Parson Russell Terrier

The Parson Russell Terrier originated during the 1800’s in the United Kingdom. This dog breed was bred to chase after foxes above and below the ground. Rev. John Russell bred a strain of terriers for catching foxes in Devonshire, U.K. during the 1800’s. The Parson Terrier is larger than the Russell Terrier, and has longer legs, though the Russell Terrier is stockier than the Parson Terrier.

Brief History

The Parson Russell Terrier comes from the U.K. This terrier breed was named after the Reverend John Russell, who bred terriers to hunt foxes in Devonshire, U.K during the 1800’s. The Parson Terrier is very similar to the original terrier breed that the Rev. John Russell bred. The AKC and the parent club, the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America (PRTAA), calls this breed the Parson Russell Terrier. 

Physical Features

The Parson Russell Terrier has a medium-sized body, and is a sturdy and muscular small dog breed. With a flat skull, and a black nose, the Parson Russell Terrier has v-shaped ears, and has intelligent, almond-shaped brown eyes. This is a well-balanced dog breed that has a small chest, and straight legs. Their tails are short, and are carried upright.

They have smooth coats with an undercoat. This dog breed always has 51% white coat coloring, with tan, black, and brown markings. Russell’s have a free and effortless gait. They are a confident and outgoing dog breed that does well with equestrians on horse farms.

Average Height:

10-15 inches

Average Weight:

13-17 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-14 years


The Parson Russell Terrier is a lively, active, and dedicated dog breed that is assertive and fun to be around. They have huge hearts, are extremely active and have a strong work drive fueled by their intelligence. Terriers are generally not good with small animals like cats. Some terriers can be snappy or reactive. This dog breed needs socialization, and positive dog training starting during puppyhood and require plenty of attention. This breed is known for their digging skills, and are passionate diggers that can escape very easily from beneath fences, and out the front door. The Parson Russell Terrier is always upbeat, happy, curious, and friendly.

Special Needs

The Parson Russell Terrier has a passion for living, and enjoys each and every day. Care must be taken that the Parson Russell Terrier does not escape from home, or when out and about. This dog breed requires an experienced and active dog parent. It does not do well with apartment living, and needs an active outdoor lifestyle. The Parson Russell Terrier does well with plenty of attention and exercise. This is a playful and curious dog breed that enjoys travel, being around people, and most especially running around!

Possible Health Concerns

  • Patellar Luxation: This is a hereditary condition that is caused by the abnormal development of the kneecap(patella).X-rays will aid in seeing the severity of the displacement. Treatment usually involves surgical options.
  • Congenital Deafness: This is a problem in Parson Russell Terriers. The BAER test is the only 100% reliable method for testing of deafness in dogs. Bilaterally deaf terriers are easier to identify.
  • Legg-Perthes Disease. This is the deterioration of the top of the femur that is often seen in smaller dog breeds like the Parson Russell Terrier. It is characterized by a lack of blood supply and destruction of the blood vessels of the bone. Veterinary treatment usually involves the surgical removal of the affected femoral head and neck, and physical therapy so as to stimulate limb usage.
  • Lens Displacement: This is a common inherited eye problem in terrier breeds. It can also be caused by trauma, enlargement of the eyeball due to glaucoma, and degenerative changes that occur from cataracts that have not been treated. Consult with your veterinarian.
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia: This is an inherited neurological disease that affects the Parson Terrier. Dogs with this present loss of balance and show signs of incoordination.
The Parson Russell Terrier


The Parson Russell Terrier is an energetic dog breed that does well with plenty of regular exercise and canine sporting activities. This dog breed also needs to be mentally stimulated when out exercising for their mental well-being. The Parson Russell Terrier can get very excitable, so plenty of off-leash exercise is necessary.


Without high-quality nutrition, the Parson Russell Terrier can suffer from numerous problems ranging from skin allergies, malnutrition, and other health issues. Work together with your veterinarian and possibly consider high-quality home cooked meals with added vegetables, fruits and supplements.


This dog breed is easy to maintain. The Parson Russell Terrier has two types of coats: smooth and broken. A soft brush or hound glove works best for this breed. Regular bathing is required for this active dog breed, most especially if he’s been digging or rolling around in the mud. Nails should be trimmed when needed, and ears should be cleaned frequently. Teeth should be brushed every day, and twice yearly visits for dental cleaning are necessary.

Parson Russell Terriers are some of the most active dog breeds that you can find. Fun-loving, active and incredibly feisty, this breed can be rambunctious if left alone and bored. This breed needs an active and experienced pet parent, but has an immense amount of love and companionship to give.

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