How Smart Are Jack Russell Terriers Explanation And Examples

How Smart Are Jack Russell Terriers? Explanation And Examples

The Jack Russell Terrier has delightful characteristics that follow all terrier types. These dogs are extremely strong, fast, fearless, and you may see it is powered by a kind of superhero energy. 

They have won a lot of dog competitions using their energy and intelligence. Most potential dog owners ask how smart Jack Russell Terriers are. Therefore, I thought about discussing their intelligence with some real-life examples.

So, how smart are Jack Russell Terriers? JRTs have ranked a position around 78th most intelligent dogs out of the qualifying breeds. However, their ability to effortlessly hunt in packs and learn from previous experiences makes them truly intelligent. Combined with their intelligence, Jack Russell Terriers will perform amazing physical achievements with the proper coaching with a good master. 

As they are stubborn and independent, Jack Russells could not rank high for working intelligence. Still, they are very good at other forms of intelligence, such as problem-solving and adaptability. 

I discuss Jack’s intelligence, the reasons behind their smartness, examples, and the ways to measure their skills in this extensive post. Once you finish reading this post, you will know everything about Jack Russell Terriers’ smartness and intelligence.

I have listed the topics below. Please, feel free to jump straight to the section you want by clicking on the topic.

Let’s get started!

Are Jack Russell Terriers intelligent dogs?

Of course, Jack Russell terriers are intelligent dogs. The specialty about them is that, for Jack Russells, learning never ends, and they do not have an age limit to learn new things. Even though they are adults, no matter the age, they flourish in learning new tricks.

Also, they keep increasing their mental and physical capabilities every day, primarily through training and exercising.

Jack Russell Terriers are hunting dogs by nature that are adapted to chase foxes above and below the ground. They enjoy chasing animals which give them exercise. It is their favorite thing to do.

Jack Russell’s are hyperactive but relatively easy to train with proper training methods that attract the dog’s attention.

However, their personality is strong-willed and a little independent, so focusing their attention when training is important. Jack Russell’s are easy to train with a good master. 

Moreover, they have a good sense of problem-solving and adaptation skills. They always like to please their owners using their intelligence and ability to work for taking more love and treats from their owners.

Due to Jack Russell Terriers’ high intelligence and adoption skills, they are often chosen for Hollywood commercials and films. So, we can pinpoint that they are one of the extremely intelligent dog breeds.

Why are Jack Russell Terriers smart?

As mentioned above, Jack Russell Terriers are a very smart, intelligent dog breed. We can find out how smart are Jack Russell Terriers by checking their IQ.

Researchers show that two aspects are affecting the IQ of a dog. They are; “instinctive intelligence and adaptive intelligence.” Both play a crucial role in the smartness of a dog.

Instinctive intelligence

“Instinctive intelligence” depicts the original purpose that a dog was bred for. Before we had dogs as our companions, they were the workers in society and referred to specific tasks.

The Jack Russell Terriers were bred in the 1800s for hunting purposes. They were really good at hunting small foxes and rabbits. JRT is good at hunting both above and below the ground.

They only use their quick agility and a tenacious bite to hunt the victim. Jack Russells are fast enough to chase down wild animals above the ground. 

However, they are small enough to follow the victim down a burrow when it comes to the underground. These hunting natures are the main reasons affecting how smart are Jack Russell Terriers. Namely, the ability to trap the target requires good intelligence.

Adaptive intelligence

The other dimension to measure the intelligence of dogs is “adaptive intelligence,” which refers to the ability of the dog breed to learn from itself. If they are capable of learning from their own mistakes and their past experiences, they are adaptively intelligent. 

Additionally, adaptive intelligence refers to the ability to read and understand the emotions of their owner. They learn it through their experiences.

Undoubtedly, the dog breeds that have this capability are fantastic companions and pets you can have in your life.

How smart are Jack Russell Terriers through adaptive intelligence? Jack Russell Terriers are very good at adaptive intelligence. They use their intelligence to adapt to various living conditions, such as apartment living, cold weather, hot weather, or being left home alone.

They will do their best to adapt to these various living conditions that their owners take them. It is worthy of mentioning that they flourish in an environment that allows them to run, chase and release their energy.

It is important to take them daily walks around the neighborhood or regular visits to an off-leash dog park if they live in an apartment because it will allow them to release their energy.

