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Teddy Roosevelt Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts, & Traits

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts, & Traits

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are friendly, affectionate, “one-person” dogs that have been bred to hunt and control vermin on farms in the 1800s. These dogs are bold, tenacious, and “terrier-like,” but they can be gentle playmates for young children with the right precautions. Though they have a high prey drive, they’re not relentless in their pursuit and can be taught to coexist with cats happily.

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are a great choice for families, solo owners, and canine competitors, but there are some important considerations for owning this breed and meeting their needs. Here’s everything you need to know.

Breed Overview


8–14 inches


8–25 pounds


14–16 years


Multiple color combinations—Black and white, white and black, white and blue, white and blue fawn, white and chocolate, white and fawn, white and lemon, white and red, white and silver, blue and white, silver and white, sable and white, white and sable, red and white, blue fawn and white, fawn and white, white and apricot, lemon and white, chocolate and white

Suitable for:

Families with kids, families with other pets, solo owners, hunters, canine competitors


Lively, affectionate, friendly, protective

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers have a diverse history and share a common ancestry with the American Rat Terrier, the Tenterfield Terrier, and the Fox Paulistinha. Like other ratter breeds, they were used for farming and hunting without any planned breeding. They may also share ancestry with Beagles, English White Terriers, Bull Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds. The resulting breed is a smart, brave, natural hunter with a high prey drive, an acute sense of smell, and a desire to be around their owners at all times.

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Breed Puppies

Despite their history and close relation to the Rat Terrier, Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are considered a rare breed in the US. There are some Teddy Roosevelt Terrier breeders, but with the crossbreeding that occurs among these terriers, it’s more difficult to find a truly purebred Teddy Roosevelt Terrier.

It’s possible to find Teddy Roosevelt Terriers in rescues and shelters. Though intelligent and easy to train, they are energetic and can be destructive if their needs aren’t met. You’re more likely to come across an adult Teddy Roosevelt Terrier in a rescue instead of a puppy.

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Breed Origin & History

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier had a similar history to the Rat Terrier, which were simply referred to as terrier mixes, “Feists,” or “bench-legged feists” by their namesake, Teddy Roosevelt. They were developed as farm and hunting dogs from Rat Terriers, often crossed with similar breeds like Beagles.

In the mid-1990s, there was an effort to separate long- and short-legged versions of the terriers. Eventually, the Rat Terrier Club of America separated the breeds, naming the short-legged variety in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. He never owned the breed, but his dogs were believed to be the foundation of Teddys.

The first standard was developed by the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Club of America in 1995, which is no longer in existence, and other breed registries developed their own standards. The most commonly accepted standards are from the United Kennel Club. In 2016, the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service, and in 2019, the breed was put into the AKC Miscellaneous Class.dogster paw divider

Temperament & Intelligence of the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers share a lot of similarities with the Rat Terrier. They were bred for versatility and have excellent temperaments, though they are natural hunters and can have a high prey drive that may lead them to chase cats, squirrels, or other animals. They will also dig and follow animal trails. Teddys can be protective and territorial, especially of family members, and develop strong attachments to their owner and other valued humans. You can expect your Teddy to follow you around and cuddle with you. These dogs don’t do well left outside or left alone for long periods.

Teddy Roosevelt Rat Terrier Male puppy
Image Credit: Michele M Vogel, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are excellent family dogs if they’re raised alongside children. They are gentle and tolerant, but it’s important to teach children to behave appropriately around the dog and avoid rough handling, which can easily injure a smaller breed. Always supervise interactions between your dog and your children to avoid accidental injuries.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers, like other hunting breeds, generally get along with other dogs and some cats. Be careful of allowing the terrier to be around larger breeds with a prey drive unattended, as that may lead to dangerous interactions. Teddys have a high prey drive of their own and may chase small animals, including small mammals, birds, and wildlife. Never leave a Teddy alone with small pets or allow them to interact directly.dogster paw divider

Things to Know When Owning a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier:

If you’re looking to bring a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier home, here’s everything you need to know about their care:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers need a high-quality dog food that suits their life stage and energy needs. Because they’re prone to joint conditions, it’s important to keep your Teddy at a healthy weight. Obesity can contribute to joint problems and other health conditions like cancer and heart disease. If you have any concerns about your dog’s body condition or diet, consult with your vet.

Exercise 🎾

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are energetic dogs that enjoy playing in the backyard, going on walks, and engaging in outdoor activities like swimming or hiking. However, these dogs know how to mellow out if they get enough exercise throughout the day. They can be kept in apartments if you’re willing to walk them and play games inside. Teddy Roosevelt Terriers excel at canine sports like flying disc and rally.

Happy Teddy Roosevelt Rat Terrier puppy playing on field of Clover
Image By: Michele M Vogel, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers have classic terrier traits like sociability and fearlessness, especially when they’re hunting. They are generally easy to train and try to please their owner, but they may try to walk all over a novice owner who’s not consistent. Teddys are often one-person dogs, so they need owners who make them part of the family and don’t spend long periods out of the home.

Grooming ✂️

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are low maintenance and easy to groom. They only need occasional baths with an oatmeal shampoo, preferably, and weekly brushing to stay in good condition. Though they shed seasonally, the loose hair is fairly mild. These dogs are often touted as “hypoallergenic” dogs, but they aren’t. they’re just low shedders. In addition, these dogs need their nails trimmed and their ears cleaned regularly.

The girl stands on the street with a puppy Teddy Roosevelt Terrier dog leash
Image by: Jane_Zh, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers may be prone to allergies, malocclusions, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and subluxing patella, which are all common among Rat Terriers. They are also prone to ectopia lentis, a congenital eye condition, as well as common health risks that occur in other dog breeds.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Malocclusions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Subluxing patella
  • Parasites
Serious Conditions
  • Cancers
  • Ectopia lentis

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Male vs Female

There’s not much difference between the male or female Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. Males may be larger, but it’s negligible with a smaller breed. Otherwise, both male and female terriers should be spayed or neutered, which can reduce a lot of behavioral problems related to sex hormones, such as roaming. Spaying or neutering also prevents some reproductive health conditions or reduces the risk of reproductive cancers.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

1. They’re the Subject of a Children’s Book.

Helen Powell White authored a series of children’s books that featured a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, Percy, and his adventures.

2. They May Be Used for Truffles.

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers were developed for hunting and have powerful scenting abilities to track game, but they’ve also been used to locate black truffles.

3. Despite the Name, Teddy Roosevelt Never Owned One.

President Teddy Roosevelt never actually owned Rat Terriers or played any significant role in developing the breed. He was fond of feist-type dogs, however, which he referenced in his letter. These dogs have been attributed to the foundation of the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier.

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Final Thoughts

Like the Rat Terrier, Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are lively, brave, and intelligent dogs with well-developed hunting abilities and a natural protective nature. They’re adaptable enough for many home environments, but they thrive on companionship and need owners who won’t leave them on their own for long periods. If you plan to bring a Teddy home, make sure you’re prepared to spend time playing and exercising your dog to keep them happy and healthy.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: Michele M Vogel, Shutterstock

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