About The Parson Russell Terrier
A brief history of the breed...
The Parson Russell Terrier was developed and established in the 18th Century in Devon by the Reverend John Russell. John Russell was born into a fox hunting family in 1795, where his love of hunting was nurtured. He wanted a dog that could keep up with the horses, run with the foxhounds and was small enough to flush the foxes from their dens.
While studying at Oxford he saw, and bought, the perfect dog for his purposes, belonging to the milkman. This dog was called Trump. It is thought that this was this was the first dog to be known as a Jack Russell. During his time as a clergyman, John Russell devoted himself to both the church and breeding terriers suitable for fox hunting.
Parson Russell was a founder member of the kennel club and spent most of his time living in Swimbridge, Devon where the local pub is still named after him.
For a more detailed history of the breed, view the Parson Russell Terrier Club page
Breed Standard (Revised standard in red)...
Introductory Paragraph - A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.
Workmanlike, active and agile, without exaggeration. Built for stamina and endurance, overall picture of balance and flexibility. Honorable scars permissible.
Originally a terrier bred to work fox, a confident, energetic and happy dog that has the ability and conformation to go to ground
Head and Skull
wedge shaped. Skull flat, moderately broad, gradually narrowing to the
eyes. Cheeks not prominent. Stop shallow. From nose to stop slightly shorter
than from stop to occiput. Nose black.
Dark, almond shaped, never prominent. Keen, intelligent expression.
Size in proportion with the head. V-shaped, dropping forward, tip of ear to be level with outer corner of eye. Fold not above top of skull. Leather of moderate thickness.
strong, muscular. Teeth of a good size and set square to the jaws, with
a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely
overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
muscular, of good length, gradually widening and well set into the shoulders.
long and sloping, well laid back, cleanly cut at withers. Upper arm of
equal length to the shoulder and at such an angle that the legs are carried
well back under the body, below the point of the withers. Legs strong
and straight turning neither in nor out, strong, flexible pasterns. Elbows
close to body, working free of the sides. Moderate width between forelegs.
Length of forelegs should be slightly greater than depth of body.
length from point of shoulder to point of buttock slightly greater than
height from withers to ground. Chest of moderate depth, not extending
below point of elbow. Capable of being spanned behind the shoulders by
average sized hands. Ribs carried well back, not over-sprung nor slab-sided.
Back strong, straight and flexible. Loin strong and slightly arched. Well
muscular, with well-developed second thigh. Good angulation and bend of
stifle without exaggeration. Hocks set low and rear pasterns parallel,
giving plenty of drive.
with firm pads, toes moderately arched, never flat or open, turning neither
in nor out.
Previously customarily docked.
Docked: Length complementing the body. Strong, preferably straight, moderately high set, carried well up on the move, may be carried lower when relaxed.
Undocked: Of moderate length, preferably straight, giving a general balance to the dog. Thick at the root and tapering towards the tip. Moderately high set, carried well up on the move, may be carried lower when relaxed.
ground covering gait, without exaggeration. Strides should be of good
length, never stilted or high-stepping. Hindquarters providing plenty
of drive. Well co-ordinated; straight action front and behind.
rough, broken or smooth naturally harsh, flat, straight, close and dense
with good undercoat. Weather resistant. Belly and undersides coated. Skin
thick and loose. The prepared coat should appear natural, never clipped.
White or predominantly white with tan, lemon or black markings, or any combination of these colours. The colour preferably confined to the head and/or root of tail, but a little body colour is acceptable.
height at withers: dogs 36cms (14ins), bitches 33cms (13ins). Most importantly
soundness and balance should be maintained whilst taking into account
that this terrier, bred to work fox, should be capable of being spanned
behind the shoulders by average sized hands. With these provisos, lower
heights are acceptable, however.
Breed Health - inherited diseases
Primary Lens Luxation
Primary Lens luxation is an inherited condition in which these zonules degenerate over time and the lens can move around the eye. It is unusual for it to occur before the age of three.
Most cases of lens luxation cannot be prevented in the dog and so ideally affected stock should not be bred from.
By screening breeding stock for diseases such as PLL, responsible breeders can use the information to eliminate or reduce the frequency of eye disease being passed on to puppies. A scheme is offered to do exactly this, through the Kennel Club.
Brilliant news came in October 2009 with the development of a DNA test for PLL enabling breeders to easily take swabs from their dogs to be sent to the AHT (Animal Health Trust) for analysis. Results will either come back as clear, carrier or affected, enabling breeders to make clear choices about their breeding plans in the future. It is important for potential puppy owners to understand that they must ensure they only buy from breeders who have DNA tested their current breeding stock and therefore will be safe in the knowledge that the puppy they are purchasing will not be DNA PLL affected as they will be able to see certificates for either the puppy or for it's parents (It is unnecessary to DNA test puppies if sire and dam have already been tested clear). It is important however to remember however there is a remote possibility of even a clear dog of any breed to develop PLL through trauma.
