Rat Terrier Dogs

Whether you’re a high-energy person or need a companion to keep you moving, a Rat Terrier could be the perfect pal. They have enough intelligence and energy for three dogs, yet their diverse genetic background helps them maintain an even keel. In other words, Rat Terriers are not the type of dog to bounce off the walls—in fact, they are more than happy to cuddle on the couch.

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier Pictures

  • Rat Terrier dog named Lord of Erie Street
  • Rat Terrier dog named Radar Love
  • Rat Terrier dog named Copper
  • Rat Terrier dog named Annie
  • Rat Terrier dog named Baby Blue Lady Bentley
  • Rat Terrier dog named The Distinguished Sir Bosworth
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Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Active, sporty types
    • Farmers and ranchers
    • Hikers
    • Families

Rat Terriers on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

    • Small
    • Tough and fearless
    • Dependable
    • Loving
    • Great ratters
    • Easily trained

What They Are Like to Live With

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 friend. Easy to train and eager to please, Rat Terriers can help on the farm, in the field or in the yard. And if you have a rat problem, they can be amazingly helpful. Or if you just need a hiking or jogging companion, they can do that, too—happily.

Rat Terriers are fun and loving playmates for children. They have gentle, fun-loving personalities and they know when to adjust the energy level. Their solid terrier instincts can make them slightly territorial, but they are generally good with strangers. However, they do have nose when it comes to intruders—they will bark and alert the family if they sense a threat.

Things You Should Know

Rat Terriers need at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, whether through walks, jogs through the neighborhood or hikes in the park. Being an intelligent working breed, they also like constructive games and tasks to keep their minds sharp. They will be happy living in an apartment as long as their daily exercise requirements are met. Rat Terriers may be high-energy dogs, but they do appreciate cozy time indoors.

A healthy Rat Terrier can live as long as 18 years. These are solid, healthy little dogs for the most part, but some can develop hip dysplasia and allergy problems. Their short coat is a breeze to manage. Just brush them every few days.

Rat Terrier History

Rat Terriers originated in America as a cross between Fox Terriers and a long list of European Terriers that includes Manchester Terriers and Bull Terriers. To stop a rabbit epidemic that threatened crops in 1910, farmers increased the speed and agility of these dogs by crossing them with Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and Smooth Fox Terriers. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, hunters crossed the early Rat Terriers with Beagles to improve their tracking abilities. While common in the 1920s and 1930s, the modernization of farming created less of a demand for Rat Terriers. Today, Rat Terrier clubs grapple with the true lineage of the modern breed. But, most of them agree that the Rat Terrier’s diverse gene pool is what allows them to remain a healthy, adaptable and intelligent breed.

The Look of a Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are small, compact, muscular and somewhat brawny (displaying their sturdiness and strength). They have small heads, medium-length muzzles, black noses and ears that stick up. They have strong necks and shoulders, deep chests and sturdy legs. Their tails can be either long or short at birth. Rat Terriers have short, medium-dense coats that come in red, yellow, black, black & tan, black tan & white and blue & white. Overall, Rat Terriers have a tough, alert and outgoing look.

Talk About Rat Terriers 

A dog that loves to be with you

I love my Rat Terrier, Maverick! When I am at home he is always with me and when I get home from work he is so over the top excited to see me. I love how he won't leave me alone until I let him give me a kiss! Our favorite game is hide and seek...I run fast and hide and he always finds me! Maverick loves to watch TV he is so funny when he becomes interested in a TV show. Rat Terriers have to be the best breed of dogs!

~Leah P., owner of a Rat Terrier

These little guys need attention!

Rat Terriers are the most alert, lovable, adaptable dogs with great intelligence. They are alert: hearing, seeing, smelling everything. They are also the most loving dog you can imagine! I have owned many breeds and have known many more.

They will love you, kiss you, sleep with you and generally be as close as you want them to be. They are extremely intelligent. Mine understands word phrases, situations, new environments and different people types.

Rat Terriers need attention! They need your love. Daily exercise, good food and playtime. If you like to be close to your pet, the RAT TERRIER is best.

