Parson Russell Terrier

"Big Dog, Little Package"

Photo of Parson Russell Terrier


The Parson Russell Terrier, or PRT, can trace his beginnings back to the 1800s in southern England. There, hunter-breeder-clergyman John Russell wanted a bold, flamboyant type of Fox Terrier that could trail a fox and flush the animal from its den directly into the paths of huntsmen and their hounds. The result was the Parson Jack Russell Terrier. But while breed devotees worked to perfect this special terrier, some were reluctant to apply for kennel club recognition in either England or the United States. They feared that kennel club recognition would result in a show dog that would no longer be able to perform the work he was originally intended to do. Consequently, enthusiasts did not seek kennel club recognition for the breed for many years. Recognition from The Kennel Club of England did not come until 1990, or from the American Kennel Club until 2000. Three years after receiving AKC recognition, the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America renamed the breed Parson Russell Terrier, and changed its own name to the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America. In 2006, the breed ranked 75th of the 154 registered to the AKC.


The Parson Russell Terrier, or PRT, epitomizes feistiness. He is confident, fearless, alert, and happy. However, his hunting roots may make him a less-than-ideal companion to cats, hamsters, and gerbils, all of whom he might consider to be potential prey, not potential friends. His liveliness can be a lot of fun in an active household with experienced dog owners. The less-experienced owner who doesn't consider the dog's need for training, exercise, digging, and barking may find the Parson Russell Terrier impossible to live with. That said, the dog usually enjoys the company of people and, with proper training, can be a wonderful companion.


The Parson Russell Terrier is a small dog ranging between 12 and 15 inches high at the shoulder - the longest-legged of the three breeds descended from Parson Jack Russell's kennels - and weighing between 13 and 17 pounds. The coat is mostly white with brown, black, or tri-color markings. The coat can be smooth (pictured left) or wiry (known to fanciers as a “broken coat” - pictured above). The tail is docked, usually to about four inches in length.


The Parson Russell Terrier's bold, independent nature can make him a challenge to train, but in the hands of the right trainer (and/or owner) he can become a true star. He needs firm, consistent schooling from a trainer who is patient and has a good sense of humor. The experienced owner who can provide such schooling will be rewarded with a lively canine companion who also can excel in agility, flyball, and hunting.

Grooming & Care

A Parson Russell Terrier doesn't need much in the way of grooming: periodic baths, weekly brushings (to control shedding), and weekly pedicures.

Health Concerns

Like all purebred dogs, the Parson Russell Terrier is prone to certain inherited health conditions. Those conditions include eye problems, patellar luxation (a dislocated kneecap), Leggs-Perthes disease (disintegration of the hip joint), and deafness. Breeding parents should receive OFA, CERF and BAER clearances before being bred.

Famous Parson Russell Terrier

Moose and son Enzo, portrayers of Eddie on the TV sitcom "Frasier."

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 6
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 13
Exercise 60
Challenges Super high energy and prone to getting into trouble.
Height 12 to 15 inches
Weight 13 to 17 pounds
Life 13 to 15 years
Home Alone 84
With Kids 86
With Strangers 105
Availability 96

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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