So a puppy with clear or carrier status has not got the two copies of the gene required to develop hereditary PLL and therefore the 'Affected' status is the only status relevant when buying a PRT puppy as a pet from any breeder, unless you are planning on embarking on a breeding program.
Spinocerebella Ataxia (Late Onset Ataxia)
Spinocellebellar Ataxia (SCA) is a condition, which starts to affects puppies from the ages of 4 9 months approximately.
This condition should not be confused with Cerebellar Ataxia, which is early onset, which we are told, has been researched and has been found that the two conditions are totally unrelated.
These early symptoms tend to be intermittent in that the dog may appear perfectly normal some days but not others. Some of the early signs area unsteady drunken like gait, the puppy usually does not like slippery floors and they are unwilling to go upstairs.
As the disease progresses the limbs are lifted in an exaggerated manner, often described as goose-stepping. The puppy may become unsteady, falling over occasionally.
Throughout the period of the disease the dog appears to suffer no pain, has a healthy appetite, has normal bodily functions. It will play and enjoy daily walks as any normal dog would. In some cases the dog will stabilise when they reach about 18 months old but the symptoms do not completely go away and the dog will have the condition all of its life. Some physiotherapy/swimming does seem to help the symptoms but this does not eradicate it. Dogs can go on to lead a normal happy family life.
Tha above was extracted from the Northern Parson Russell Terrier Club Website, for more details visit their website.
Currently there is no test available in the world to detect SCA and we (breeders & enthusiasts worldwide), are trying hard to collaborate our efforts, together with the Animal Health Trust to produce a test.
To live with a Parson Russell Terrier....
"A house is not a home without a Russell"
The Parson Russell Terrier is first a foremost a working breed. The Parson John Russell required his terriers to be able to keep up with the horses, run with the foxhounds and be small enough to flush the foxes from their dens. When a fox had been run to ground (pursued by hounds), the terrier would be in charge of following his quarry and baying at him in order to bolt him.
The Russell is a different 'kettle of fish' to the Northern breeds of Terrier such as the Lakeland and Border Terriers which were required, when necessary, to hold and draw the fox if a bolt wasn't possible.
An understanding of the breeds characteristics and original purpose will go a long way in learning what to expect from your Parson and how to go about training him.
Parsons are not an unintelligent breed but as they are hunters at heart, they are prone to being stubborn and turning a 'deaf ear' especially when on the scent of something.
Make sure training is begun on a basic level as soon as you get your puppy home. It should be fun to keep his attention, but consistent and firm. Training the recall (to come back to you when called) is an essential command when you are out in public with the danger of traffic and for controlling the strong hunting instinct.
Puppy training classes are invaluable. Your pup can be socialised as soon as the isolation period following vaccination has elapsed. Terriers can naturally try to be dominant over other dogs so nipping this in the bud at an early stage can minimise the chances of dog on dog aggression. There are dog training and puppy socialisation classes run throughout the country and advertised locally.
As mentioned earlier, the Parson was originally expected to be able to run with hounds if necessary. As you can imagine, this meant tremendous stamina especially so if he was to then work underground for often long periods of time. Nowadays, most Parsons won't engage in this sort of activity but although you can take the terrier from hunting, you can't take the hunting from the terrier! He will need plenty of exercise and despite his small size, if he is fit and well he will have the determination and stamina to keep up with the fittest of hill walkers.
Although they are not what you would consider overly 'yappy', they will certainly let you know when somebody arrives at the door. A big dog in a small package, they believe they are all you need to keep you safe!
As all breeds of terriers and to be honest most breeds of dog, they do like digging so if you are a keen gardener, be prepared!
Be firm but kind, remember you are the 'Top Dog'... he will thrive with the confidence that you are his master. Lay ground rules and give clear boundaries at each stage.
Parsons are one of the most versatile of dog breeds excelling in all manner of activities from agility, flyball and drug search dogs, which is what explains their boom in popularity. Hopefully this won't lead to the surge in unscrupulous breeding as in some popular breeds but tread carefully, spend time researching the breed and talking to breeders and with time and effort you might find just find your perfect companion.
To summarise, Parsons can make the most wonderful pets but given an inch, they may take a mile... don't spoil him, remember he's a terrier, have fun with him and you may just have the best friend in the world....
"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot about puppies"
Hemlock of Morgandare with owner Jess Lumbard