Are Rat Terriers Smart? Here’s Why They Rank High for Dog Intelligence

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Are Rat Terriers Smart? Here’s Why They Rank High for Dog Intelligence

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Playful, active, affectionate, and loyal, the rat terrier is a desired breed in many homes. Even with a tiny body, this amazing terrier dog is fearless and feisty, making her a great watchdog. She loves playing with children of all ages and cuddling with the adults. With a short, smooth coat, she has very low grooming needs. These are some of the reasons she is revered by pet lovers.  What about intelligence? Is the rat terrier a smart dog? Let’s take a look.

Are Rat Terriers Smart?

According to the AKC, the rat terrier is an extremely intelligent dog. Granted, she doesn’t compete with the top dogs like the Border Collies, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds but she scores above average. A rat terrier may not be the smartest dog in the room in the sense of the word but their intelligence plays out in many other ways. After being developed to work in farms for centuries, these dogs learned the art of working alone. There was no one to alert her of danger while on the hint. She had to figure things out for herself and try as much as possible to stay alive.

As a domestic pet, this trait often comes off as stubbornness. The rat terrier sometimes shows no interest in what the owner is trying to tell her. Many would term it stupidity but it is their way of showing how smart they are without your guidance. Your pup knows what she wants and will do all she can to get it.

Rat Terrier Intelligence Ranking

Generally, rat terriers score 3 out of 5 when it comes to intelligence. The actual intelligence ranking is yet to be known. The breed is not as popular as many of her terrier cousins. That, and the fact that AKC waited until 2013 to recognize it, makes it hard to quantify the intelligence ranking of the rat terrier.

Intelligence is basically a determinant of a dog’s ability to grasp commands. Smart dogs like the German shepherd can learn new commands if they are repeated not more than five times. Others like the Afghan Hound, which is claimed to be the “dumbest dog” breed need up to 100 repetitions to pick up one single command.

Rat terriers fall somewhere in between. Sadly, the breed wasn’t AKC recognized up until 2013 and thus, there isn’t much information on his intelligence rank. Since they score above average in the smarts department, it is safe to think that with less than 50 repetitions, this breed can grasp a new command for life. 

This is pretty low in contrast to many of America’s popular breeds but it is certainly better than others by far. You just have to be a little patient with her during training but the results will pay off in the end. Plus, if you are lucky to have a rat terrier that is smarter than his counterparts, you might not need to repeat commands more than 20 times.

How to Tell Whether Your Rat Terrier Is Intelligent or Not

Like with all dog breeds, not all terriers score the same with regard to intelligence. Some will do very well while others will flop. If you are curious about your own pup’s brain, watch how the pup behaves at home. If she exhibits any of the following traits, brace yourself for a super-intelligent pup.

  • Solves the hardest of pet toys in record time.
  • Knows when you are going through tough periods and will try to cuddle you.
  • Has mastered the art of escaping.
  • Knows how to manage his safety.
  • Masters new techniques very fast.
  • Can tell when you or any other member of the family is leaving the house.
  • Remembers orders without practice.
  • Knows the tricks of getting your attention

Are Rat Terriers Easy To Train?

Rat terriers are indeed trainable. As long as you are a firm and consistent leader, you will have an easy time training your pup. However, as an intelligent breed, training a rat terrier can also be a challenge. This is particularly true if she shows his stubborn side. It will be as if she has a mind of her own. Just don’t give up. Maintain your calm and dominion until the end.

Also, it is in your best interest to start training early. The old adage ‘you cannot teach an old dog a new trick’ is true for a rat terrier. As the pup ages, it becomes hard to teach her obedience training. A puppy, on the other hand, is much easier to train. From crate training to potty training and leash training, a rat terrier can grasp things if she’s young.

Do They Make Good House Dogs?  

That depends on your definition of a good house dog. If you are looking for a dog that relates well with her owners and other dogs, is easy to groom, and comes with a lot of energy, the rat terrier has got you covered. No doubt, this tiny but muscular dog will charm her way into your heart and that of other family members.

However, if you have no time for a dog with a dynamic temperament, high exercise requirements, potential aggression, and a digging behavior, you are better off with another breed. With a smart mind, the rat terrier is quite stubborn. Oh, and she can bark at anything just for fun. This includes the TV, another pet, a housefly, even the wind.

Parting Thoughts

For a long time, the rat terrier was an acclaimed farm dog whose job was to hunt rats from farms. However, at home, she’s still the charming pet everyone loves to have. She is intelligent, eager to please, loyal, and playful. Unfortunately, her little smart brain can cause stubborn streaks that can drive you crazy. Without the right leadership, consistent obedience training, and plenty of a massive dose of understanding, you can easily give up on the dog. Never forget that she doesn’t mean to disobey you. She’s been designed to think for herself.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.