Rat Terrier Information

Overview

An American breed, the Rat Terrier was created by immigrants using a mixture of crosses between old time Fox Terriers and other European Terriers common in the 19th century; the Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, and later on, the Smooth Fox Terrier, Beagle, Toy Fox Terriers, Whippet and Italian Greyhound. From 1910 through the "dust bowl" era of the 1930s, the Rat Terrier was one of the most common farm dogs, used for ratting, hunting vermin and other work. It is at its best as a family pet. They will be alright living in an apartment if they get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. A small fenced-in yard is better. They are diggers and will dig under fences if not supervised.

Rat Terrier
Basic Info
NameRat Terrier
Other NameAmerican Rat Terrier, Ratting Terrier, Decker Giant, RT, Rat, Rattie
OriginUnited States of America (USA)
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Terrier Dog Breeds
Life Span15 - 18 years
TemperamentLoving, Alert, Lively, Intelligent, Affectionate, Inquisitive
Height10–18 inches
Weight10–25 lbs
ColorsBlack, tan, chocolate, blue, isabella (pearl), lemon and apricot. May be tri-color or bi-color, with at least one color being white.
Puppy Price$200 - $500 USD

Rat Terrier

Physical description

Body Type

There are two sizes for the Rat Terrier breed, Standard and Miniature. Standards range from over 13 inches up to 18 inches in height as measured at the withers. Miniatures are from 10 inches up to 13 inches in height. Each type is slightly longer than tall.

The head appears as a smooth, blunt wedge from both the front and side views. The eyes are smallish, oval in shape and set wide apart giving an intelligent and alert expression.Eyes are dark brown to hazel in color. Ears are V-shaped, sitting on the top outer edge of the skull and slightly pointed at the tip. The head is moderately wide and fairly flat on the top, rounded at the crown with sides gradually widening from the outer eye corners to the base of the ears. Well-muscled cheeks are flat and not bulging. The stop is distinct but moderate. The strong muzzle is slightly shorter in length than the head and tapers near the nose.

Neck length is proportionate to the head, strong, arched and blending into flat shoulder blades. Ribs are well-sprung and appear oval when viewed from the front. A moderately wide chest is filled with a distinctive forechest. The back is firm and level. A slight muscular arch blends into a moderately rounded croup. The tail is usually docked between the second and third joint. The tail may also be a natural bobtail or long and tapered to the hock joint.

The shoulder blades are almost equal in length with the upper forearms. The forelegs are straight and parallel. Hindquarters are smooth, muscular and well-balanced with the forequarters. Stifles are bent with short hocks parallel and perpendicular to the ground.

Color

Solid colored Rat Terriers always have white markings and bi-colored ones have the second color as white. Colors include chocolate, red, blue, fawn, apricot, tan and lemon. Kennel clubs disqualify a Brindle or Merle coloration.

The Rat Terrier's coat lies close and is smooth, shiny and varying in texture. There may be a slight ruff or wave along the back.

Coat

Solid colored Rat Terriers always have white markings and bi-colored ones have the second color as white. Colors include chocolate, red, blue, fawn, apricot, tan and lemon. Kennel clubs disqualify a Brindle or Merle coloration.

The Rat Terrier's coat lies close and is smooth, shiny and varying in texture. There may be a slight ruff or wave along the back.

Characteristics
Good with Kids
 
Cat Friendly
 
Dog Friendly
 
Trainability
 
Shedding
 
Watchdog
 
Intelligence
 
Grooming
 
Popularity
 
Adaptability
 
Hypoallergenic  No

Grooming

Rat Terriers are easy to groom. They shed seasonally and need to be brushed frequently during that time. Brushing helps to distribute oils and keep the coat shiny. They only need occasional baths. Bathing too often can strip the coat of oils and result in dry, itchy skin. Always use a gentle shampoo and rinse well with warm water.

Rat Terriers love to dig in the dirt. Keep them clean enough for coming inside by using unscented pet wipes or a warm, damp cloth. This should eliminate the need for too-frequent bathing.

History

The Rat Terrier breed was developed in Great Britain in 1820 from the Manchester Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier. They were all originally black and tan. The breed was brought to the United States in the 1890s and named by Teddy Roosevelt. Life Magazine ran a photo of the President with three black and tan Rat Terriers. American breeders crossed them with the Beagle and the Whippet. Breeding with Beagles increased hunting and trailing activity and added in the color red. Whippets added speed, agility and possibly the blue and brindle colors.

Temperament

The Rat Terrier is intelligent, alert and lively. They are affectionate and make an excellent companion for those who like energetic dogs. They have a feisty, fearless nature, friendly with strangers yet good as watchdogs. Eager to please, they are easily trained.

The well-mannered Rat Terrier loves children and likes to go and do things with the family. They are good farm dogs as well as good house pets. They are also good hunting dogs. As with all dog breeds, owners need to firmly establish themselves as pack leaders for best results.


Interesting Rat Terrier Facts

  • One Rat Terrier reportedly killed over 2,501 rats in only seven hours in a rat infested barn.
  • Rat Terrier's have a life expectancy of up to 18 years.
  • Some Rat Terriers have an absence of coat, or genetic hairlessness