Rat Terrier Breed, Small Breeds of Dogs, Best Small Dog Breeds

The Rat Terrier breed is actually quite rare but is considered one of the best small dog breeds for catching small vermin (including Rats). Although this type of dog was quite common in America during the 20’s and 30’s especially in and around  farms where lots of vermin could be found.

As with most terriers this type is very intelligent and alert and love to be around people.

This American Breed of dog is also known by other names including the American Rat Terrier, Ratting Terrier and Decker Giant.

Read on for a complete guide to this rare breed…

A Step by Step Guide

rat terrier breed

History of the Rat Terrier Breed

The Rat Terrier Breed was originally bred to hunt and take care of small vermin especially Rats and Squirrels. As a consequence of their fast speed over short distances they were exceptionally good at catching and killing the vermin. Due to their effectiveness at killing vermin around farms and other properties they became very popular companions for hunters. They were especially popular during the 20’s and 30’s.

Although private farming declined causing a decline in the Rat Terrier Breed the breed’s bloodline has managed to continue to this day. This breed is considered intelligent, alert, active and a loyal companion.

Weight & Height – This breed come in a variety of sizes and weights:

Standard – Can reach a height of 14-23 inches or 35.5-58.5 cm
Standard – Can reach a weight of 12-35 pounds or 5.5-16 kg
Medium Sized – Can reach a height of 8-14 inches or 20-30.5 cm
Medium Sized – Can reach a weight of 6-8 pounds or 3-3.5 kg
Toy Size – Can reach a height of 8 inches or 20cm
To Size – Can reach a weight of 4-6 pounds or 2-3 kg

Coat – Short and can shed. Brush the coat regularly to remove dead or lose hair.

Color – The color of the coat is tricolor – so it incorporates black, brown and white. The coat can also include other colors such as orange, red, sable and lemon.

Ears – The ears stand on end making the breed seem even more alert.

Tail – The tail has been traditionally docked although it is now becoming far more common for it to be kept long (thank goodness)!

Temperament – The Rat Terrier breed is often mistaken for a Jack Russell mainly because they do look very similar. However, they have very different characters and temperaments. Where the Jack Russell can be a busy and very active dog (sometimes to active and highly strung) the Rat Terrier is more happy to relax and spend time just sleeping next to their owner.

If you own this breed you need to be aware that they are very prone to understanding and responding to how their owner is feeling and acting i.e. they are very sensitive to how you are feeling. This is very different to the Jack Russell who are less sensitive. So if you are angry, upset, tired or happy your little Rattie will respond to you differently – this actually makes dog obedience training so much easier – consequently they are a very easy dog to train.

It is important (as with all breeds) that you start socialization from an early age as this will reduce any anxiety around unfamiliar experiences and environments – this breed are very intelligent and do need lots of exercise and mental stimulation.

This breed love water and they do need at least a half hour walk a day – otherwise they may become restless especially if left out on the yard (and they love to dig so watch out).

Behavior – As the owner of this breed you need to be strong and firm – if you do not exert your authority and set appropriate boundaries i.e. remain the pack leader then your dog may start to show behavior problems.  They love to be around their owners, are lively and very intelligent but do need strong leadership to avoid what is known as small dog syndrome, territorial problems and behavior and obedience problems that start as a consequence of a lack of regular training.

Life Span – This breed have a life span of 15-18 years.

History of the Breed – Many people think that the Rat Terrier got it’s name as a consequence of the US President Theodore Roosevelt owning a Terrier that was particularly good at getting rid of Rats around the White House. It is thought that the breed originated from Smooth Fox Terriers and Manchester Terriers that originally came from the UK. The resulting Terrier was then bred again with the Beagle, Smooth Fox Terrier and Whippet which resulted in the Rat Terrier Breed we have now.