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Parson Russell Terrier

They are better than human beings because they know but do not tell. – Emily Dickinson

Parson Russell Terrier puppy Canada


The Parson Russell Terrier is a pure breed and registered with kennel clubs worldwide. The notable exception is Canada where the breed has yet to be fully recognized by the CKC. It currently holds the status of a “listed” breed in Group 4 – Terriers. The American Kennel Club has recognized the breed since 1997 and adopted the correct name of Parson Russell Terrier effective April 1, 2003.

Parson Russell Terriers and Smooth and Wire Fox Terriers are all versions of the original “foxing” terriers used in the 1800s in England.

The Parson Russell Terrier is of the type used by Reverend John Russell, an avid foxhunter. Following his death, other breeds were often crossbred with some of the parson’s dogs to increase the dogs’ salability as being from “Jack Russell’s Terriers”, or to develop strains of terriers for various purposes such as the one-time legal sport of badger digging.

Photos displayed courtesy of David and Susan Crawford, Foxbend, Ontario

The Parson was developed to “run with horse and hound”. When the hounds drove a fox to ground, the Parson followed, baying to bolt his quarry to the surface so the chase could continue.

Generally, terriers were all bred to do some kind of rodent or small game work. The popular Russell Terrier is often confused with the Parson Russell Terrier, and is descended from this practice of mixing together different types of dogs.

The Parson Russell Terrier stands no more than 15 inches (38 cm) tall at the withers. He has a harsh double coat that may be rough or smooth and resists the elements. He is entirely white or predominantly white with tan, lemon or black markings, or any combination of these colours, preferably confined to the head and/or root of the tail.

Temperament is of utmost importance. Possessing a ‘big dog personality in the body of a small dog’, the Parson Russell Terrier is not the dog to back down, even when faced by other larger breeds.

Parson Russell Terrier Adult Canada

Foxbend Hear Me Roar


Parson Russell Terrier Canada

Foxbend The Way She Moves

To do his intended job of “going to ground” and “bolting” prey rather than killing it, the Parson must be intelligent, feisty, and tenacious, but not vicious. He must also be able to get along with the rest of the dogs and horses on the hunt.

Early training and socialization should ensure that your Parson is not guilty of “bad manners”. With the stamina and endurance to trot for hours while on the hunt, this is a dog that requires a good amount of exercise to tire him out. Boredom can lead to potentially destructive behavior in the home. 

Today in Canada, hunting as it was done in England is no more, although more than one squirrel or chipmunk has gone down to the lightening quick reflexes of Parson Russell Terriers.

Nowadays, Parsons participate in conformation, agility and obedience events, among others.

Far more are loving companion dogs. Smart and curious with energy to burn during the day, the Parson is eager to be a couch potato when the day is done.

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