~Don S., owner of a Rat Terrier

Why I love Rat Terriers

I love my Rat Terrier, Stewie. He was rescued from a puppy mill over three years ago. He was shy, timid, and very scared of human contact. After some training, trust, and a friendly hand he has became the most loving and fun dog. He is very energetic and loves his car rides. He goes with me to the bank and to run errands. He loves his toys often hoards them on the bed. He loves laying on the couch and getting a lot of undivided attention. Rat Terriers are very loyal and easy to train. They are the best of the best. If you are considering getting one, do it!

~Shannon B., owner of a Rat Terrier

My canine best friend

My Rat Terrier is the best dog I have ever had! Her name is Shelly. I am retired and have time to give her all the attention she needs. She loves to go places with me whether we're running or walking. And she loves going with us on trips in our travel trailer.

When she is alone, in our trailer or at home, she would prefer to be with us but when she is alone she will never tear up anything or be destructive in any way. She is about 7 years old now and I am 70! She is the greatest!

~Jim R., owner of a Rat Terrier

I LOVE my Rat Terrier

I've had dogs all my life and the Rat Terrier is the all time best breed. My dog {Bella} is the sweetest and smartest dog I've ever seen. I was amazed about how quick she picked up on our daily routine and not whine and cry when we leave her in the house alone while we are at work but instead is overjoyed to see you come home. We have a cat who dislikes dogs but he will curl up next to Bella, too.

~Angie M., owner of a Rat Terrier

Best little dog in the world

I love the sassy little Ratty....for the sass! My Bingo is a joy ALL the time. He loves everything and is the best dog I have ever had. He loves tugging on my pant legs (I have none without holes now) and is always so happy to see me when I get home from work. Life with out a Bingo is just unthinkable. Best little dog in the world.

~Brenda S., owner of a Rat Terrier

A loyal couch potato

My 5-and-a-half-year-old, almost-11-pound Rat Terrier, Jacoby, is such a good boy. H follows basic commands and enjoys learning new tricks, though it takes some patience.

He loves long walks and short jogs, chasing around the house after his toys, and playing hide-and-seek for treats. He is friendly with adults and children alike -- even toddlers, and an extremely loyal companion. In the evening, when I'm stretched out on the couch, he wedges himself between me and the back of the couch so I can easily pet him. He will contentedly stay there for hours. And when it's 10 p.m., he reminds me that it's time to go to bed! I highly recommend this breed: My Jacoby is affectionate, loyal and fun-loving.

~Peggy B., owner of a Rat Terrier

Part of the family

Peach is my 6-year-old blue-and-tan rat terrier. She is my first baby, and I try to remind her of that daily.

Before I had kids, she and I spent our time hiking in woods and running around at dog parks. There was definitely an adjustment period when I became pregnant, but she is amazing with my kids. She is gentle and protective, and my boys love her so much. In fact my youngest son's first word was "Peach."

The only true issue she has is the territorial nature. She barks when anyone approaches the house and is vary wary of visitors. Once she gets to know someone, she loves them intensely and welcomes them with jumps and kisses. She is also jealous, so if I give to much attention to another dog at the park, she will ignore me for several hours.

These dogs are very intelligent and need a lot of stimulation and exercise. They are amazing dogs. My little girl is definitely part of our family.

~Annie K, owner of a Rat Terrier

The smartest member of the family

Jake "Bone" Funderburk is the most faithful dog I have ever seen. If I get up at 5 a.m., he is right there. If I sleep till noon, he is right there with me.

We often comment that there is the possibility that he might be the smartest member of the family. There has been a major family argument over who will inherit him if he outlives me. Everyone wants him, even friends and neighbors.

~Susan F, owner of a Rat Terrier

Best dogs in the whole wide world!

We have two Ratties: Cosmo the Wonder Dog and Zoe Lynn, Huntress of the Wood and Glen.

Rat Terriers are AWESOME dogs: intelligent, even-keeled, loyal, and companions through thick and thin. They can go anywhere, do anything, and are just great little dogs. I refer to them as a big dog stuck in a little dog's body.

Zoe Lynn developed a heart murmur and congestive heart failure when she reached 11. I guess heart conditions are common among smaller dogs, but now that she's on Vetmedin and Enapril, she's still got it.

~Sue C., owner of two Rat Terriers