The Parson Russell Terrier or simply the Parson is a gutsy terrier dog named after Reverend John (Jack) Russel in the 19th century. It was bred as a hunting companion during a foxhunt. However, the Parson Russell of today is bred more for its consistency rather than solely for its hunting performance. Ideally, the Parson should weigh 13 to 17 pounds and stand 33 to 36 centimetres. It is a lively and playful dog breed useful as a watchdog.
Are you interested in getting a Parson Russell Terrier? Here is a brief background of this playful dog.
The Parson Russell Terrier was developed in the mid-19th century by Devonshire's Reverend Parson John "Jack" Russel, who was a foxhunting enthusiast. The Parson was originally bred to go to ground to flush out fox from their dens so riders can follow on horseback and hunt them with a pack of fox hounds.
Instead of entering them in dog shows, fans of Parson Russell terrier tried to establish the dog breed's reputation and calibre on the field. This is an unusual preference since the Reverend is actively associated with the English Kennel Club known mainly to host dog shows. Initially, the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier were considered the same. However, Jack Russells have distinctively shorter legs than the Parson Russells. Thus, the name Parson was attributed to the long-legged variant to differentiate it from the short-legged Jack Russell.
In 1983, fans of the Parson Jack Russell Terrier submitted the breed to be accepted and recognised by The Kennel Club. Although turned down several times, the Parson was at last granted recognition in January 1990 as a variant of the Fox Terrier. Today, Parsons are among the favourite working dogs and family companion due to their lively natures.
Appearance and Grooming
The Parson Russell Terrier is a small and robust dog, weighing 13 to 17 pounds and standing 33 to 36 centimetres. It has a wedge-shaped head, broad, flat skull that narrows down toward the eyes. The eyes are almond-shaped, dark in colour and always have an alert look about them. Parsons also have a shallow stop and muzzle ending in a black nose. It has well-proportioned ears that drop forward. The Parson Russell is also well-muscled with slightly deep chest and ribs. It has a straight back that is both strong and flexible. Tails are somewhat long with a thick base then tapering to the tip.
The Parson wears its coat either rough (broken) or smooth. However, both are naturally rough to the touch and lie close to the body. The coat also has a thicker undercoat that protects the breed from the harsh weather. Whether smooth or rough-coated, the Parson comes in white, white with black markings, white with tan marking, or tricolour.
When it comes to grooming, this dog breed is low maintenance and will only require a little brushing. However, when these dogs are presented at dog shows, the coat must be hand stripped especially the rough-coated Parson Russell. Hand stripping is often left to a professional groomer to make it easier for owners. Other dog grooming regimens are also important such as checking the ears, brushing the teeth and trimming the nails. Do not forget to look out for lesions, ticks or fleas during grooming.
Temperament and Intelligence
Someone who is active with a sense of humour will find its ideal companion with the Parson Russell Terrier. Parsons naturally love action and adventure, which often land them in trouble. They love nothing more than to hunt, explore, chase, wander, and dig at every opportunity. Despite its active nature, they are devoted people-pleasers. However, they get too attached and often suffer from separation anxiety. They are a more suitable choice for families where one stays at home most of the time.
Parsons are also known to love the sound of their voice, which means they tend to bark excessively. This habit can be curtailed during early socialisation and training. They can be trained to only bark when necessary and make them useful watchdogs. Since this terrier dog breed has the desire to please, training will be easy. Although it has a bit of a stubborn streak but not something that is unmanageable. In fact, Parson Russell Terriers excel in canine sports.
The Parson Russell is known to have a good affinity with children, especially with ones they grew up with. However, like in all dogs, interaction should always be supervised to make sure playtime does not get too rowdy, and no one gets hurt. It generally gets on well with other dogs except with other terriers, which it may become a little dominant over. Care must be taken when Parsons meet smaller animals and household pets because of their strong hunting instinct and prey drive.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Parson Russell Terrier is 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. The amount of food will depend on the dog's age, size, build, activity level, health, and metabolism. While understanding the basic nutritional needs of breeds can serve as a guide, consider the unique needs of your dog.
Typical calorie needs of adult Jack Russell per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 450 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 650 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 900 calories daily
As an active dog, the Parson Russell thrives on a protein-rich diet such as poultry, beef or fish and fewer carbohydrates. It is important to make sure meals are divided into two or three meals. Since this breed is also predisposed to skin allergies, gluten in wheat or corn must be avoided. You can ask for vet advice regarding the unique nutritional needs of your Parson Russell, so you know which food your dog deserves.
Health and Exercise
Parson Russells are generally healthy but can also be afflicted by certain medical conditions like Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Glaucoma, Patellar Luxation, Lens Luxation and deafness. As a small breed, it is also predisposed to dental problems and skin allergies. For preventive measures, make sure to check with a veterinarian regarding signs and symptoms.
These highly-energetic dogs need plenty of physical activities daily, at least one and a half hours a day. It loves to play, chase, explore and hunt. It also enjoys agility drills and running. Always keep Parsons on a leash especially during a walk or a run. They might encounter other animals which may trigger their competitive nature. Also make sure that during a romp, they are well within the bounds of a secure area such as a back garden.
Cost of Ownership
If you are interested in purchasing a well-bred Parson Russell Terrier puppy, prepare to spend £200-£600 for one. Other than the initial purchase, you also need to consider getting a pet insurance, which can cost anywhere from £20 a month for a basic cover up to £40 a month for a lifetime cover. These prices also vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Food cost is another matter to consider since you need to ensure that your dog stays healthy and well-fed at whatever age. To buy high-quality dog food, you will have to spend around £20–£30 a month. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £800 annually. On average, caring for a Parson Russell Terrier will cost about £50–£70 a month, depending on the type of insurance. This is exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Parson Russell Breed Highlights
- The Parson Russell Terrier is a small and robust terrier dog.
- Grooming-wise, this dog breed is low maintenance and will require a little brushing.
- It loves nothing more than to hunt, explore, chase, wander and dig.
- Parsons are devoted family companions and people-pleasers.
- They can be trained to bark when necessary and make them useful watchdogs.
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