The Parson Russell Terrier dog breed is closely related to the Jack Russell Terrier breed which is relatively more popular. In fact, many kennel clubs put them together as one breed. These feisty little dogs are full of energy and playfulness, and make great companions for active owners and excellent playmates for children in the household.
The Parson Russell Terrier dog originated in England in the 19th century. The name comes from Rev. John Russell who was responsible for developing the breed. Its lineage is traced to a white fox terrier with tan patches, named Trump, which the parson used as the starting point of his breeding program. He wanted a fast runner that could keep up with horses during fox hunting, but was equally capable of handling the prey too.
But these bold little terriers were mainly used not for hunting foxes, but to dig for badgers. They were initially called Parson Jack Russell Terrier, and had a club established in its name even before the World War II. However, the Kennel Club refused to recognize these dogs as a separate breed of fox terriers.
Even though this club broke up in the aftermath of the World War II, another one came up in 1974. After a lot of campaigning, the Kennel Club finally accepted the Jack Russell Terrier breed in 1990. The American Kennel Club also recognized it the following year.
The long-legged Parson Russell Terrier version was mainly used in the field, while the Jack Russell Terrier version became more popular in the show business, but both the Kennel Club and AKC do not make any distinctions between the two versions. The official name of the breed was later changed to Parson Russell Terrier though.
The Parson Russell Terriers are slightly larger than Jack Russell Terriers, and have a square shape on account of its longer limbs. The typical height is 13 to 14 inches. These dogs have a longer head and bulkier chest also. Their weight may range between 13 and 17 pounds. The short, smooth coat is mostly white with patches of tan and black. The ears are half folded to the front and the medium-long tail is held upright and arching over the back. It is sometimes docked to half length in countries where docking is not illegal.
The Parson Russell Terrier dog breed is known for its vivacious nature. They are full of life and brimming with energy, and love any chance to play with the members of their human pack. They are great with kids who have energy to match their own. These dogs are not very aggressive to strangers, but can get into trouble with other dogs and smaller household pets unless thoroughly socialized from a very young age.
Always on the move, these little dogs love exploring the surroundings for something to chase after. Being alert and sensitive to anything that moves, they make excellent watchdogs. It is essential to keep these dogs constantly engages with games and other activities since they are known to be destructive if lack of physical and mental stimulation makes them bored.
Grooming and exercise
Parson Russell Terriers are very easy to groom as their short coat needs to be brushed only once a week. They need only an occasional bath or wiping with a damp washcloth.
Parson Russell terriers are ideally matched with owners who enjoy an active lifestyle and love boisterous dogs to take part in their outdoor activities. Although small in size, the exercise and activity requirements of these highly energetic dogs make them unsuitable for apartment living unless they are taken out frequently. A sedate walk a day is not sufficient to keep them happy. Several brisk walks or jogs on the leash and some free time to roam around in a fenced in yard are necessary parts of their day.
These dogs can tolerate heat and cold to some extent, but extremes should be avoided. Even though they love the outdoors, they are not suitable for living in the yard, and should be allowed to spend the nights indoors with their family.
Common health issues of Parson Russell Terrier dog breed
The Parson Russell Terrier dog breed is generally free from many of the major health problems commonly affecting dogs. But these dogs are troubled by a number of eye disorders; some of them inherited. Progressive retinal atrophy, corneal dystrophy, juvenile cataracts, lens luxation, posterior vitreous detachment and glaucoma are some of the common problems that may lead to deterioration or loss of vision.
Deafness is occasionally seen in these dogs, as is patellar luxation. Parson Russell Terriers have an average life expectancy of 13 to 15 years.