Parson Russell Terrier Guide

Terrier Dog Breeds

The Parson is slightly taller than it is long, of medium bone. Its long legs enable it to keep up with the horses and hounds during a fox hunt. Its slender build allows it to fit into small passageways in pursuit of its quarry. Spanning is a critical part of judging the Parson. The chest behind the elbows must be easily spanned by average-size hands, such that the thumbs should meet at the spine and the fingers under the chest. Its gait is free and lively, with good reach and drive. Its coat can be either smooth or broken, both coarse and weatherproof with a short, dense undercoat. The outercoat of the smooth is flat and hard; that of the broken is harsh, straight, tight and close lying, with no sculpted furnishings. The PRT's expression is keen and full of life.

This is a dog that thrives on action and adventure. In the process, it often finds itself in the middle of trouble. It is a true hunter at heart, and will explore, wander, chase and dig when it gets a chance. It is very playful and intelligent. It gets along well with children and strangers. It can be scrappy with strange dogs, but is better than many terriers. It does well with horses, but it may chase cats and is not good with rodents. It may tend to bark and dig. It makes an ideal companion for an active person with a good sense of humor who wants a lot of entertainment — and mischief —in one dog.

AKC RANKING 66

FAMILY terrier

AREA OF ORIGIN England

DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION fox bolting

TODAY'S FUNCTION earthdog trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 12-14 Weight: 13-17

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 12-14 Weight: 13-17

OTHER NAME Parson Jack Russell Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier

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Energy level High energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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The Parson Russell needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation every day. It is not a dog that can sit around inside. It needs a long walk or strenuous game every day, plus a short training session. It enjoys the chance to explore on its own, but it must do so only in a safe area because it tends to go off in search of trouble. Some go down holes and must be dug out! It does best when allowed access to a house and yard, and it is not a good apartment dog. Coat care for the smooth type consists only of weekly brushing to remove dead hair; for the broken coat it also consists of occasional hand stripping.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: lens luxation, patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: glaucoma, ataxia, Legg-Calvés, deafness
• Suggested tests: eye, knee
• Life span: 13-15 years
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Parson Russell Terriers descend in most part from a dog named Trump, which was obtained by the Parson John Russell of Devonshire, England, in the mid-1800s. John Russell was a fox-hunting enthusiast, and he sought to develop a line of terriers that could keep up with the horses and bolt and dispatch fox. His line was so successful that it eventually carried his name. Although John Russell became extremely active in the English Kennel Club, for some reason he declined to show his own breed in conformation shows. Parson Russell Terrier aficionados followed his example, proving their dogs' mettle in the field, rather than the show ring. This tradition holds true even today. After heated debates in which most fanciers objected to AKC recognition, the breed was nonetheless admitted into the Terrier Group in 1998. In England, it was admitted into conformation classes as the Parson Jack Russell Terrier in 1991. Jack Russells have long been popular with horse owners and are frequently seen around stables, but the type of terrier more often seen there has short legs and a long body. The term "Parson" was added to distinguish the traditional long-legged terrier. In 2003, the AKC-recognized dogs had their name changed from Jack Russell Terrier to Parson Russell Terrier. The PRT has become a popular media dog, and its exposure caused great interest in the breed from pet owners. As a result, its numbers are growing at an alarming rate. As irresistibly cute as this irascible scamp may be, it is definitely not a breed for everyone.
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