The Rat Terrier is a relatively new breed. Still, during his short history, the Rattie has proven himself to be a versatile, multipurpose dog with a playful, happy-go-lucky attitude. He is an all-in-one dog — able to do virtually anything. And he is a loyal friend and family companion.
He is athletic and agile, loves to play, and has a special passion for chasing balls. There is far more to know about the Rat Terrier than his endearing Rattie ears! Let’s get to know him.
10. In the 1910s and 20s, the Rat Terrier was one of the most common farm dogs in America. The Rat Terrier was developed in the United States from European dog breeds that landed in the US with their human companions. He was bred specifically to eliminate common farm pests, like rats and rabbits.
Different farmers chose to use different dog breeds, so the Rattie recipe ended up with more than seven ingredients, including Smooth Fox Terrier, the now-extinct Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and Beagle.
In the American Midwest, the Rat Terrier was bred to Whippets and Italian Greyhounds to produce a more quick-footed dog who could control the jackrabbit problem.
In the Southern and Central American regions, the Rattie was bred to the Beagle to create a more pack-oriented dog. This is where the Rat Terrier earned his strong sense of smell.
9. After the 1940s, the breed started to decline as farmers began using pesticides to control rodent populations.
By the 1950s, the breed was no longer widespread. Fortunately, he wasn’t completely forgotten. A handful of breeders sustained the breed until a re-emergence in the late 1970s.
After falling out of favor for several decades, the Rat Terrier made a huge comeback in the 90s. He gained recognition for competitions, and more and more people adopted the Rat Terrier as a pet.
In 1999, the United Kennel Club recognized Rat Terriers as a distinct breed.
8. How much should a Rat Terrier weigh?
That depends on the particular dog, but breed clubs have defined some sizes for the Rat Terrier.
The Decker Rat Terrier is slightly larger than the Rat Terrier and should range between 22 to 40 pounds. A male should be 16 to 19 inches in height while a female should be 16 to 17 inches.
The miniature Rat Terrier should weigh 10 to 18 pounds and should not be larger than 15 inches in height.
The toy Rat Terrier is an even smaller version of the breed. His weight should range between 5 to 10 pounds, and he should be no larger than 12 inches in height.
Decker Rat Terrier
7. The Decker Rat Terrier is a strain of the breed that is gaining popularity. The Decker first began with a dog owned by an avid hunter named Milton Decker, who felt his own dog, Henry, possessed terrific qualities that he wanted to preserve in his breeding program.
He succeeded in producing a large Rat Terrier with a fixed ear set — a hunting dog who would even retrieve from water.
The Decker hunted wild pig, deer, cougar, and bear as well as in the more traditional Rat Terrier roles. Even though the Decker Rat Terrier is considered feisty and tough, he maintains all the wonderful companion traits.
Does the Rat Terrier shed?
6. Yes, the Rat Terrier sheds. Fortunately, his hair is short and fairly thin… but it DOES show up on your black pants.
An occasional brushing, along with regular nail trims, meets a Rat Terrier’s grooming needs.
Keep Your Rattie Moving
5. Whether you’re a high-energy person or need a companion to keep you moving, a Rat Terrier could be the perfect pal. He has three dogs’ intelligence and energy, yet his diverse genetic background helps him maintain a somewhat even keel.
In other words, the Rattie is not the type to bounce off the walls—in fact, he is more than happy to cuddle on the couch.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors—whether for work or pleasure—your Rat Terrier will always follow, proving to be an excellent worker and dedicated companion. If you need a hiking or jogging companion, he can do that, too—happily.
Bred to work all day on the farm, your little guy needs a lot of exercises, and if he doesn’t get it, his sharp little mind can turn devious to amuse himself.
Your Rat Terrier needs at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, whether through walks, jogs through the neighborhood or hikes in the park, or a vigorous game of fetch.
4. The Rat Terrier is a fun and loving playmate for older children.
He has a gentle, fun-loving personality and knows when to adjust the energy level. The Rat is wonderfully patient with kids, even kids who aren’t part of the family.
His solid terrier instincts can make him slightly territorial, but he is generally fine with strangers, although he may be a bit slow to warm up to your guests.
3. The toughness that makes him suited to ridding a farm of vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach him anything. The Rat Terrier can be stubborn and dominant (he wants to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make him do things.
But, the Rattie is intelligent and eager to please.
Train a Rattie with patience and positive reinforcement; praise and treats are the way to win his heart. He will learn quickly.
Keep training sessions fun and interesting.
Activities in which he’ll excel Include agility, flyball, rally, and tracking, as well as being a therapy dog.
2. In 2004, a strain of hairless Rattie the UKC (United Kennel Club) acknowledged as a separate breed.
They called this rare breed the American Hairless Terrier, and the entire breed came from one single Rattie female with a recessive hairless gene.
The distinct American Hairless Terrier breed began in 1972 when one hairless puppy named Josephine appeared in a Rattie litter in Louisiana.
Owners Edwin and Willie Scott liked Josephine’s look and temperament, and upon maturity, bred her hoping to reproduce the hairless quality. The breeding eventually succeeded, and a litter produced in 1981 provided the new distinct breed’s foundation stock.
1. President Theodore Roosevelt named the breed, but not everyone agrees with this fact.
Roosevelt called his own dog, who solved a White House rat problem, a Rat Terrier.
Debate continues over whether the dog that President Roosevelt owned was, in fact, the same dog we know today. The short-legged dog that Roosevelt had has become the accepted breed standard for the Terrier named after him, the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, also known as the short-legged Rat.
Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
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