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Parson Terrier - Small Breed Dog Profile

Updated: Feb 20

parson terrier

Parson Terrier: Unveiling the Small Breed Dog Marvel

The Parson Terrier, known for its small size and vibrant character, holds a special place in the hearts of small breed dog enthusiasts.

This article delves into the origins, purpose, physical traits, personality, grooming needs, exercise requirements, age range, measurements, and health concerns associated with the Parson Terrier.

What is the origin of the Parson Terrier?

The Parson Terrier, also known as the Parson Russell Terrier, has a fascinating history that traces back to the early 19th century in England.

Reverend John "Jack" Russell, an avid fox hunter, played a pivotal role in developing this breed.

He sought a small, agile terrier capable of keeping up with hounds during fox hunts.

Thus, the Parson Terrier was bred to be a formidable and versatile hunting small breed dog known for its fearless pursuit of foxes.

What is the Parson Terrier bred to do?

Parson Terriers were initially bred for fox hunting.

Their role included locating and driving foxes out of their dens, hence the need for agility, speed, and keen hunting instincts.

Today, while they may not hunt as often, Parson Terriers retain their high energy and hunting drive.

They excel in various small breed dog sports, agility, and terrier racing.

What are the physical characteristics of the Parson Terrier?

Parson Terriers are known for their small, compact bodies.

They typically stand between 10 to 15 inches tall and weigh 13 to 17 pounds.

Their coat is usually white with tan or black markings.

Their expressive almond-shaped eyes and V-shaped ears add to their charming small breed dog appearance.

What are the personality traits of the Parson Terrier?

This small breed dog is characterised by its bold and lively personality.

Parson Terriers are confident, intelligent, and independent, making them great problem solvers.

They have a strong prey drive, which means they may chase smaller animals.

They are also highly social and thrive on human interaction, making them excellent family dogs.

Grooming Requirements

Grooming a small breed dog Parson Terrier is relatively low-maintenance.

Regular brushing is necessary to maintain the quality of their short, dense coat.

Occasional baths and nail trimming are also needed.

Due to their active nature, their nails naturally wear down.

Exercise Requirements

These energetic small breed dogs need ample exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Playtime, intellectual entertainment, and regular strolls are vital.

Parson Terriers can become bored and engage in undesirable behaviours without proper exercise.

Age Range

The average lifespan of a Parson Terrier is 13 to 16 years, making them a long-lived breed.

As puppies, they are full of energy and mischief.

At the same time, in their senior years, they mellow out but still enjoy an active lifestyle.


Parson Terriers are petite small breed dogs, with heights ranging from 25.4 to 38.1 centimetres and weights between 5.9 to 7.7 kilograms.

Parson Terrier small breed dog

What are the health issues of the Parson Terrier?

Like all small breed dogs, Parson Terriers are prone to specific health conditions.

These may include patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and eye problems.

Providing regular veterinary check-ups and a well-balanced diet is crucial to ensure their overall health.

Beyond their compact size and lively character, Parson Terriers possess many unique attributes that set them apart in small dog breeds.

These qualities make them a fascinating and highly sought-after choice for dog lovers.

Temperament and Training

Parson Terriers exhibit an unwavering determination, a trait inherited from their hunting lineage.

While this tenacity can be admirable, it also presents a challenge during training.

Their strong-willed nature means they require consistent and patient training.

Positive reinforcement methods work best, and early socialisation is crucial to prevent excessive barking and aggressive behaviour towards other dogs.

Intelligence and Problem-Solving

These small breed dogs are renowned for their remarkable intelligence.

Parson Terriers love a mental challenge, and puzzle toys or obedience training can keep their sharp minds engaged.

Be prepared for their clever attempts to outsmart you, and you'll find they excel in activities like canine agility, earth dog trials, and flyball.

Small but Fearless

Parson Terriers don't back down from a challenge, regardless of the size of their adversary.

Their hunting background instilled in them a fearless spirit.

This fearlessness can sometimes lead to them attempting to take on much larger opponents, so careful supervision during playtime with bigger dogs is essential.

Exercise and Adventure

Parson Terriers thrive on exercise and adventure.

Their high energy levels mean they require significant physical activity to stay content.

Long walks, playtime in a securely fenced yard, and off-leash runs in a safe environment are all activities they relish.

Engaging them in activities like fetch or hide-and-seek can also help burn off their excess energy.

Colours and Coat Variations

Parson Terriers are predominantly white with tan or black markings.

Their densely packed short coat requires minimal grooming.

The classic coat colouration of the Parson Terrier gives them a distinctive appearance, making them easily recognisable among other small terrier breeds.

