Parson Russell Terrier Dog Breed Information Guide
Parson Russell Terrier dog breed information guide includes pictures, history, temperament, training, health, lifespan, activity & care. Learn all about Parson Russell Terriers.
Quick Parson Russell Terrier Dog Breed Facts
Want to adopt a Parson Russell Terrier or PRT mix dog or puppy? Check out our Parson Russell Terrier adoption listings.
Height: 10 – 15″ (25.4 – 38.1cm)
Weight: 12 – 18 lbs (5.4 – 8 kg)
Exercise Needs: High
Grooming Needs: Minimal (Lots of dirt removal, though! 🙂
Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years
Good With Kids: Yes
All About Parson Russell Terrier Dogs and Puppies
The Parson Russell Terrier gained popularity when a comical little dog by the name of Eddie stole the show on the popular hit series, “Frasier.” Following that, he would gain even more appreciation as the crime-solving canine star of “Wishbone.” Portrayed as lovable, comical clowns, the Parson Russell Terrier seems like the ultimate companion pet. Be forewarned, however – this special breed of dog requires a special kind of person!
Parson Russell Terrier History
The Reverend John Russell was an avid hunter and was especially fond of fox hunting. Unfortunately, Foxhounds could only track their quarry above ground- If the fox went to ground (ran down in his hole), there was little anyone could do to get the fox back out, so that the hunt may continue. The fox had to be hunt fast or he would disappear and put an end to a favorite European pastime.
The Reverend’s answer to this was to breed a dog that could be sent down into the hole to flush the fox back out above ground. This dog would have to have several special traits, however: Many small terriers were used to hunt rats or rabbits out of their holes, but Russell’s terrier dog would have to have the long legs and stamina to keep up with the hounds, a task the smaller terriers were incapable of. Additionally, this hunting dog would have to be quick and nimble, able to maneuver down in the fox hole, as well as having the courage and tenacity to face the fox, if need be, and literally drive him back out into the open. But function wasn’t everything either – the Reverend also preferred that his terrier puppies be mostly white in color, ensuring that they would stand out in vivid contrast to the prey they hunted.
It’s believed that the Parson Russell Terrier was created by breeding a now-extinct breed of White English Terrier with another terrier, quite possibly the popular English Black and Tan. In no time, word of these handy and courageous hunting terriers would spread and the Parson Russell Terrier would quickly grow to become a household name. While he was originally known under the name of the Jack Russell Terrier, named after the Reverend who first bred them, the name would be changed in 2003 to reflect the differences between the two varieties – The Parson Russell terrier is much like the JRT in appearance, though the Parson’s variety have a longer leg.
Parson Russell Terrier Appearance
The Parson Russell Terrier puppy is irresistible when it comes to cute puppies – bright eyed and engaging, these little guys are adorable scrappers that are sure to win your heart. Adult Parson Russell Terriers maintain that cute and scrappy look well into maturity, their brown eyes glowing with an uncanny intelligence and energy.
Parson Russell Terriers stand roughly 10-15 inches tall at the shoulder and are a long legged variety of terrier. Their chests are narrow, granting them better maneuverability down in the fox holes and their bodies slender; from top to bottom, it’s obvious that these lean-muscled individuals are natural born athletes. Even their ears – pricked to catch sounds and yet dropped over at the top to help keep out the dirt – are well suited for their occupation.
The Parson Russell Terrier can be found in two coat varieties – the smooth coated Parson Russell Terrier and the rough coated. PRT puppies should be mostly white in color, with markings of red, lemon, black, or tricolor patching their body.
Parson Russell Terrier Temperament
One common misconception is that the Parson Russell Terrier is a calm and easy-going couch potato. Another is that he’s an easy-to-train angel. While there are always exceptions to the rule, neither of these are stereotypical PRT dogs. In truth, the Parson Russell Terrier puppy is usually a veritable whirlwind of energy and mischief. While keenly intelligent, these little dogs can often play stubborn or just plain belligerent at times, when they would rather do something else other than obedience training. They love to jump. They love to dig. They love to escape and go investigating the neighborhood (never a good idea, but try telling the PRT this)!
Owning a Parson Russell Terrier is not for the faint of heart or the person looking for a laid back lap dog. The Parson Russell Terrier requires an active person or family that can spend a lot of time with them – they don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods of time. If something is going on, they want to be right in the middle of it.
