The Rat Terrier: A Complete Guide

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The Rat Terrier has enough intelligence and energy for three dogs, yet his diverse genetic background helps him maintain an even keel.

He’s not the type of dog to bounce off the walls. He will be more than happy to laze around on the couch or cuddle with his favorite humans.

The Rat Terrier is cheerful and sensitive. Although he has a terrier personality, he’s calmer than some terrier breeds and enjoys lap time with his people.

Life with a Rat Terrier is never dull. Smart, active and fun-loving, he doesn’t want to miss out on anything exciting.

This makes him a great companion, but it also means he can become bored and destructive when no one is home to keep him entertained.

Despite his small size, the Rat Terrier needs a lot of training and exercise, as well as a dog-proofed home to keep him away from trouble.

Because of his terrier nature, the Rat Terrier enjoys barking, investigating, and digging.

He’s generally not yappy. But if he doesn’t receive enough attention, he can become a nuisance barker.

A small Rat Terrier puppy sitting down
The Rat Terrier is known for his cheerful and outgoing temperament.

He’s generally friendly toward other dogs. Although he might not start a fight, he won’t back down from one, either.

The Rat Terrier is smart and learns quickly, but he’s also easily bored. Keep his training sessions fun and short so that you will always have his interest.

Powerful and athletic, the Rat Terrier excels at different dog sports, especially flyball, agility, and rally.

Because of his size, he fits well in many types of homes. The Rat Terrier constantly craves attention and does best with people who can shower him with it.

He can be a good choice for families with older children and other pets.

Rat Terrier Puppies – Before You Buy…

What Price are Rat Terrier Puppies?

The price of Rat Terrier puppies is approximately $400 to $800.

How to Find Reputable Rat Terrier Breeders?

Anyone can put two dogs together and call themselves a breeder, but that doesn’t make them reputable or responsible.

Buying a puppy is a huge decision and a life-changing commitment, so you want to choose a breeder that is the best and most experienced and has the best interests of both dog and buyer.

Reputable breeders usually don’t advertise in the local classified newspaper ads.

They will not take orders for puppies over the internet. Most importantly, they will not sell to pet stores. They are knowledgeable about the breed and the breed standard.

Their dogs and puppies live in a safe and sanitary environment, which you can openly inspect when you come to visit.

They also provided proper medical care and nutrition to all their dogs and will furnish you with all the medical records.

Reputable breeders will also take back the dog anytime you cannot care for it anymore. They will be available to you for advice during the life of the dog.

A Rat Terrier looking curiously at you
The Rat Terrier is enthusiastic, smart and devoted to his humans.

A dog show is a great way to see different dog breeds and their breeders. It gives you a chance to meet these breeders and exhibitors and interview them.

One of the best places to look for a responsible breeder is a national and local dog club.

Most have breeder referral programs. To find a national or local club, you can go online and check the links on the website.

Other places to check are dog trainers, boarding kennels, dog rescues, and local veterinarians.

3 Little-Known Facts About Rat Terrier Puppies

  1. The Rat Terrier is an all-purpose farm dog. His job is to kill off rats and exterminate other vermin.
  2. His ancestors include Fox Terriers and various other types of terriers, Beagles, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds.
  3. President Theodore Roosevelt loved Rat Terriers. They were among his many pets when he lived at the White House.

Physical Traits of the Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are lively, muscular dogs that are often described as compact but meaty. They have strong shoulders, deep chests, and muscular legs.

The Rat Terrier’s ears are erect when alert. They can be upright or tipped when he’s relaxed. The head is wedge-shaped. He has a strong muzzle which is a little shorter than his skull.

The jaw is strong, and the teeth should meet in a scissors bite. His tail does not curl at the back but can be carried in different positions.

Rat Terriers come in different colors and color combinations, and almost all of them have white markings.

They may come in white, black with tan, black with rust, white and black or tan, red, blue, lemon, chocolate or orange. Rat Terriers sport a short, smooth coat made up of very dense, very shiny fur.

Their coat only needs to be brushed once or twice per week to remove loose hair and keep the coat looking healthy. They shed lightly throughout the year. Bathe them only as needed.

Check the ears every week for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse them with a gentle and veterinarian-approved cleanser.

Their teeth must be brushed at least once a week to remove tartar and prevent gum disease.

How Big is a Full-Grown Rat Terrier?

A Rat Terrier peeking round a corner
The Rat Terrier is not a dog who likes change.

Miniature Rat Terriers stand 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder. Standard Rat Terriers stand at 13 to 18 inches. They weigh 8 to 25 pounds.

What is the Life Expectancy of the Rat Terrier?

The life expectancy of the Rat Terrier is approximately 13 to 18 years.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Rat Terrier   

Intelligent, wary, and stubborn, the Rat Terrier is a dynamo. He may have a general dislike of strangers, but most warm up to visitors.

If he’s not properly socialized, he will be fine with his family, but he could become aggressive to strangers and other animals.

He is also absolutely fearless, which can be a wonderful trait, but not if he is aggressive. A good family pet, Rat Terriers are amazingly perceptive and intuitively respond to your moods.

They have a great desire to please. They love praise and will follow you around the house. This breed is meant to work all day outside. He needs a lot of exercise every day.

If he does not get it, his sharp mind can turn mischievous just to amuse himself.

The Rat Terrier’s Diet

The Rat Terrier is a hunting dog that eats red meat and fresh fruits.

Depending on your Rat Terrier’s health requirements, some vets recommend feeding twice a day of two small portions of a meal.

Some vets recommend a healthy platter once a day. The size of an eating platter or serving portion depends on the size of your dog. Also, try not to give him whatever junk food you’re eating.

Some of them contain high levels of salt, sugar, and preservatives. If they don’t lead to obesity, your dog may suffer from dental problems or medical problems like diabetes.

Meat is an important element in the diet of Rat Terriers. Venison, beef, pork, and chicken are all acceptable sources of meat protein.

Fruits and vegetables are also great sources of additional nutrition for the Rat Terrier.

How Much Exercise Does a Rat Terrier Need?

Rat Terriers were bred to work and are high energy dogs. They require at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Without enough exercise, he will grow bored and turn destructive. He will dig to his heart’s content and destroy your yard or chase after every interesting scent.

He can also use those digging skills to tunnel under a fence. Larger Rat Terriers may find ways to get over fences if the attraction is strong enough.

When he’s indoors, Rat Terriers are good house dogs. They are happy to be with their family and are also easily taught good behavior inside the home.

Rat Terrier Health and Conditions

Rat Terriers may suffer from chronic allergies. They cause itchy skin and scratching that can eventually lead to infections.

Demodectic mange can occur in young Rat Terriers. Blue or gray Rat Terriers can suffer from a hair loss disease called color dilution alopecia.

Heart disease and epilepsy are also a cause for concern. Eye diseases that they can be prone to include lens luxation and progressive retinal atrophy.

They can also suffer from bad joints in the hips and knees.

My Final Thoughts on the Rat TerrierA Rat Terrier on the couch

The Rat Terrier is known for his cheerful and outgoing temperament. His biggest desire is to be with his humans, and he’s adaptable to any kind of family activity.

Rat Terriers are enthusiastic, smart, and devoted to their humans. When they’re bored or left alone for long periods, they have the potential to do a lot of damage.

If you plan to get a Rat Terrier, you need to make sure you can give him the activity and companionship he needs to stay happy.

When you are home, engage him with walks, play, and training. All these provide fun, structure, confidence, and exhaustion.

Routine and structure are important to Rat Terriers. This is not a dog who likes change.

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