A Rat Terrier is a small breed of dog developed in America. It has been developed for being a farm dog and a hunting companion. The Rat Terrier draws its lineage from dogs with a similar purpose used in the 1920s and 1930s, the feists.
Firstly, the Rat Terrier was considered more or a type than actually a breed, but recently it was recognized by the American Kennel Club and its official standards have been established. These active and small dogs are today used as companions dogs or for pest control. Some people refer to them as the Ratting Terrier or the Decker Giant.
History & Origins
Rat Terrier dogs do not have a clear history about them. There are evidence of dogs used for catching rats coming from long time ago. But it is clear that British working class people brought these dogs to America with an attempt to control varmint and other small pets. They were very speedy and useful and provided a great protection against these small creatures. Over time they began breeding them with other breeds like Beagles, Italian Greyhounds and Miniature Pinschers. This resulted in an inconsistent breed which was named at a time as “feists”. This dog is consider the earliest forefather of the Rat Terrier.
In the 20th century in America, the Rat Terrier reached high popularity. It was a very efficient hunting dog and many peopled used it between the 1920s and 1940s. But during the 50s their usage declined because of the increase of pesticides and chemicals used to protect crops. Thankfully to many loyalists the breed was maintained and it continued to exist. So this is why it is mostly used as a family pet in modern times.
Rat Terrier Characteristics & Temperament
A Rat Terrier always has an intelligent demeanor about itself. They are playful and stubborn at a time, which makes they great family pets and also very good with kids. As every small breed of dog, the Rat Terrier also has high levels of energy which makes them prone to running around and playing. They are also easy to train and easy to live with. This is the main reason their original use has been changed to become more of a family dog.
What is important when training this type of dog is to provide it with a lot of experience and socialization. This does not mean only different people but also introducing them to different places. They also get their training this way as it accounts for their high energy levels. It would be best that the owner or the trainer does this in the first three months of the life of the puppy. That way you can ensure that you can a perfectly balanced dog. The Rat Terrier is happiest when they have a lot of mental stimulus and tons of exercise.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The Rat Terrier is a small dog and they can grow only to be between 10 and 18 inches of height. The smaller one are viewed as miniature types which are still used for hunting. The medium sized ones are mainly used as house pets. The standard weight for these dogs ranges from 10 pounds to 25 pounds.
Rat Terriers actually come in a variety of coat colors. Usually the Rat Terries has a black tanpoint with piebald spotting. Other color options may occur in chocolate, tan, blue, Isabella, lemon and apricot. Also possible are tricolor and bicolor ones, but these always have white combined with other colors.
These dogs usually have erect and pointy ears but it is not uncommon to see them tipped, or button. Their tails are usually docked but these dogs can actually have different tail lengths because of their ancestry.
Rat Terrier Health
The Rat Terrie is described as a hardy breed, health wise. It has been outcrossed numerous times and it contributed to some of the disease and conditions being outgrown. Generally, the Rat Terrier has a life expectancy of between 16 to 18 years, outliving some other breeds by a mile.
But in recent times there are some apparent health problems that the Rat Terrier tends to suffer from. These include patellar luxation, pancreatic issues, cardiac abnormalities, hip dysplasia, and Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome. It is recommended that you test your dog and watch for any symptoms that might lead to these conditions.
Grooming & Shedding
Marinating your Rat Terrier is an easy feat to do. They do not shed so much and are very easy to keep. They will most likely need weekly brushes to keep their coats and remove the dead hair that way. Unfortunately, they do have heavier shedding periods, in summer and fall, and only then you can probably provide them with more frequent brushes. Bathing them is recommended only when necessary. In general terms, you should not overdo it with giving your dog a baht.
Other forms of grooming that are absolutely necessary include brushing your dog’s teeth. You can do it on a weekly basis or a few times per week if necessary. Curing their nails is also needed and you can determine that by yourself when you notice that the nails have gotten too big.
Rat Terrier Price and Breeders
Being that a Rat Terrier is a small type of a dog, the price is not so high. They cost somewhere between 200 and 500 dollars. Their purpose is not lost to people and are valued in various areas of the world. But they are mainly used as family dogs so breeders around the world offer them as such.
There are many Rat Terriers in search of a home. Rescue groups have been developed in order to protect and save dogs without a home. If you are interested in contributing to a noble cause, you can rescue one dog and give it a home that they yearn for. View the pages of American Rat Terrier Rescue, Rat Terrier Club of America and Ratbone Rescues and see what they have to offer.