Rat terrier is an American breed with hunting and farming, sharing its lineage with fiests or the small hunting dogs of the time. Based on the size, rat terriers are classified into three divisions – miniature, standard, and large. The AKC, UKC, and other prominent breed registries only recognize the standard and miniature Rats. However, the Decker Giant, or Decker, the Rat terrier’s larger strain, isn’t acknowledged officially. It attained its name after breeder Milton Decker. He developed it to create a large dog for hunting and even as a companion.
What does a rat terrier look like
The Rat terriers of the present day have a versatile physical appearance, sturdy and tough yet elegant because of their prominent features. They have a smooth head, large, oval eyes, and v-shaped high-set ears, tipped, button, or upright. The Rats mostly have a natural bob or long tail by birth, thick near the base, tapering to the tip. They even have a smooth and shiny coat that mostly comes in a pied pattern, from white, black and tan, blue, white, and tan to white and blue.
Rat Terrier Pictures
|Other Names||American Rat Terrier, Rattling Terrier, Decker Giant|
|Nicknames||Rat, RT, Rattle|
|Coat||Short, smooth, closefitting, shiny|
|Color||White, black and tan; blue, white, and tan; white and chocolate; white and blue; white and blue fawn; white, chocolate, and tan; black and white; black, tan and white; black, white, and tan; red, white, and sable; white; white and apricot; white and black; white and fawn; white and red; white; white and lemon; and silver; white and tan|
|Height||Standard: 13-18 inches; Miniature: 10-13 inches|
|Weight||Standard: 10-25 pounds; Miniature: 10-18 pounds; |
Large: Decker Giant
|Litter Size||5-7 puppies|
|Behavioral Characteristics||Lively, affectionate, alert, intelligent, loving, inquisitive, happy-go-lucky|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Barking Tendency||Moderate; but|
|Climate Compatibility||Can withstand heat due to their short coats but not exceedingly cold temperatures|
|Do they shed||Moderate throughout the year; but heavily during summer and winter|
|Are they Hypoallergenic||No|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/ Information||AKC, UKC|
|Country||United States of America (USA)|
History and Origin
The fact that these dogs served as ratters in the past is quite evident from their name. The farms of the yesteryears required an efficient dog to take charge of the rodents, which would otherwise cause immense damage to the grains. While breeding the rat terrier, farmers cared about their speed, one of the utmost criteria to catch vermins and hunt small games like hares and squirrels.
The rat terrier became popular in the 1890s in America, also bred with the Manchester terrier, Italian Greyhound, and Beagle. Their fame also continued in the 20th century, particularly between the 1920s and 1940s. However, the increased use of chemical pesticides and the commercialization of farming resulted in their decline during the 1950s. However, with the intense effort of the breed, enthusiasts took the initiative to maintain the breed’s bloodlines resulting in the Rat terrier of recent times.
Currently, the Rat is not just employed on farms but has even emerged as a great companion pet and a service dog mainly due to its calm and affectionate demeanor.
They have even made their mark as efficient search dogs to retrieve illegal or smuggled goods because of their intelligence. Their ability to learn quickly shortens their training time to less than three weeks, relatively uncommon in most other police dogs.
The American Kennel Club recognized it in 2010 as its 178th breed, registering it under its Terrier group in June 2012. The Rat Terrier Club of America developed as AKC’s parent club in 2013. The UKC recognized it way earlier than the AKC on 1st January 1999.
Temperament and Personality
The rat terrier has a whole lot of positive traits associated with it, like obedience, keenness, devotion, and energy. These calm dogs do well with every family member of all age groups, from kids to seniors.
However, they display their reservedness towards strangers and alertness regarding their surroundings—no wonder the Rat terrier excels as an excellent watchdog.
Most Rat terriers are high on energy needing a good deal of outdoor and indoor exercise. A 30-45 minute walk daily with sufficient playtime within a fenced yard would help channel their energy well.
These ratters would mainly have an intense prey drive, not leaving the slightest opportunity they get to chase a squirrel or cat. So, putting the rat terrier on a leash while taking them out is an absolute mandate.
They have a short, dense coat that doesn’t need much maintenance. Brushing the Rat terriers once a week using a hound glove or brush with soft bristles would help maintain the glossiness and shine of their coat. However, during the shedding seasons, mostly in summer or winter, increase the brushing to about three times. Using a shedding tool or rubber curry brush would help remove dead hair.
Other hygiene measures include cleaning their ears every week and removing the accumulated wax and debris to keep any infection at bay. Also, brush its teeth twice or thrice a week with toothpaste formulated for dogs, and trim its nails monthly or early if it gets long.
They are hardy and healthy but may suffer from hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, cardiac and pancreatic disorders, and Legg Calves Perthes Syndrome.
They may appear energetic, yet Rat terriers seem the calmest among most other terrier breeds. These dogs are also above average in intelligence, scoring 3 out of 5. Hence, training the Rat wouldn’t supposedly be too mammoth a task.
Socializing the Rat terrier puppies is a mandate so that they grow to be disciplined dogs. Acquaint them with different experiences and people right from the start to help them distinguish between the good and the bad. In this way, eventually, they wouldn’t consider every stranger a foe or a threat and would act accordingly.
Leash training is also a mandate keeping their immense prey drive in mind. Allow the Rat terrier to get used to the leash at first by getting it to see more of it. Then make it wear it for a short span. However, if the Rat is reluctant to do so initially, take it slow, as forcing it could worsen things to a great extent. Initially, practice inside, and once it is comfortable enough to wear the leash, then take it outdoors.
Like other terrier breeds, the Rat terrier also needs a high-quality diet, either homemade or commercially manufactured. When preparing their food at home, owners must ensure that they get their requirements of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat. A diet comprising cooked meat, vegetables, and rice would suffice. If you plan to give the RT a raw diet, consult the veterinarian about the same.
- U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt played a significant role in popularizing this breed throughout the United States.
- Jake, a Rat terrier, held the record of the oldest living Rat terrier for quite a long. Born in 1994, he passed away in 2015 after he had just turned 21.