Rat Terrier: Your Ultimate Guide to This Lovable Breed

rat terrier

If you’re considering adding a new furry friend to your family, you might want to check out this lovable breed. Rat Terriers are small but mighty dogs that have captured the hearts of many with their playful and affectionate personalities.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Rat Terriers, from their history to their exercise needs. Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a first-time puppy parent, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rat Terriers are small, playful, and affectionate dogs
  • This breed is perfect for families and other pets
  • They require regular exercise and grooming
  • Adopting or rescuing a Rat Terrier is a great option

The History of Rat Terriers

If you’re considering adopting or purchasing a Rat Terrier, you may be curious about the history of this lively breed. Rat Terriers originated in the United States in the early 1900s and were bred for their ability to hunt small game, particularly rats. They were used on farms and in households to eliminate vermin and were prized for their agility, intelligence, and loyalty.

The breed was developed by crossing several terrier breeds with the smooth-coated Fox Terrier and the Whippet. The result was a small but athletic dog with a keen sense of smell and a strong prey drive. The Rat Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1936, and in 2013, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as well.

The History of Rat Terriers.

Rat Terriers became popular in the mid-twentieth century, especially in rural areas, where they were valued as working dogs. However, their popularity declined in the 1960s with the advent of chemical pest control. Fortunately, the breed was saved from extinction by dedicated breeders who continued to work with the dogs and promote their unique qualities.

Today, Rat Terriers are beloved for their spunky personalities, affectionate nature, and versatility. They make great pets for active families, as they enjoy plenty of exercise and playtime but are also content to snuggle up with their owners. Whether you’re looking for a hunting dog, a lap dog, or a loyal companion, the Rat Terrier may be the perfect fit for you.

Rat Terrier Characteristics

Rat Terriers are known for their distinctive physical and behavioral traits that set them apart from other dog breeds. They are small to medium-sized dogs, weighing anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds. Their short, smooth coat can come in a variety of colors, such as white, black, tan, and combinations of those colors. Rat Terriers have a muscular, athletic build with a sleek appearance.

Behaviorally, Rat Terriers are known for their high levels of energy and playfulness. They are intelligent, curious, and love to explore their surroundings. Their friendly, outgoing personality make them excellent family pets, as they get along well with people of all ages. Rat Terriers are also great with other dogs, thanks to their background as hunting companions who would need to work alongside other dogs without getting aggressive or territorial.

Physical Characteristics of Rat Terriers

Rat Terriers have a unique appearance that makes them stand out from the crowd. They are small to medium-sized dogs with a lean, muscular build. Their coat is short and smooth, which requires minimal grooming. They have a wedge-shaped head with large, erect ears that add to their alert, attentive appearance. Rat Terriers’ tails are typically docked, but can be naturally short or long, depending on the individual dog.

The breed standard for Rat Terriers allows for a range of sizes, from 10 to 25 pounds. However, most Rat Terriers fall into the 15 to 25 pound range. It’s important to keep in mind that while they may be small, Rat Terriers are active dogs that require plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Behavioral Characteristics of Rat Terriers

Rat Terriers have a reputation for being energetic, playful, and intelligent. They are highly trainable and can excel in activities such as obedience, agility, and even tracking. Rat Terriers have a curious nature that leads them to explore their environment, so it’s important to supervise them closely when outside or introduce them to new situations slowly. Additionally, Rat Terriers are known to be vocal, barking to alert you to potential dangers or just to say hello.

Despite their high energy levels, Rat Terriers are affectionate and loving pets. They enjoy spending time with their owners and will seek out affection from their humans. Rat Terriers do well in multi-dog households or with other pets, thanks to their well-developed social skills. However, they may not be the best fit for families with young children who may not know how to interact with them respectfully, as Rat Terriers can be easily injured if mishandled.

Temperament and Personality of Rat Terriers

Rat Terriers are known for their lively and energetic personalities. They are highly intelligent and eager to please, making them a popular choice for families with children. Rat Terriers are affectionate and loyal, and they love being around people. They make great companions for those who enjoy an active lifestyle.

One of the most distinctive traits of Rat Terriers is their strong prey drive. They were originally bred to hunt rats and other vermin, and this instinct remains strong in the breed. As a result, Rat Terriers may chase after small animals such as squirrels or even household pets such as rabbits or cats. If you have other pets in the home, it’s essential to properly introduce them to your Rat Terrier and supervise them during interactions.

