PARSON RUSSELL TERRIERS DOGS IN REVIEW (USA)
I was more than a little concerned, after seeing in Dogs in Review, photos of Parson Russells having received top wins that do not conform to the standard. This is in the nature of a wake up call to USA judges and breeders, before the Parson degenerates into a parody of his former self. The Parson is not like the average American “show” Terrier and I am sad to see that he seems to be rapidly approaching that state.
Please judges note that this breed does not have a flat topline, and should have an arched loin, the croup is therefore slightly sloping and the tail is carried at the position of approximately 5 to 10 past Two. It is absolutely NOT bang on top and carried vertically. The standard states
“Strong, straight, moderately high set, carried well up on the move” the backline should be “Back strong and straight, Loin slightly arched, overall length slightly longer than height from withers to ground” . Another deviation from the old true type of Parson I noticed from the photos is that the upper arms lack slope and forechest is absent. This breed has definitely more length of stride than its distant cousin the Smooth Fox Terrier.
The Parson has been recognised as a working dog par excellence, for generations in Britain, and is still worked to the present day. The preservation of breed type has been achieved by these working terrier men who laugh at what the show world has done to the Wire and Smooth Fox ( and I count Britain amongst the worst offenders) the exaggerations bred for have no place amongst the true working types. In the days when I was much more bloodthirsty than I am today, I watched these dogs work against vermin many, many times, and they are good!
My credentials for speaking up for the true Parson are as follows. I have been judging the breed since I was 18 years old, and had judged well over 100 classes at Hunt terrier shows before the breed was given full recognition by the Kennel Club. It happens to be my favourite breed in the Terrier group, and one that has always been close to my heart. Since recognition, I have judged the breed all over the world, including Crufts in ’98, I am sending a photo of my Best of Breed on that occasion, showing the perfect outline, proportions of height to length, and correct carriage of tail. (Photo shows Ch Mindlen Hoolet of Muhlross)
If action is taken now by judges to reward the correct type only, and to reject untypical Parsons, and for handlers to hold the tails (if they must) in the correct position, the breed can go on in the same way that it has for the past 150 years. They do not need “improving”. It is up to judges to judge the breeds true to the standard of the country of origin or development. A lot of the other terriers pictured look truly amazing, and I have judged some of the best in the world in the USA over the years, and they are as good as they look, but exaggerations MUST be avoided, and breed type preserved, or else the Parson will go the way of the “American type” of Irish Soft Coated Wheaten, the English Springer Spaniel, and the French Brittany, none of which resemble the breeds in their country of origin.
Zena Thorn Andrews