Rat Terrier



The breed of dog who is known for its hunting qualities. Rat terrier dog is hunter’s best friend, as they were bred especially for the purpose of bird hunting.

Originated in America, Rat terrier breed of dog were used in farm activities such as saving the crop field and hunting rodents and vermin.

A Rat terrier is a livelyfun-loving and robust dog. Rat terrier has different types like decker rat terrier, miniature rat terrier and small rat terrier.

Depends on the person who’s looking for a pet, a Rat terrier has a lot of energy to spare and would put your activity levels to test.

Rat Terrier Pictures

Rat Terrier Facts

Average Height: 10 to 18 inches. (Standard rat terrier)

Average Weight: 10 to 25 pounds. (Standard rat terrier)

Life Expectancy: 14 to 18 years.

Dog Group: Terrier

Colors: Chocolate, tan, blue, Isabella, lemon and apricot, white, black.

At a Glance

Size (2/5)

Rat terriers holds quite a small frame. Also, different Rat terrier types have different body weight and size.

A standard Rat terrier weight ranges from 10-25 pounds with a height of 10- 18 inches.

Affection Level (4/5)

Rat terriers come under the group of hunting dogs and have been known to be highly affectionate with hunters and family members they lived with.

They can be protective of their people, too! Ratty don’t do well with strangers at first but will get along eventually.

Apartment Friendly (5/5)

This breed has high adaptability strength. They can adjust according to their environment. Being a small-sized breed of dog, Rat terrier requires minimum space and can accommodate almost anywhere.

Cold Weather Tolerability (1/5)

They are very poor with cold weather, and would require additional protection to beat the chilly atmosphere around.

They have single coat layer with short hair which makes them vulnerable to cold weather. They also have a small body frame with less body weight which makes them more adaptable to hot rather than cold weather.

Hot Weather Tolerability (4/5)

Rat terriers are excellent with hot weather as they have short-haired & single-layered coat that reduces excessive heating.

They also have a petite body frame and long ears which radiates extra heat from the body.

Barking Tendencies (3/5)

Even though they are the calmest breeds in the Terrier group, yet possess barking tendencies.

They also make good watch dogs for such qualities. The barking can get on your nerves sometimes but can be controlled with required training.

Cat-Friendly (3/5)

Rat terriers are hunting dogs and usually have an instinct to hunt.

They are bound to be aggressive towards smaller animals, as they were bred to hunt them. The name Rat terrier was given to this. So it’s better to keep them away.

Dog-Friendly (4/5)

They love to make friends with other dogs, as they’re intelligent and highly enthusiastic they won’t show aggressive behaviour towards dogs.

Unless, the other dog is getting aggressive. Ratty goes size-blind when it comes to get in a fight and may get into trouble with bigger guys.

Exercise Needs (4/5)

A tired dog is a good dog. Indeed! Bred to work all day, Rat terriers training should be extrinsic.

They need an hour of daily exercise in order to keep them mentally and physically sound. Not getting enough exercise and activity may lead to bad Rat terrier temperament such as being devious and uncontainable.

Grooming Needs (3/5)

Rat terrier shed heavily during summer & fall or during heating time. They are also NOT hypoallergenic. So, owners with allergies must stay away.

They have short haired coat, hence requires regular brushing and occasional bathing and brushing of teeth.

Playfulness (5/5)

These four-legged creatures have all the energy in the world, you have to spend one hour every day to keep them stimulated and exhausted.

NOTE: Do not get a Rat terrier if you are a couch potato because they are not.

They are suitable for people living an active life and love appreciation, and treats.

Trainability (5/5)

Despite of being a dog with stubborn nature, Rat terriers are responsive towards training and loves to please their masters.

Owners need to give positive training to their Rat terriers or they may become uncompromising or shy and not respond to the training properly. Appreciate them. They love that!

Intelligence (5/5)

The breeds that are assigned for works like casing and hunting are considered to be intelligent dogs.

Rat terriers are very intelligent and fierce. You cannot trust this escape artist off-leash. They are responsive to new commands if they are being appreciated by giving them treats.

