Parson Russell Terrier

  • Lifespan: 13-15 years
  • Group: AKC Terrier
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
  • Temperament: Friendly, bold, intelligent, independent

New Search

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.

But is a Parson Russell Terrier for you? There’s a good chance it is, considering how durable and flexible this breed can be. But given how strong the Parson Russell Terrier’s personality can be, it’s only a recommended breed for people who understand dog training and what it means to behave like a leader with their dog. If you have experience in leading dogs, then you can unlock the great aspects of the Parson Russell Terrier’s personality and enjoy a cheerful friend. If not, you have to be careful or else the Parson Russell Terrier will start leading you!

It may be similar to the Jack Russell Terrier, but the Parson Russell Terrier is a breed all its own.

Originally named after a Clergyman, the Jack Russell Terrier, as it was previously known, was a “game” dog that originally went after foxes – this required not only agility and smarts, but the skill of digging, which many Parson Russell Terriers retain to this day. Because this was generally a working breed of dog, the original Jack Russell Terriers could have a lot of size variance, depending on the jobs they were expected to perform. Today, through breeding, that size variance has generally subsided and the Parson Russell Terrier has become a relatively smaller size of dog.

As it happens, the Parson Russell Terrier can still often be used as a working dog in situations like farms, stables, and can still be considered a good hunting companion depending on the type of game you’re after.

Parson Russell Terrier wants a treatThe pedigree of the Parson Russell Terrier includes the Jack Russell Terriers of the 19th century, but many people also suggest that the modern breed has included ancestors like the Welsh Corgi, which is a smaller dog and could explain the modern breed’s stable, but small, size.

Although the name has changed from Jack Russell to Parson Russell, the essential breed of terrier has remained the same, especially considering the name change was only instituted in 2003. This name change has not come with a change in pedigree, and modern Parson Russells can still be considered to have the same essential pedigree as the Jack Russells that immediately preceded them.

A very small dog means a dog that can easily pack on the pounds in a hurry, so it’s important to feed a dog protein to keep it full. Meat like hard-boiled eggs, poultry, beef, and even lamb all make great additions to their diet, especially incorporated into other ingredients snuck in for nutrition’s sake.

The Parson Russell Terrier has a very strong and noticeable personality.

Generally considered confident and strong-willed, the Parson Russell Terrier will be receptive to training if you can demonstrate patient and effective leadership. It’s not difficult, however, to let the Parson Russell Terrier get under your skin and eventually find a way to win dominance over you, so be sure that you understand the principles of leadership before starting your dog on a training regimen. Rules and limitations will be important for the Parson Russell Terrier so that it understands it does not have permission to go everywhere in your home like you do.

At a general weight of 14-18 pounds, this is quite a small dog; don’t let it bully you! Also, be sure that you feed it properly and understand that a small dog requires a similarly small diet.

Parson Russell Terrier sittingThe Parson Russell Terrier has a very strong and noticeable personality, and when properly disciplined, this personality will be cheerful, energetic, playful, and confident. It’s a great combination for a true dog lover, which helps explain the Parson Russell Terrier’s general popularity in the United States. It’s important that this dog have a strong personality, as this is indicative of it having a healthy personality for its breed. Over-aggressiveness and insecurity should both be avoided.

Generally, eye problems, deafness, and joint issues will plague this breed, especially joint issues that are generally well-known to be “small dog” joint problems, such as Legg Perthes.

A healthy dog in general, it can live in excess of 15 years, among the highest on the dog life expectancy spectrum.

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.

Outgoing and friendly, the Parson is tenacious in the field and affectionate in the home.

Says the American Kennel Club of this breed: “Outgoing and friendly, the Parson is tenacious in the field and affectionate in the home. No matter the venue, the breed is filled with energy, so he requires regular exercise and attention. Although good with children, he does not tolerate rough handling from toddlers.”

Minimal grooming with this dog is required, such as a little brushing with a firm brush. The coat is generally easy to take care of, and when these dogs are presented at shows the coat must be “stripped.”

These dogs should learn their boundaries from a young age, but should also be given the opportunity to explore and socialize with people and even other animals so that they don’t grow an unhealthy understanding of others.

Photo credit: godrick/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds