan markings or combination of three colors (white, black, and tan)
AKC recognized in: 1997

The Parson Russell Terrier is bred slightly different from the Jack Russell Terrier. The distinct differences are that the former has longer head and larger chest compared to the latter. Thus, during conformation shows, the Parson Russell Terrier's front legs are lifted gently off the ground with two hands by the judge to see if the chest can expand according to the breed standard. The standard is that the judge's fingers meet under the chest of the dog and his thumbs are on top of its spine.

The Reverend Parson John "Jack" Russell is credited for breeding both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier. It was from a milkman from Elmsford in 1819 that John Russell bought the white and tan terrier that formed as the basis of the breeding program. The result was that the new terriers bred by John Russell became unique from the Fox Terrier.

The Parson Russell Terrier has smooth or broken coat. It is not a standard breed if its coat is rough and curly. It has a square outline of a body where its length is about the same as its height. This dog has a pair of small "V" shaped drop ears that are moderately thick and points toward its eyes.

Its feet are catlike and somewhat round, while its tail (if docked) is pointing up almost at the level of its head. Its nose is black and its stop is well-defined but not prominent. Its muzzle is rectangular and its teeth meet at scissors bite.


Parson Russell Terrier Summary
Affection five paws
Cold Tolerance three paws
Ease of Training three paws
Energy level four paws
Exercise Requirements four paws
Friendliness : Children five paws
Friendliness: Other Animals four paws
Friendliness: Other Pets four paws
Grooming Requirements two paws
Heat Tolerance three paws
Playfulness four paws
Protection Ability two pawa
Watchdog Ability three paws

The Parson Russell Terrier has a natural instinct to hunt as well as attack when provoked. But, it is also affectionate and is easily trained for doing tricks. This dog can bark incessantly and has an inclination to dig if it is not trained to check its urges. Exercise and keeping this terrier occupied with productive activities like enjoying the company with children and chasing objects tossed over it are ways to remove the destructive ways of this terrier when it gets anxious and display abnormal behavior.

When walking this dog or letting it chase to explore, it is always advisable to keep it in step with the rules of its master. Once it feels that it has become the pack leader or sees the weak authority from its master, this terrier becomes aggressive and disobedient.

Since the Parson Russell Terrier is a hunting dog, it is not safe to leave it with small animals, as it may see them as prey. It has a tendency to become tenacious when running after something. In fact, it can jump as high as five feet or more, so can easily jump over a low fence. Although discipline is foremost, this dog should not be pushed to lose its confidence, because it may become nervous, coward, or shy. Instead, the owner should maintain to develop its self-confidence and encourage it to remain energetic.


The average lifespan of the Parson Russell Terrier is 14 to 15 years.

While the Parson Russell Terrier is generally a healthy dog, it is susceptable to certain health problems. These problems include:

  • Legg-Perthes Disease - This disease involves the degeneration of the head of the femur bone due to interruption of the blood supply to the femur. This condition can lead to arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. Because this is an inherited condition, if a dog is diagnosed with this disease, she should not be bred.
  • Glaucoma - A disease causing high pressure inside the eye, due to the fluid not draining properly. This can result in vision loss or even blindness if not treated.
  • Ataxia - A sensory dysfunction that causes loss of coordination of the limbs, head, or trunk. Symptoms include nausea (if loss of balance has occurred), weakness of the limbs, tilting the head to one side, and, of course, stumbling, tipping over, or swaying.
  • Lens Luxation - The dislocation of the lens of the eye from its normal location. Depending on where the lens dislocates to, this could result in glaucoma.
  • Patellar Luxation - Sometimes called a trick knee, this condition causes the kneecap to pop out of place. This can be caused by obesity, but is typically a congenital defect that can be inherited.


Care for a Parson Russell Terrier is relatively easy. A good regular brushing with a firm bristle brush will remove any loose, dead hair. Bathing should only be done when needed.

Exercise should be divided into two daily walks or jogs, at least 20 minutes each. In addition, a place to romp and play is very beneficial, although they can be kept in an apartment.

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