Meet the Rat Terrier, a bundle of energy and charm packed into a compact frame. Here at A Pup Above, we're big fans of this spunky breed, known for its vivacity and affectionate nature. The Rat Terrier, often just called “Rattie,” is not just a pet but a dynamic companion brimming with enthusiasm and love. 

In this introduction to the Rat Terrier, we'll take a sneak peek into their world, exploring what makes them such a delightful addition to any family. From their boundless energy to their loyal nature, the Rat Terrier exemplifies the joy and companionship that dogs bring into our lives.

History and Origin of the Rat Terrier

The Rat Terrier's journey from a skilled farm dog to a beloved family pet is as fascinating as the breed itself. Initially bred to chase vermin on farms, these dogs are a mosaic of resilience and agility, thanks to their mixed heritage from breeds like Fox Terriers, Beagles, and Whippets.

  • Farm Dog to Family Companion: Originating in America, Rat Terriers were indispensable on farms for their vermin hunting skills. Their keen senses and agility made them excellent at keeping barns and fields rodent-free.
  • A Melting Pot of Breeds:The Rat Terrier's lineage includes a blend of various breeds. The speed of Whippets, the hunting prowess of Beagles, and the tenacity of Fox Terriers come together in this one breed.
  • Historical Significance: These little dogs hold a special place in American history. They were even reputedly named by President Teddy Roosevelt for their rat-catching abilities.

As a result, the Rat Terrier emerged as a breed known for its versatility, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty, transitioning smoothly from a working dog on farms to a loving companion in homes.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of Rat Terriers?

When it comes to physical attributes, Rat Terriers are as distinctive as their personality:

  • Size: Typically small to medium in size, Rat Terriers are compact yet sturdy, with their muscular build reflecting their agility and strength.
  • Coat Colors and Patterns: They boast a variety of coat colors ranging from black and chocolate to sable and apricot. Some even have charming tan points or unique piebald patterns.
  • Distinctive Features: Look for their expressive eyes and erect ears that perk up with curiosity. Their short, smooth coat is easy to care for, adding to their appeal as low-maintenance companions.
  • Adaptability: A Rat Terrier's robust constitution makes them adaptable to various living environments, from spacious farms to cozy apartments. Their hardy nature is a testament to their diverse genetic makeup.

With these characteristics, Rat Terriers stand out for their physical beauty and ability to fit seamlessly into various lifestyles, embodying the essence of a versatile and resilient companion.

What Is the Personality of the Rat Terrier?

The Rat Terrier is known for its energetic and playful disposition. These lively dogs are quick on their feet and full of affection, making them excellent family pets. They're alert and curious, traits that make them effective watchdogs, always ready to alert their family members to anything unusual.

However, the Rat Terrier's strong prey drive, a remnant of their hunting heritage, means they're always up for a chase. This makes early socialization and mental stimulation crucial. 

They thrive on interactive play and challenges that engage their intelligent minds. With the right balance of affection, activity, and discipline, Rat Terriers make delightful companions, embodying a mix of spirited playfulness and devoted loyalty.

How Do I Care for My Rat Terrier?

Rat Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they have their share of health problems. Common issues include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and a tendency toward obesity. 

It's important for dog owners to be proactive in maintaining their Rat Terrier's health:

  • Regular Exercise: A consistent exercise routine is key to managing their energy levels and preventing obesity. This breed loves to run, play, and explore, making them great partners for active families.
  • Balanced Diet: For your Rat Terrier's diet, we recommend our range of freshly cooked meals. Crafted to meet the nutritional needs of energetic breeds, our high-quality meals ensure your furry friend receives a balanced diet, maintaining their health and keeping them in top shape.
  • Routine Health Checks: Regular vet visits are essential for early detection and management of potential health issues. Paying attention to their physical well-being helps ensure a long, happy lifespan for these hardy little dogs.

Rat Terrier Feeding Chart

A balanced diet is crucial for keeping your Rat Terrier energetic and healthy — but how much should you feed your furry best friend, and does this change as they grow? What treats are both healthy and enjoyable? Here’s a straightforward guide to feeding your Rat Terrier through every life stage.

