How to Train a Parson Russell Terrier

The Parson Russell Terrier is a bold and clever terrier, swift enough to run with horses and fearless enough to dig in and flush a fox from his lair. Independent problem solvers, PRTs can have their own ideas on how to go about things. PRTs stand 12 to 15 inches at the shoulder, and weigh 13 to 17 pounds when in peak condition. Their intelligent expression, mostly white coat, and beautifully balanced body give PRTs the adorable looks of a plush toy come to life. But don’t be fooled by all that cuteness’ PRTs are tough little guys built for England’s traditional sport of foxhunting. They’re fast enough to follow the hounds and fearless enough to dig into the ground and flush a fox from his lair.


The Parson Russell Terrier was developed in the south of England in the 1800s to pursue fox both above and below the ground. The breed was named for Reverend John “The Sporting Parson” Russell, who had two passions in life: his ministry and his hunting dogs. His terriers were bred to work together with foxhounds in pursuit of the clever fox. Russell created them to be independent problem solvers, and to this day PRTs can have their own ideas about how to go about things.

Quick Facts

Temperament: friendly / clever / athletic

Height: 13 to 14 inches

Weight: 13 to 17 pounds 

Life Expectancy: 13-15 years

Terrier Group


By far the majority of Parsons are very healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), congenital deafness, late onset ataxia, spinocerebellar ataxia, and certain eye disorders. Puppy buyers should always as for the certification of screenings performed on a litter’s sire and dam.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
  • Patella Evaluation
  • BAER Testing
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation


The Parson Russell Terrier has two coat types: smooth and broken (rough). Both require regular brushing’¿the smooth with a thick brush or hound glove, and the rough with a pin or slicker brush. Rough coats will require plucking or clipping to avoid matting of the longer hairs. A monthly bath should be sufficient, unless the Parson follows his nature and ends up digging in the mud. The Parson’s nails should be trimmed monthly and his ears checked weekly for debris or excess wax, and cleaned as needed.

Parson Russell Terriers are playful, affectionate, fun-loving companions. They have a great zest for life and are always ready to join in activities. They are also high-energy terriers with powerful hunting instincts’¿with their strong prey drive, keeping them on leash during outings is recommended, rather than letting them run loose, where the urge to go off on a chase may be irresistible. An ideal day for a pet Parson would include a long walk in the woods, where he could explore every hole and sniff every tree trunk. Exercise can also consist of play sessions in the backyard. A Parson is the dog for someone who is fairly active. He will not be satisfied to lie alone in the corner for long periods of time.


Training the Parson Russell Terrier requires consistency, a gentle voice, and a great sense of humor. Smart, energetic, happy-go-lucky little dogs, they get bored easily, so training sessions must be kept fun and interesting. Positive training methods focused on giving praise and rewards for desired behavior yield the best results. The Parson Russell is a great choice for canine sports that require agility, speed, and intelligence. If properly socialized, he is wonderful with children, but he will not tolerate abuse.



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