Rat Terrier


A small to medium sized Rat terrier
Rat Terrier Quick Summary
Also Known As
OriginGreat Britian
Height (at withers)13-18in (33-45cm)
Weight10-25lbs (4.5-11kg)
Hair Colour(s)
Lifespan15-18 years
Energy LevelMedium
Litter size5-7
Barking TendencyLow
Exercise requirementsHigh
Ease of trainingHigh
Suitability for kidsHigh
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftLow

The Rat Terrier is a compact but meaty terrier dog, often mistaken fo a Jack Russel. The body is muscular with a deep chest, powerful legs and high-set natural or docked tails. The head is lean with a generous muzzle, dark eyes and high-set forward folded ears. These dogs come in three varieties: Toy, Miniature and Standard. The Toy variety is 8in (20cm) in height and weighs 4-6lbs (2-3kg). The Miniature version is 8-14in (20-35.5cm) and weighs 6-8lbs (3-3.5 kg). The standard version is 14-23in (35.5-58.5cm,) in height and weighs 12-35lbs (5.5-16kg). The single coat is short and close and the colouring varies but includes tan, red and sable amonst others.


Rat Terriers are cheerful and sociable little dogs that make affectionate companions and pets. Generally calmer and less aggressive than Jack Russel Terriers, for whom they are sometimes mistaken, they require plenty of mental stimulation and exercise. Early socialisation is often required to promote stable temperaments, particularly during their first three months of life. Rat Terriers are intelligent, eager to please, highly trainable and are suitable for both novice dog owners and the more exprienced. Not prone to yapping, they get along well with children they have been raised with as well as other pets. They are not aggessive towards strangers but still make effective watch dogs and are quite fearless.

History &: Skills

Rat Terriers originate from Great Britian and were developed from Smooth Fox Terriers and Manchester Terriers in the early 1800s. They were brought to America later in the same century, and were named by Teddy Roosevelt as these hard-working farm hands are able to rid an infested barn of vermin very quickly. One report has it that a Rat Terrier record for most rats killed in a single infested barn is 2501 rats in 7 hours! These days they are popular as companions and pets.

Breed Specific Ailments

Rat Terriers tend to live between 15-18 years and are a pretty hardy breed. Some of the health concerns that have been noted include hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand's disease and allergies.


Rat Terriers are low shedders and so may be suitable for allergy sufferers. Their grooming requirements are pretty low and their short coat simply needs an occasional brushing and wiping down with a damp cloth.

Exercise & Environment

Rat Terriers tend to live indoors, where they are fairly active, and go not require a great deal of outdoor exercise. They can be suited to small homes, such as apartments, and do not necessarily require a large outside space. However, they will benefit from outdoor play and a regular walk like most dogs.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale

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