I have wanted a Parson ever since I first went to stay with my friend Susi Kaurek out in Austria (Sparkling Guy's) and met her wonderful little dogs and after a few years of umming and arrhing I became friends with Paul Fitzsimmons at Glendream Parson Russell's and along came Squirrel; I never intended to have more than one but a year or so later along came Wesley and hey presto
we had two! Wesley now lives with some friends where he lives the life of riley, pottering around the house and stableyard and accompanying them out on hacks. Esther and Ebi are from Squirrel's first litter, sired by the 2009 top winning parson and 2010 Crufts ticket winner, Belgian import CH Giftrapped of Lovealoch to Pacolito. Ebi lives with my brother and his family and Esther lives with my gran where she is spoiled rotten! Last, but not least is Jellybean who is from Wes and Squirrels first litter...she is a little monkey!!
Parsons are relatively small but very active and lively terriers. Since they were originally used to go to ground after foxes being pursued on the hunt they are built accordingly; with long legs, ideal for keeping up with the horses and foxhounds and a lean body, shaped to allow them to get into small spaces. They make great active little pets, ideal for flyball and agility training.
Sadly the modern show parson seems to be getting shorter legged and thicker set making it less and less physically suited to the job for which they were first bred but hey ho such is life!
A brief history
The Parson Russell Terrier was developed and established in the 18th Century by the Reverend John Russell (hence the name). John Russell was born into a keen fox hunting family in Devon in 1795 and decided that he wanted a dog that could keep up with the horses, run with the foxhounds but be small enough to flush the foxes from their dens. During his time studying at Oxford University he bought a dog belonging to the local milkman that he had seen and believed to be the perfect dog for his purposes. It is thought that this was the first dog to be known as a 'Jack Russell'. During his life, John Russell devoted himself to both the church and also the breeding of his beloved hunting terriers.
Parsons should have a flat, moderately broad skull. The eyes should be deep set, almond shaped and dark in colour. The ears should be small, v-shaped, folding forward close to the head. The tips of the ears should reach the corner of the eye. The mouth should have a complete scissor bite with strong and muscular jaws. The neck should be relatively long and muscular. The chest should be fairly deep, not below the point of the elbow. The back should be straight and strong. The length of the dog should be slightly longer than the height to the withers. The front legs should be straight and strong; the back legs should be strong, muscular and show good angulation. The feet should be compact. The tail is relatively high set and carried high, it should be as straight as possible, thick at the base and tapering to a point. The coat is naturally harsh, close and thick in both the rough and smooth coated Parsons. They are white or mainly white in colour with tan, lemon or black markings. These markings are preferred on the head or base of the tail
Dogs should ideally measure 36cms (14) at the withers, bitches around 33cms (13) both should weigh between 5-8kgs.
The Parson is an intelligent little dog but can be quite stubborn (like most terriers!). They are relatively easy to train provided you are consistent and firm from the start (like most dogs!). Parsons do however possess a tendency to go deaf when on the scent of something so a solid and reliable recall off lead is vital. They can be quite dominant over other dogs, so should be properly socialised with lots of other breeds as puppies (not a problem here then!)
The Parson is actually a very healthy breed. They are known to suffer from a hereditary form of cataract and primary lens luxation (PLL) so it is advisable to eye-test all breeding stock.
They are also somewhat prone to congenital deafness, as with all predominantly white breeds, this is thought to be caused by the lack of pigmentation in the ear canal which affects the development of the auditory function.
Another disease recognised in the breed is inherited cerebellar ataxia. This is a progressive brain disease caused by premature death of granule brain cells. Granule cells are found in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for balance. This is thought to be inherited as an autosomal recessive condition so both parents must be carriers to produce an affected litter. Studies are underway to locate the gene and develop a DNA test.
The Parson Russell Terrier Club, UK
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