Parson Russell Terrier

Country of origin:
Great Britain
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
white or predominantly white with tan, lemon or black markings, or any combination of these colours
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • smart
  • easy to groom
  • excellent hunter
  • great watchdog
  • aggressive
  • independent
  • doesn't suit family with small children
  • needs a lot of daily exercises


The Parson Russell Terrier is a super smart and super energetic little dog, which was developed 200 years ago in England. Throughout its history it was mostly used for fox hunting or as eradicator of agricultural vermin. With its difficult disposition and hyper activity this dog is better suited for an experienced dog owner.

The Parson Russell Terrier shares its ancestry with the Jack Russell Terrier that appeared as a distinct breed in southern England in the middle of the XVIII century and it was invented as a result of uphill work of Parson John Russell, a lifelong avid hunter. He created his own separate line of Fox Terrier that was praised for its tenacity in chasing foxes, its ability to keep up with hounds during the hunt and unique white coloration with just a few spots of dark tan over different parts of its body. The strong probability holds that apart from the Fox Terrier Russell also used in the breeding the Old White English Terrier and the Black and Tan Terrier. After the founder of the breed perished the breeding of the dog continued and gradually it required many fanciers in most parts of England. At that point it was most likely crossed with the Corgi, other terriers, and the Chihuahua.

It’s rather uncertain when the Jack Russell Terrier reached the United States of America but it was well established there by the 30s of the XX century. In the following decades a few breed clubs were organised with different views as the dog’s exterior, working qualities, and whether it should take part in conformation shows or preserve its status as a solely working dog. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognised the Parson Russell Terrier in 2001, the American Kennel Club (AKC) - in 2003 and the United Kennel Club (UKC) followed them in 2008.

Many Parson Russell Terriers still serve as highly effective assistants in fox hunting. This dog has also proved its usefulness as a barn and farm dog. It participates with excellent results in such canine sports as Frisbee, flyball, and agility. In most cases the breed is kept as a companion dog in the families with very active lifestyle, which are glad to include it in their adventures.


The Parson Russell Terrier is endowed with boundless energy and the bright terrier individuality. It tends to be a highly independent animal meaning you shouldn’t expect from it an open demonstration of its love and devotion. Timely and extensive socialisation is an absolute must for the Parson Russell Terrier’s puppy otherwise it will grow in snappy and overall aggressive dog. This dog tolerates only older children who should play with it without harshness or excessive teasing. Moreover it’s not the dog, which knows the meaning of the word «share» and will definitely bite to defend its toy or food.

This breed is prone to display a great deal of wariness towards strangers and some specimens can become outright aggressive. This issue can be fixed with correct socialisation but it’s really hard to guarantee good manners of the Parson Russell Terrier 100% of times. This dog is remarkably territorial and will make a wonderful watch dog. With its level of aggressiveness it also can be trained into a fearless guard dog though its moderate size designates that it won’t be able to withstand of an assault of human adversary.

The Parson Russell Terrier is known to be one of the most dog aggressive breeds. This dog won’t back from confrontation with its counterpart no matter how big or powerful it is. Its authoritative nature makes it to claim to the dominative position in every group of dogs. It wouldn’t be wise to introduce this animal to the household with other living dog and even vast socialisation won’t ensure the absence of problems in the future. It’s worth to know that this dog also shows aggression to the canines of the opposite sex. The Parson Russell Terrier has an overwhelmingly strong hunting drive and presents a lethal danger for every creature smaller than it. Never leave this dog alone with other small animals without your close supervision. The vast majority of specimens will never be able to peacefully co-exist with a home cat even if they have been introduced to each other at an early age.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• legg perthes disease;
• patellar luxation;
• deafness;
• eyes problems;
• ataxia;
• myasthenia gravis;
• von Willebrands disease.


The grooming of the Parson Russell Terrier won’t take much time since it only requires occasional brushing preferably several times a week. The coat of the dog has three varieties which differentiate in amount of shedding. The rough coated specimens shed pretty intensely all the year around while the smooth coated members are rather seasonal shedders. The broken coated Parson Russell Terriers loose hair in average amount, which mostly depends on how broken its coat is.


The Parson Russell Terrier possesses a considerable potential in training as a highly smart and capable dog. This is why it appears in so many Hollywood shows. Unfortunately it can become quite a challenge for a trainer to fulfil this potential because of impressive stubbornness of this dog. The handler should assert its alpha status from the very first training session in order to earn full obedience of this dog.

This breed achieves better results in training when the handler relies only on reward-based techniques and tasty treats. The Parson Russell Terrier can become simply aggressive if treated with harshness during the learning process.


The Parson Russell Terrier demands unbelievingly high amount of exercise to keep it mentally and physically satisfied. Daily potty walk is certainly not enough and in this case the dog will be prone to manifest some deviations in its behaviour for example destructiveness or on-going barking.

The breed will feel itself most comfortable in rural surrounding in the house with spacious and securely enclosed yard. This dog also likes to take part in different canine competitions (flyball, obedience, Frisbee and agility). The Parson Russell Terrier won’t become a perfect pet for everyone since even the most active family can run ragged trying to satisfy its exercise needs.