Feeding Guide by Life Stage:

  • Puppies (under 1 year): Rapid growth demands high-quality puppy food rich in proteins and essential fatty acids, which are vital for development. Rat Terrier puppies should be fed small portions of kibble or wet food three to four times a day, tailored to their high activity level. This ensures sustained energy and proper growth without the risk of obesity.
Fun Snack Idea: Incorporating safe human foods like chopped carrots or green beans can offer a crunchy, nutritious snack. These veggies are great for maintaining a healthy weight and are covered in our blog "What Vegetables Are Good For Dogs?".
    • Adults (1-7 years): As your Rat Terrier reaches adulthood, their dietary needs shift slightly. Transition them to adult dog food — ideally a mix of dry dog food and wet formulations, ensuring it's high in quality proteins and low in fillers and by-products. The typical amount for an active adult Rat Terrier is about one cup of food per day, split between two meals.
    Daily Nutrient Boost: To support their overall health and shiny coat, consider adding supplements like omega-3 or a vet-recommended vitamin mix into their diet. These are crucial for maintaining top-notch body condition and an efficient immune system.
      • Seniors (8 years and up): Older Rat Terriers may require fewer calories but need nutrient-rich food to manage health conditions and maintain muscle mass. Smaller, more digestible meals can help manage their energy levels and weight. Senior-specific kibble or gently cooked home meals are ideal.

      Gentle Treats: For seniors, soft treats are easier on the teeth. Homemade options like mashed sweet potato or soft-cooked meats can provide both comfort and nutrition. Need some doggie treat inspo? Learn how to spoil your dog in our blog here!

      How Do I Train a Rat Terrier?

      Rat Terriers are highly trainable and respond well to consistent, positive obedience training. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them quick learners, but they also have a streak of independence:

      • Early Socialization: Introducing a Rat Terrier puppy to a variety of people, pets, and environments at a young age helps develop a well-rounded, sociable dog. This early exposure is vital for curbing their natural prey drive and making them adaptable to different situations.
      • Training Techniques: Positive reinforcement methods work best with Rat Terriers. They respond well to rewards, whether it's treats, praise, or playtime. Keeping training sessions short and engaging is key to holding their attention.
      • Energy Management: With their high energy levels, Rat Terriers need plenty of opportunities for physical and mental exercise. Activities like agility training, fetch, and puzzle toys can help channel their energy positively and prevent boredom.

      By understanding and catering to their training and socialization needs, Rat Terrier owners can enjoy a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with these spirited and affectionate dogs.

      Tips for Potential Rat Terrier Owners

      Deciding to bring a Rat Terrier into your life is a joyful decision, but it's important to ensure that this energetic breed is the right fit for your lifestyle. 

      Here's what potential Rat Terrier owners should consider:

      • Understanding Their Energy Level: Rat Terriers are high-energy dogs that thrive in active environments. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation. Ensure you have the time and enthusiasm for daily walks, playtime, and interactive games.
      • Prey Drive Considerations: Rat Terriers have a strong prey drive due to their hunting heritage. This means they might chase smaller animals like hamsters or birds. It's crucial to understand this trait and manage it through training and supervision.
      • Socialization Is Key: Start socializing your Rat Terrier puppy at a young age. Exposing them to different environments, people, and other pets helps them become well-adjusted and less reactive as they grow.
      • Health Screenings: When choosing a breeder, look for one who conducts health screenings for conditions common in the breed, like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. This helps ensure you're bringing a healthy puppy into your home.
      • The Right Food for Their Needs: Rat Terriers require a balanced diet to maintain their health and energy. At A Pup Above, we offer a range of nutritious dog food options that cater to their needs, including flavors like Turkey Pilaf and Beef Pot Roast, ensuring they get the right mix of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
      • Grooming Routine: Their coat is relatively low-maintenance, but regular brushing with a soft brush helps keep their coat healthy and reduces shedding. Also, check their ears regularly to prevent infections.
      • Training and Boundaries: Start obedience training from a young age. Rat Terriers are intelligent and trainable but can be stubborn. Consistent, positive reinforcement methods work best.

      A Final Word

      At A Pup Above, we understand that welcoming a Rat Terrier into your home is more than just choosing a small dog. It's embracing a lifestyle filled with energy, affection, and playfulness. Rat Terriers, a dynamic terrier breed, are perfect for those who want a loyal companion that's full of life. 

      Ideal for both first-time and experienced dog owners, these pups bring the best of dog breeds into your home. From their puppyhood to their senior years, Rat Terriers offer a unique blend of joy, agility, and companionship. 

      If you're looking for a small but spirited family member, the Rat Terrier might just be the perfect fit for your family.


      American Rat Terrier | America's Pet Registry

      6 Things You Didn't Know About the Rat Terrier | AKC

      Rat Terrier Breed | History, Facts, And Training | WAF

      Rat Terrier Dog Breed Information | American Kennel Club