Mouthiness (2/5)

They are moderately chewy during the puppy stage of their life. They would nip or chew anything around them during mouthing period.

Making them habituated to chew toys would keep them away from being mouthy with their owners.

Price Group (4/5)

Rat terriers are small breed of dogs with an average price range of $200-$500. But, because these breeds are now considered as a rare breed of dog, Rat terrier breeders may charge you more for this dog.

Rat terrier rescue price averages at $150 USD.

About Rat Terrier

Rat terriers, during 1920s-40s, were kept by the farmers in order to guard their crop from rodents and vermin.

They are often claimed to be very hyperactive and have high training needs for them to function optimally.

Rat terriers were also bred with different breeds for new and improved versioning of Rat terrier. Ratty was bred with Iggy and Whippet for a more slender body which will enable them to chase things faster. Rat terriers were also bred to Beagles for their scent sensing quality.

Rat terrier personality traits are smart, loving and gentle. They love to be around their family members and are great companion dogs as well as watch dogs.

White, black & tan, brown & yellow are some of the Rat terrier colors.

Where Do Rat terriers Come From?

The Rat terrier breed is a result of experimenting with breeds like Smooth Fox Terrier, Manchester terrier and a few other small dog breeds such as the Beagle and Whippet. They are originally considered from America.

During early 20th century, these dogs were kept to guard the farm as well as their family. They gain popularity because of their rat-hunting skills and people would actually bet on them.

Rat terrier declination happened in the year 1950, but the breeders managed to sustain the breed until re-emergence in the year 1970. President Roosevelt also owned a Rat terrier which eradicated rat problems in the White House.

Rat terriers are in today’s world an amazing dog for families and are keen watchdogs. They can act handful sometimes but can be trained easily due to their intelligence and obedience.


A standard Rat terrier size is smallish-medium with a height of 10-18 inches and weight 10-20 pounds.

Decker Rat terrier is 16-19 inches in height and has 25-40 pounds weight.

Miniature Rat terrier is 15 inches in height and has 10-15 pounds weight.

Toy Rat terrier is 10-12 inches with 5-10 pounds of weight.

 They have a petite body frame which enables them to chase and hunt faster and effectively.

They are also good for people living in apartment due to their small size and involvement in indoor activities. Rat terriers are adaptive to any living situation.


Training a Rat terrier is easy, as they are highly intelligent – they would easily learn some basic commands.

Although you must be patient with them as they, like other small dogs, are stubborn in nature and can act ferocious if not treated in the right way.

They need exhaustive training regularly, for they were bred for hunting, in order to keep them healthy and sound.

Rat terrier puppies are recommended to be trained not more than 15 – 20 minutes, as during puppyhood their joints are not properly formed and they lack muscle coordination.


Though, this dog has a short hair coat, Rat terrier shedding can be a problem during summer and fall season. You must be thinking ‘Are Rat terrier hypoallergenic?’ No, they are not. So if you allergies, be cautious.

Regular brushing and combing of the coat to get rid of any knots is enough for Rat terrier. Bathing them is only suggested when necessary.

Teeth brushing has to be done at least once every week.

The underside of their ears should be monitored and cleaned, and nails should be trimmed from time-to-time if not naturally worn out.

Common Diseases

Rat terriers are generally rough and tough dogs, but they too are vulnerable to some diseases.

The following diseases may not reduce Rat terrier lifespan but can cause discomfort in lifestyle.

Hip Dysplasia

Many factors contribute to this condition, it can be either genetics or environment or maybe lack of proper diet.

In minor cases, with proper diet and care the dog can live a healthy and active life. But if it’s severe, surgery might be required.


This a frightening condition where there can be severe or mild seizures.

Epilepsy is usually inherited and can be caused due to metabolic disorders, tumours or maybe exposure to the poison. You can detect symptoms when the dog is running frantically (as if being chased) or staggering or hiding.

This condition can’t be cured, but still, they can lead an active life.

However, seizures can be controlled with medication and care.


This condition is when the thyroid glands produce abnormally low levels of the hormone, mild signs of the disease can be infertility.

Other obvious signs can be obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels and irregular heat cycles.

