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Parson Russell Terrier

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Parson Russell Terrier

  • History

    The Jack Russell Terrier was developed in southern England during the mid-1800s by Parson John Russell, from whom the breed took its name. Russell aimed to create a working terrier who would hunt with hounds, bolting foxes from their dens so the hounds could chase them. The Jack Russell became a favorite of many sportsmen, especially those who hunted on horseback. The breed was known in the U.S. by the 1930s, and several breed clubs sprang up with different opinions concerning the Jack’s appearance, working ability, and whether he should compete in conformation shows or remain a working dog. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America maintains an independent registry and considers the Jack purely a hunting dog, but the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America (JRTCA) sought recognition by the American Kennel Club, which was granted in 2000. To differentiate it from the dogs registered by the JRTCA, the American Kennel Club renamed the breed, calling it the Parson Russell Terrier.

  • Size

    Jack Russells vary widely in size, because different types were used for different purposes and terrain. They range in height from 10 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh 13 to 17 pounds.

    Jack Russells who stand 10 to 12 inches and are longer than they are tall are known as Shorty Jacks. Shorty Jacks resemble Corgis or Dachshunds more than the taller, more balanced American Kennel Club-registered Parson Russell Terriers or the dogs registered by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America or the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America.

  • Personality

    The energetic and spirited Jack packs a lot of personality into his small body. Loving, devoted, and endlessly amusing, he enjoys life and all it has to offer. Given half a chance, he’ll pursue his delights over fences and through the streets. He’s incredibly intelligent, but his wilful nature can make him difficult to train. Friendly toward people, he can be aggressive toward other dogs and any animal that resembles prey, including cats. His fearless nature puts him at risk when he decides to take on a bigger dog.

    He thrives on structure and routine, but training sessions should be short and sweet to hold his interest. Repetition bores him. A proper Jack is friendly and affectionate, never shy.

    Like every dog, Jack Russells need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Jack Russell puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

  • Health

    Jack Russell Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Jacks will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

    If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog’s been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Jack Russells, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for patellas (knees) and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that the eyes are normal.

    Because some health problems don’t appear until a dog reaches full maturity, health clearances aren’t issued to dogs younger than 2 years old. Look for a breeder who doesn’t breed her dogs until they’re two or three years old.

    The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America doesn’t register any dogs with hereditary defects; dogs must pass a specific veterinary exam before being registered.

    The following conditions may affect Jack Russell Terriers:

    • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is generally a disease of small breeds. This condition — a deformity of the ball of the hip joint — can be confused with hip dysplasia. It causes wearing and arthritis. It can be repaired surgically, and the prognosis is good with the help of rehabilitation therapy afterward.
    • Deafness is associated with white coat color and is sometimes seen in this breed.
    • Patellar Luxation, also known as “slipped stifles,” is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts-the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf)-is not properly lined up. This causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop. It is a condition that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of patellar luxation, ranging from grade I, an occasional luxation causing temporary lameness in the joint, to grade IV, in which the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives the dog a bowlegged appearance. Severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical repair.
    • Glaucoma is a painful disease in which pressure is abnormally high in the eye. Eyes are constantly producing and draining a fluid called aqueous humor. If the fluid doesn’t drain correctly, the pressure inside the eye increases. That high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness. There are two types. Primary glaucoma, which is hereditary, occurs when there is a problem in the area of the eye where fluid goes out. Secondary glaucoma is a result of some other problem in the eye, such as inflammation, a tumor, or injury. Glaucoma generally only affects one eye first. Affected eyes will be red, teary, squinty, and appear painful. A dilated pupil won’t react to light, and the front of the eye will have a whitish, almost blue cloudiness. Vision loss and eventually blindness will result, sometimes even with treatment. Treatment can be surgery or it can be treated with medicine, depending on the case.
    • Lens Luxation causes the lens of the eye to become displaced when the ligament holding it in place deteriorates. It’s sometimes treatable with medication or surgery, but in severe cases the eye may need to be removed.
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  • Care

    The Jack Russell is a people lover who should live indoors with the family. It’s best if he has access to a fenced yard where he can burn off some of his abundant energy. The fence should be impossible for him to climb, dig under, or jump — think Fort Knox. And don’t count on an underground electronic fence to keep your Jack in the yard. The threat of a shock is nothing compared to the desire to chase what looks like prey.

    Always walk your Jack on leash to prevent him from chasing other animals, challenging bigger dogs, or running in front of cars. Give him 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, as well as plenty of off-leash play in the yard to keep him tired and out of trouble.

    Faint heart never trained feisty Jack Russell. People who live with Jack Russells must be firm and consistent in what they expect. Jacks are strong-willed dogs, and although they respond to positive motivation in the form of praise, play, and food rewards, they’ll become stubborn in the face of harsh corrections. Provide your Jack Russell with rules and routines and apply the right amount of patience and motivation, however, and you’ll be well rewarded. There are no limits to what a Jack Russell can learn when he’s paired with the right person.

    Give your Jack plenty of positive interactions with other dogs beginning in puppyhood — early socialization is important to prevent aggression toward other dogs.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.25 to 1.75 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.

    How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

    Keep your Jack Russell in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Jack Russell Terrier, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Parson Russell Terrier comes in two coat types: smooth and broken. Both types have a double coat with a coarse texture. The broken coat is slightly longer with just a hint of eyebrows and a beard. Some Jacks have what’s called a rough coat, which is longer than a broken coat. Whatever its type, the coat is never curly or wavy.

    Jacks can be white, white with black or tan markings, or tricolor (white, black, and tan). The white on the body helps the hunter see the dog in the field.

    Both coat types need only weekly brushing to remove dead and loose hair. If you brush your Jack faithfully, he should rarely need a bath. Broken or rough coats must be stripped once or twice a year.

    Trim nails once or twice a month. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and protect your shins from getting scratched when your Jack enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

    The only other grooming care he needs is dental hygiene. Brush his teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and periodontal disease, daily for best results.

    Start brushing and examining your Jack when he’s a puppy, to get him used to it. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

  • Children and other pets

    Jack Russell Terriers are loving and affectionate dogs who can do well in homes with older children who understand how to interact with dogs. They’re not suitable for homes with young children. Besides being rambunctious, they can snap when roughly handled.Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away.

    Some Jacks are aggressive toward other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. They have a strong prey drive and will chase (and kill, if given the chance) cats and other small animals.

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Parson Russell Terrier

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