The Parson Russell Terrier is a breed of small white terrier that was the original Fox Terriers of the 18th century. The breed is named after the person credited with the creation of this type of dog, the Reverend John "Jack" Russell. It is the recognised conformation show variety of the Jack Russell Terrier and was first recognised in 1990 in the United Kingdom as the Parson Jack Russell Terrier. In America, it was first recognised as the Jack Russell Terrier in 1997. The name was changed to its current form in 1999 in the UK and by 2008 all international kennel clubs recognised it under the new name.
A mostly white breed with either a smooth, rough or broken coat, it conforms to a narrower range of sizes than the Jack Russell. It is a feisty, energetic terrier, suited to sports and able to get along with children and other animals. It has a range of breed related health issues, mainly relating to eye disorders such as Primary Lens Luxation (PLL). Ataxia problems called Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) and Late onset Ataxia (LOA) which attack the nervous system. These three tests can be done via DNA samples. You dog will either have the disease, be a carrier or be clear.
The Parson Russell Terrier is bred to conform to a conformation show standard. Unlike its close relative, the Jack Russell Terrier, Parson Russell Terriers have noticeably longer legs that are about as tall as the length of the Terrier's body. It is a predominantly white breed with black, tan or tricolour markings and an easy to groom coat which is either smooth or broken (similar to a smooth coat, but with some longer hair on the head, face, legs or body). There is a clear outline with only a hint of eyebrows and beard should the dog be broken coated. They possess moderately thick small "V" shaped drop ears with the tip pointed towards the eyes. The nose of the dog should be black. The normal range of sizes is between 13–14 inches (33–36 cm) tall at the withers, with a weight around 13–17 pounds (5.9–7.7 kg).
The Parson Russell has a relatively square outline, with a body about as long as the dog is tall. Compared to the Jack Russell Terrier, the Parson Russell has a longer head and a larger chest along with overall a slightly larger body size. The Parson retains the flat skull but not the elongated shape of the Fox Terrier, and with lower set ears. In addition, the Jack Russell Terrier has a greater variation in size, ranging between 10–15 inches (25–38 cm) in height at the withers.
Two hands should be able to span the chest of the dog behind its elbows, with the thumbs at the withers. This is required in show judging, with the judge lifting the dog's front legs gently off the ground in this motion in order to measure the size of the chest. The judges fingers should meet under the chest and the thumbs on top of the spine. The American Kennel Club describes this as a "significant factor and a critical part of the judging process.” It is not done to measure the size of the chest, but rather to feel for the correct shape.
Under the show standard, there are several physical points which would be treated as faults in the show ring. These are for the height of the dog at the withers to be outside of the standard range, or for the dog to possess either pricked up ears, a liver or brown coloured nose, an overshot or undershot jawline or to have brindle markings.
The Parson is a feisty and energetic type of Terrier. They can excel in dog sports such as flyball or agility and require vigorous exercise in order to prevent them from becoming bored and potentially destructive in the home. They can be suited to live with children but as they have a typical Terrier temperament, they will not tolerate rough handling. The KC describes them as being single minded, tenacious and courageous when at work, while at home they can be exuberant, playful and affectionate. However, it is unusual for dogs of this breed to be involved in work, such as fox hunting, typical of a small white terrier, as they are more adapted to the show bench.
They can be playful with other dogs, and get along with horses. The breed standard requires that shyness be treated as a fault, although it states that this should not be confused with submissiveness which is not treated as such. Overt aggression towards another dog is not accepted and is a criterion for disqualification in the show ring.
Eye conditions which affect the Parson Russell Terrier include primary lens luxation, a heritable condition. This disease causes the zonular fibres to be abnormal and begin to disintegrate in affected dogs. The fibres support the lens of the eye, and their destruction can cause the lens to fall into the wrong location within the eye. If the lens falls into the anterior chamber of eyeball then a secondary glaucoma can occur, causing loss of vision. National kennel associations such as the Kennel Club (UK) publish DNA screening results in Parson Russell Terriers, broken down into three groups; clears, carriers, and affecteds.
Grooming the PRT should be a done on a weekly basis by simple brushing. Rough or broken coated dogs require their coats to be kept tidy by either stripping the coat or clipping it.
As with any new puppy, having constant interactions with its new world, meeting people, children and other dogs as well as any other family pets is a MUST. Early interactions are best with only limitations on the new puppy not being over stimulated as this can cause tiredness and grumpiness and the puppy should be allowed to rest away from the hussle of the house. Puppies need a lot of sleep just like a child as they are growing fast. Allow time out for your puppy frequently throughout the day. A crate or designated sleeping area is best. Puppies will naturally follow you around and there is no reason to not let them off the lead in a safe area.
Always beware of other dogs and allow your puppy to interact and sniff with the friendly ones as this will allow your puppy to grow in confidence and become a friendly sociable dog as an adult.
Parson Russell Terriers are intelligent, eager to please dogs with a resounding agile and fun character. They like to know the boundaries and rules of the household and prefer to know where their place in the family is. Firm commands that are continued throughout puppyhood into adulthood will teach your puppy the basics that you want them to know. Use treats or a toy to get your pups attention, and reward them when they please you.
Toilet training is the same. Always get the puppy into the routine of going out on waking, after every meal and before bedtime. This will teach them that outside is where the toilet is as dogs do not naturally soil their bedding area but will if crated for too long.
Your puppies needs for exercise will increase as they grow older. Stimulation and regular walks will help your puppy to become a well-rounded adult. It reduces mental and behavioural problems and limits the destruction and chewing that can happen when you are not around.
Parson Russell’s require two good walks per day with access to a fenced garden between times.
As the Parson Russell comes in 3 coat varieties: Smooth, Broken or Rough coated each variety has its own grooming requirements.
Smooth: The easiest to keep clean and tidy. Very close lying dense double coat. If kept indoors is the type to cast all year round with heavy moulting during the change of seasons twice yearly. Minimal brushing and easy to towel dry after being out in the wet.
Broken: This type of coat can come in many varieties from almost smooth to almost fully rough. This is the type, depending on how wiry the coat becomes that may need hand stripped or can be groomed like the smooth coat with minimal tidying up around the beard and legs. This coat can again moult like a smooth or may be more wiry and only moult twice per year like the rough. Daily brushing will keep the coat in great condition.
Rough: This coat is the hairiest but with the least moulting. However, it is best to strip twice yearly when the coat is moulting to allow for new growth. Clipping the undersides or if the coat is soft is best as stripping in dogs that have poor undercoats or no undercoat at all can be painful so clipping is advised in this case if kept as a pet. Daily brushing with disentangle any knots and take any dead hair away.
Selecting a suitable brand complete food is best as your dog will get all the nutrients he needs from this alone. Avoid the overuse of treats as this can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Some people like to feed raw and this is ok as long as the meat has been processed in a suitable way free from disease.
Worming should be done at least twice yearly using a vet approved drug and flea parasite treatment should also be bought from the vet with advice.