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Rat Terrier Dog Breed Facts: What You Need to Know

Rat Terriers are wonderful little dogs but they may not be for everyone. The Rat Terrier is a healthy and hardy small working dog sometimes called a “Rat Dog”. They are also full of energy and have incredible personalities. If you are thinking of adopting one of these feisty little dogs, we have pulled together a few Rat Terrier dog breed facts that you need to know and will find interesting.

Rat Terrier Dog Breed Facts: What You Need to Know

These small compact size dogs are lovable family dogs but were originally bred as working dogs to keep down pests such as rats and mice.

They are tenacious hunters in the field! They love hunting mice – hence their nickname of “Rat Dog.” Don’t be surprised when they bring you a “gift” from their hunt!

Rat Terriers are also very affectionate with their family and make great family dogs and watchdogs.

They are very loyal and will protect their family if threatened.

These little dogs should be trained early on to ensure that they remain well-behaved in the home.

They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored or destructive.

Rat Terrier standing in the yard
Our Rat Terrier, Poco

Rat Terrier Appearance

Height: 13-18 inches
Weight: 10-25 pounds (with most somewhere in the middle)
Coat: Usually short and smooth
Colors: The most common color combinations are black and white, brown and white, tan and white, or red and white.
Eye Color: Brown or black
Ear Shape: Erect triangle shape with rounded tips.
Life Expectancy: 12-18 years. They are a hardy breed and not prone to many genetic weaknesses or health issues.

Rat Terrier Personality

Rat Terriers are loyal, extremely intelligent, and devoted to their owners.

They make wonderful family pets as they can be protective of their people and homes.

Rat Terriers are usually good-natured, friendly, and outgoing.

They love to socialize with other animals and humans but should be supervised when around small children.

These small dogs can be feisty and territorial. If another dog intimidates your Rat Terrier he may attempt to protect his owner and his territory.

Making sure your Rat Terrier is well-socialized with other animals can help eliminate the chances of being hurt by other dogs.

Socializing with other animals can be important if you have small and furry-type pets in the same home.

Small animals are prey to the Rat Terrier!

Rat Terrier laying on a dog bed chewing on a chew stick
Our Rat Terrier laying on a dog bed chewing a chew stick

Barking Level

Rat Terriers are known to be barkers, but they can be trained not to bark too much.

They are an alert breed, and they will often bark when visitors come or when something out of the ordinary is happening.

If you don’t want your Rat Terrier to bark excessively, you’ll need to train him and give him plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Exercise Requirements of the Rat Terrier

If you are considering adding a Rat Terrier to your family there are many issues you should take into consideration.

Rat Terriers can make great pets but have extremely HIGH exercise requirements.

They have a high energy level and are very active so they will need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy.

They can become destructive if not given enough physical activity, as they have a lot of energy that needs to be expelled.

Regular walks and/or trips to the dog park are all great ways to keep your Rat Terrier in shape.

If you’re unable to give them adequate amounts of physical activity, consider enrolling them in a doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker.

A fenced yard is also great for them to get extra exercise in however be warned!

Rat Terrier wearing a puppy bumper
Our Rat Terrier wearing a puppy bumper to prevent him getting out of fence.

Rat Terriers are known to be escape artists and can squeeze through small openings and be gone before you know it.

Our little Rat Terrier wears a puppy bumper when inside the fence. Before getting the puppy bumper he escaped several times and led us on a merry chase!

Brushing Rat Terrier with HandsOn Gloves
Brushing our Rat Terrier with grooming gloves

Grooming Requirements

Rat Terriers have a short and smooth coat that is relatively easy to maintain.

They don’t require frequent grooming or brushing, but it’s important to brush them weekly to remove dead hair and keep their coat looking their best.

Additionally, they should be bathed every few months, unless they get really dirty.

They should also have their ears checked regularly and cleaned to prevent infection.

Lastly, make sure your Rat Dog’s nails are trimmed regularly to keep them from getting too long and uncomfortable.

Rat Terrier wearing a red sweater standing in the snow

Rat Terrier Training

Rat Terriers are highly trainable.

The most important training for a Rat Terrier is the comeback command.

If you teach your pup nothing else be sure to train him to come on command.

These dogs are intelligent and curious and have a strong desire to run.

Rat Terriers who are not trained to come when called are in great danger!

Woman, man, and Rat Terrier laying in the grass beside a lake

In Conclusion

With proper training and socialization, your Rat Terrier can be a great pet.

If you are thinking of having a Rat Terrier as a pet you should determine how much time and energy you can put into training and interacting with them.

If you are an active, high-energy person then this may be the dog for you as they do best with active families.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a cute cuddly lap dog or have limited time, energy, and patience please consider another breed.

Don’t get me wrong! A Rat Terrier will totally love to snuggle up in your lap. Just keep in mind they NEED and MUST HAVE plenty of time to run and exercise also.

We love our little Rat Terrier, Poco. He loves his humans and his 4-legged family members.

Take a moment to think about these Rat Terrier dog breed facts and then be honest with yourself when considering a Rat Terrier as a pet for your sake and the pups.

Debbie P

Wednesday 1st of March 2023

This was very interesting.


Wednesday 1st of March 2023

I would love to have one of these dogs they are so so smart and great protectors of their home and human parents.


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Thanks for all of this information about this breed of dog. Very informative.

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