A true working foxhunter, the Parson Russell is alert and confident, strong and enduring. A cousin to the Jack Russell, the Parson Russell Terrier also excels at obedience and agility trials. It may be a quick-tempered scamp at times, but its cuteness is undeniable.
The Parson Russell's lively and free gait is complemented by its good drive and reach. The weatherproof and coarse outer coat (which is white, white with black or tan markings, or a combination of these, tri-color) may be broken or smooth, with a dense and short undercoat. In the case of a smooth outer coat, it is hard and flat, while dogs with the broken variety have straight, harsh, close-lying, and tight hair, with hardly any sculpted furnishings.
The expression of the Parson Russell is generally full of life and keen. With a medium-boned, slightly tall, and slender build, the dog can squeeze through narrow passages to chase its quarry. Its long legs, meanwhile, help it to keep up with hounds and horses during a lengthy foxhunt.
A criterion for ascertaining the value of a Parson is by spanning. The area of the chest right behind the elbows should be such that it can be effortlessly spanned by normal-sized hands, in such a way that the fingers remain under the chest and the thumbs come together at the spine.
A humorous and active person who seeks mischief and entertainment will find an ideal companion in this dog. As the dog loves adventure and action, it often tends to get into trouble. It is a real hunter, fond of exploring, chasing, wandering, and digging whenever given an opportunity.
The intelligent and playful Parson Russell Terrier mixes well with both strangers and children. It is better than most terriers but may still get scrappy with unknown dogs. It may also chase cats or rodents, but gets along well with horses. Additionally, many Parson Russell Terriers have the tendency to dig and bark.
The Parson Russell Terrier does best when it has access to the garden and the house; however, it does not make a good apartment dog. The Parson Russell requires a great deal of physical and mental activity daily. As it is not a dog that will sit idly indoors, the Parson Russell requires an energetic game or a long walk daily, in addition to a brief training session. Given the chance, it will definitely wander on its own; therefore, allow it to roam in safe areas. Be attentive, however, as it has a tendency to invite trouble by exploring down holes.
For the smooth variety, coat care comprises just weekly brushing to get rid of dead hair, while the broken coat Parson Russells require the occasional hand stripping.
The Parson Russell Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, may occasionally suffer from Legg-Perthes disease, glaucoma, ataxia, deafness, and compulsive behavior. Minor health concerns troubling the breed include lens luxation and patellar luxation. To identify some of these issues early, a veterinarian may recommend eye and knee tests for the dog.
In the mid-19th Century, the Parson Russell Terrier descended from a dog known as Trump, which was owned by Devonshire’s Parson John Russell. As Parson Russell was enthusiastic about foxhunting, he decided to develop terriers thatcould dispatch and chase foxes, while matching the speed of horses. The line he developed became very successful and finally bore his name.
He did not display his breed in shows, in spite of being actively associated with the English Kennel Club. The fans of Parson Russell Terrier instead tried to prove the dog’s caliber in the field rather than as a show dog. Many people continue to follow this tradition today.
Even after several discussions, many Parson Russell fanciers were against the American Kennel Club recognition, which occurred in 1998 under the Terrier Group. In 1991, it was included as the Parson Jack Russell Terrier among conformation classes in England.
Jack Russells are often seen near stables and have long been favored by horse owners. However, this variety of terrier frequently has a long body and short legs. Therefore, the word Parson was contributed to differentiate the breed from the conventional long-legged terrier. The name of the breed, earlier known as Jack Russell Terrier, was changed to Parson Russell Terrier in 2003.
The Parson Russell Terrier has received a great deal of exposure, making it a pop culture icon and a favorite among pet owners.