Parson Russell Terrier
(Jack Russell Terrier)

descriptive textInformation about the
Parson Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers
Weight: 13 — 17 lbs
Height: 12” — 14”
AKC Rank 2008 #82
Lifespan: 13—15 yrs
Group: Terrier
Origin England

Dog Breed Info - Parson Russell Terrier

Parson (Jack) Russell Terrier playing Hide n Seek

Breed Overview

Origin: 1800’s.Org. Function: Fox Bolting, Today: Earthdog trials. Colors: White w/black. Brown, Tan or combos.

The Parson Russell Terrier comes for the most part from a dog named “’Trump.” This dog was obtained by the parson, John Russell of Devonshire, England in the mid 1800’s. John Russell was well into fox hunting and wanted to produce terriers that could keep pace with the horses and root the fox out of their dens. His dogs did so well that they later took his name and became very popular as Parson Russell Terriers. John Russell became active in the English Kennel Club. He refused to show his own breed in shows. The fans of the Parson Russell's followed his ways and used their dogs for hunting only too. Under objections, the AKC admitted the breed and registered it in 1998. It has become quite popular but the name “Jack Russell Terrier” still sticks in most people’s minds. The name “Parson” was added to distinguish the long legged version of the breed. In 2003. This is definitely not a breed for everyone and not for the beginner dog owner.


Yes, trainable if you start at a young age. Getting this dog’s attention is the trick. The best method of training this dog is clicker training which is simple and the clicker costs only around $3 at your pet store. It's well worth a try.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Jack Russell Terrier? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your pup will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Parson Russell Terriers can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Trainingwhich will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Jack Russell closeup profile
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The Parson Russell Terrier is a hunter at heart and lives for action and adventure, even if it gets him in trouble. This dog explores, wanders and digs. He barks and chases anything. The Russell needs plenty of inspiring exercise As with most terriers, it tends to bark and dig big holes. If you are an active individual, this might be your choice. Somewhat of an entertaining dog, the breed has made it’s mark in the television industry. Not one of the best family dogs.

If you happen to get a Jack Russell Terrier with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

A Jack Russell grabs a high Frisbee!
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Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No, wary and even aggressive with unknown dogs at times. Does make some dog friends.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

No, a Jack Russell Terrier should be the only pet in the house.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, people friendly dog.


Yes, VERY playful, even entertaining at times.


Yes, somewhat, when he’s not running around.

Good with children

Mildly. Not very child tolerant. Will run with older kids but won't take much nonsense or aggravation.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. The Jack Russell Terrier meeds too much exercise.

Living environment

House, Farm. House with a doggie door and a big, fenced yard is ideal. The Jack Russell Terrier needs to run and explore, both in and outdoors.

Energy level

Very high energy.

Exercise needs, daily

Lots. Two long walks, some training sessions and a vigorous game of fetch each day is needed. The Parson Russell Terrier likes to explore and snoop, run, play and chase things.



Guard dog

No, not much of a guard dog. Too friendly I guess.




For the smooth version—weekly brushing with a stiff bristle brush to remove dead hair

For the broken coat version—brush and occasionally hand strip. Use a medium to stiff bristle brush from the pet store.


Want more information about the Jack Russell?
I recommend the Jack Russell Lover site which has been created by a Jack Russell owner and care-giver. You'll find lots of informative content here.


Suggested Reading For The Jack Russel Terrier

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, injuries and illnesses. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008, includes a DVD.


Parson Russell Terrier Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Jack Russell puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training.
Jack Russell Terrier Breeders with puppies for sale.

Parson Russell Terrier is the correct name, but most people use the other one.

Jack Russell Terrier Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Jack Russell Terrier Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Jack Russell Terrier Rescue
Adopt A Pet You might want to go online to search for what you want. If so, search for Jack Russell Terrier Rescue, shelter, or kennel or adoption. The correct name is now Parson Russell Terrier but most people still use the old name of Jack Russell Terrier.

Health Issues For The Parson Russell Terrier
Below are the illnesses or medical problems listed for the Jack Russell Terrier by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the Parson Russell Terrier. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, lameness, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position in the Parson Russell terrier. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eye causing blindness.

  • Compulsive behavior—Repeated inappropriate behaviors.

  • Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint in young dogs. It is a deforming of the head of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the dog will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the Parson Russell Terrier will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the right solution.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The dog may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

  • Ataxia—Hereditary. Loss of coordination. Affected dogs may act drunk, intoxicated when walking, with stumbling or falling as they go and a quick twitching in the eyes. The front legs will have a “goose-stepping” appearance, raising the paw high in the air before dropping it, losing balance along the way. The problem is in the cerebellum of the brain. In mild cases, the dog can live with the disability. In severe cases of Ataxia, the dog can not live with it.

Other health problems could occur with your Parson Russell Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide

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