Parson Russell Terrier Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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Parson Russell Terrier (PRT) formerly known as Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) is a small-sized breed used for hunting foxes.

Named after Reverend John Russell in the 18th century, this breed is a clever, charming, and affectionate little dog.

A Parson Russell Terrier in front of white background
The cute Parson Russell Terrier dog

Regardless of its cute size, PRT has sufficient stature to keep up with the agility of English Foxhounds.

PRTs have longer frames, wider chests, and larger heads resulting in larger body sizes than the JRTs.  

In terms of genders, male Parson Russell Terriers are slightly taller and most likely to get bigger than their female counterparts.

Known to be healthy dogs, PRTs have an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years. With proper diet and regular exercise, their lives can be extended for a few more years.

They do well in sports, hence, they need high protein food to keep their overall body healthy.

If Parson Russell Terriers don’t get to have the physical exercise they need daily, they can be frequent barkers. They have a lower pitch bark which may not be bearable to hear for some.

If they get annoyed or bored, this breed may bite. They may be gentle and friendly, but once provoked, they have biting tendencies.

The Parson Russell Terrier is usually white with a smooth or rough coat. They have black, tan, and tri-color markings.

They are a low-shedding breed thus, they don’t need regular bathing, brushing, and grooming. 

If you enjoy knowing the facts about PRTs, read on to know more.

Table of Contents

What is a Parson Russell Terrier?

A Parson Russell Terrier lying down on the grass
Meet Raffi, a happy Parson Russell Terrier – Image source

Parson Russell Terrier is a clever and bold dog breed that is a part of the terrier family.

It was first considered as a Jack Russell Terrier but later on, considered as a separate breed due to its larger size.

They are initially bred as hunting partners by hunting professionals but today, they are known as companion pets.

PRT is fearless and swift enough to run and dig. They are energetic and active which makes them also great for an active household.

They usually come in white color with smooth and rough coats.

Why are They Called Parson Russell Terrier Dogs?

Parson Russell Terrier owes its name to Rev. John Russell, a hunter clergyman, who inherited his love for terriers and hunting from his father.

PRT was first called Jack Russel Terrier, but the type of terrier back then had a long body and short legs.

Later, the name Jack Rusell Terrier was changed to Parson Russell Terrier to distinguish other long-legged terriers.

In 1999. its name was changed but it was only in 2003 when the change of name was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Where Did the Parson Russell Terrier Come From?

A Parson Russell Terrier in the woods
Wille, a Parson Russell Terrier, explores the woods – Image source

Through Rev. John Russell, PRT came from Southern England in the 1800s. They are bred to be fox hunters from their country of origin.

Most PRTs can be found in England but this breed has already spread out throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

When Did the Parson Russell Terrier Originate?

It was in 1819 when Parson Russell Terrier was introduced by Rev. John Russell. His PRT was named “Trump” and was considered the founder of the PRT breed.

Since this breed used to compete in sporting events, it became popular. 

Their exposures in the media earn a massive interest from people who love to have a Parson Russell Terrier as well. For this reason, their population grows in numbers.

However, no matter how cute they are, they may not be suitable for busy and physically inactive fur parents.

How Many Parson Russell Terriers are there in the World?

Parson Russell Terriers are famous. In fact, they rank 117th out of 195 in the list of AKC’s most popular dog breeds in the United States in 2020.

However, their exact numbers are unavailable at this point.

What are the Characteristics of Parson Russell Terriers?

A Parson Russell Terrier lying down on the sand
A Parson Russell Terrier enjoying the beach – Image source

Due to their hyperactive personality, not everyone is suitable to own a Parson Russell Terrier.

But if you are interested to know them, please be guided by the character traits mentioned below:

  • Energetic: If you are athletic or wish to become one, you can never go wrong with PRT. This breed is very lively and loves to do physical activities. Should you decide to have them, make sure that you dedicate ample time to play with them.
  • Clever: PRTs are easy to train because they are clever. As much as they need physical exercises, they also need mental stimulation. Keep their minds occupied to prevent them from boredom.
  • Obedient: PRTs like to please their owners. They will do what it takes to please them. You can use this trait to your advantage when training them.
  • Courageous: Don’t underestimate the size of PRTs because they are bold and fearless. When threatened, they can fight against any animal or human bigger than them. 
  • Independent: Although PRTs are sweet and affectionate, they are independent as well. They are developed to hunt solo so they can think and work on their own. As such, most PRTs may not mingle well with other animals, especially when they are not trained to do so.

Many uninformed fur-parent wannabes acquire this breed because they are too cute. But later realize that they couldn’t keep up its temperament. 

