Parson Russell Terrier

The Parson Russell Terrier is an action-packed pooch developed in Britain for fox hunts and ratting. Of all the Russell breeds, this is the most athletic and active. Lovably zany, they make crazy little companions who are up for anything new and exciting. These are some of the most intense dogs around, charming people with their spunk. With a brilliant work ethic, many Parson Russell Terriers can become amazingly successful at canine sports or other jobs. Read on to learn more about the Parson Russell Terrier.

Description of the Parson Russell Terrier

These dogs are little bundles of joy. Well, joy for owners that appreciate their boundless energy.

They are compact dogs with short tails and cute, v-shaped ears. Many people comment on their square shape. These are not delicate toy dogs, but vivacious terriers. Their shiny eyes give off a perpetual look of excitement.

Although most people do not use them for hunting anymore, the Parson Russell may take it upon himself to keep up the job. These Russell Terriers were original designated for fox hunting, while their cousins the Russell Terriers were also meant to be companions and ratters. This means that the Parson Russell is the most intense of the Russell Terriers. Many enjoy chasing squirrels and ground hogs. Some will camp out by vermin’s burrows until you pick him up and take him away!

These adorable little mischief-makers come in two coat types: broken and rough. All types are mostly white. They may have markings of black, tan, cream, brown, or tri color.

Life Expectancy and Size

The Parson Russell Terrier generally lives into its early to mid teens, with an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years. Well-bred dogs may live even longer.

These dogs are small, but don’t let that fool you. They’re all muscle and can keep up with even the most active of owners. Their legs are also surprisingly long for their size.

They generally stand 13 and 14 inches tall, and weigh between 13 and 17 pounds.

Protective Ability

This breed is an adept watchdog. They very well may bark at every and any new sight or sound. That being said, they won’t do much after they tell you there is a problem. This breed is very social, and most Parson Russells are overly excited to meet new people (even unwelcome intruders).


Training the Parson Russell Terrier should go quite well. If anything, they may pick up tricks faster than you can think of new ones to teach them!

It is best to treat everything like a job with the Parson Russell. They are goal oriented and like to have specific jobs in mind. For instance, they may have trouble heeling when there are exciting things around to chase. However, if you offer them the opportunity to perform tricks or play a game instead of running off, they will gladly take you up on the offer.

Make sure to keep training sessions short and sweet so these intelligent dogs do not become bored. These dogs are a great choice for owners interested in canine sports. With plenty of positive reinforcement, this breed will complete a task and immediately look for the next one.

This breed does exceptionally well at terrier-oriented sports such as barn hunt, which allows them to use their hunting instincts without harming an little rodents.

Energy Level

This is unequivocally a high-energy dog. In the typical terrier fashion, they will run themselves into a tizzy unless they are provided with enough action. They really don’t know when to stop, and you can’t expect them to chill out just because they’re home.

These are outdoorsy dogs that do not mind getting their noses in the dirt. They do best with access to plenty of outdoor space. In fact, they make great farm dogs. Parson Russells also take their social time seriously, and should have plenty of interaction with their humans.

What Living with a Parson Russell Terrier is Like

This dog is a dream for an athletic owner. They can keep up with just about anything, and will happily enjoy tuckering themselves out on new adventures. However, it is a serious commitment to keep a Parson Russell adequately exercised. They absolutely cannot sit listlessly inside, especially not alone.

These dogs are social, great with new people and generally good with other dogs. They can be scrappy, especially with other Russells. Early socialization can make sure they don’t get into any sticky situations.

In terms of grooming, they are easy care.

The biggest obstacle to owning a Parson Russell Terrier is being able to keep up with their energy. They can really become little terrors when bored.

Care of the Parson Russell Terrier

These are hardy dogs that truly suit a wash and wear lifestyle.

Environmental Needs

These dogs were meant to be tough and resilient in all weather. Both the rough and broken coated Parson Russells have enough hair to keep them warm in most environments. Of course, they may need a little added protection in the coldest of winters. They may have to gear up with a jacket and even booties so that they can get out there and use up their energy.

Exercise Needs

As a hunting dog and a terrier, the Parson Russell Terrier needs adequate exercise. This breed takes high energy to a new level, though. They are some of the most intense, active dogs around.

Having a yard or open space is absolutely essential to own a Parson Russell. They will race around in circles, looking for new and exciting things, all day long. There is simply not enough space for this indoors. These dogs will quickly become destructive if cooped up inside.

This breed loves games. These are a great way to spend time with the Parson Russell and give him the exercise he needs. They particularly enjoy running games like fetch.

Parson Russell Terriers can also be great companions for athletic owners. They will happily join in on runs, hikes, and bike rides.

Shedding and Grooming

Both the broken and rough variety need a bit of brushing, but are still quite low-maintenance. A once-over with a brush a couple of times a week should keep these dogs clean and healthy. Make sure to check their ears regularly and trim their nails to avoid any issues with gait.

All Parson Russells shed quite a bit and their tiny hairs will likely end up everywhere.

Ideal Home Environment

This breed is suited for athletic families that want to include the Parson Russell in their daily activities. They can be quite good with older children, because they love to play games. However, they are not suited to owners that just want to cuddle. Although loving, they will be much happier showing their admiration by retrieving a ball for the 100th time.

These dogs can get along with other dogs, but can also be scrappy. Take socialization seriously. Introduce them to new place and people from a young age.

They are easy care, but do shed some. Owners should not be too fussed about keeping them (and the house) prim and proper.

Health Concerns

This breed is quite healthy, and most live long lives.

The most notable disorder is heart disease. Do not let this dog become overweight for fear of exacerbating these problems.

Other issues include eye and joint problems. Some Parson Russell Terriers are deaf, and ataxia has been reported. This is a neurological disorder that can affect movement.

Behavior Problems

This breed can be barky, there’s no way around it. They can also chase, dig, and jump like many other athletic terriers. This is exacerbated by boredom.

Some Parson Russell Terriers can be scrappy, especially with other dogs. Socialization is essential.