Rat Terriers are also known for being vocal. They may bark or whine to get attention, and some may have a tendency to bark excessively if not properly trained. With consistent training and socialization, however, most Rat Terriers can learn to control their vocalizations.

Overall, Rat Terriers are a fun-loving, affectionate breed that loves to be around people. They make great pets for families with active lifestyles and plenty of time to spend with their furry companion.

Caring for Your Rat Terrier

A Rat Terrier is a lovable companion that requires proper care to stay healthy and happy. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:


The Rat Terrier’s coat is short and smooth, requiring minimal grooming. However, regular brushing and occasional baths are recommended to maintain their coat’s health and shine. Trim their nails every few weeks, clean their ears regularly, and brush their teeth daily to prevent dental problems.


Rat Terriers are active and energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy. A daily walk or run in the park, combined with regular play sessions and training activities, will keep your Rat Terrier mentally and physically stimulated.


A well-balanced diet is crucial for your Rat Terrier’s overall health and well-being. Choose high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs and avoid feeding them table scraps or human food. Ensure that they have access to fresh water at all times.

Health Checks

Regular health check-ups are essential for your Rat Terrier’s health. Keep up-to-date with their vaccinations, and schedule regular visits to the vet to prevent and identify potential health problems early on.

By following these care tips, you’ll be able to provide your Rat Terrier with the love and attention they need to live a long and happy life by your side.

Training Your Rat Terrier

If you’re a proud owner of a Rat Terrier, you already know that these dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please. They thrive on human interaction and are always eager to learn new things. Here are some tips for training your Rat Terrier:

Start with Basic Commands

Begin by teaching your Rat Terrier basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” These commands form the foundation of your dog’s training and will make future training sessions easier.

Be Positive and Consistent

Rat Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement, so be sure to use lots of praise and rewards when your dog successfully completes a task. Consistency is also key to their training, so stick to a routine and always use the same commands and rewards.

Use Interactive Toys

Rat Terriers love to play and using interactive toys during training sessions can help keep them engaged and motivated. Toys like treat balls and puzzle games can also help improve their cognitive abilities.

Consider Professional Training

If you’re struggling to train your Rat Terrier, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. A trainer can help you identify any training issues and provide personalized training techniques for your dog’s specific needs.

Training your Rat Terrier can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. With patience, consistency, and lots of positive reinforcement, your Rat Terrier will be performing impressive tricks in no time.

Rat Terrier Health Concerns

As with any breed, Rat Terriers may be prone to some health issues, so it is important to keep an eye out for any symptoms and bring them to the attention of your veterinarian. One of the most common health concerns for Rat Terriers is hip dysplasia, which can lead to discomfort and physical limitations. Other potential health issues may include allergies, dental problems, and eye conditions. Regular check-ups with your vet and a healthy diet and exercise routine can help keep your Rat Terrier in optimal health.

Additionally, it is important to monitor your Rat Terrier’s weight, as they can be prone to obesity if overfed or under-exercised. Obesity can lead to a range of health issues, including joint problems and diabetes. Make sure to provide your Rat Terrier with a balanced diet and plenty of opportunities for exercise to prevent unnecessary weight gain.

Finding a Rat Terrier Breeder

If you have decided that a Rat Terrier is the perfect companion for you, finding a reputable breeder is essential. The breeder you choose should prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs and be knowledgeable about the breed.

Start your search by checking with local dog clubs or breed rescue groups. They can often refer you to reputable breeders in your area. You can also search online for Rat Terrier breeders, but be cautious and do your research before making any commitments.

What to Look for in a Breeder
Experience: Look for a breeder who has been breeding Rat Terriers for several years and can provide references from happy customers.
Certifications: A reputable breeder may belong to breed clubs or have certifications from organizations such as the AKC or UKC.
Health screenings: The breeder should be able to provide documentation of health screenings for both the parents and the puppies.
Transparent: A good breeder will be open about their breeding practices and be willing to answer any questions you may have.

When you find a breeder that meets your criteria, schedule a visit to their facility. This will give you an opportunity to see the living conditions of the dogs and interact with them. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to ask the breeder questions and address your issues.