To make sure that this breed is suitable for your lifestyle, here’s a table for their behavioral characteristics:

Parson Russell Terrier
Characteristics
Rating
Relation with Family 5
Good with Children 4
Friendly with Strangers 4
Friendly with Other Dogs 4
Easy to Train 5
Energy Level 5
Barking Level 4
Mental Stimulation Needs 5

What Does a Parson Russell Terrier Look Like?

Two Parson Russell Terriers standing outdoors
Meet Milka and Lila, two Parson Russell Terrier sisters – Image source

The Parson Russell Terrier is a small-sized breed with longer legs than the Jack Russell Terrier.

Its head is well-proportioned. It has almond-shaped eyes in the color white while the rim is pink.

It has V-shaped ears, a dark nose, large teeth, and a rectangular muzzle. In terms of the body, it has a long back, lean shoulders, and a wide chest.

Its coat is usually white with black, tan, and tricolor markings. 

The PRTs’ feet are cat-like and cute in size, while the toes are in an arc shape. Overall, male PRTs are bigger than female PRTs.

How big is the Parson Russell Terrier?

A female Parson Russell Terrier has an average height of 13 inches (33 cm) while a male PRT is 14 inches (35.5 cm).

Meanwhile, the average weight of female PRT is 15 lbs (6.8 kg) and male PRT is 17 lbs (7.7 kg).

Here’s a table of the PRT’s physical features:

Parson Russell Terrier
Physical Features
Male Female
Height  14 inches 
(35.5 cm)
13 inches 
(33 cm)
Weight 17 lbs 
(7.7 kg)
15 lbs 
(6.8 kg)

How long does a Parson Russell Terrier dog grow?

It will take 12 months or 1 year for a Parson Russell Terrier dog to be fully grown. They are a small-size breed or a few inches larger than JRT.

Once they reach 1 year old, it’s very unlikely that they will still grow. Their weight may increase but not as much. 

What is the average weight of Parson Russell Terrier dogs?

The average weight of a female PRT is 15 lbs (6.8 kg). In contrast, the male PRT is 17 lbs (7.7 kg).

Like other dogs, male PRTs are most likely to get bigger than their female counterparts.

What is the Average Life Expectancy of Parson Russell Terriers?

The average life expectancy of Parson Russell Terriers is around 13 to 15 years. In general, they have a longer life than other dogs.

If they are well-bred or remain healthy throughout their life, they can live up to 15 to 18 years.

What Coat Type Do Parson Russell Terriers Have?

A close-up image of a Parson Russell Terrier
Meet Neo, the lovable Parson Russell Terrier – Image source

Parson Russell Terriers have a double coat with a softer topcoat and dense undercoat.

They have a low-shedding coat which is perfect for fur parents who don’t enjoy excessive shedding. They need minimal brushing and grooming.

What is the Parson Russell Terrier dog’s coat like?

Parsons have a double coat that is dense and weatherproof. Their coat protects them from the underbrush and other elements.

Whether the coat is smooth or rough-type, it is easy to maintain and groom. 

How long is the Parson Russell Terrier’s coat?

PRTs have a shorter coat than any other breed. Their coat is just enough to protect them from any weather conditions.

Since their hair doesn’t grow easily, it can be stripped at least once or twice per year.

What’s the coat density of the Parson Russell Terrier?

The Parson Russell Terrier dogs have a dense double coat, either smooth or rough-coated.

The smooth-coated PRT is quite difficult to groom and would need to be hand stripped at least twice a year.

In comparison, the rough-coated PRT is easier to groom. However, whatever the coat type they have, it needs to be brushed at least once a week.

Do Parson Russell Terriers shed much?

Parson Russell Terrier doesn’t shed or if they do, they only shed minimally. They have minimal grooming needs and are easy to maintain.

However, PRTs who have smooth coats shed excessively more than those with wiry and coarse coats. 

Can Parson Russell Terriers Live in Hot Weather?

A Parson Russell Terrier standing outdoors
A Parson Russell Terrier getting some sun – Image source

Parson Russell Terriers tolerate hot weather. Their coats are suited for warmer climates than colder ones.

Their short coat, large ears, long muzzles, and lanky build can withstand a humid environment. They can endure at least 45 degrees F to 100 degrees F. 

Do Parson Russell Terriers Love Water?

Yes, Parson Russell Terriers love water. They are excellent swimmers by nature. They can be your perfect companion if you love swimming by the beach or pool.

Having a quick dip in the water can also be his regular physical activity.

What Colors and Markings are Parson Russell Terriers?

A tri-colored Parson Russell Terrier
Meet Riddick, a tri-colored Parson Russell Terrier – Image source

It’s easy to spot a Parson Russell Terrier because they come in white, black and white, white and tan.

This breed exactly looks like a Jack Russell Terrier but their longer legs have distinguished them from the JRT. 

