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Dog Breed Spotlight: Rat Terrier

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Rat Terrier

One breed new to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this year is the Rat Terrier.  Brought to the United States in the late 1800’s, the breed was named by Teddy Roosevelt because of its extraordinary ability to catch rats.  One report states that a single rat terrier killed 2500 rats in an infested barn in the span of seven hours.

Rat Terriers are extremely intelligent, alert, energetic and affectionate.  They do very well with children, and make good watchdogs.  Rat Terriers are easy to train and are eager to please their humans.  As with any terrier, they are feisty and can be stubborn, so it’s important to set boundaries early and consistently enforce them.  Rat Terriers will adopt the “Small Dog Syndrome” and become very territorial if not kept in check.  Because of their intelligence, games that stimulate their minds are especially good for this breed.

This breed does not require much grooming.  Occasional brushing to remove loose hair is all that’s required.  The Rat Terrier comes in several sizes:  Toy (about 8 inches tall, weighs 4-6 pounds), Mid-sized (8-14 inches tall, weighs 6-8 pounds), Standard (14-23 inches tall, weighs 12-35 pounds).  This is a hearty breed, typically living 15-18 years.

This breed is quite energetic, so daily exercise is needed.  They can make do with 20-30 minutes of exercise a day, but thrive with longer exercise sessions.  They like to be outdoors and have a tendency to dig, so they can be escape artists.  Care should be taken to watch them when they’re outside to prevent escapes.

If you like smart, lively, affectionate dogs that make great companions, consider a Rat Terrier.  Just be sure to let him know who’s boss, and remind him often!


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