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Parson Russell Terrier - Appearance & Grooming

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Parson Russell Terrier


The Parson Russell Terrier is a small, athletic, dog who resembles a fox terrier. They were originally called Jack Russell Terriers, but now they are recognized as two separate breeds, with the name Jack Russell being reserved for working dogs and the name Parson Russell being reserved for show dogs. The AKC recognizes only Parson Russells. The skull of the Parson is flat between the ears and tapers slightly. There is a defined, though not abrupt stop. The eyes are almond-shaped and dark in color and should never be protruding. The V-shaped ears fold forward. Teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The double coat comes in two varieties: smooth and broken, and comes in colors of white, white with black, white with tan or tri-coolor. The chest should be small as the working dog needs to fit into rodent burrows after his prey. The forelegs are long and straight, the hindquarters are strong and muscular. The tail is set high and carried gaily.

Size and Weight

The ideal height for male Parson Russell Terriers is 14 inches at the shoulder and for females, 13 inches. The average weight of a Parson is anywhere from 13 to 17 pounds. Size, however, is not the last word in the show ring. Judges take into account the overall balance of the dog.

Coat and Color

The Parson Russell Terrier coat comes in two varieties: smooth or broken. Both types are double coats with a coarse texture, but the broken coat is a touch longer, and the face has the slightest hint of eyebrows and beard. Some Jacks have a third type of coat, a rough coat, which is longer than the broken coat but is not curly or wavy. Regardless of coat type, Parson Russells may be white, white with black markings, white with tan markings, or tricolor (white, black and tan).

Grooming Needs

No matter the coat type, smooth or broken, weekly brushing will keep the hair neat and clean and will prevent flyaways from landing on furniture or carpet. Only bathe a Parson as needed, which, with regular brushing, shouldn't be very often. The broken coated Parson Russell requires stripping twice a year to maintain the proper coat texture.

Check the ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.

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