Are Jack Russell’s Smart? [Extremely Intelligent and Here’s Why]


Extremely clever and always finding a way to impress is a great way to characterize a Jack Russell Terrier.

No doubt about it.

Most individuals who are considering adopting a new dog of any breed are often curious before doing so about many things.

I was the exact same way during the initial days before adopting my Jack Russell.

More specifically, I had one question that may have been make or break on my decision to adopt a Jack Russell.

Are Jack Russell’s Smart?

I’ve now owned my female Jack Russell for several years, and here is what I can tell you on this topic.

Yes, Jack Russell’s are extremely intelligent dogs. Jack Russell’s are trainable and have a great deal of problem-solving and adaptation skills. Jack Russell’s desire to please their owners using their intelligence and ability to work. Jack Russell’s are one of the smartest small dog breeds in the world.

That’s the quick and easy answer to the question, and I’m sure that you have more questions on this topic or would prefer if more examples were provided, citing a Jack Russell’s intelligence.

Luckily, that’s exactly what I intend to do in this brief 3-minute post.

I’ve made an easy to navigate table of contents that will allow you to skip to any section of this post that you desire to learn more about.

Feel free to use the links directly below to skip to any of those sections.

are-jack-russells-smart-intelligent

Here is what I plan on covering on today’s topic:

For those in a hurry or prefer not to read the entire post, use the links above like discussed previously.

Otherwise, relax for a moment, and I’ll break down everything you need to know about Jack Russell’s intelligence and explain just how smart a JR really is.

Here is the important information to understand.

Are Jack Russell’s Smart and Why Jack Russell’s Are Smart?

Alright, let’s get down to business and start discussing just how smart/intelligent a Jack Russell is and why they are so good at displaying their intelligence.

In my opinion, Jack Russell’s are one of the easiest dogs to train not only for potty training purposes but also for general commands.

They are also a bit strong willed so it’s important that you discipline your Jack Russel and have them mentally in the game with you if you want to see their full intelligence on display.

I use clicker training personally for my JR, and it works fantastic and keeps her engaged.

I recommend something like this for all training sessions.

The reason I believe Jack Russell’s are so smart is simply due to how quickly my Jack Russell adapts to nearly everything.

She catches on quickly and has even learned some basic everyday living routines just from observing and living with my 100lb yellow lab, who is now 6 and trained at this point.

They simply pay attention to what’s happening around them and act accordingly.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

She is still a young dog with lots to learn and plenty of behaviors to correct, but overall, she’s showing signs that the sky is the limit if you simply take the time to work with them after the adoption.

Let me continue this plead about Jack Russel’s intelligence by breaking down some of the things my Jack Russell does that have gone to prove how quickly they learn and how smart a Jack Russell really is.

Just How Smart Are Jack Russell’s + 5 Examples with My Jack Russell

This section of the post I want to call the “Just How Smart My Jack Russell Is.”

It’s the part of this discussion where I want to lay out some of the behaviors and things my Jack Russell does that impress me.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not Caesar, and I don’t train dogs as an expert, so perhaps I get impressed a bit too easily.

Nonetheless, I’ve owned roughly 8 dogs in my lifetime and am an avid pet lover in general and am still impressed with what I’ve seen from my Jack Russell during the first 2 years.

Here’s my list of smart behaviors my Jack Russell has displayed thus far.

#1- Stops in Her Tracks Without Being Trained

I haven’t taught her to stop, heel, stay or anything along those lines at this point.

However, my other dog currently understands this command well.

Over the course of time of hearing me instruct my other dog this command, she simply learned the trick without prompting.

If she is on a walk, and it’s said, she responds right away.

She even pauses or hesitates to freely move about if she can sense it’s a time not to do so, such as an exterior door opening.

Instead of bolting outside with excitement, she simply backs up and sits down and waits to be released.

It’s honestly amazing she picked up on this so quickly.

My other dog even though trained to “stay” still gets overly excited at exterior doors being opened and tends to bolt outside to investigate.

Not her, and she understands that this upsets me and recognizes me as the alpha.

