All About
Parson Russell Terrier

The Parson Russell Terrier is a bold and clever terrier, swift enough to run with horses and fearless enough to dig in and flush a fox from his lair. Independent problem solvers, PRTs can have their own ideas on how to go about things.

Quick Facts

  • Playfulness
  • Exercise
  • Grooming
  • Family Situation
  • Friendliness towards other pets
  • Friendliness towards strangers


Parson Russell Terriers are big dogs trapped in a tiny package. They can run all day, all night and keep coming back for more. There is no fooling a Parson Russell, as he is highly intelligent, quick witted and an excellent problem solver. They are spirited terriers, fearless and sassy with minds of their own and aren't above causing mischief to get a laugh. Parsons are highly trainable and are famous for their high-jumping antics. When raised alongside children, Parson Russells make fine family dogs.

Care - Nutrition

The Parson Russell Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Care - Grooming Needs

The Parson Russell Terrier has two coat types: smooth and broken (rough). Both require regular brushing—the smooth with a thick brush or hound glove, and the rough with a pin or slicker brush. Rough coats will require plucking or clipping to avoid matting of the longer hairs. A monthly bath should be sufficient, unless the Parson follows his nature and ends up digging in the mud. The Parson’s nails should be trimmed monthly and his ears checked weekly for debris or excess wax, and cleaned as needed.

Care - Exercise

Parson Russell Terriers are playful, affectionate, fun-loving companions. They have a great zest for life and are always ready to join in activities. They are also high-energy terriers with powerful hunting instincts—with their strong prey drive, keeping them on leash during outings is recommended, rather than letting them run loose, where the urge to go off on a chase may be irresistible. An ideal day for a pet Parson would include a long walk in the woods, where he could explore every hole and sniff every tree trunk. Exercise can also consist of play sessions in the backyard. A Parson is the dog for someone who is fairly active. He will not be satisfied to lie alone in the corner for long periods of time.

Health Concerns

By far the majority of Parsons are very healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), congenital deafness, late onset ataxia, spinocerebellar ataxia, and certain eye disorders. Puppy buyers should always as for certification of screenings performed on a litter’s sire and dam.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Breed Fun Facts/History

The PRT was developed in the south of England in the 1800s to pursue fox both above and below the ground. The breed was named for Reverend John “The Sporting Parson” Russell, who had two passions in life: his ministry and his hunting dogs. His terriers were bred to work together with foxhounds in pursuit of the clever fox. Russell created them to be independent problem solvers, and to this day PRTs can have their own ideas about how to go about things.