Remember, adopting a Rat Terrier is a long-term commitment. Take the time to find a breeder you trust and a dog that is a good fit for your lifestyle and personality.

Rat Terrier Adoption: Giving a Loving Home

If you’re considering adopting a Rat Terrier, you’re giving a loving home to a dog who deserves it. Rat Terriers make wonderful pets and are often affectionate and loyal companions. Adopting a dog is a rewarding experience, and you’ll have a loyal friend who will be by your side through thick and thin.

When adopting a Rat Terrier, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, be sure to adopt from a reputable shelter or rescue organization. This will ensure that your new pet has been properly cared for and has received any necessary medical treatment. Secondly, consider the age of the dog you are adopting. Puppies are cute, but older dogs can make great pets too. They are often already trained and have a calmer demeanor than puppies.

Before bringing your new Rat Terrier home, make sure your home is ready for your furry friend. Set up a comfortable bed, food and water bowls, and any necessary toys or treats. Make sure your home is safe for your new pet, and remove any potential hazards.

When you bring your Rat Terrier home, be patient. It may take some time for your new pet to adjust to their new surroundings. Give them plenty of love and attention, and be consistent with their training. Rat Terriers are intelligent dogs and will respond well to positive reinforcement training methods.

Adopting a Rat Terrier is a wonderful way to give a dog a second chance at a happy life. With plenty of love, care, and attention, your new pet will become a loyal and loving companion who will bring you joy for years to come.

Introducing Rat Terrier Puppies to Your Family

Bringing a new Rat Terrier puppy home is an exciting experience for the whole family, but it’s important to ensure a smooth introduction process. Here are some tips to help your new furry friend settle in:

Socialization is Key

From an early age, it’s crucial to socialize your Rat Terrier puppy with new people, animals, and environments. This helps them develop into well-adjusted and confident adults. Take your puppy to different places and introduce them to new faces, as long as they are vaccinated. Encourage children to interact positively with the puppy and teach them how to properly handle and care for the dog.

Establish a Routine

Set up a regular schedule for feeding, exercise, and rest that works for both you and your puppy. Include plenty of playtime, training sessions, and bonding moments to create a strong and loving relationship. This will also help your puppy feel safe and secure in their new home.

Provide a Safe Space

Set up a cozy and comfortable spot for your puppy to rest and relax. This can be a crate, a bed, or a designated area in your home. Make sure your puppy has access to plenty of water and toys to keep them occupied.

Training Basics

Start training your Rat Terrier puppy early on in basic obedience commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “come”. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and playtime to encourage good behavior. Remember to be patient and consistent with your training.

By following these tips, you can help your new Rat Terrier puppy feel welcomed and loved in their new home, setting the foundation for a happy and healthy life together.

Rat Terrier and Other Pets

If you already have pets at home and are considering adding a Rat Terrier to your family, it is important to introduce them properly to ensure a harmonious household. Rat Terriers are known for their high prey drive, so it is essential to supervise their interactions with other animals, especially smaller ones like cats or birds.

When introducing your Rat Terrier to other pets, take it slow and allow them to get used to each other’s presence before allowing them to interact. Always praise and reward positive behavior, and never punish or scold your Rat Terrier for being curious or energetic around other animals.

Rat Terriers can get along well with other dogs and even become fast friends with them. However, it is important to avoid leaving them unsupervised, especially during the initial introduction period. Keep in mind that Rat Terriers have a strong hunting instinct and may not get along with dogs of similar size and temperament.

If you have a multi-pet household and are considering adding a Rat Terrier to the mix, consult with a trusted veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist for advice on how to introduce your new pet to your other pets and ensure a successful integration into your family.

Rat Terriers: A Great Small Dog Breed for Families

If you’re in the market for a small dog breed that’s friendly and adaptable, a Rat Terrier may be the perfect fit for your family. These lovable dogs have a lot to offer and are great with children and other pets.

With their compact size and affectionate nature, Rat Terriers make great companions for families living in apartments or smaller homes. They are also highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of living situations.

One of the things that sets Rat Terriers apart from other small dog breeds is their intelligence. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training. This means that with a little bit of patience and consistency, you can teach your Rat Terrier all sorts of fun tricks and commands.

