The Rat Terrier!

The name "Rat Terrier" calls to mind a very tight, energetic, well muscled dog. They have a deep chest, solid neck, strong shoulders, and powerful legs. Though their bodies are meaty, it is very compact. Their tiny head has a pointed nuzzle. Rat Terriers can be born with either short or full-length tails, both of which remain in their natural state or docked by the time they reach two years. Their ears are upright or tipped and carried erect when the dog is alert.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
15-18 years

Energy Level:
Full throttle.

Living Conditions:
Not recommended for apartments unless substantial outdoor exercise provided.


Exercise Needs:
Daily 20 minute run; yard play.

Breed Group:

Standard: Medium-Small
Mid: Small
Toy: Small

Standard: 14-23 inches
Mid: 8-14 inches
Toy: 8 inches

Standard: 12-35 pounds
Mid: 6-8 pounds
Toy: 4-6 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:
Black/white, blue/white, red, apricot, chocolate, lemon, sable, fawn, tan

National breed club:
Rat Terrier Club of America

Rat Terrier Skills

Rat Terriers were developed from Smooth Fox Terriers and Manchester Terriers in Great Britain during the 1920’s. In the 1890’s, they were brought to the USA. Teddy Roosevelt gave this breed a name. Rat Terriers are the best in rat-baiting pits. The best ever recorded so far is of a single rat terrier which killed over 2,501 rats in a span of only 7 hours a rat infested barn. This breed is a hard-working farm hand, and can easily rid an infested barn of vermin in no time at all.

Rat Terrier Personality

The Rat Terrier’s temperament is pure terrier. They are feisty, lively, and fearless in nature – characteristics found in the best of terriers. This bunch is not easy to train. Those who have tried find it difficult to make them follow. However, make up for this by being intelligent, alert, and loving dogs. Rat Terriers are inquisitive and lively. They make an excellent companion dog because of their affectionate nature. Those who want an energetic, hyper dog should go for this breed. They are okay to have around children especially when raised with them from puppyhood. Rat Terriers are not yappers but they are quick and very playful. Fairly territorial, stubborn, and for the most part friendly with strangers, they make excellent watchdogs. They are not good swimmers so they should be watched closely whenever near the waters.

Exercise Needs

They need a good deal of exercise to let out all their energy, at least 20 to 30 minutes a day of rigorous play and a thirty minute walk. They would certainly enjoy it if given more.

Living Conditions

Though not recommended to keep as pet for those living in an apartment, the Rat Terrier will survive living in one provided that it be given at least twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day. Even indoors, they are fairly active so it is best to own one when living in a house with at least a small to medium sized yard. Something sturdier than a fenced in yard should be used to keep these dogs in check, Rat Terriers love to dig, and they won’t find a fenced in yard too difficult to get out of. They can spend a great deal of time outdoors, provide they have the proper watch and protection

Grooming Requirements

No special grooming needed. Just the occasional brushing to remove dead hair.

Health Issues

Rat Terriers have no common, major health issues.

If you liked this dog… would also like the Smooth Fox Terrier from which this breed was developed.


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