The UKC Parson Pussell Terrier
Official U.K.C. Breed Standard
©Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club, Inc.
Revised April 23, 2008
The Parson Russell Terrier was named for the Reverend John Russell,
a 19th century parson with a passion for hunting. Reverend Russell
was particularly keen on fox hunting and developed a well-known
strain of Fox Terriers. During the Rev. Russell's long life (1795-1883),
the Fox Terrier evolved from a sportsman's dog to a popular and
successful show dog. By the end of the 19th century, the show
Fox Terriers, smooth- and wire-coated, had diverged so far from
their ancestral type that Reverend Russell's old-style Fox Terriers
were referred to as a separate breed - the Parson Russell Terrier.
the proponents of this breed were so determined to maintain the
breed's hunting capability, they opposed recognition by all-breed
kennel clubs for many years, on the theory that such recognition
would lead to degradation of the breed. The Parson Russell Terrier
today is virtually unchanged from its origins, and breeders are
striving to keep it that way.
breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club in March of 1991
as the Jack Russell Terrier; and the breed name was changed to
Parson Russell Terrier on April 23, 2008.
The Parson Russell Terrier is an agile, active, small-to-medium
hunting terrier, built to go to ground after fox. The body is
slightly longer than tall and capable of being spanned by an average
man's hands placed behind the front legs. The length of back from
withers to set-on of tail is roughly equal to the dog's height
at the withers. Regardless of the size of the individual terrier,
the legs must be long enough to allow the dog to move quickly
and with agility in rough terrain. The head is moderately broad,
with a flat skull, a barely perceptible stop, and a powerful muzzle
that is slightly shorter than the skull. Ears are set at the outside
edges of the skull and are V-shaped, dropping forward, and carried
close to the skull. The tail is straight, set high, and normally
docked, but not close to the body. The skin is thick and the coat,
whether wiry or smooth, is always dense. The Parson Russell Terrier
is predominately white with black, tan or black and tan markings.
The Parson Russell Terrier should be evaluated as a working terrier,
and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion
to how much they interfere with the dog's ability to work. Scars
should neither be penalized nor regarded as proof of a terrier's
The Parson Russell Terrier is a bold, friendly, active, and alert
hunting Terrier, built for work underground. This breed is notoriously
fearless and requires little encouragement to go to ground. Aggression
towards anything other than legitimate quarry detracts from the
dog's ability as a working terrier and should be discouraged as
much as possible. This is a high-energy breed and is happiest
in an environment where there is lots of regular activity.
The head is proportionate to the size of the body. When viewed
from the side, the muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull and
joined by a definite stop. The planes of the skull and muzzle
- The skull is flat and moderately broad, tapering slightly toward
the muzzle. Cheeks are muscular, but not over-developed.
- The muzzle is strong with powerful, muscular jaws. There is
a minimum of falling away under the eye, giving a moderately chiseled
look. Lips are tight and darkly pigmented.
- The Parson Russell Terrier has a complete set of comparatively
large, evenly spaced, white teeth. A scissors bite is preferred,
but a level bite is acceptable.
- The nose is black and fully pigmented.
Brown or liver nose; absence of pigment.
- Eyes are deep set, almond-shaped, dark in color, with a mischievous,
- The Parson Russell Terrier has small, V-shaped, button ears
of moderate thickness. The ears are set at the outside edge of
the skull and the tips are carried close to the head.
Any ear carriage other than button.
The neck is clean, muscular, and of sufficient length to enable
the dog's mouth to extend beyond its forepaws when working underground.
The neck gradually widens from the nape and blends smoothly into
Shoulders are long, sloping, well laid back and clearly cut at
the withers. The upper arm is long and forms an apparent 90-degree
angle with the shoulder blade.
forelegs are strong, straight, and moderately well boned. The
elbows are set close to the body, but able to move freely in action.
The pasterns are short, powerful, straight, and flexible. When
viewed in profile, the pasterns are nearly erect.
Bowed legs; fiddle front; down in pasterns; toes turned out; knuckling
over or any other misalignment of joints; out at elbow.
A properly proportioned Parson Russell Terrier is slightly longer
than tall. The length of back from withers to set-on of tail is
equal to the height, measured from withers to ground. The Parson
Russell Terrier is perfectly designed to go to ground. This requires
a chest of sufficient depth to give good heart and lung room,
but without so much depth and width that the dog is encumbered
underground. The well-sprung ribs extend well back, but must be
capable of being spanned behind the shoulder by an average man's
hand. The chest must be capable of being compressed so that the
dog is unhindered when working underground. The back is of moderate
length, and level, blending into a muscular, slightly arched loin
with slight to moderate tuck-up. Skin is thick.
Faults: Barrel ribs; chest too deep or too broad.
The hindquarters are strong and muscular. The bone, angulation,
and musculature of the hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters.
The stifles are well bent, and the hocks are well let down. When
the dog is standing, the short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular
to the ground, and viewed from the rear, parallel to one another.
Cow hocks; straight stifles.
The feet are fairly round, moderately small, well arched, and
tight. Pads are hard, tough, and well cushioned. Dewclaws may
Faults: Thin feet; splayed feet.
Feet with rudimentary toes other than normal dewclaws, also known
as "high toes."
The tail is set on high and customarily docked to a length that
is proportionate to the body and provides a good handhold. The
tail may be straight or with a slight curve forward and carried
erect or gaily.
The Parson Russell Terrier comes in three coat types. All are
dense, hard, and weather resistant and cover the entire dog, including
the belly and underside of the thighs.
A double coat consisting of a short, dense undercoat and very
dense, wiry outer coat. Hair over the eyes and on the muzzle will
form eyebrows and a beard. The outer coat should not be so long
as to obscure the outline of the dog.
Any intermediate coat between a rough and smooth coat. The broken
coat lies closer to the body than a rough coat and has longer
guard hairs than a smooth coat. A broken-coated dog may or may
not have face furnishings.
- A short, flat coat.
- and broken-coated dogs may be stripped to preserve the quality
of the coat, but the artfulness of the trimming is not a factor
to consider in judging this breed.
Faults: Silky or woolly coat.
Predominantly white with black, tan, black and tan, or no markings.
Any white area may be ticked as long as white predominates.
Any color, pattern, or markings other than listed above; less
than fifty percent white; albinism.
The Parson Russell Terrier is of a size to go to ground. Mature
Parson Russell Terriers range in height from 10 to 15 inches and
should always be presented in hard, working condition. Dogs outside
the approved range of height shall be penalized only to the degree
that their size affects their ability to work.
conformation shows, Parson Russell Terriers are divided into two
size classes: 10 inches to 12½ inches, and over 12½
inches to 15 inches.
Efficient movement is essential to the Parson Russell Terrier.
When trotting, the gait is effortless, smooth, powerful, and well
coordinated, showing good but not exaggerated reach in front and
drive behind. The backline remains level with only a slight flexing
to indicate suppleness. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither
in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As
speed increases, feet tend to converge toward centerline of balance.
Poor movement should be penalized to the degree to which it reduces
the Parson Russell Terrier's ability to perform the variety of
tasks it was bred to do.
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Undershot or overshot. Blue eye. Brown or liver nose. Absence
of pigment in nose. Erect ear. Feet with rudimentary toes other
than normal dewclaws, also known as "high toes." Any
color, pattern, or markings other than listed above. Less than
fifty percent white.