Parson Russell Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier have a complicated relationship. The original breed, now referred to as the Jack Russell Terrier, was developed by Reverend John Russell as a fox hunting dog in the mid-1800s in England. He wanted a small, feisty dog able to go down holes after foxes. After the establishment of the breed and its introduction to the U.S., the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America and the Jack Russell Club of Great Britain have been the parent clubs for the breed. When the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club recognised the breed, the JRTCA opposed the recognition. In 2003, the AKC and the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America (the parent club with the AKC) changed the breed’s name to Parson Russell Terrier. The UKC now recognises both the JRT and the Russell Terrier, a shorter-legged, stockier version of the breed. The Canadian Kennel Club recognises the Parson Russell Terrier. (For more on the breed’s history, see the Jack Russell Terrier profile).
Parson Russell Terriers are relatively square in outline, with a body just about as long as the dog is tall. Two hands should be able to fit around the dog’s chest behind the elbows with the thumbs at the withers (point of the shoulders) and the fingers touching under the chest. The legs are long and made for running. The Parson Russell Terrier dog is predominantly white with black, tan, or tricolour markings. The coat is smooth or broken. The tail is docked. Grooming the Parson Russell Terrier is not difficult; the smooth coat can be brushed twice weekly with a soft bristle brush or curry comb. The broken, wiry coat can be brushed twice weekly with a pin or slicker brush. Neither type of coat mats.
The Parson Russell Terrier is an energetic dog breed designed to run hard and play rough. Vigorous daily exercise is needed. The Parson Russell Terrier needs a long walk morning and evening, a fast game of tennis ball catch, and a training session on the agility course. It would be very difficult to give this breed too much exercise! Too little exercise, though, will lead to a bored terrier who will find something to do, most likely to your dismay! Socialisation and training are important for this feisty little terrier. The Parson Russell Terrier needs guidance to behave in a manner you can live with; however, the training needs to be challenging (rather than repetitive) and fun or she will get bored very quickly.
Parson Russell Terriers excel in many canine sports, including agility and flyball. Parson Russell Terriers can be very demanding pets; they thrive on attention and are very single-minded. They are not the best dogs for first-time dog owners and do best with someone who understands the terrier temperament. Although they can be good with kids, they can be very pushy and will not tolerate rough handling. They can be feisty with other dogs, and all interactions with other pets should be supervised; remember, these are hunting terriers! The Parson does get along great with horses. Health concerns include eye and knee disorders and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.