The Rat Terrier came from the United States, after crossing breeds like Old English White Terrier, Fox Terrier, Manchester Terrier and Bull Terrier. Its name comes from this dog’s excellent ability to catch vermin, and it was especially needed in the 1910s-1930s. The Rat Terrier was bred with the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet in the Midwest so that it would result in a faster dog that would be able to catch jackrabbits. The Rat Terrier was also bred to the Beagle, in Central and Southern America, which gave it its fine sense of smell, while the increase in speed is owed to the Whippet.
It is said that President Theodore Roosevelt had a Rat Terrier who helped eradicate the rat infestation in the White House, and thus, he gave the breed this name. The veracity of these claims is often disputed. By the middle of the 20th century, when poison was used to kill rats, the Rat Terrier was no longer needed, so farmers stopped keeping them on their property. Other breeds produced later from the Rat Terrier are the Decker Rat Terrier and the hairless Rat Terrier, also called the American hairless Terrier.
Rat Terriers are highly intelligent, but also very stubborn. This combination can be positive, but it can also be negative, especially when it comes to strangers. The Rat terrier loves its family, but it can become aggressive towards other animals, as well as strangers if not socialized properly. Otherwise, it is a lovely pet to have in the house and a wonderful companion. This breed has a lot of energy, so it needs to exercise, and an owner has to be careful about this dog and keep an eye on it because it can be very mischievous.
- Activity level: 5/5 (high energy levels, needs a lot of physical activity)
- Intelligence level: 4/5 (intelligent, but can become devious)
- Curiosity: 4/5 (highly inquisitive but always alert)
- Friendliness: 3/5 (friendly and playful with the family, but not so much with strangers and other animals)
- Vocal: 1/5 (barking especially at strangers)
This dog is small, but it is fearless. It can be easily recognized because of its large ears and coat with piebald spotting. The Rat Terrier comes in various sizes and coat colors and is a very diverse-looking dog. It has inherited a strong jaw, as a result of originally being a farm dog and its slim legs are agile, so as to be able to run after rats, rabbits and other animals.
- Fur: The coat of the Rat Terrier is traditionally black tricolor, but it can also be bicolor, blue, chocolate, apricot, Isabella, tan, lemon, sable, etc.
- Eyes: Round, dark or brown, intelligent and curious-looking.
- Body structure: Small, but solid build, with a well-proportioned body and legs. The tail is typically docked, but it can also be bobtailed.
- Facial features: The ears are large, with an erect ear carriage, but they can be button or tipped. The expression is alert and intelligent.
- Weight: It weighs somewhere between 10 and 25 pounds, depending on height and whether it is male or female.
The Rat Terrier is a healthy dog who doesn’t usually have health problems, but should they occur, they are usually allergies, patellar luxation, incorrect bites, or demodectic mange.
We have gathered this information from our breeders based on their experience with this breed. However, remember that each animal is different with its own personality and needs (just like people!), so use this information wisely.
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