Examples for how smart are Jack Russel Terriers

Here, we will discuss how intelligent Jack Russell Terriers are with examples that will impress you.

Responded very quickly to basic commands

Jack Russell Terriers can be trained more quickly than other dog breeds. But they need a favorable training method and also a good trainer that can handle their personality.

It will be more effective to use the clicker training method to teach them. Jack Russell Terriers learn the basic commands like sit, stop, lay down, etc. They will learn these at lightning speeds and can perform those throughout their lifetime.

Additionally, try to combine training to the commands with Jack Russell’s natural desire to please their owners. It will help you teach your dog plenty of commands with little time and effort if you do it correctly.

Understands when messed up

Jack Russell Terriers can quickly understand when they have messed up things. Their ears go back; the scared look is in full force when they understand it. This may depict them with potty training in the early days.

When they arrived at their puppyhood, it became an issue if it chewed something that it knew was not a good idea. If the temptation was too strong to resist, it realizes that it has got into trouble when its owner walks in. 

Jack Russell Terriers are very good at understanding what’s right and wrong and quickly recognizes owners’ moods and tone. This shows how smart are Jack Russell Terriers as only intelligent dogs can do this.

Stops tracks without being trained

Sometimes when you instruct another dog commands like to stop, heel, stay, your Jack Russell Terrier simply learns the trick without prompting. This shows how smart Jack Russell Terriers are.

When it is on a walk and commands with “Stop,” it can respond right away. Moreover, It may even pause freely if it can sense it is not the time to do it, such as an exterior door opening.

Instead of running outside with excitement, It simply backs up and sits down, and waits to be released by its owner. It can understand that their behavior may upset the owner.

How to measure the Jack Russel Terriers’ IQ?

As we mentioned, Jack Russell Terriers are brilliant dogs. Now, we are going to measure how smart are Jack Russell Terriers.

There are many ways to measure the intelligence of a dog. However, there’s one method of objectively measuring the IQ of a dog. It is in the form of an obedience test. 

Worthy of mentioning that the term “obedience and working intelligence” was introduced by Stanley Coren. He is a Ph.D. and canine psychologist. And his method is the easiest way to measure the IQ of a dog. His criteria are mainly based on:

  • The number of repetitions needed to learn a new command.
  • The success rate that a dog obeys a known command on the first attempt.

Jack Russell Terriers are among the most popular terrier breeds in achieving these two criteria. Jack Russell Terrier was able to learn a new command with just 25 to 40 repetitions.

They can learn something new in less than an hour, depending on the complexity of the command. This means they show average performances. 

The obedience of the Jack Russell Terrier is at an outstanding level. These dogs willingly obey a known command. They always like to be companions with an authoritative figure around them. So, by using the method by Stanley Coren, you can measure your dog’s IQ level successfully.


Jack Russell Terrier is an intelligent dog breed. But, when looking over the rankings of the most intelligent dogs, Jack Russell is not ranked at the top but at around position 78 due to their stubborn and bossy nature. This is a typical quality in this breed. However, the Jack Russell Terrier is one of the “smartest” dog breeds. 

Moreover, Jack Russell Terriers are lively, active, and lovely. They always enjoy hanging with their owners. It is essential to remember never to stop interacting with them. Help your JRT to burn off energy by training or doing exercises.

Continue to spend time with them, teach them, and provide mental and physical stimulation to motivate the dog to be more obedient to your commands. This intelligent breed is hunting dogs by nature and enjoys chasing and running as their preferred exercise. 

Also, Working with Your Jack helps to increase their intelligence and obedience. Jack Russell Terriers are very intelligent and relatively easy to train with a good master. Importantly, it is important to focus their attention when doing any training.

In a nutshell, Jack Russell Terriers are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are good as family pets, and they will interact with the entire family. They will bring energy, joy, and love to the household.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about our four-legged friends.

Cheers from Shaggy and Lenny!


  • George Brown

    George B. is the founder of the JRO Organization. He believes in creating a better world for domestic animals. He believes domestic animals are more vulnerable than other animals, especially dogs, since they have been used to depending on their owners for generations. So, he started JRO to share his ideas and insights while helping vulnerable dogs worldwide. George runs multiple projects on street dogs in developing countries, especially Sri Lanka.

    [email protected]

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