Around the World

Parson Terriers have transcended their humble hunting origins to become popular pets worldwide.

Their adaptability to different living environments, from city apartments to rural homes, makes them versatile.

Their loyal and affectionate nature endears them to families, singles, and seniors.

They also make exceptional companions for those seeking an active lifestyle and a furry small breed dog friend to join in on their adventures.

Child-Friendly Companionship

One of the standout qualities of Parson Terriers is their compatibility with children.

They tend to form strong bonds with their human family members and are often patient and playful with kids.

However, it's essential to supervise small breed dog interactions, especially with younger children, to ensure a harmonious relationship.

Ageing Gracefully

As Parson Terriers age, their energetic demeanour tends to mellow.

While they may slow down, their love for adventure and activity remains.

They adapt well to the needs of their owners.

They can be wonderful companions for seniors seeking a small breed, low-maintenance dog.

Health Considerations

Although Parson Terriers are typically healthful canines, they may be more susceptible to some health problems than other small dog breeds.

It's essential to be aware of these potential concerns, including patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and eye problems.

A well-rounded diet and routine veterinary exams are vital for preserving their health.

Parson Terrier: A Small Wonder

In conclusion, the Parson Terrier's captivating blend of intelligence, fearlessness, adaptability, and loyalty makes them a small wonder in small dog breeds.

Their unique characteristics and spirited personality continue to make them a cherished choice for those seeking an engaging and loyal canine companion.

Whether you're an active individual, a family, or a retiree, the Parson Terrier offers a remarkable blend of qualities that make them a noteworthy addition to any home.

The Parson Terrier, with its rich history and lively personality, is a beautiful small breed that continues to capture the hearts of dog enthusiasts.

Their origins as fox hunters have left them with a unique blend of traits, making them an ideal choice for active families or individuals who can provide the necessary care and attention.

Remember that these small breed dogs may have prominent personalities.

Still, they also have significant needs, and by meeting those needs, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your Parson Terrier.


What is the life expectancy of a Parson Terrier? 

Parson Terriers typically live between 15 and 18 years, based on their general state of health and attention.

Are Parson Terriers good with kids and other pets? 

Parson Terriers are lively, intelligent dogs who love to be a part of family life. They will need to be socialised with other family pets at a young age but will get on well with children and make excellent family pets.

How much exercise does a Parson Terrier need? 

Parson Terriers are full of energy and require plenty of exercise – ideally 1-2 hours daily. Remember that they have a strong innate desire to hunt and explore when you are teaching them.

What are common health issues in Parson Terriers? 

The potential health problems that Parson Terriers are prone to include Luxating patellas - the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.

Lens luxation is the displacement of the eye's lens. Cataracts – opacity of the eye's lens – giving a 'cloudy' appearance.

How to train a Parson Terrier? 

Parson Terriers are intelligent and can be trained using positive reinforcement methods. Training this breed requires patience and consistency.

Are Parsons Terriers good pets?

Parsons Terriers can make excellent pets for the right owner. They are energetic, intelligent, loyal dogs that thrive in active households.

Are Parsons Terriers good family dogs?

Parsons Terriers can be good family dogs, especially in households where the older kids know how to play with small, energetic dogs.

Early socialisation and training ensure they get along well with all family members.

Do Parsons Terriers shed?

Yes, Parsons Terriers do shed, but their shedding is typically minimal. Regular grooming, such as brushing their coat weekly, may keep their coat in good condition and help control shedding.

Characteristics of a Parsons Terrier

Parsons Terriers are known for their lively and outgoing personalities. They are intelligent, energetic, and affectionate dogs with a strong prey drive.

For them to flourish, regular exercise and mental stimulation are necessary.

How long do Parsons Terriers live?

On average, Parsons Terriers have a lifespan of around 13 to 15 years when properly taken care of with a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and routine veterinary care.

Parson Terrier vs. Jack Russells

Parsons Terriers and Jack Russells are closely related breeds, both descended from the original Fox Terrier.

While they share many characteristics, Parsons Terriers are typically larger with longer legs and a more squared-off head compared to the shorter-legged, more compact Jack Russell Terriers.

Are Parsons Russell Terriers aggressive?

Parsons Russell Terriers can exhibit aggression if not properly trained and socialised from a young age.

Early socialisation, consistent training, and positive reinforcement methods are essential in preventing aggressive behaviour in this breed.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins, we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

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Parson Terrier Small Breed Dog Mary Puppins

Mary Puppins, parson terrier, small breed dog

mary puppins expert small dog breeds uk

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



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