The Rat Terrier is an American breed which is used as farm dog as well and hunting companion. The dog is small but has endurance of a big dog. It is athletic, agile and loves to play with children. The dog should be kept on a leash from starting because they are an impulsive explorer and will chase anything that moves.
It is also an escape artist and a great digger. Make sure that the fences are secure else they will dig to find the way out of your house. It needs an ample amount of human companionship. The dog will use its paws to wrap around your neck to demand attention.
This breed needs respect like any member of the family. It is also sensitive in nature so avoid harsh or rude behavior with the dog. The dog is not only barky but also vocal. It talks by taking out the soft voice to grab your attention. Being independent and stubborn-minded, it needs an experienced and strong leader for training.
Table of Contents
Rat Terrier Origin
The Rat Terrier breed belongs to America. It is descendant of English Terriers brought by immigrants to America. The Rat Terrier is a result of crosses between Smooth Fox Terrier, Manchester Terrier and White English Terrier (extinct). Later the resultant dog was cross mated with Italian Greyhounds and Beagles for speed and hunting abilities respectively.
The Rat Terrier was used to hunt rats and other small animals. This breed rose to popularity when President Teddy Roosevelt owned the breed for hunting rats. Even today the dog is used on farms to hunt rodents, pests and squirrels.
Rat Terrier Characteristics
- The dog hails from America and is a hunting dog as well as farm dog.
- It is affectionate, companionable, feeless and tireless dog breed.
- The life expectancy of this breed is 15-18 years.
- Rat Terrier stands at a height of 14-23 inches.
- It weighs around 12-35 pounds.
- The dog comes in blue, brown, white, black-tan and tricolored.
- The average price of this breed is $300 – $500 USD.
- This breed is moderately active indoors and needs at least a small or medium sized yard.
- It is a vociferous breed.
- It tends to be affectionate, playful and cheerful around kids.
- This breed is not hypoallergenic.
- The dog has a low maintenance coat. It sheds moderately year round.
- The dog makes alert and vigilant watchdog.
- It requires strong headed leader for training.
- This breed requires at least 40 minute’s exercise per day.
- The dog is wary of strangers and takes time to get along with them.
- It has compulsive need to chase. The dog should be kept on leash in public areas.
The Rat Terriers’ enthusiast described the dog as “compact yet meaty”. It is a muscular dog with athletic body. The dog has wedge shaped head with strong but smaller muzzle than skull. The ears of the dog are erect and set atop its head. It has broad shoulder, deep chest and well developed legs. The dog has light bones which gives it agility to catch rats. The tail of the dog is long and carried in upward direction. Its tail can be docked if it is permissible in your state.
Size and Weight
The Rat Terriers stand at a height of 13 to 18 inches at the shoulder. It weighs around 10 to 25 pounds.
Coat and Color
The dog has a closely fit coat which lies flat on its body. Its coat is dense, short, smooth and glossy. The dog comes in blue, brown, white, black-tan and tricolored.
- Personality – The dog is so adept at killing rats that it has been named as Rat Terriers. This breed takes its responsibility of killing rats and rodents seriously. It is quirky, feisty and spunky in nature. The dog is fond of chasing, digging and killing rats. The dogs are stubborn minded and may not always listen to you. Because of their comical personality, they will keep the family members in a jolly mood. The dog is not meant for cozy apartments. It needs open space like farms or yards where it can live freely. They make great companion to active families.
- Behavior – They have the traits of Terrier breed. The dog is dominated and aggressive towards other animals. It is especially fond of playing with balls. The dog can spend hours by playing and chasing balls. The dog will react defensively to poke or rough play by kids. Make sure your kids know how to respect dog. They are wary of strangers and will take time to get along with them. They are the most efficient rodents’ catcher and thrive on farms like area.
- Activities Requirement – The dog may look cuddly and small but it is meant for vigorous exercise. A bored dog is a mischievous dog. If you live on farm the dog will carry out its exercise on own but urban area dogs need to be taken on regular walk and run. They love to play with ball. Catch and throw games are their favorite. A minimum 40 minute’s exercise is must for them to stay happy and healthy
- Trainability – Rat Terriers are defined as the most stubborn terrier breed. This dog is not meant for novice owner or faint heart. Puppies tend to be notorious and controlling them is hectic task. You need to establish leadership and then start with basic obedience class. Keep the training interesting so that the dogs give their 100% in learning lessons.
It is a wrong belief that small breeds do not need protein rich diet or less amount of food. Small dogs have high metabolism so they need more amount of food. As these dogs are pick and choose in nature so you need to make sure that it eats nutritious food.
The dog lives up to 15 – 18 years.
The dog is not hypoallergenic. It is healthy and hearty breed with no major health issues. Few of the minor health issue include contact allergies, elbow and hip dysplasia.
The Rat Terriers shed moderately. It is a low maintenance dog. You need to brush its coat twice a week to keep the dead hair in control and coat free of mites. Bathing is necessary only when it gets dirty.
Trim the nails on monthly basis. Regularly check its ears for signs of infection or allergy. Use vet approved solution to clean its ears. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to avoid gum related problem.
The dog is adaptable to urban as well as rural lifestyle. An urban area dog should be exercised religiously. Because of its short coat, it needs sweater in cold temperature. It cannot tolerate extreme cold climate.
Things To Consider Before Buying
- Perfect choice of dog for those who want a small sized athletic dog.
- The dog is handsome to look and its short coat requires infrequent grooming.
- The dog is a tenacious rat and rodent hunter.
- It is not a hypoallergenic breed.
- It lacks size to be effective guard dog.
- The dog reacts aggressively to rough handling. Small children are not good for this dog.