Parson Russell Terrier

Table of Contents

The Parson Russell Terrier, distinct from the Jack Russell Terrier, is a breed developed in England for fox hunting. It stands about 12-14 inches tall, weighs 13-17 pounds, and has a weatherproof coat, either smooth or broken, mostly white with black, tan, or brown markings. Known for its spirited, fearless nature, this breed is energetic and intelligent, requiring regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Training and socialization are crucial for Parson Russell Terriers from a young age, as they can be willful and somewhat stubborn. They are best suited to experienced dog owners due to their strong personalities and high prey drive. Despite this, they are affectionate and loyal, making excellent companions for active individuals or families.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

13 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Parson Russell Terrier is best for:

  1. Active individuals or families who can provide ample exercise and playtime.
  2. Those with experience in dog training and ownership, due to the breed’s intelligence and strong will.
  3. Environments where they can have ample space to explore and satisfy their curiosity and energy levels.
  4. Owners who enjoy outdoor activities and can involve their dog in such pursuits.
  5. Households looking for a loyal and affectionate companion, as they bond closely with their families.

Parson Russell Terrier Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Parson Russell Terrier is energetic, intelligent, and fearless, standing 12-14 inches tall and weighing 13-17 pounds. They have a weatherproof coat, mostly white with markings, and are known for their strong prey drive and affectionate nature towards their family.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Parson Russell Terrier is a small but sturdy breed, standing 12-14 inches tall and weighing 13-17 pounds. They have a weatherproof coat, either smooth or broken, primarily white with black, tan, or brown markings, and a compact, athletic build that reflects their energetic nature.

1. Ears
The ears are small, V-shaped, and fold forward close to the head, giving a keen, alert expression.
2. Eyes
They have almond-shaped eyes that are dark in color, conveying intelligence and curiosity.
3. Nose
The nose is black, providing a striking contrast against the predominantly white face.
4. Height
This breed stands about 12-14 inches at the shoulder, showcasing a compact yet athletic stature.
5. Coat Length
The coat comes in two types – smooth or broken – and is of short to medium length, designed to be weatherproof.
6. Coat Color
The coat is predominantly white, which may be accompanied by black, tan, or brown markings, often on the head and at the base of the tail.
7. Tail
The tail is set high and is typically docked in some countries. It’s carried erect, reflecting the breed’s lively and alert demeanor.
8. Weight
Typically weighs between 13 to 17 pounds, a weight that underscores their sturdy and robust nature.

Parson Russell Terrier Temperament

The Parson Russell Terrier is known for its vibrant and spirited temperament. This breed is highly energetic, intelligent, and fearless, often displaying boundless enthusiasm and curiosity. Originally bred for hunting, they have a strong prey drive and love to chase and explore.

These terriers are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their families, forming close bonds with their owners. They can be playful and are generally good with children, especially when socialized from a young age. However, their strong-willed nature can sometimes manifest as stubbornness, making consistent, positive reinforcement training essential.

Their alertness and tendency to bark make them good watchdogs, though this can sometimes lead to excessive barking if not properly managed. Overall, the Parson Russell Terrier is a delightful companion for those who can match their energy and provide them with enough mental and physical stimulation.

How to Care for a Parson Russell Terrier

Caring for a Parson Russell Terrier involves providing ample exercise and mental stimulation due to their high energy levels, along with consistent, positive training and socialization. Regular grooming to manage shedding, and a healthy diet are important, as well as routine veterinary check-ups to maintain their overall health.

Caring for a Parson Russell Terrier’s coat and overall grooming is a straightforward process that plays a crucial role in their health and well-being. These terriers come with either a smooth or broken coat, both of which require regular maintenance. For the smooth-coated variety, brushing once a week is typically sufficient to remove loose hair and maintain the coat’s natural shine. For those with a broken coat, which is slightly longer and rougher, brushing twice a week is advisable to prevent matting and to keep the coat clean and tidy. Regardless of the coat type, a firm bristle brush or a hound glove can be effective.

Bathing should be done sparingly for Parson Russell Terriers, only when they are visibly dirty or as recommended by a veterinarian. Over-bathing can strip their coat of natural oils, leading to dry skin. Pay attention to their ears, which require regular checking and cleaning to prevent wax build-up and infections, especially since their folded nature can trap moisture and debris. Nails should be trimmed regularly, usually once a month, to prevent overgrowth and splitting, which can be painful and lead to walking difficulties.

Dental health is another important aspect of their grooming routine. Regular teeth brushing, ideally several times a week, will help prevent dental issues such as tartar build-up and gum disease. Using dog-specific toothpaste and brushes makes this process easier. Additionally, providing dental chews can supplement their oral hygiene routine. By maintaining these grooming practices, you’ll not only keep your Parson Russell Terrier looking their best but also help ensure their overall health and comfort.

