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Parson Russell Terrier

The Parson Russell Terrier breed profile is sponsored by visit PetWear to custom design your Parson Russell's next designer dog collar, leash or more and then let PetWear hand make it and then ship for free!

It is difficult to discuss the Parson Russell Terrier without mentioning the Jack Russell Terrier.  In fact, until recently the two were the same breed.  In what must be called a bit of political maneuvering, it is no longer one breed, but two.  The dog deserves more solidarity in its supporters.  Even so, the Parson Russell Terrier does not lack a large number of fans whether enamored of its personality or appearance or both.  DigitalDog recommends that anyone interested in dogs of this type also consider reviewing the profile for the Jack Russell Terrier.

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General Information
Group(s): Terrier Height: 12-16 inches
Weight: usually under 22 pounds Longevity: teens
Colors: solid white or white with patches of color preferably limited to the head and tail. Coat type: harsh, dense and lying rather flat whether the dog is smooth coated or rough coated
Recognized Registries: TKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, CKC, NCA, IKC and others
Overall Appearance: Square built terrier of agility, strength and speed despite small size. Available as rough or smooth coat.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: very high
General Nature: Excitable, active, agile, energetic, vigilant, independent
  with Children: Varies, generally a great deal of socialization, well behaved children and close supervision are required to raise a PRT that is good with children
  with other pets: Unlikely, they were bred to hunt fox, this leaves them inclined and willing to recognize many other species as being
  with dogs: Highly variable. The general tendency of the Terrier is to consider themselves without vulnerability, this combined with various natures and socialization experiences can make some reactive and others agreeable with other dogs.
Socialization requirements: Very high, - without extensive socialization, guidance and training, the PRT is inclined to be rather imperious and tyrannical
Ideal home characteristics: One that recognizes the confidence and independence packed in this small, active and devoted companion. As to size, grooming and other aspects, a nearly ideal companion for many different lifestyles but only if this priority is observed.
Temperament Notes: Independent (would you want a clinging vine fighting a fox after all?), alert, vigilant, reactive, agile, quick, intelligent, cunning
Training requirement: moderate: socialization and basic manners are a must!
Trainer notes: The Parson Russell Terrier is from working roots.  The Jack Russell Terrier is/was bred expressly for working ability.  This working ability would have nurtured an independent hunter, willing to follow a fox into its den.  This is not for the faint of heart nor for a dog that needs reassurance or praise from its person every moment.  As a result, the Parson Russell Terrier is quite endearing and loves attention but can be easily distracted and nonresponsive when something more interesting is going on.  Don't underestimate their imagination for things that might be more interesting.  This nature is rather typical of most working Terriers but more obvious in the PRT because they are much closer to their working roots.  For the trainer that can keep a high level of excitement and fun going, the PRT can be a great training partner exhibiting a high level of creativity and athleticism in their performance.  They are generally well suited for fast paced dog sports like flyball and agility rather than the more staid, precise expectations of formal obedience.  Because of their highly honed prey-drive, they are often great candidates for ball chasing and retrieving with some encouragement.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: The Jack Russell Terrier was developed in the 19th century.
Country of Origin: England
Original Function: Fox Hunting
History: Developed by Parson John Russell as a dog that would follow fox to their dens. He focused exclusively on working ability and little on
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard: small, shy, poor dentition
Health Notes: eye issues, luxating patellas, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, heart issues, deafness
Health Testing: CERF, Thyroid Panel, OFA, Heart Evaluation, BAER
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!

  • How long have you had Parson Russell Terriers?
  • Why did you choose Parson Russell Terriers over Jack Russell Terriers?
  • Why do you have Parson Russell Terriers (show, performance, hunting, etc.)?
  • What do you consider to be the most important single characteristic of a Parson Russell Terrier?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • What criteria do you set for your breeding stock?
  • Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • At what age do you send your pups to their homes?
  • How would you describe the ideal Parson Russell Terrier?
  • How would you describe the ideal Parson Russell Terrier home?
  • Are your puppies whelped in your home?
  • What advice would you offer someone in raising and training an Parson Russell Terrier?
  • How do you assist or help Parson Russell Terriers in need of rescue?
  • Web Sites: - Jack Rusell Terrier Rescue - Russell Rescue (whose name adroitly sidesteps the name issue) - Jack Russell Terrier Rescue of Colorado - Arizona Jack Russell Terrier Rescue - Jack Russell Rescue - Pacific NW Jack Russell Terrier Rescue

   - Parson Russell Association of America Rescue

    Other Resources
    Breed standard: - The Kennel Club (UK) Standard for the Parson Russell Terrier

    Breeder Ethics:

    The Code of Ethics as per the Parson Russell Terrier Club of America

    • Keep the welfare and health the first criteria in breeding or selling Parson Russell Terriers.

    • Breed only to improve their dogs to the Standard of the Breed.

    • Maintain high standards in the care of their dogs.

    • Not sell stock without true representation to the purchaser, nor use misleading or untruthful statements in selling or advertising.

    • Comply with all American Kennel Club and Jack Russell Terrier Association rules where they apply.

    • Refuse stud service to any bitch that is not AKC registered or has faults grossly detrimental to the breed in either conformation or temperament.

    • Not sell dogs to any commercial wholesaler or retailer. Nor donate dogs to auctions, raffles or research.

    • Help purchasers with advice and instruction for the life of the dog and pass on knowledge to novice persons interested in the conformation or performance events.

    • Accept full responsibility while pursuing and awaiting alternative placement for any Jack Russell Terrier the member placed with an individual who no longer wants the dog, regardless of the reason for return.

    • Make referral only to those breeders who are believed to adhere to the above.

    Other: - DigitalDog makes no claim of legal expertise, but in fairly clearly language this document spells out the conflict between a parent club that wished to support and promote their breed without the involvement of a major registry.  Instead a minority of breeders joined up and petitioned the AKC for recognition that was granted.  Now, the ensuing disagreement has created a conflict that will likely result in the breed becoming separate breeds as registries are separated (dogs cannot be registered with the AKC and the JRTCA - The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America) and breeding priorities are at opposite spectrums.  Those breeders with the AKC will be focusing on appearance and type while the JRTCA will continue the precepts of the breed's founder Parson John Russell, in breeding and selecting for working ability.  If you are seeking a dog of this type, it would be of great benefit to research the question so that you can be sure that the dog you seek is indeed the one you get.  Fortunately, rescues only see dogs in need, so that source is always one you can turn to with little concern of supporting an irresponsible interest.  Also see  the Jack Russell Terrier breed profile on DigitalDog. 

    The irony of the position taken by the PRTAA (AKC parent club) is further obvious when they say that they were concerned about the dogs becoming too short-legged to provide the balance intended and that they chose Parson Russell Terrier as a name to be in keeping with the country of origin, and yet, in the TKC (UK) Standard, it is referenced that smaller dogs are needed for some aspects of the work, yet the PRTAA Standard does not allow for this need.  Instead, it seems likely that the size discrepancy between the position of the Jack Russell Terrier and that of the PRTAA is simply a "reason" to justify having pursued AKC recognition.  Many breeds upon recognition by the AKC and the exposure that provides have seen huge increases in the demands for puppies and the overall popularity of the breed.  In most cases, this has had only tragic results for the overall quality of the breeders and dogs in general as responsible breeders do not compromise their standards of breeding or placement simply due to demand.

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