Jack Russell Terriers, Russell Terriers, and Parson Terriers. Knowing which is which gets confusing, so we’re using a cute commercial linked below as a segue to help make some sense of it all (though we always defer to breed experts here).
There are subtle differences between the Parson, Jack Russell, and Russell terrier, but all three are considered to be different breeds.
The Russell Terrier is a shorter version of the Jack Russell Terrier, but “Jack Russell” is the name that Australia and other FCI countries call the breed Americans know as the Russell Terrier.
Both the Russell and Parson Terrier are recognized by the AKC, but the Jack Russell Terrier isn’t. Why?
In the early 90s when #AKC was considering adding the Jack Russell Terrier to its list of recognized breeds, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America opposed the move. It wanted to make sure the breed kept its working dog roots and not be absorbed by any emphasis on conformation over hunting ability. In 2001, the issue came up again and seems to have found resolution in size differences. As Linda Cole wrote in an article on the subject, because of a size and appearance variation in the JRT, “all Jack Russell terriers that met a specific standard were renamed “Parson Terrier.” The newly recognized Russell Terrier is the same breed as the Jack Russell Terrier recognized in Australia and other FCI countries.”
Both the Russell and JRT have rectangular bodies while the Parson Terrier is square. One way to remember the difference is with a mnemonic device (using an acronym or phrase to remember something): “The parson preaches in a square church,” might work for you.