Parsons and Russells- What is the difference?
Russell Terriers are the original old English and Irish Jack Russell Terriers. Commonly used in the Irish and the northern English fox hunts, the Russell Terrier is a smaller terrier in comparison to the long legged Parson Russells favored in the south of England. For many years the term "Jack Russell" has been universally applied to all types of mostly white working terriers that share a similar origin in the hunt fields of England. Two Jack Russell registries founded in the 1970's- the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) and the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain (JRTCGB), registered both the shorter and taller dogs as Jack Russells. It was only later that the taller and shorter types of Jack Russells were independently recognized as distinct breeds by large all breed kennel clubs such as the UKC.
For many years the JRTCA has recorded dogs that do not meet all of its own registration requirements. Failure to meet Breed Standard and at that time, absence of a pedigree, they were only registered on looks.
In years pass the JRTCA didn’t fully recognize the longer body, shorter legged “pudding” type. Since the mid to late 80’s efforts were made to eliminate this style of dog, breeders were told to spay and neuter them.
Enter the English Jack Russell Club in 1995 who did record these dogs.
The long legged Parson Russell Terrier is a breed derived from the old working Fox Terrier, a much sturdier variety of Fox Terrier than the modern day show type Fox Terrier. Parson Russells are between 12 and 15 inches tall and appear approximately square with the height at the withers slightly greater than the distance from the withers to tail. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes this breed and you may have seen this type of terrier in the show ring.
The Russell Terrier, or Jack Russell as it is known in some other countries, is a short legged and sturdy dog between 10 and 12 inches. Russell Terriers have back longer than the lengths of their legs giving them a more rectangular shape in comparison to the Parson Russell. Another thing that is unique about Russell Terriers is their laid back temperament. Russell Terriers were part of the family and earned their living on farms bolting all types of vermin. A dog that was aggressive towards anything but legitimate quarry could be of no use around a farm where children and livestock lived. Therefore, many Russell breeders placed a high importance on temperament when planning breedings.
In an attempt to avoid confusion with the Parson Russell Terrier, the Russell Terrier changed its name from Jack Russell when it was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 2001. Russell Terriers with their wonderful temperament, cute appearance, and loyal nature make wonderful family dogs and are very special. True Russell Terriers are rare. The NRTFC is committed to preserving and improving these true old Russell Terrier lines.