This, to me, clearly demonstrates how smart a Jack Russell is and how quickly they can adapt to their environments.

#2- Understands Time Like Clockwork with Crate Training, Potty Time and Feeding Schedules

Her natural ability to recognize time is much like other dogs, but she is spot on.

I’m an early riser, which also means I turn in early for the night.

She typically goes into her crate or did go into her crate at about 8pm each night.

After a few months of this, it reached a point where she would do the walk of despair towards her crate at about 745pm or so.

Sure, the door was still open on the crate where she could come and go as she pleased, but overall, she knew it was reaching that time and decided to just make my life easy and head towards her crate on her own.

Pretty impressive if you ask me.

#3- Responded Very Quickly to Basic Commands

I know, I know, a lot of dogs can respond to training quickly.

Nonetheless, dog breeds do exist that don’t take to training as other dogs.

Luckily, a Jack Russell is not one of these dogs.

I used clicker training (to be discussed in a separate post) to teach my Jack Russell the basic commands of sit, lay down ect.

She learned these at lightning speeds and still can perform them to this day.

Clicker training is my go-to training method for my dogs, and it’s always proven to be beneficial and provides excellent mental stimulation.

Couple this with a Jack Russell’s natural ability to want to please their owners, and you can teach your dog’s plenty of commands with little time if you do it correctly.

#4- Understands When She Has Messed Up

This is also typical of many dogs, but the face she makes before I even say anything is priceless.

The ears go back, her scared look is in full force.

It doesn’t take her much to realize she made a mistake.

In the early days, this was with potty training.

Later into her puppyhood, it became an issue if she had chewed something that she knew wasn’t a good idea.

It’s almost as if the temptation was too strong to resist, but when I walk in, she realizes that the urge likely just got her into a tad bit of trouble.

I know many dogs are good at this as well, but she is extremely aware of what’s right and wrong and recognizes my mood and tone quickly.

In my opinion, only intelligent dogs have this capability.

#5- Follows Me Through Glass on Sliding Back Doors

On my house, I have two sets of sliding doors that lead to the backyard about 25-30 feet away from each other that connect to separate back porches.

When she wants to come inside after playing, if I begin even walking in a certain direction, she darts towards the other glass door to ensure that she is seen so that I let her back inside of the house.

Sometimes, I’m not even sure how she sees my movement or hears it, but she is always at the right door at the right time to get recognized and seen without barking and waiting patiently to come back inside.

Trust me, Jack Russell’s may have a few things that could be considered overwhelming such as jumping, but when it comes to overall awareness and intelligence for a small dog breed, they are tough to match and compete against.

They are just very smart dogs.

It’s the only way I know how to put it for you.

How Smart Are Jack Russell’s Compared to Other Dogs and Breeds?

I haven’t owned every dog breed, so this is tough to put in to complete perspective.

Compared to my yellow lab, I’d classify her as much smarter but also much more hyper.

I know plenty of other dogs top the list for intelligence such as border collies and even German shepherds. Still, in my opinion, the Jack Russell deserves to be in the discussion for a top 5 for small dog breeds and top 100 overall.

Plain and simple.

Work with Your JR to Increase Intelligence and Obedience

The best advice I can give to anyone that’s considering adopting a Jack Russell soon is to never allow them to stop learning and never stop interacting with them.

Continue to train them and continue to work with them.

They love to please their owners, and they are a working dog that used to hunt fox in the wild for their commanders and owners.

This helps your Jack Russell burn off energy and helps them become more obedient overall.

Continue to spend time with them, teach them, and provide mental and physical stimulation.

Final Thoughts

If you follow the tips I’ve provided in this post and continue to work with your Jack Russell, you can build a long-lasting and affectionate relationship with your new dog.

You can also raise and develop one of the smartest dogs I can think of.

Overall, these are impressive dogs but do need the ability to burn off some energy when possible.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your journey and your Jack Russell and wish you the best of luck with your training sessions.

Share Your Thoughts

If you have further recommendations or input about how to put the smartness and intelligence of a Jack Russell to work, be sure to share with the readers below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

Recent Posts