The coat becomes brittle and starts falling, the skin tends to become rough and dark in appearance in this condition.

But do not lose hope yet, treatment is still possible and a well-treated dog can live a happy and normal life.


Allergies in dogs is a common thing. There are three types of allergies- Food allergy, contact allergy (caused by bedding & dog shampoos) and inhalant allergy (caused by pollen & dust).

Treatment such as diet change, medication and environmental changes are advised respectively.


They are recommended to be fed according to their size and metabolism.

Less than 10 pounds: 1/4 to 1/2 cup per day

10-15 pounds 1/2 to 1 cup per day

20-30 pounds 3/4 to 1.5 cups per day

30-40 pounds 1.5 to 2 cups per day

While feeding a Rat terrier, keep in mind that they are hunting breed and you must get him food that satisfies his metabolic needs.

Rat terriers should not be left with food all the time or they may gain weight and invite unnecessary diseases.

Instead, make a schedule of how much & when to feed your rat terrier dog..

Rat terrier puppies should be fed with puppy food with all the required proteins and vitamins.

Suggested: Senior Dog Food

Vaccination and Care

Rat terriers are excellent escape artists which points to the fact that they are super active and playful. They also love to dig the ground and are called earth dogs.

Ratty requires minimum 30-40 minutes of exercise and fun tasks and activities every day to keep the healthy stimulation going on.

Involve them in games like tug of war, fetch, find the treat, etc. to make exercise fun for them and easy for you.

They must be vaccinated with canine distempercanine hepatitis, and rabies after the first three months of their birth, and then after one-year canine parvovirus can be given.

Dog Vaccination is a big field to cover. We suggest you read our Guide To Dog Vaccination to have a better idea of it.

Monthly Expense Estimation

A Rat terrier price wouldn’t be that hard on your budget, as they require minimum professional training and grooming. They can be home trained and due to short hair coat they can be home groomed, too.

For a month the cost of raising a Rat terrier would estimate up to $150 – $200 USD and yearly expenditure would fall in the range of $1500 – $2500 USD.

Training subjects like tunnels, crates, treats will cost you around $200. They truly are budget-friendly dogs.

Behaviour With:


Rat terriers are known to be incredibly kid-friendly, and having them would be providing your children with a best friend.

Children should be under supervision of an adult every time as they may nag or irritate the dog by stealing their food or pulling their tail. This can make the dog furious.


They are good with their social skills, and wouldn’t normally cause any problems with other dogs.

However, if provoked by other dog, Rat terrier returns the gesture. They seem to forget about their small-sized body while picking up fights with bigger dogs.


Bred to hunt, Rat terrier has high prey instinct. They would chase anything that catches their eyes, especially small pets. They will get along with cats if brought up together from a young age.

Homes with small pets like rats, hamsters, etc. should not opt for this breed as they have the name RAT terrier for their rat killing quality!


If you are a person with an active lifestyle then you should definitely get this breed of dog.

You can even skip gym and workout with this guy. They can become your new gym trainer as they are full of life and dynamic.

Rat terrier has such good temperament qualities like playful, fun, loyal, friendly.

Because they were bred for hunting and chasing down animals, they need exerting exercises on a regular basis to maintain their mental and physical health and like to get appreciation from their owners on making any achievement.

These dog are also known for their split-personality disorder, as they act as both a companion and a watchdog.

Something Fun About Rat Terrier

  • Rat terrier made an appearance in the movie “The Little Colonel,” in the year 1930.
  • After a decline in the year 1950, they made a huge comeback in the 90s and were adopted as pets. Carrie Underwood also has a Rat terrier in spotlight.
  • They are the mixture of about 7 breeds including Italian Greyhound, whippet, Beagle, bull terrier, smooth fox terrier! They inherit some traits of all these breeds.
  • Famous film-maker & musician, Laurie Anderson, made a movie called “Heart Of A Dog” after her Rat terrier sadly passed away.

Hey, Readers!

That’s all from our side on Rat terriers. Did you like this breed or dog? Or the thought of buying it is intimidating?

Let us know what should be our next breed to write about, in the comment section below.

Your engagement is valuable!

Happy Petting To You Guys!


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