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Parson Russell Terrier

ParsonRussellTerrier

A Quirky Entertainer

Energetic, friendly, highly-intelligent

Parson Russell Terriers are bold, adventurous, and sometimes mischievous, small dogs. Parsons are independent, but get along with children and may bark at strangers. These playful dogs make good pets for active people and experienced dog handlers. They are outgoing and full of energy, so they need plenty of daily exercise such as a long walk or engaging game.

Understanding their unique needs will help keep them healthy and create a strong bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about the breed’s history, health concerns, characteristics, and care needs.

The Parson Russell Terrier in the photo is not yet fully grown.

Breed Details

Height:12-14 in. Weight:14-18 lb Lifespan:15 years or more

Size
1

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
3

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
5

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
3

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
3

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
3

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: Parson Russell Terriers are smart dogs with lots of energy, so keep their minds and bodies active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. A tall fence is a must,  as they have been known to jump to great heights. They also can't resist chasing cats, so keep them on a leash outdoors. These terriers are athletic dogs that excel at dog sports like flyball and agility.

Grooming: Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly.

Dental: Parson Russell Terriers generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


Parson Russell Terriers are highly intelligent and need a strong leader. With sufficient exercise and socialization, they make an affectionate and lively family companion.

Positive Traits:

  • Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic

  • Alert, curious, and busy

  • Protective; an excellent guard dog

  • Bold, steady, and fearless

  • Bouncy, cheerful, loyal, and enthusiastic

  • Quirky, entertaining personality

Negative Traits:

  • Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run

  • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog

  • Must be properly socialized with humans and other animals

  • Territorial with larger dogs, especially of the same sex

  • Prone to boredom and separation anxiety when left alone and will find trouble

  • Willful and stubborn if you don’t show strong leadership



Whether you are considering adding a new Parson Russell Terrier to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Parson Russell Terrier will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

By exploring the health concerns specific to the Parson Russell Terrier you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

Some health issues a Parson Russell Terrier could encounter:

The Parson Russell Terrier was developed in England in the 1800’s and was bred for fox hunting and vermin control. The Parson Russell Terrier is a small, tenacious terrier that is courageous and clever. They are excellent escape artists that can climb, jump, or dig under fences. They have a high prey drive and will chase small animals. They are typical hunting terriers that love barking and digging. The Parson Russell Terrier is amusing and friendly: a great companion for an active family.

Consult with a veterinarian if your Parson Russell Terrier shows signs of the following:

  • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

  • Painful eye, excessive tearing, eyes may appear asymmetric or cloudy

  • Squinting, watery eyes, bluing cornea, redness, enlarged eye

  • Cloudiness to eye lens

  • Slow or stunted growth; sometimes seizures after eating

  • Gums that are a color other than bright pink

  • Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

  • General reluctance to run or play

  • Increasing hip pain at less than a year old

  • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

  • Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors

  • Misplaced or missing teeth, bad breath, hair and food stuck between teeth

  • Shortness of breath, cough, or fainting

  • Greasy, hairless patches on skin and redness in ears

  • Easily startled, no reaction to unseen sounds

  • Repetitive, compulsive whirling

  • Care

    Routine Care: Parson Russell Terriers are smart dogs with lots of energy, so keep their minds and bodies active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. A tall fence is a must,  as they have been known to jump to great heights. They also can't resist chasing cats, so keep them on a leash outdoors. These terriers are athletic dogs that excel at dog sports like flyball and agility.

    Grooming: Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly.

    Dental: Parson Russell Terriers generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

    Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


  • Characteristics

    Parson Russell Terriers are highly intelligent and need a strong leader. With sufficient exercise and socialization, they make an affectionate and lively family companion.

    Positive Traits:

    • Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic

    • Alert, curious, and busy

    • Protective; an excellent guard dog

    • Bold, steady, and fearless

    • Bouncy, cheerful, loyal, and enthusiastic

    • Quirky, entertaining personality

    Negative Traits:

    • Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run

    • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog

    • Must be properly socialized with humans and other animals

    • Territorial with larger dogs, especially of the same sex

    • Prone to boredom and separation anxiety when left alone and will find trouble

    • Willful and stubborn if you don’t show strong leadership



  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new Parson Russell Terrier to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Parson Russell Terrier will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

    By exploring the health concerns specific to the Parson Russell Terrier you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

    Some health issues a Parson Russell Terrier could encounter:

  • History

    The Parson Russell Terrier was developed in England in the 1800’s and was bred for fox hunting and vermin control. The Parson Russell Terrier is a small, tenacious terrier that is courageous and clever. They are excellent escape artists that can climb, jump, or dig under fences. They have a high prey drive and will chase small animals. They are typical hunting terriers that love barking and digging. The Parson Russell Terrier is amusing and friendly: a great companion for an active family.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your Parson Russell Terrier shows signs of the following:

    • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

    • Painful eye, excessive tearing, eyes may appear asymmetric or cloudy

    • Squinting, watery eyes, bluing cornea, redness, enlarged eye

    • Cloudiness to eye lens

    • Slow or stunted growth; sometimes seizures after eating

    • Gums that are a color other than bright pink

    • Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

    • General reluctance to run or play

    • Increasing hip pain at less than a year old

    • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

    • Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors

    • Misplaced or missing teeth, bad breath, hair and food stuck between teeth

    • Shortness of breath, cough, or fainting

    • Greasy, hairless patches on skin and redness in ears

    • Easily startled, no reaction to unseen sounds

    • Repetitive, compulsive whirling

Parson Russell Terrier Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the Parson Russell Terrier breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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