The Parson Russell Terrier (PRT) is a small, durable dog, that was originally used in England for fox hunting and later became more of a family dog.
The Parson Russell Terrier History
Russell Terriers were first bred by parson John "Jack" Russell, a hunting enthusiast born in 1795. He started his breeding program before finishing his university at Oxford, as he bought a small white and tan terrier bitch called Trump. His goal was to develop a terrier with high stamina, as well as the courage and formation to chase out foxes that had gone to ground, but with tempered aggressiveness to avoid harming the fox and thereby ending the chase.
Two types were used: one used for sporting with foxes only and was more leggier and was thereby more suited for work above ground and was as long as it was high, the other was also used for badger digging and had more Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier influence creating a stronger and harder dog with shorter legs. Both these types of terriers became popular, so when John Russell died in 1883, his dogs were quickly taken on by other hunt enthusiasts.
The Second World War had a great impact on the breed, as money and time became ever more lacking to hold this sporting events with these dogs during these years. Many original working Russells became family dogs and were crossed with other popular family dogs including Welsh Corgis, Chihuahuas and terriers such as the Fox Terrier. The result was dogs with variable conformation known as "Russell Terriers", "Shortie Jacks", or "Puddin' Dogs".
The longer-legged more show form was recognised as Parson Jack Russell Terriers by the Kennel Club (UK) in 1990 and FCI, in the same year. The name was changed to Parson Russell Terrier in 1999 by the Kennel Club (UK) and was followed by the FCI in 2001. In America a simular process happened with this variant changing from Parson Jack Russell to simply Jack Russell Terrier and later also Parson Russell Terrier in 2003.
Breeders of the unregistered, working strain continued to use the Jack Russell name for their dogs. Working Jack Russell Terriers are smaller than Parson Russell Terriers and less square build, having a longer body than high. For a long time working Jack Russell Terriers were unregistered to avoid it becoming a show breed, but it was finally registered in 1999 through Australia (ANKC) where both types were registered seperately since 1990.
Parson Russell Terrier Appearance
Body: the Parson Russell Terrier is a dry and muscular dog. The distance from the top of the shoulder to the tail and the top of the shoulder to the ground are equal in lenght in this breed. For their work below ground, it is important that the chest is no wider than the span of two hands. The straight back is strong and slightly arched at the loins. The straight tail is set high. In countries where it is allowed, it is docked so that its tip is at the the same height as the base of the ears while walking. The hindquarters are strong and well angulated. The forelegs are straight and have compact feet. The neck is strong and muscular.
Head: the head has a flat, moderately broad skull. The muzzle is strong with powerful jaws. The small ears hang beside the head. The eyes are almond shaped and have an intelligent expression. Parson Russell Terriers have a scissors bite.
Height at Withers: the height at the withers for males is 32 centimeters (12.5 inches) to about 36 centimeters (14 inches). Bitches are around 31 centimeters (12 inches) high to about 35 centimeters (14 inches). The ideal shoulder height is 35 centimeters for males and to 33 centimeters for females. The minimum size for both is 26 centimeters.
Weight: the weight of males is around 6.5 and 8 kg and for bitches, this is around 6 to 7.5 kg depending on their size.
Coat: Parson Russell Terriers have a double coat, meaning that they have a top and undercoat. They come in both smooth and rough haired variants. Both types of coats are harsh, close and dense. Rough haired Parson Russell Terriers should not have a woolly or curly coat.
Colors: by preference these are white dogs or dogs with markings on head and tail. These markings may be black, brown, lemon or black and tan. Brindle markings are undesirable.
Parson Russell Terrier Temperament
Character: these dogs are active, agile and entrepreneurial. They are intelligent and also have a big box of tricks at their disposal. They are alert to everything happening around them and are great as watch dog. They have always had to work quite independently. This causes them to be independent and often cheeky, sometimes overconfident dogs even now. They swell with self confidence and sometimes show dominant traits. They are simple austere dogs, that are easily satisfied.
Social Build: Parson Russell Terrier are generally straightforward and honest dogs. They love playing and fooling around with the kids and can take a beating. They put no obstacle for the house cat, but they will feel tempted to chase a fleeing outdoor cat, their hunting spirrit is always there, while it may be dorment! Overly dominant males may be somewhat over achievig towards same sex dogs. Strange visitors are announced, but a well-behaved Parson Russell Terrier will follow usually with a friendly greeting.
Parson Russell Terrier Socially
Care: the coat of the smooth-haired Parson Russell Terrier is easy to care. In the shedding period, you can remove loose hair every day with a rubber brush. Outside the shedding period brushing once a week is sufficient. The rough-coated should be picked 3 to 4 times per year, so that the dead hairs are removed from the fur by hand.
Education: generally Parson Russell Terrier are easy to educate. These dogs are highly intelligent and they posess all the capabilities to quickly pick up commands. However, remember that they traditionally bred to independently drive the burrow of badgers and foxes, a dog with such work has considerable courage and perseverance, and needs to instantaneously take independent initiatives. These characteristics should therefore always be taken into account. Do not be persuaded by their naughty look, they know very well that it can put you on the wrong track. It is very important that you treat them consistently from puppy and socialise them properly.
Activity: Parson Russell Terriers are active dogs. They have a lot of energy and need daily opportunities to use it. They like to play and romp. Digging pits in the garden is also one of their favorite things, you should fully take that into account when you are proud of your garden. These pirate like dogs love ball games. A Parson Russell Terrier will usually not indicate when he is tired. Nevertheless, the dog, especially in the juvenile stage, certainly needs his rest. Do not take him on long walk before an age of about one year. By then the dog can learn to walk beside the bike, but build it up slowly. On unleashed walks their hunting instincts will regularly emerge. So teach your dog from a young age to come right back to you when you call him.
Usability: this agile, strong and active breed is ideal for sports such as agility and flyball. The variety and challenge will fit their needs. On a farm they can make themselves extremely useful as exterminator of mice and rats. Also as a family dog in a sportive family, the breed will fit in nicely.
Parson Russell Terrier Quotes / Trivia
Besides the Parson Russell Terrier there also is a shortlegged Jack Russell Terrier. The Jack Russell Terrier is quite popular, but not yet officially recognised by the F.C.I..