Visiting your Parson Russell Terrier puppy’s litter for the first time is one of the most exciting days you’ll experience. I know it was for me and my family. But from that first encounter to the day you bring them home, raise them and make them a member of your team, you’ll face a lot of challenges too. These are loving, loyal and funny little dogs, but they are also feisty, stubborn and tenacious. Today I’ll share how we help our new terriers turn into fabulous family pets, and what to look out for when you’re searching for your perfect puppy.
- Finding a Parson Russell puppy
- Parson Russell Rescue
- Learn all about the Parson Russell Terrier
- Parson Russell pros and cons
A Parson Russell Terrier dog is small, sturdy and very energetic. They love digging, hunting and were bred to work independently during the day. Bolding leaping down burrows and into animals dens. They are similar in type to the more well known Jack Russell Terrier, but these dogs are not the same breed.
Parson Russell Terrier History
The Parson Russell Terrier originally comes from the south of England. It was first documented in the 1800s. But, it wasn’t until 1997 that the AKC officially recognized these dogs.
Like many other terrier breeds, they were used to hunt. Specifically, they would work with foxhounds during fox hunts. This was a task they could do just as well above ground as below ground when hunting in fox dens.
Over time, this purpose waned. Nowadays the Parson Russell Terrier is much more common as a family companion and household pet than as a working breed.
Overall, the Parson Terrier is small but sturdy in appearance. This breed was bred to be athletic and able at hunting alongside other dogs. They are very similar in appearance to the more common Jack Russell Terrier.
Females tend to be around 13 inches tall. Whereas males will usually measure in slightly taller; often around 14 inches. In weight, these dogs can range from 13 to 17 pounds to fit their breed standard. But, individual dogs may fall slightly outside of this range in some instances.
They have rough coats that can be broken or smooth in texture. Although you can get a smooth Parson Russell Terrier, this isn’t a soft and silky coat. It still feels firm to the touch. Parsons will be mostly white in color. But, they can have markings in a range of different shades, including black, brown, cream and tan.
Parson Russell Terrier Temperament
Like many other terrier dog breeds, the Parson Russell Terrier will be athletic, intelligent, and brave. They aren’t afraid to dive straight into new situations. Many Parson Russell Terrier dogs will have an independent streak. But, they will also often form very strong bonds with their owners, loving to follow their family around and curl up together at the end of a busy day.
These traits all made the Parson Russell Terrier perfect for their original role as a fox hunter. But, it can impact the sort of home they suit.
Many Parsons will retain these natural chase and hunt instincts. So, if you have other pets at home – particularly cats – you may want a slightly calmer dog breed. Otherwise, you may end up spending all of your time preventing your Parson Russell Terrier from chasing and catching the cat!
Alongside this, very young children may not get along well with Parsons. But, these dogs can be great in a home with older children that can help to burn off some of that energy and prevent boredom.
Are They Good Family Dogs?
For the right home, a Parson can make a wonderful pet. They are relatively small, but have high energy needs. So, they can suit small homes as long as they get enough daily exercise outside of the house. But ideally, they will prefer a home with a large yard that they can spend their day exploring and playing in.
These little dogs can have high prey drives. So, they won’t always be best in homes with other small pets. They also need plenty of mental stimulation, and will enjoy regular company. This breed won’t suit homes where they’re left alone for long periods. In fact, if left alone for too long they may display unwanted behaviors like barking, digging, and chewing.
Training and Exercise
Parson Russells are full of energy. They are a relatively small breed, but don’t think that this means they’ll be curled up inside all day! These dogs need regular exercise to keep them from becoming bored and destructive. And, alongside physical exercise, they’ll need plenty of mental stimulation.
Training is a great way to keep their minds busy. But, bear in mind that these dogs can have an independent streak. Positive reward training will help you to form a strong bond with your dog. It’s also a great way to keep your Parson open and receptive to training, rather than closing off.
Keeping training sessions short, fun, and consistent is also a great way to keep your Parson’s attention on you at all times.
Are They Generally Healthy?
Like all dog breeds, there are a few hereditary health issues that the Parson Russell Terrier is prone to. Studies have linked a higher risk of deafness to dogs with predominantly white fur, including the Parson’s close relative the Jack Russell Terrier. So, partial and complete deafness can be a problem in some individual dogs.
Alongside a test for congenital deafness, the OFA recommends that breeding Parsons are tested for eye problems and patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap).
Studies have also suggested a hereditary risk to ataxia disorders in Parson Russell Terriers. These disorders can affect a dog’s balance, gait, coordination and more.
To minimise the risk of these health problems, choose a reputable breeder that health tests their dogs, attend regular veterinary checks, and give your dog the best daily care possible. If you notice any problems, particularly to do with gait, hearing, or eyesight, take your Parson to the vet’s office for a check up!
Parson Russell Terrier Puppies
To minimise the risk of hereditary health issues in the Parson breed, it’s important to buy your puppy from a reputable breeder that health tests their dogs. As a minimum, look for the health tests required by the Canine Health Institute: eye examinations, patellar luxation, and congenital deafness.
Parson Terriers currently aren’t that popular. But, you may still find bad breeders trying to profit from them, so make sure to do your research. Since the breed is less popular than some others, it may be hard to find a breeder with a litter ready straight away. But, on the plus side, waiting lists are likely to be shorter.
Remember to visit the breeder and puppies in person where possible. Make sure that both the mother and puppies are healthy and well-looked after.
Parson Russell Terrier Rescue
Another option, if you’re struggling to find a puppy straight away, is to check local rescue centers. You may even be able to find breed specific rescues near you.
Rescue dogs can be great, as they often have basic obedience training and will usually be much cheaper than puppies. But, you won’t always know as much about your dog’s background, and any potential health or behavioral issues.
Work closely with rescue staff to ensure that the individual dog you’re bringing home will really suit your home and lifestyle.