Parson Russell Terrier

  • Overview

    Parson Russell Terriers are often confused with Jack Russell Terriers. Although the two dogs share a common ancestry and many of the same traits, they serve a different purpose and adhere to a slightly different size and coat standard. Parson Russell Terriers, who are slightly larger, tidier and less aggressive, are bred to a uniform standard to be plucky show dogs. Jack Russell Terriers are found in a wider range of sizes and are bred to be hard-working, down-to business terriers who can be scrappy and fierce in the field. The American Kennel Club recognizes Parson Russell Terriers who stand between 13 and 14 inches tall.

    Parson Russell Terriers are plucky, amusing companions who will refuse to provide their owners with a dull moment. They can be a challenge to train and a handful in the house, but they are clever, quick learners who love attention and provide their owners with plenty of affection.

  • Personality

    The Parson Russell Terrier is a feisty little dog who seeks out adventure and thrives on activity. They are incredibly energetic dogs who require lots of exercise and play time. Parson Russell Terriers are fearless, exuberant companions who will often go out of their way to keep up with their family or protect their territory.

    Parson Russell Terriers can be dominant over other dogs and have a strong instinct to prey on smaller animals. They love to chase, explore and track down small animals. They are recreational barkers and jumpers, so they are not suited to confined apartment life. They are bold, perky pets who enjoy being in the company of an active family. They do best with experienced training in order to prevent them from indulging in their mischievous, stubborn instincts. Parson Russell Terriers display their best behavior when they have consistent rules to follow so that they always know what's expected of their behavior.

  • Coat Care

    Parson Russell Terriers have double coats that are predominantly white with black or tan markings. Their coats can be either smooth or broken. Both types of coat have a soft, dense undercoat and are slightly coarse to the touch because they are weatherproof. Smooth coats are hard and flat. Broken coats are harsh and slightly longer, which gives these dogs a shaggier appearance. Dogs with broken coats have no sculpted furnishings, but they do have longer hair around the face that makes them look like they have a small beard and eyebrows. The coat should straight and stand slightly off the body. It should not be wavy or curly, even if it has a tousled appearance.

Parson Russell Terrier
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Brush your Parson Russell Terrier weekly to remove dead hair. Brushing also helps rough-coated Parson Russell Terriers maintain their terrier shape.

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Parson Russell Terriers are somewhat low maintenance to keep clean. They do not need to be bathed more often than once every four months if they are brushed routinely.

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Hair Clipping

The Parson Russell's coat needs to be stripped once or twice a year. You can also use a shedding knife or rake to help remove dead hairs.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.