Family Pet Guide > Dogs > Terrier > Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier

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with kids
with seniors
with other animals
Training Needs
Grooming Needs
Size: Small (10 to 25 lbs.)
Lifespan: Long (12 to 15+ years)
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Rat Terriers, also known as "feists" or Teddy Roosevelt Terriers, are a jack-of-all-trades shorthaired sighthound/terrier mix similar to a Jack Russell Terrier or Smooth Fox Terrier. Rat Terriers have recently gained in popularity among the urban small dog crowd, a vast departure from their humble beginnings in the 1920s and 30s as a rare breed of ratter, hunting companion, and watchdog for rural American families. Today, the Rat Terrier is popular among Jack Russell enthusiasts who want a more mellow, sensitive, and less-energetic apartment dog. Rat Terriers have a smooth, short coat that needs little to no grooming, and tend to be less aggressive than JRTs (but are also more emotionally needy and less innately social than their cousins). Rat Terriers are more trainable, less active, and generally more suitable to family and city life than other terriers, but do need more socialization from an early age to become well-adjusted adults. Owners say these are lovable, intelligent dogs who love being at the center of family life (they will be your shadow and can border on neediness) but fall easily into routines. Rat Terriers are better with kids and other small pets than other terriers, especially when raised around them.

The most famous Rat Terrier was President Teddy Roosevelt's dog, Skip, who single-handedly rid the White House of rats.

General Care

Rat Terriers, like most terrier breeds, have lots of energy and need careful, consistent training. Rat Terriers need less exercise than other terriers like the Jack Russell, but do need much more socialization at an early age with people and other animals, which actually makes them better suited to more densely populated areas. According to rescue groups, the most common reasons that terriers in general are surrendered are because they don't get along with another dog or cat in the house, don't get along with small children, can't be housebroken, run away when off-leash, or have more energy than their owners can deal with. These problems don't generally exist with Rat Terriers if properly trained and treated with kindness, affection, and attention. Rat Terriers are good with kids and other pets when raised with them, and their only common health problems are allergies and under- or overbite.

For more information on Rat Terrier ownership and care, check out the Rat Terrier Club of America.

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