The Parson Russell Terrier is not a new breed of dog; rather it is a renaming of one of the most popular of the terriers. Prior to the change in 2003 the Parson Russell Terrier, at least in the United States, was known as the Jack Russell Terrier. With the name change the longer legged breed, the Parson Russell Terrier, had official recognition. There is still a Jack Russell Terrier as well, but it is the terrier with the short legs that was used to hunt vermin in their burrows and dens.
The longer legged, spunky, funny and outgoing Parson Russell Terrier is a very active dog that can only be classed as high energy. They are incredible devoted and loving to their family but, like any terrier, they are a bit aloof when it comes to interacting with strangers. Socialization and routine outings in public can limit this behavior and a well socialized and obedience trained Parson Russell is a great dog to be around. Most Parson Russell Terriers do well around children and other pets but training is important and some have a very high prey drive that may make cats and rodent pets in the household a real problem.
The Parson Russell Terrier will measure between 12 and 14 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 15 pounds when fully mature. These dogs are incredible athletic and can easily jump five foot fences with just a bit of a running start. Highly intelligent yet a bit independent they are easy to train but get bored easily with the same old routine. These dogs are often used on television shows and in movies because they are so easy to work with.
Owners will need to carefully leash and confine a Parson Russell Terrier to a well fenced yard to prevent them from running off on the hunt. They will roam if they get off leash or out of the fence and some can be excellent at digging out, learning how to open gates or simply jumping over a standard fence. This natural ability makes these dogs perfect for agility training, Flyball competition or hunting trials.
As with most small dog breeds Legg-Perthes disease, a condition when leads to the deterioration of the hip joint, can be found in some dogs. In addition the breed is also prone to patellar luxation or problems with the kneecaps. Testing the breeding pair is highly recommended and also testing puppies for these conditions are the two major options to breed these inherited conditions out of the lines.
For a high energy household where the dog is a true companion and not left alone for long periods of time a Parson Russell Terrier is a great match. These dogs, while very active, love to spend time with their owners and prefer a household that always has something on the go. As one of the longer lived dogs it is not uncommon for a Parson Russell Terrier to live to 14 years or more, staying very active well into their late senior years.