Rat Terrier: Merry, Happy Pal…

Active, energetic, obedient, compact, sturdy and good looking – a Rat Terrier is a miracle in a small package.

 

Stacy McWilliams

Stacy McWilliams

The Rat Terrier was originally bred for ratting and farm work – a multipurpose companion dog who is capable of hunting rodents and vermin above and below ground as well as coursing small game.

 

Small and elegant…
A Rat Terrier is a sturdy, compact, small-to-medium sized parti-coloured dog giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting speed, power and balance. You will love his intelligence, bright eye, and strong body build which is elegant and designed for working.
There are two varieties of Rat Terrier – Miniature (10 to 13” in height) and Standard (over 13” to 18” in height). There are many accepted colours and patterns for the breed, but Merle and Brindle are never allowed. They can be tri-coloured or bi-coloured and must have white as one of those colours.

 

Lovely demeanor…
Keenly observant, devoted, full of energy, yet easily trained and obedient to command, a Rat Terrier is loving, gentle, loyal and smart. The prey drive ranges from strong to weak and if looking for a family pet, you should connect with a breeder and ask about the prey drive of their lines. The temperament is generally aloof with strangers at first, but quickly warms up to new people they are introduced to. They tend to be extremely loyal to their family members.

 

Living with them…
If the time is taken to train a Rat Terrier properly, he can be a great addition to your family. A Rat Terrier will need a great deal of training and socialization with other dogs and people. He can be great pal to children if properly trained and socialized.

 

Exercise needs…
Rat Terriers are active breeds and do best with a family who enjoys the outdoors. They love to hike and swim (if you teach them early). They can hike for long period of time. They do demand exercise a few times a week. Teaching them to fetch a ball or frisbee can really help a family manage their busy lifestyle. The Rat Terrier tends to be less active with age, often we see after two years of age they don’t need as much playtime.

 

Pup care…
Puppy care is very important; puppies do very well with a little job assigned to them each week as they mature. The Rat Terrier likes challenges to build confidence and an outgoing nature. Crate training is very important and can help with house breaking your Rat Terrier. Teaching the puppy to walk without pulling on the leash as well as a strong recall is very important in the breed. Often as the puppy gets older, the prey/hunting drive grows. It is best to have a secure fenced in yard.

 
Grooming…just the basics
Rat Terriers do not need extensive grooming … Typically a bath as needed and toe nails clipped weekly is all they need. They don’t take long to dry and usually just a rub down with a bath towel works great. Brushing the coat weekly helps keep the shedding very low.

 

Games to play…
Rat Terriers are so smart and intelligent that they can be taught a lot of tricks. They can do almost anything you can imagine from frisbee, soccer ball, agility, fly ball, hide-n-seek, etc.

 

Health…
Rat Terriers can suffer from hereditary problems like Primary Lens Luxation and Luxating Patellas. Be sure to look for a breeder who is health testing their dogs prior to any breeding to help ensure you are getting a healthy family member.

 

Message to pet parents…
To ensure your Rat Terrier fits nicely into your family, spay and neuter as sometimes Terriers can be ‘more terrier’ with age if left unspayed or unneutered.

 

(Stacy McWilliams runs River Ridge Rat Terriers in Telford, Pennsylvania, USA. She has been breeding Rat Terriers over the last 12 years).