The Parson Russell terrier is often compared to a Jack Russell terrier and, in reality, the two breeds are quite similar. Thanks to its high energy levels and sensible intelligence, the Parson Russell Terrier breed has become popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Let us study the characteristics, temperament, and other noteworthy features about owning a Parson.
Cool facts about the Parson Russell Terrier
- The origin of the Parson Russell terrier can be traced back to England. A noteworthy breeder in its history was a parson named Rev. John Russell after whom the breed is named.
- In the US, the Parson Russell terrier was officially known as the Jack Russell terrier until the AKC officially changed it in 2003.
- Unlike other terriers, the Parson Russell terrier has been and is still bred as a hunting dog and not for the show ring.
- Many breeds have been used in the development of the Parson, including the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund.
- The Parson Russell Terrier Club of America is the largest Parson Russell terrier club with the largest registry in the world.
Physical description of the Parson Russell Terrier
Parson terriers have a body that is equal in length and height. It is a well-balanced, athletic dog with a flat skull and a well-shaped muzzle. The coat is smooth and typically white in color with evenly distributed black or brown markings, although some are brindle-patterned. There is also a rough-coated Parson Russell terrier variety in more or less similar colors.
Parson Russell terriers have almond-shaped eyes, well-boned jaw, and strong cheek muscles. Their teeth are scissor-sharp and their neck is muscular. The short hind legs are well developed and allow the Parsons to jump high and run fast.
Parson Russell Terrier vs. Jack Russell Terrier
The differences between the Parson Russell terrier and the Jack Russell terrier still lead to confusion. The UKC recognized the Parson Russell terriers in 1990 followed by the Australian Kennel Club and the FCI. Because the name Jack Russell was trade-marked in the USA, all other Kennel Clubs across the world had to re-badge their terrier.
The name was changed to Parson Russell for the AKC and hence the rest of the world recognizes the Jack Russell and the Parson Russell terriers as two separate breeds. In general, the Jack Russell terriers of today come from the crossbred working terrier dogs and are much shorter in the legs than the genuine Parson Russell terriers.
The Parson Russell terrier can be best described using the following adjectives: workman-like, agile, active, bold, friendly, and energetic. They are fearless dogs with a happy disposition. A well-bred and socialized Parson Russell terrier will not show nervousness, aggressiveness, or cowardice.
All over the world, Parson Russell terriers are known as active, playful dogs with the ability to work hard. These fearless and confident dogs will gladly chase a badger out of its hole and an intruder away from your home.
Having high-energy, these dogs do best with active owners. This is certainly not a couch potato; he needs work and plenty of exercise. Parson Russell terriers hate being left alone at home; they are certainly not condo or apartment dogs and definitely need a large, fenced-in yard where they can romp and chase squirrels.
This is not a suitable breed for first-time owners for they need someone who is dog-experienced and someone who can be firm with them. They also need basic obedience training. While they mostly get along well with children, they will definitely tolerate abuse from them. So you must always monitor their interactions and also make sure to teach your children to give your dog the space it needs. Also, socialize your pet with other humans and animals from an early age. Parsons usually get along well with other household pets but their terrier instincts may drive them to chase smaller animals.
More than anything, Parson Russell terriers love spending time with their owners. They want to be a part of all family activities and will love to go on car drives and play fetch for hours! And at the end of the day, they want nothing more than to curl up and snooze with their favorite humans.
A Parson Russell terrier has very high exercise needs; remember, this is a terrier that was bred to chase out badgers and trap foxes. So he needs to be given work to do. He is definitely not going to be happy spending his time cooped up indoors. That would only cause him to dig under the fence, chew up the furniture, and even bark incessantly. So take your pet out on a long walk at least twice a day.
Encourage your kids to play a game of fetch with him. Their short, athletic legs are also capable of running and jumping on all kinds of terrains so enrolling him in agility courses is also a good idea. However, you must never let a young puppy jump from a height as that could cause permanent damage to the undeveloped joints. You can start slowly with exercise when you bring your Parson Russell terrier puppy home and gradually increase his active time. Older dogs also need exercise depending on their health and weight. Speak to your vet or an experienced Parson Russell terrier breeder to guide you.
Training your Parson
Training a Parson Russell terrier is not difficult since this intelligent and sensible dog learns rather quickly. You can start with crate training. Section-off a large crate with barriers and newspapers. This is where your pet will sleep and usually he won’t soil his sleeping quarters. Having said this, you must take your young Parson outside several times a day. This way, he will know where to eliminate and that can mean fewer clean-ups for you.
Always start training with basic commands like come, sit, stay, etc. Reward your puppy every time he follows a command. Keep training sessions short. Also, make sure you practice each new command every day for several days so that your puppy knows what exactly is expected of him. Never shout or physically punish your young pet. That would only make him aggressive or timid. End each training session with plenty of hugs and praise.
Grooming a smooth-coated Parson Russell terrier isn’t a tedious job; simply brush or comb your pet once a week. A bristle brush or a pet-grooming glove works best as these tools help remove the dead hairs. If your pet is very dirty and has many mats and tangles, then it is best to take him to a professional groomer. You can also learn how to trim your pet’s nails. It isn’t too difficult and you can do the job at home, once you learn the basics. Once a month, give your pet a bath and make sure you dry him with a hairdryer or a towel.
Grooming a rough-coated Parson Russell terrier is slightly more tedious and you need to use a stripping knife to maintain its coat. Stripping the coat takes skill, so the job is best left to a professional groomer.
Health concerns and lifespan
The average life span of the Parson Russell terrier is between 12-14 years. Common inherited problems in the breed are Primary Lens Luxation or PLL, hyperuricosuria, lat- onset ataxia, spinocerebellar ataxia, and skin allergies. Hip and elbow dysplasia are also common.
Where to find a Parson Russell Terrier
It is best to adopt than to shop when it comes to bringing home a dog. But if your search for a Parson Russell terrier rescue does not yield results, then you can look for a puppy through a good breeder. Find reputed breeders on the website of the Parson Russell Terrier Club of America. Speak to several breeders before short-listing one. Find out the reasons behind his/her breeding program. An ethical breeder would be more concerned about the breed’s welfare rather than about making money. So ask several questions to the breeder and also ask to see the litter. In return, be prepared to answer several questions about your household and your reasons for buying a Parson Russell terrier puppy. The average Parson Russell terrier price lies in the range of $500 to $800 depending on the breeder.