Training a Parson Russell Terrier, known for their high energy and sometimes stubborn nature, requires an understanding of their specific characteristics. Here are some tips for effectively training a Parson Russell Terrier:

  • Start Early: Begin training and socialization as early as possible. Puppies are more adaptable and open to learning new behaviors.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and play to reward good behavior. Parson Russell Terriers respond well to positive reinforcement and are more likely to repeat behaviors that are rewarded.
  • Active and Engaging Sessions: Keep training sessions short and lively to hold their attention. This breed can become bored with repetitive or lengthy training sessions.
  • Consistency is Key: Be consistent with commands and rules. Inconsistent training can confuse your dog and make it harder for them to learn.
  • Socialization: Expose your Parson Russell Terrier to different people, animals, environments, and experiences to help them become well-adjusted adults. This is particularly important for this breed to manage their strong prey drive.
  • Recall Training: Due to their hunting instincts, focus on recall training to prevent them from chasing.
  • Manage Barking: Teach them commands like “quiet” to control excessive barking. This breed can be vocal, and it’s important to manage this behavior early on.
  • Leash Training: Train your Parson Russell Terrier to walk on a leash without pulling. Their energetic nature makes leash training essential for safe outings.
  • Obedience Training: Basic obedience training, including commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘down’, is beneficial for their safety and your control.

Remember, every Parson Russell Terrier is an individual, and what works for one may not work for another. Be adaptable in your approach and celebrate small victories in training. If you encounter persistent challenges, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer.

Caring for the diet and nutrition of a Parson Russell Terrier involves the following points:

  1. Balanced Diet: Ensure a balanced diet rich in proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, suitable for their energetic lifestyle.
  2. High-Quality Dog Food: Choose high-quality commercial dog food or home-cooked meals (as advised by a vet) that meet their nutritional needs.
  3. Proper Portion Sizes: Monitor portion sizes according to their age, weight, and activity level to prevent obesity.
  4. Regular Meal Times: Maintain regular feeding times, typically twice a day for adults, to establish a routine.
  5. Limited Treats: Use treats sparingly during training and ensure they don’t exceed 10% of their daily caloric intake.
  6. Fresh Water Availability: Always provide access to fresh, clean water.
  7. Special Dietary Needs: Be aware of any special dietary needs or allergies and adjust their diet accordingly.
  8. Avoid Human Food: Be cautious with human food, as some can be harmful to dogs.
  9. Regular Weight Checks: Regularly monitor their weight to ensure they stay within a healthy range.
  10. Consultation with Vet: Regularly consult a veterinarian for dietary advice, especially for puppies, seniors, or dogs with health issues.

Proper attention to diet and nutrition is crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of a Parson Russell Terrier.

Caring for the exercise needs of a Parson Russell Terrier involves:

  1. Daily Exercise: Ensure they get daily exercise, ideally 30-60 minutes, to match their high energy levels.
  2. Variety of Activities: Include a mix of activities like walking, running, playing fetch, and agility training.
  3. Mental Stimulation: Incorporate mentally stimulating games, like hide-and-seek or puzzle toys, to keep their mind active.
  4. Safe Off-Leash Play: Provide opportunities for off-leash play in a secure, fenced area to allow them to explore and run freely.
  5. Consistent Routine: Establish a consistent exercise routine to help manage their energy and behavior.
  6. Avoid Overexertion: Monitor for signs of overexertion, especially in hot weather, as they can be prone to overheating.
  7. Socialization Through Exercise: Use exercise time for socialization with other dogs, under supervision to ensure positive interactions.
  8. Training Integration: Combine exercise with training for obedience and recall to enhance their responsiveness.
  9. Interactive Play: Engage in interactive play sessions to strengthen your bond and provide physical activity.
  10. Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups to ensure they are fit for the level of exercise they are receiving.

Proper exercise is crucial for maintaining the physical and mental health of a Parson Russell Terrier, preventing boredom and destructive behaviors.

Caring for the ideal environment for a Parson Russell Terrier involves:

  1. Secure Outdoor Space: Provide a securely fenced yard or outdoor area for them to explore and play, as they are active and curious.

  2. Safe Indoor Area: Inside the home, ensure a safe, comfortable space for them to rest and sleep, away from hazards.

  3. Access to Exercise: Make sure they have easy access to areas where they can exercise regularly, like parks or trails.

  4. Mental Stimulation: Provide plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them mentally stimulated, especially when left alone.

  5. Comfortable Climate: Maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, as they are sensitive to extreme heat or cold.

  6. Social Environment: Offer a social environment where they can interact with people and other pets, considering their high energy and sociability.

  7. Routine and Structure: Establish a consistent routine for feeding, exercise, and play to provide them with a sense of security.

  8. Training Spaces: Have designated areas for training sessions, both inside and outside the home.

  9. Quiet Resting Area: Ensure they have a quiet, undisturbed area to rest and relax after active play or exercise.

  10. Regular Supervision: Due to their playful and sometimes mischievous nature, regular supervision is necessary to prevent them from getting into trouble.

