Change is hard! Since I can remember we've called those sassy terriers we see at stables and on Frasier Jack Russell Terriers. Now they tell us some are Parson Russell Terriers, some are Parson Jack Russell Terriers and some are Russell Terriers. But I can't seem to remember to use those names!
Wanting to know all the change in name status scoop, I went straight to AKC and read all the articles and I admit, I still have no firm grasp on all of it.
It seems there is not a whole lot that differs from one to the next. Even though they look alike to 99.9% of us, they are three different dog breeds.
The Russell Terrier is a shorter legged Jack Russell Terrier that is still called a Jack Russell Terrier by most of the world (except in the USA and the UK). The Russell Terrier is an AKC breed.
The Parson Russell Terrier is taller and leggier and the type we saw on Frasier. They are an AKC breed.
The Jack Russell Terrier is used as a general term for all the various types of dogs who have this look. The AKC felt it had too much variation within size and type and wanted a more consistent look.
The reason the Jack Russell Terrier is not an AKC breed gets even more convoluted. In the early 1990s AKC wanted to add the Jack Russell Terrier to the AKC roster, but the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America opposed it. The JRTCA feared the keen hunting skills would be bred out of their breed, as has often said to happen in other sporting and terrier breeds in favor of looks only.
So, to sum it up...there are three looks of this type of terrier founded by the Sporting Parson, Rev. John "Jack" Russell over 200 years ago. The Jack Russell Terrier; which is a more general, umbrella term for the dogs, the Parsons Russell Terrier, which is the taller dog recognized by AKC and the Russell Terrier, which is a shorter, square terrier that was refined in Australia and is also AKC recognized.
Hmmm, I'm not sure I actually clarified much. Maybe I will be able to say Parson Russell Terrier now. In the meantime, I'm using all three terms on their product pages!