Jack and Parson Russell Terrier Trivia

Picture of a Jack Russell in the forest

So, you think you want to own a Jack or Parson Russell Terrier! From the minute Marty Crane’s white, fuzzy-faced pooch made an appearance on the TV show Frasier, many people have been smitten with the breed. Yet Jack and Parson Russell Terriers aren’t for everyone. Known to have exceptionally high prey drive and to resist the best efforts of even the most zealous trainer to teach them anything, the Jack and Parson Russell Terrier is a dog that has a mind of his own! Still, if you are a die hard terrier fan who likes a challenge, you just might enjoy adding one of these tenacious terriers to your home. If you’re considering buying a Jack or Parson Russell Terrier, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about your new breed. After all, things aren’t always as they appear in movies or on TV, so you’ll want to be fully prepared for your adventure into Jack or Parson Russell Terrier land!

Life with a Jack or Parson Russell Terrier can be lots of fun, but before you bring your new bundle of puppy love home, you’ll want to be armed with all the facts, so you know what to be prepared for.

Here are some fun facts about Jack and Parson Russell Terriers:

They are two different breeds.

Though both breeds trace their roots back to the same “founding father”, the Reverend John “Jack” Russell, the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier are considered separate breeds. Though many claim there are no discernable differences between the two, the Jack Russell Terrier standard does permit a slightly different height variation than the written standard for the Parson. In addition to this, breeders of the Jack Russell Terrier have taken great care to adhere to the breed’s roots as a hunting terrier and working dog. Though a properly bred Parson Russell Terrier should also maintain the ability to work, some people claim that the dog has been gentrified for the show ring and has lost some of its working ability. Ideally, both terriers should accurately reflect their standard in appearance, conformation, temperament, and workability.

They are registered with two different bodies.

In 1997, the Parson Russell Terrier became a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club, thus making them eligible to participate in conformation events. Breeders of the Jack Russell Terrier rejected the opportunity to receive official recognition by this same body, instead preferring to maintain their own registry known as the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. This registration body hosts its own conformation, dog performance sports, and hunting trials to allow the Jack Russell to have the same type of avenue to display his skills in the appropriate venue as the AKC recognized Parson Russell Terrier.

They are called different names in different countries.

Many people get confused by the names Jack Russell Terrier and Parson Russell Terrier. Rightly so, as different countries call these dogs by different names! In all other countries of the world but Canada and the United States, the name Jack Russell Terrier refers to an entirely different breed which is known in Canada and the US as a Russell Terrier, a breed who differs quite dramatically in appearance and even personality from the Jack or the Parson.  In France, the Parson Russell Terrier is referred to as the Reverend Russell Terrier.

They have a “cousin” descended from the same origins.

The Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier have a cousin of sorts which is known as the Russell Terrier in Canada and the United States. A different breed with a different breed standard, the Russell is a breed that is recognized in kennel clubs worldwide. The Russell also takes his roots from the Reverend John Russell; however, this breed moved from its origins in England to Australia for further refinement of this dog breed into the pooch we see today. The Russell Terrier is sometimes referred to as a “shorty Jack.” He indeed is shorter of leg and should also be shorter in height with the Russell tapping out at a maximum of 12” at the withers (shoulder). Unlike the Parson or Jack who should be as tall as they are long, the Russell’s body length should be longer than his height, giving him more of a rectangular appearance as opposed to the more square Parson or Jack.

They are incredibly smart.

Though Jack Russell Terriers and Parson Russell Terriers are known to resist learning anything that wasn’t their idea in the first place, they are an incredibly intelligent breed. These breeds possess the ability to learn things quickly. The key is to find a way to let the terrier think that the skill you want to teach was their idea in the first place. This breed responds best to positive reinforcement training and is a fan of food rewards and play time!

They can be prone to dog aggression.

Jack Russells and Parson Russell Terriers are breeds that are known for their potential for same sex aggression. This is not uncommon in the “hotter” terrier breeds. Though it is not always the rule, it is recommended by most reputable breeders that you purchase a male to join the home of a female or vice versa if you plan to add an additional Jack or Parson to your home.

They have high exercise requirements.

Both the Jack and the Parson are high drive dogs who need daily mental and physical stimulation to thrive. You will find your dog will create his own fun if none is provided for him. Neither of these breeds makes for a good couch potato. You will want to take your dog for regular walks and to include lots of play time, training, and fun.

They can be prone to mischief.

Jacks and Parsons are mischievous characters. They will surprise and delight you with what they can get up to! However, you must take care that your terrier not outsmart you. They are ingenious little creatures who are always on the ball, so you will need to stay on your toes to keep your terrier out of trouble!

They come in three different coat types.

Jacks and Parsons should have a wiry, double coat. It comes in three different varieties: smooth, broken (a combination of smooth and rough), and rough. Jacks and Parsons should be predominantly white terriers with the standard calling for at least 51 percent of the coat to be comprised of white hair. Markings come in tan, black, and tri with preferred markings confined to a patch on the face and at the base of the tail though any markings are acceptable.

Their coats should be handstripped to maintain its proper texture.

To maintain a proper terrier coat, Jacks and Parsons should receive regular handstripping. This old world technique helps to remove the dead coat and to maintain its weatherproof exterior. Handstripping is done with special knives or by plucking with the fingers and is becoming a lost art today. Show dogs must be handstripped to protect the integrity of the coat. However, pet dogs are often simply clipped to keep them looking neat and tidy.

So, now you know a little more about the Parson and the Jack! If you’re looking to add a little adventure to your life, you can’t go wrong by adding one of these fun little fellows to your family! Learn more by contacting a reputable breeder today.

Article by: Bristol Abbey Parson Russell Terriers



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