Why Did a Jack Russell Terrier Get Renamed to Parson Russell?

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Since there are a lot of dog breeds around the world, many people can get confused. If you are curious about this subject, you might be wondering ‘’why did Jack Russell Terrier get renamed to Parson Russell?’’ and what is the history behind it.

Why Did the Jack Russell Terrier Get Renamed to Parson Russell?

The AKC (American Kennel Club) renamed the Jack Russell Terrier to distinguish the long-legged version (Parson Russell) from the short-legged one (Jack Russell). This doesn’t mean the Jack Russell Terrier is an incorrect name; it is just a different breed.

A dog resting on the chair

However, there are other organizations, such as the JRTCA (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America), which keep calling all Jack Russells the same way. This is the reason why this division came from. The AKC wanted to breed long-legged Jacks whilst the JRTCA didn’t.

This developed into the AKC renaming their Jacks into Parson Russells and breeding them to be taller. The JRTCA, on the other hand, kept breeding their dogs the same way, with short legs. Therefore, since the breed diverged in type, they are now two different kinds of dogs.

Differences Between the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell

Since the breed has changed so much throughout history, they have evolved in different ways, causing them to have differences among themselves. One of the most important differences is their height.

Since Parson Russells have longer legs, they can be taller than Jack Russells. Parsons’ height varies from 13 to 14 inches tall, while Jack Russells can be as small as 10 inches.  Though, this doesn’t mean that a Jack Russell can’t be taller than a Parson.

Jacks can grow up to 15 inches tall in some cases. This, however, is highly dependent on genetics. The Parson, on the other hand, is more likely to reach 15 inches in height. After all, being taller was the goal of their breed.

Hair Characteristics and Color

While they have the same short coat of white hair, they can be differentiated by color. Both are mainly white. However, Parsons tends to be tricolor. This means that this breed often has white fur, with brown and black spots all over its bodies.

On the other hand, Jacks tend to be bicolor with white fur and either black or brown spots.

Body Type and Size

Parsons tend to have much longer bodies than Jacks. This is also due to their goal of being bigger than the original breed. Jacks’ bodies are squared and smaller than their counterparts, making them smaller in girth and height.

Dog looking out somewhere

On top of that, Parsons have bigger and longer heads, too, enhancing their ability to run and hunt, which is another reason why this breed diverged from the original. Jacks have smaller heads in comparison, which allows them to perform other activities such as dog shows.


Both breeds enjoy walking and receiving physical attention. If they are ignored, it might cause them to start barking and whining. This is why both breeds can become depressed if they don’t get enough attention.

However, Parson Russells tend to have a more laid-back personality in comparison. They seem to manage their mischievous instincts slightly better than their counterpart. Still, both breeds are good family dogs who can get along with children and big households.

If they are both taken care of with affection and discipline, they will never be aggressive against other people. On top of that, if they socialize with other dogs from an early age, they will know how to behave around them.

Behavior Around Other Animals

Both Russells can behave normally around other dogs, in fact, they are very playful. However, both of them were bred to be hunting dogs. This means that they will be aggressive against small animals such as bunnies and rats.

Therefore, you need to be careful if you have these kinds of pets in your house. If they see them running around, they will probably have the instinct to go hunt them. Here you can see some animals that they could hunt.

  • Hamsters
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Bunnies
  • Chinchillas
  • Parrots
  • Ferrets
Dog looking up to his owner

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about Jack Russells and Parson Russells.

What Breeds Make up a Parson Russell Terrier?

None, it is a pure breed that has been raised over the years. As I mentioned before, the only reason this breed exists is due to the AKC. This organization wanted a taller version of the Jack Russell Terrier.

However, some believe the original breed began by crossbreeding Bull Terriers and Beagles.

Are Parson Russells Aggressive?

No, they are considered to be very laid-back and relaxed regarding people and other animals, just like Jack Russells. However, some people believe this breed can be very loud when it comes to barking and whining.


When it comes to breeds, there are a lot of variations, types, and crossbreeds. In this case, Jack Russell and Parson Russell are, essentially, the same dog with slight differences.