Parson Russell Terriers have a few markings such as tan, brown, black, cream, and tri-color which are recognized by AKC.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Good Family Dogs? 

Two Parson Russell Terriers sitting outdoors
Meet Harry and Ted, a lovely Parson Russell Terrier duo – Image source

Yes, PRTs are good family dogs because they are clingy, sweet, and loyal. However, these traits may be a disadvantage for a busy fur parent or family. 

If left by themselves, you can turn on the music, radio, or TV, so they will not feel alone. They will develop separation anxiety once you leave them alone in the house frequently.

To better know about the overall temperament of PRTs, we rated their behavioral traits below:

Parson Russell Terrier
Temperament
Rating
Adaptability 5
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 3
Playfulness 5
Family-Oriented 5
Stranger Tolerance 4

Are Parson Russell Terriers good with other dogs?

PRTs love to make friends with other dogs. They are used to mingle and work with a pack.

Though they are a bit quarrelsome, this trait can be minimized through early training. 

If Parson Russell Terriers are not trained to be sociable, aggression toward other dogs may be an issue. They have strong prey tendencies and will go after smaller animals. 

Are Parson Russell Terriers friendly with other people?

The good thing about these dogs is that they are not aggressive and friendly with people other than their families.

They are full of personality and it’s not hard to make friends with them. They love to socialize with new people and that makes them excellent city dogs.

Can Parson Russell Terrier dogs get along well with strangers?

PRTs can get along with everyone so they can be sociable with strangers. They are happy-go-lucky and love to play with everyone they meet.

Just don’t make fun of them, pull their ears, or embrace them excessively because they are not fond of such gestures.

How do Parson Russell Terriers get along with young children?

PRTs are affectionate and loving dogs but they might not get along with young children who love to embrace or make fun of them.

Only gentle children who know how to interact with dogs are required to be around them.

When Parson Russell Terrier dogs are mishandled, they can quickly snap. As such, only older children are advised to play with them.

Teach your children to never bother them when they are eating or sleeping, or to even try to touch their food away from them.

Can Parson Russell Terriers Adapt Easily?

A Parson Russell Terrier standing on a chair
Osman, a Parson Russell Terrier, shows his puppy dog eyes – Image source

Like most dogs, it will take three weeks for PRT to adapt to a new environment. If they are trained to be sociable, this may not take long.

In the first few days, expect their excessive barking which is normal for them because they are adjusting to their new environment.

Are Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Aggressive?

In particular, Parson Russell Terriers are only aggressive with animals smaller than them.

They have prey tendencies toward smaller dogs, cats, and mice. They are notoriously fearless as they were bred to hunt solo. 

However, when it comes to people, they are calm and gentle. They are sociable and like to form bonds with them.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Dangerous?

Generally speaking, Parson Russell Terriers are not dangerous. However, they are feisty and can be harmful when provoked.

They are brave enough to dive into flush foxes and fox lairs from the den. When angry, they are tough and will fight other dogs even bigger than their size.

Do Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Bite?

Yes, Parson Russell Terriers have a prey drive and they have the instinct to bite them and other people. Anyone who antagonizes them is most likely to get bit.

They have a biting force of about 238 PSI. 

All in all, this breed only bites if there’s a reason for them to attack you. If you are friendly and gentle with them, expect to be treated the same.

Are Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Protective?

While Parson Russell Terriers are fearless, they are not particularly protective.

They could not be efficient guard dogs because of their sociable personality. They are very welcoming toward strangers. 

However, they will bark to alert you when they become suspicious. They can bark and watch out for any people that will come to your house.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Affectionate?

A Parson Russell Terrier lying down on a sofa
Meet Maxx, a Parson Russell Terrier who wants cuddles – Image source

Yes, Parson Russell Terriers are affectionate. This is one of the reasons why they are great companion dogs. They are sweet and gentle toward their masters. 

If you want a companion dog, this breed is suitable for you. They like to be around their person all the time and will do everything to please or catch their attention.

They like skin-to-skin contact with their owners because they feel secure, safe, and calm around them.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Loyal?

In general, terrier breeds are very loyal. While they are bred to be hunting dogs, nowadays, they are kept as family and companion pets due to their loyalty.

They love their master and like to spend time with them whether on physical activities or just lazing around.

Does the Parson Russell Terrier Love Freedom?

Parson Russell Terrier dogs love freedom. They like to play and explore given their high energy level and love of adventure.

While it’s true that they enjoy having plenty of space to run around, they also appreciate the companionship of their humans.

They are loyal and affectionate dogs that thrive on human interaction. So while they may love the freedom to roam, they also need the love and attention of their owners.

Are Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Easy to Train?

