Rat Terrier

All About Rat Terrier Dogs and Puppies

The Rat Terrier is a dog of early immigrants who made their way into America. Designed as a capable farm or ranch dog, his purpose was to protect the property from the rats and other vermin that plagued the farms during those days and this was a job which he performed wholeheartedly. For a time, the Rat Terrier declined in numbers but recent years has seen a resurgence of the breed, this time as a capable and affectionate little companion animal.

The Rat Terrier is a very lively and affectionate little fellow. Sturdily built and athletic, they are well-suited as family dogs and make excellent pets. Some concern may be with older dogs and other pets, such as cats, but they are generally well-behaved, provided they are raised in an environment where they may be acclimated to such things. The main things that the Rat Terrier needs are someone to play with and a person to love; if they have these two essential things, they are the happiest little dogs in the world.

Rat Terrier Dog Breed Facts and Information

Rat Terrier Facts

  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Size: Miniature and Standard
  • Height: 10-13 inches at the shoulder for miniature, 13-19 inches for standard
  • Weight 10-25 pounds
  • Color: Can be found in almost all hound colors as well as pied and solids.
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate
  • Grooming Demands: Minimal
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Good With Children: Yes
  • Ease of Training: Easy
  • AKC Breed Group: breedgroup

 

Rat Terrier History

The Rat Terrier owes his existence to early immigrants who made their way over to America during the 19th century. Taking popular dogs of the day – the Bull Terrier, Old English White Terrier, the Manchester Terrier and other similar scrappers, they crossed them with various dog breeds, such as the Beagle, Toy Fox Terrier, Whippet and Italian Greyhounds. The results of this breeding would create a small-to-medium sized dog which a smooth coat, medium bone, and an athletic build. Fast, aggressive and with strong jaws, these early ratting dogs were more than capable at clearing out rats and other pests.

Every new cross brought something unique to the breed; the terrier blood gave the dogs an aggressive and feisty disposition that was needed for this kind of work, while the Beagle and Fox Terrier breeding gave the dog a better ‘nose’ that was needed to track his prey. With the infusion of Whippet and Italian Greyhound blood, he was granted the speed that was needed to flush out hare, rabbits and other game when taken out hunting.

The Rat Terrier is not a very well-known breed, mainly due to the fact that there was little documentation about them for many years. In fact, the Rat Terrier did not even have a breed standard until 1994 and was not even accepted into the American Kennel Club until January of 1999. While still a new breed, fans of the Rat Terrier are adamant about getting these wonderful little dogs known and respected.

Rat Terrier Appearance

The Rat Terrier is known as a very sturdily-built, compact member of the Terrier family that is moderate in both size and shape. Not too heavily muscled and yet not too fine-boned, he is a small-to-medium sized dog and is a bit more refined and polished-looking than the more widely-known Jack Russell Terrier. While he is occasionally kept with a full tail, it’s preferred that this dog’s tail be docked for exhibition.

Available in a wide variety of colors, the Rat Terrier can be found in most hound shades, including bi and tri-coloreds, chocolate, orange, blue, lemon, or red, and can be either pied or predominantly solid in color. While sable shading on the face or body is permitted, dark coloring on the face, otherwise known as “masks,” are considered a fault, as is any rusted or washed out colorations.

The Rat Terrier is shown in two distinct size varieties; the miniature (dogs 10-13 inches) and the standard (13-19 inches). Up until the time that they are 12 months of age, both size varieties are shown together, with dogs over or under the required size limitations being disqualified from competition.

Rat Terrier Photo Gallery

Rat Terrier Temperament and Personality

While a member of the Terrier family, the Rat Terrier is not a sparring dog and, because of this, is generally well-behaved and friendly towards other dogs. They are a faithful dog and tend to be very affectionate towards their owners, though they can be somewhat protective and have a tendency to be aloof towards strangers. While the Rat Terrier is a noisy individual, prone to yapping, mumbling and growling during play, his snarls are usually just for show.

Rat Terrier Health Concerns

Like any breed of dog, the Rat Terrier is subject to several genetic health concerns. Fortunately, unlike many purebred dogs, the Rat Terrier rarely has the hip and elbow dysplasia or the eye troubles that are commonly seen in other breeds. Some conditions which may affect your Rat Terrier include:

  • Luxating patella
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivity to anesthesia
  • Demodex mange

Rat Terrier Exercise Needs

The Rat Terrier is a very active little dog, bred for a variety of uses. Always on the go, they are very high spirited and enjoy an active lifestyle. If you’re considering one of these energetic little dogs, it’s highly recommended that you have a fenced yard or are prepared to go for several energizing walks each day. Dog parks are a favorite hang-out of these little dogs and they have a great love of agility and obstacle courses.

 

Rat Terrier Training Tips

The Rat Terrier is a highly intelligent and loyal breed, and one that desires to please his owner. For these reasons, he is generally very easy to train and receptive to the praises that he receives for good behavior. Obedience classes are highly recommended, if you are inexperienced with training dogs – not only does it teach your dog basic commands and obedience, but it also teaches you how better to understand your new puppy, and what methods he bests responds to. In no time, you two are sure to be teaching one another new tricks.

 

Rat Terrier Grooming Tips

Care and upkeep of your Rat Terrier puppy is relatively simple. Not overly heavy shedders, you will find that your Rat Terrier sheds the most in the spring and then, again, in the fall. In the meantime, a simple brushing once or twice a week will suffice, and will help to keep his coat glossy by stimulating the oils in his coat and helping to free and remove any dander. To brush him, use a soft-bristled brush and go with the grain of hair, brushing in a gentle and flicking motion. He will undoubtedly love the free back-scratching.

A Rat Terrier shouldn’t need to be bathed too often. Provided he hasn’t gotten into anything messy, once or twice a month is usually a good bet. Aside from this, the only other major grooming needs that a Rat Terrier requires are keeping his nails clipped, his ears clean and, if he will let you, his teeth brushed. Should tooth-brushing be an issue, however, there are a variety of toys and treats now available, which help to reduce tartar build up and tooth decay.

 

Finding a Reputable Rat Terrier Breeder Near You

Find a reputable local puppy breeder on our Rat Terrier Dog Breeder Directory.

Choosing the right Rat Terrier breeder is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your quest for the perfect Rat Terrier puppy. There are many dog breeders out there – some are highly responsible – others not so much.

We recommend the following criteria be used when choosing a responsible Rat Terrier breeder:

  • Breeding only health screened, AKC registered parents, or health screened generational Cockapoos with AKC registered, health screened lineage.
  • Breeds for health and temperament.
  • Is knowledgeable and truthful about their dogs and puppies, and does not make exaggerated claims as to the non-shedding or hypoallergenic traits of the breed.
  • Offers advice and assistance with housetraining, puppy care, nutrition, etc.
  • Places puppies only with carefully screened owners with a good potential for providing a loving, forever home.
  • Puts the welfare of her dogs and puppies before profit.
  • Is committed to her dogs and puppies for life, and will provide advice and support after you take your puppy home.
  • Can provide you with plenty of references from past puppy buyers, veterinary references, etc.

Additional Rat Terrier Resources

Learn more about Rat Terriers here.