Rat Terriers are also known for their high energy levels and playful nature. They love to play and can keep kids entertained for hours on end. However, it’s important to ensure that your Rat Terrier gets enough exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

When it comes to grooming, Rat Terriers are relatively low-maintenance. They have short, sleek coats that don’t require a lot of brushing or bathing. However, regular nail trimming, teeth cleaning, and ear cleaning are all important parts of your Rat Terrier’s overall care routine.

If you’re looking for a small dog breed that’s full of personality and affection, a Rat Terrier may be the perfect fit for your family. With their intelligence, energy, and adaptability, these lovable dogs are sure to bring joy and companionship to your home.

Rat Terrier Exercise Needs: Keeping Them Happy and Healthy

As a high-energy breed, Rat Terriers require daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. They thrive in environments where they can run, play, and explore.

You should aim for at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. This can include brisk walks, runs, or games of fetch.

Interactive toys like puzzle games can also be a great way to stimulate your Rat Terrier mentally while providing physical exercise.

It’s important to note that Rat Terriers may be prone to obesity if they don’t get enough exercise. Make sure to monitor their diet and provide healthy, nutrient-rich meals in appropriate portions.

By providing your Rat Terrier with ample exercise opportunities, you’ll not only keep them physically fit but mentally stimulated and happy as well.

Rat Terrier: A Breed Full of Energy and Playfulness

One of the most distinctive traits of Rat Terriers is their energetic and playful nature. They are known for their love of activity and their ability to bring joy and entertainment to their owners.

If you’re looking for a companion who will keep you on your toes and keep you laughing, a Rat Terrier may be the perfect fit for you. With their boundless energy and enthusiasm for life, they are a breed that will always keep you on your toes.

Whether you’re playing fetch in the backyard, going for a run together, or simply spending time snuggling on the couch, your Rat Terrier will always be eager to join in the fun.

Keep in mind that as an active breed, Rat Terriers require plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Daily walks, play sessions, and other forms of physical activity are essential for keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.

In addition to their playful nature, Rat Terriers are also known for their intelligence and trainability. With the right approach, they can be taught a wide range of tricks and commands, and many excel in obedience and agility competitions.

If you’re looking for a dog that is full of energy and personality, a Rat Terrier may be the perfect fit for you. With their playful spirit and affectionate nature, they are a breed that will bring endless joy and entertainment to your life.


Congratulations on making it to the end of your ultimate guide to Rat Terriers! By now, you should have a thorough understanding of the history, characteristics, temperament, and exercise needs of this lovable breed.

Remember, Rat Terriers are known for being highly adaptable, making them a great choice for families with children and other pets. With proper care and training, your Rat Terrier will be a loyal and affectionate companion for years to come.

Whether you choose to adopt a Rat Terrier or find a reputable breeder, be sure to provide them with plenty of love, attention, and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoy your journey with your new furry friend!


Q: What is the history of the Rat Terrier breed?

A: The Rat Terrier breed has a rich history that can be traced back to the early 19th century. Originally developed as farm dogs, Rat Terriers were prized for their hunting abilities and versatility.

Q: What are the characteristics of Rat Terriers?

A: Rat Terriers are known for their small to medium size, muscular build, and distinctive rat-like tail. They have a short, smooth coat that can come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Q: What is the temperament and personality of Rat Terriers?

A: Rat Terriers are intelligent, lively, and affectionate dogs. They are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families. They can be independent and may have strong hunting instincts.

Q: How should I care for my Rat Terrier?

A: Rat Terriers require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and should be provided with regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. A balanced diet and routine veterinary care are also essential for their well-being.

Q: How can I train my Rat Terrier?

A: Rat Terriers are highly trainable dogs and thrive on positive reinforcement training methods. Consistency, patience, and early socialization are key to their successful training.

Q: What are some common health concerns for Rat Terriers?

A: Rat Terriers may be prone to certain health issues such as patellar luxation, allergies, and dental problems. Regular vet check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and manage these concerns.

Q: Are Rat Terriers good for families?

A: Rat Terriers can make great family pets. They are adaptable, affectionate, and enjoy being part of a loving household. However, it’s important to properly train and socialize them to ensure a harmonious family dynamic.

Q: How much exercise do Rat Terriers need?

A: Rat Terriers are an energetic breed and require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are important to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

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