A Parson Russell Terrier with mud on its body
Winnie, a Parson Russell Terrier, allows his stubborn side to show – Image source

Parson Russell Terriers are intelligent dogs so they are easy to train. However, they need consistent and patient trainers because they can be stubborn at times.

They are strong-willed dogs but positive reinforcement such as food rewards, play, and praise is an effective training approach for them.

How Smart is the Parson Russell Terrier?

Parson Russell Terriers are intelligent dogs that are eager to please their owners. They are quick learners and excel at obedience training.

In addition, they are very trainable and can be taught to perform a variety of tricks. 

However, Parsons can be stubborn if you don’t show strong leadership. Consistent proper positive training is needed to get their attention and follow your commands.

Can Parson Russell Terrier dogs be used as working dogs?

Yes, PRTs can be used as working dogs. In fact, they came into being to be working dogs, or to specifically work as hunters.

They are energetic and clever which makes them perfect for the job.

Do Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Bark a Lot?

Unfortunately, Parson Russell Terriers are recreational barkers. Barking is one of their hobbies, especially if they don’t get the physical exercise they need.

For this reason, they may not be good for an apartment type of living.

How does a Parson Russell Terrier bark?

Parson Russell Terriers produce a woof bark that is medium to lower pitch. Their barks are their way to communicate with people and other animals.

Most often, they bark when they are hungry, left alone, or bored.

Do Parson Russell Terriers Have High Energy Levels?

Two Parson Russell Terriers looking up
Meet Wilson and Rosy, two energetic Parson Russell Terriers – Image source

PRTs are very energetic. They thrive in a lifestyle full of actions and adventures. If given the chance, they will play, dig, chase, explore, and wander.

Hence, they can be a perfect companion for an active person.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Active?

Known as hunting dogs, Parson Russell Terriers are inherently active. They need both mental and physical stimulation every day.

They are not the type of dogs who will sit in all day and prefer a long walk in the park instead.

Are Parson Russell Terriers Playful?

Known to be playful and plucky, PRTs love to walk in the park, run, and play with their squeaky toys. In addition, they like to play frisbee, fetch, and ball. 

Due to their agility, this breed also excels in dog sports. They are good in lure racing, scenting, and flyball.

They are highly motivated especially when you use reward-based training.

Here’s a video to give you an idea of how outstanding they are in the Dog Sports Competition.

Does the Parson Russell Terrier Drool a Lot?

No, a Parson Russell Terrier doesn’t drool. If they do, it’s not much as they have a low drooling tendency.

If you think the PRT is excessively drooling, consult his vet immediately. It could be a symptom of a serious health problem. 

What Does the Family Life of Parson Russell Terrier Dogs Like?

PRTs like to be with their family all the time.

Unlike other active dogs, they can live well even if they are mostly inside the house so long as they are with their family and with regular exercise. 

They will do better with an active and athletic house. But even if you’re not an active person, you can put up a fence for them to room around. 

What Kind of Food Should Parson Russell Terriers Eat?

A hungry Parson Russell Terrier looking up
Toby, a Parson Russell Terrier, waits for his treat to be served – Image source

Due to their active lifestyle, a PRT needs high-quality food as recommended by a veterinarian. They can eat home-cooked food and dry dog food.

They need at least 1.25 to 1.75 of food twice a day.

If you’re giving them treats while training them, the required food measurement should be reduced. In this way, obesity will be prevented.

What are the Best Dog Foods for Parson Russell Terriers? 

Parson Russell Terriers are very naughty dogs who are always hyper and intense. As such, they need a dog food that can keep up with their energy level.

For growing PRT puppies, we recommend the following:

Meanwhile, adult PRTs need more protein and fiber in their diet to keep their bones healthy. The best dog foods are the following:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like the Parson Russell Terrier?

A Jack Russell Terrier lying down on a carpet
Meet the Jack Russell Terrier, a Parson Russell Terrier look-alike – Image source

Most terrier breeds are very much alike. In terms of size, intelligence, and agility, they are the same. Some dog breeds that look like the Parson Russell Terrier are the following:

Final Thoughts: Is it Worth it to Own a Parson Russell Terrier?

Parson Russell Terrier has become famous through media exposure in Sporting events. However, there’s more to PRT than being an athletic dog. 

Besides being tenacious and fearless, they are very loving and loyal to their masters. They are good outdoor and indoor companions.

They love doing some errands and exercising with you, they can also spend the day lazing around on the couch.

Take note though that however small, this canine can be a challenge for first-time owners due to their stubborn and strong-willed attitude. 

Temperament aside, all in all, PRT is truly worth it to have. They are awesome companions for those who are willing to make time for them.

Do you have a Parson Russell Terrier dog? What do you love most about them? Let us know in the comments!

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