Creating an ideal environment for a Parson Russell Terrier involves balancing their need for physical activity, mental engagement, and rest, ensuring a happy and healthy life.

Parson Russell Terrier Health

Parson Russell Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Some of the common health concerns for this breed include:

  1. Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: A condition affecting the hip joint, leading to hip pain and lameness.
  2. Patellar Luxation: A common problem where the kneecap dislocates, causing discomfort and mobility issues.
  3. Deafness: Some are prone to congenital deafness, especially those with a lot of white in their coat.
  4. Eye Disorders: They can develop eye problems like cataracts and lens luxation.
  5. Dental Issues: As with many small breeds, they can have dental problems, necessitating good dental care.
  6. Skin Allergies: Skin allergies and sensitivities can occur, often requiring dietary or environmental adjustments.
  7. Ataxia: A neurological disorder affecting coordination, which can be seen in some lines of the breed.

Regular veterinary check-ups are important for early detection and management of these health issues. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming can also contribute to their overall health and longevity.

Parson Russell Terrier Breed Comparison and Consideration

When considering a Parson Russell Terrier, it’s helpful to compare them with similar breeds and understand their unique characteristics:

Compared to Jack Russell Terriers:

    • Parson Russells are generally taller and more slender.
    • Parsons have a slightly more laid-back temperament than the highly energetic Jack Russell.
    • Both breeds have strong hunting instincts and high energy, but Parsons might be slightly less intense.

Compared to Fox Terriers:

    • Parson Russells are smaller and often more adaptable to various living situations than Fox Terriers.
    • Both breeds are intelligent and have high energy levels, but Fox Terriers might be more independent.

Compared to Border Terriers:

    • Parson Russells are generally more energetic and require more exercise than the calmer Border Terrier.
    • Border Terriers have a longer, denser coat, while Parsons have a shorter, easier-to-maintain coat.

Considerations for Potential Owners:

    • Parson Russells need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation; they’re not suited for sedentary lifestyles.
    • They can be stubborn, requiring consistent, positive training methods.
    • Their strong prey drive means they might not be ideal for homes with small pets like rodents or birds.
    • Early socialization is crucial to manage their tendency to be wary of strangers or other animals.
    • They are great for active individuals or families who enjoy outdoor activities.

Choosing a Parson Russell Terrier means committing to their high energy and training needs, but they offer loyalty, affection, and lots of playful energy in return.


While they can adapt to apartment living, their high energy levels mean they need ample daily exercise and mental stimulation.

They can be great with children, especially when raised with them, but their energetic play might be too much for very young kids.

With proper socialization, they can get along with other dogs, but their strong prey drive may make living with small pets challenging.

A mix of physical activities like walks and playtime, along with mental challenges like puzzle toys and training games, works best.

They can be vocal and may bark at perceived threats due to their watchdog nature, but this can be managed with training.

Their grooming needs are moderate; regular brushing and occasional baths are sufficient, with more attention needed during shedding seasons.

Absolutely, they excel in dog sports like agility, flyball, and earthdog trials, thanks to their energy and intelligence.

Due to their high energy and training needs, they might be challenging for first-time owners without prior experience in dog training.

Their hunting heritage means they have a strong prey drive, love to dig, and may chase small animals.

Yes, crate training can provide them with a safe space and help in managing their behavior, especially when they’re left alone.

Top Takeaways

When considering a Parson Russell Terrier, here are the top takeaways:

  1. High Energy and Exercise Needs: They require significant daily exercise and mental stimulation due to their high energy levels.
  2. Training and Socialization: Early and consistent training, along with thorough socialization, is crucial due to their intelligence and sometimes stubborn nature.
  3. Prey Drive: Their strong hunting instincts mean they may chase small animals and require close supervision.
  4. Good for Active Families: Ideal for active individuals or families who can match their energy and engage in outdoor activities.
  5. Moderate Grooming Needs: Their grooming needs are moderate, requiring regular brushing and occasional bathing.
  6. Potential for Vocalization: They can be quite vocal and may need training to manage excessive barking.
  7. Compatibility with Other Pets: They can get along with other dogs, but caution is advised with small pets due to their prey drive.
  8. Not Ideal for First-Time Owners: They might be challenging for first-time pet owners due to their high energy and training needs.
  9. Health Considerations: Generally healthy, but prone to certain conditions like patellar luxation and dental issues.
  10. Loyal and Affectionate Companions: Despite their boldness, they are loyal and affectionate with their families.

In summary, the Parson Russell Terrier is a vivacious and devoted companion, perfect for those who appreciate an active, engaging canine friend. Their spirited personality, combined with their need for exercise and mental engagement, makes them a rewarding, albeit demanding, breed for the right owner.

Top Parson Russell Terrier Names

These names capture the energetic and adventurous spirit typical of Parson Russell Terriers.

Female Names











Male Names











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