Rat Terrier

July 31, 2020 // 6 minute read

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Rat Terriers are small to medium-sized dogs of the terrier group with compact bodies that make them sturdy and elegant looking. The smooth coat of the Rat Terrier comes in a dappled pattern of several colors combined with white.

These dogs have the same temperaments as the other terrier breeds. But they’re also known to be calmer and satisfied when lying on their humans’ lap. Inexperienced dog owners may find it hard to train these dogs, but they’re great family companions for the experienced ones. Give him lots of love and attention, and of course, space to run around too.

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier Breed Statistics

Dog Breed GroupTerrier
Breed SizeSmall to Medium
Height10-13 inches (male); 13-18 inches (female)
Weight10-25 pounds
Lifespan12-18 years

Rat Terrier Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Rat Terrier Retriever History

Rat Terriers are proudly made in the United States. As their name implies, these dogs were developed to kill rats and other vermin. They are also all-around farm dogs and are also excellent hunters for small games.

Rat Terriers are believed to be a result of the mixing of several dog breeds – Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, and Old English White Terrier. It took years (1910-1940) before this dog breed became the Rat Terrier that we know now.

During these times, Rat Terriers are often seen anywhere. But when farmers discovered using poison to kill rodents, the Rat Terriers’ number started going down, and by the 1950s, the breed was no longer seen as often.

Working on the resurrection of the breed didn’t start the 1970s. It was started by a hunter, Milton Decker, who believed that his Rat Terrier could help with his breeding program. And he indeed succeeded.

It was in the year 1972 when the first Rat Terrier was again developed. But the breed wasn’t recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1999.

Rat Terrier Temperament

The American Kennel Club describes the Rat Terriers as friendly, curious, and lovable. Like any other terriers, Rat Terriers have varying temperaments ranging from being active to being contented snuggled up at home.

Most dogs of this breed are athletic and agile. They love to play and playing chase. During playtime, they are best kept inside a fenced yard or must be on a leash. These dogs are excellent escape artists, so make sure that everything is secured.

Rat Terriers crave human companionship and attention. They make excellent family dogs. These dogs will make excellent playmates to children, and you can expect them snuggled under the covers with your kids.

It’s best always to keep your Rat Terrier entertained to avoid any destructive behaviors. If you are not at home often, then getting another dog as his playmate will do good for him. These dogs get along well with other pets, even with cats.

Like any other terrier breeds, Rat Terriers aren’t fond of strangers, but most owners find them quick to warm-up to visitors when introduced. Early socialization is critical here to get them accustomed to anyone or anything new.

You may find training a little bit difficult as these can be stubborn dogs. But if you keep a firm, confident, and consistent leadership, they are very attentive and will follow you easily.

Rat Terrier Dog

Rat Terrier Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Rat Terriers don’t necessarily need a specialized diet. It’s only best to make sure that what they eat is of high-quality and well-balanced. This should contain all the essential nutrients their small body needs. Watch out for daily calorie intake so you can also manage their weight. Overweight dogs are more prone to health conditions that usually affect the bones. You can discuss this with your vet as daily calorie intake will depend on your dog’s lifestyle. We highly recommend buying high-quality ingredients when preparing a homecooked meal. But if you are to serve dog food, only choose the premium quality ones. It shouldn’t contain fillers, additives, or harmful chemicals that may significantly affect your dog’s health.
  • Grooming: Rat Terriers have short, smooth coats that are very easy to maintain. These coats shed seasonally and will remain healthy with weekly brushing. You might also need to brush the coat daily during the shedding season. Baths can be at least once a month, depending on his needs. But his ears should be checked and cleaned weekly to prevent an ear infection from occurring. Keep their nails as short as possible, too, as long nails may cause pain and discomfort. Brush their teeth as well. If you can buy some dental sticks, then these will benefit your dog the most.
  • Exercise: Although most rat terriers are contented lazing around the house all day, they still need regular exercise to keep them healthy. Daily walks should suffice for this dog breed. But they would enjoy play sessions with their humans regardless if it’s held indoors or outdoors. Let him run as he pleased if you have a secure fence. But if you don’t, keep these dogs on a leash. You can let them play with other pets as well for good exercise.
  • Health: Rat Terriers are generally healthy dogs with long lifespans. However, there are still some diseases you need to watch out for, such as allergies, malocclusion, patellar luxation, and demodectic mange. Most conditions are genetically inherited, so it’s advisable to meet at least one of the parents to rule out some of it. Screening tests are also available to identify other possible health conditions. Malocclusion can be fixed via surgery, but most are found to be self-corrected when a puppy reaches ten months old.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Rat Terriers is 12-18 years.

Famous Rat Terriers

  • Lolabelle: The inspiration behind Laurie Anderson’s film, “Heart of a Dog”

Fun Facts about Rat Terriers

  • Rat Terriers were developed in the United States in the 1910s.
  • They are one of the most common farm dogs in America between the 1910s and 1920s.
  • They are excellent ratters; a Rat Terrier was able to clear a barn of 2,500 rats in 7 hours in 1996.
  • At least seven breeds were used to develop them – Smooth Fox Terrier, Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier,
  • Bull Terrier, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and Beagle.
  • They almost became extinct in the 1950s but made a huge comeback in the 1990s.

Check Out Other Terrier Dog Breeds:
Airedale Terrier, American Hairless Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Cesky Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Russell Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier

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