Like many members of the Terrier family, the Parson Russell Terrier has the bad habit of thinking he’s a BIG dog. Because of this, he’s notorious for starting things with bigger dogs that he really shouldn’t mess with and, for this reason, it’s imperative that you keep your Parson Russell Terrier on a leash whenever you are outside of the home. Not only will it keep him safe from cars but it will keep him safe from himself, when he feels the need to challenge the local Rottweiler to a duel.
Parson Terriers, much like the Jack Russell Terrier and many of their cousins, make excellent family dogs but aren’t always well-suited for a life with other animals. It’s natural instinct for them to hunt and this can cause a problem for cats, bunnies and other pets. Early socialization is essential but it’s still no guarantee that they will be compatible. Also, same sex aggression is common with the PRT and they seem to prefer the company of other Parson Russell Terriers to other dogs.
Parson Russell Terrier Exercise Info
It cannot be stressed enough that the Parson Russell Terrier puppy is not for the laid back individual! These dogs are high energy and can actually become very destructive if their exercise needs are not met on a daily basis – this means several long walks every day or, preferably, a large yard to run and play with their humans in. Dog parks are great too, but be careful, as the Parson Terrier is known to be aggressive with other dogs.
Perhaps some of the best avenues to go, when looking for ways to keep your PRT entertained are to not only look into obedience classes, but also check out agility courses and Dirt Dog competitions, which fulfill the PRT’s natural tendency to dig and chase things.
Parson Russell Terrier Grooming Info
Grooming Parson Russell Terrier puppies isn’t a very taxing chore when it comes to brushing, though these little guys tend to require quite a few baths. Mind you, they aren’t a smelly or oily-coated dog – the reason for their frequent bathing is from all the digging. If you’re fortunate not to have a digger, bathing your PRT should only have to occur once every couple of weeks as needed.
Important to watch is your PRT’s ears – sometimes they will get dirt in their ears and this can lead to infections. Check his ears weekly for dirt or for any sign of infection, such as redness or odor.
Parson Russell Terrier Training Info
Training the Parson Russell Terrier is essential – A natural mischief-maker and clown, these are very intelligent dogs who need to stay busy in order to prevent boredom. Starting your Parson in puppy obedience classes will definitely help to socialize him with other dogs, as well as teaching him the basics. The Parson Russell Terrier is a very quick witted dog and, provided you keep lessons short and interesting, is very willing to learn new commands and dog tricks. Clicker training usually works well with this breed, particularly when backed up with positive reinforcement – rather than punishing him for doing something bad, you instead focus on rewarding him and praising him when he behaves in the manner that you desire. Be consistent! If the Parson Russell Terrier thinks he can take control of the situation, he will.
Parson Russell Terrier Health Info
Like many breeds of dog, the Parson Russell Terrier can be affected by certain genetic flaws and diseases. For this reason, it’s important to do your research prior to getting a Parson Russell Terrier puppy. Research not only the breed but also the breeder – Your PRT breeder should be well-versed in the pros and cons of their breed and won’t be afraid to discuss both sides with you.
Some of the health problems that can affect the Parson Russell Terrier include:
Legg Perthes disease
Is a Parson Russell Terrier The Right Breed of Dog For You?
Careful consideration must be given before purchasing a Parson Russell Terrier puppy. These are high-maintenance dogs that require a great deal of time and energy. They don’t do well left on their own for long periods of time and they enjoy social interactions with their human family. Parson Russell Terriers make excellent pets for families with children who will throw lots of balls and Frisbees, and do best in a fenced in yard where they have lots of room to run. Be forewarned, however, that the breed is notorious for digging holes, jumping over fences, and being masters in the art of escaping. Supervision is required at all times.
Also be forewarned that these scrappy little terriers don’t always do well with cats, other breeds of dog, or other pets. Early socialization is a must but still isn’t always a guarantee that the dog’s natural hunting instinct won’t kick in and cause trouble. These wonderful little dogs do well in homes as either single pets or with opposite sex members of their own breed.
Owning a Parson Russell Terrier is a commitment and should not be entered lightly. These are wonderful dogs and a true reward to any who adopt one into their lives – but never do so frivolously. A Parson Russell Terrier isn’t for everyone, but he certainly brightens of lives of all he knows!