Rat Terrier Dog Breed
Aliases: American Rat Terrier, Ratting Terrier, Feist, Decker Giant
|Life Span:||15 - 17 years, though some have lived to be 20.|
|Litter Size:||5 - 7 puppies with the average being 6 puppies|
|Recognized By:||AKC, UKC|
|Color:||most are dual or tri-coloured with white as the base colour. This may include several colours of brown, tan, yellow and black|
|Male Height:||14 - 18 inches (36 - 46 cm)|
|Male Weight:||15 - 25 pounds (7 - 11 kg)|
|Female Height:||10 - 15 inches (25 - 38 cm)|
|Female Weight:||8 - 16 pounds (3.6 - 7.3 kg)|
|General info courtesy of terrificpets.com. Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.|
|Living Area:||While they do like a great deal of activity, rat terriers can be adapted to apartment living as long as they get plenty of walks, attention and quite a few toys to play inside with.
They are, however, best suited to farm life and they love having a large yard or barnyard to lord over. Rat terriers are happiest when they have a job, and if you don\'t have one to give them, they\'ll improvise. Keeping them well distracted will keep them from becoming problem barkers.
This little farm dog is now an American breed that\'s been assisting with keeping vermin down to a reasonable level for over 150 years, though they have yet to be recognized as an actual show breed by the largest kennel club in their home country.
Today, rat terriers are used to herd and guard flocks of chickens, ducks or geese in some areas. In fact, they can be trained to protect just about any type of livestock, making them the smallest herding dog, though obviously their size gives them a disadvantage with larger animals.
With an alert demeanour and keen senses, the rat terrier also makes a fine guard dog. They are now kept largely in apartment or urban settings, given their size and generally agreeable nature. They make especially good companions for children over five.
Rat terriers are perhaps best known for being playful as well as useful. Since they\'ve been inbred for such a short period of time, with several purebred parents, they are rather sturdy and not prone to the neurotic behaviours that so many other small dogs display.
Given how playful they are, they\'re a favourite among children. With a tenacious and precocious nature throughout their lives, rat terriers make fine companions, following your child all over the neighbourhood and playing with their friends while keeping everyone safe.
The breed is long-lived - some rat terriers have lived as long as 20 years! Rat terriers also have few congenital disorders, so they don\'t often have large vet bills. They\'re a small dog that isn\'t so small that they can be injured by a falling toddler.
They have upright ears, as a testament to their beginnings as farm mongrels, which are very sensitive. The rat terrier also has very keen eyesight that is very well matched to their primary role as the scourge of rats. The eyes are alert.
Though very rare today, there are many enthusiasts that have kept the breed alive in the latter half of the 20th century. They are very good at obedience and Earth dog trials when allowed to compete.
The coat is dense and close, like a beagle. Rat terriers may have very sensitive skin and they sometimes develop patches of red scaly skin where the hair falls out, though this is rare. They do shed, unlike many terriers, but have a very trouble-free grooming schedule as a result.
There is also a single gene mutation that formed a line of hairless rat terriers that have been recognized as a separate breed by the AKC in 2004.
Rat terriers are a uniquely modern mongrel of a terrier that coalesced into a breed of its own in the early 20th century. As farms began popping up across the Midwestern United States in the early to mid- 19th century, the right combination of terrier to deal with the seeming endless rats arose from these unsupervised conditions as a champion ratter. Soon, this type of dog that became very aptly known as the Rat Terrier was common on American farms, chasing and killing rats in hay piles.
They were even exported to England and used in the late days of rat baiting. In this sport the dog would be put in a pit of rats, and scorekeepers would record how many they killed in a given time period while bets were placed on the outcome. The practice was not outlawed until the early 20th century when this last type of baiting was abandoned for dog showing
Some sort of rat terrier was very commonly found on family farms in the United States during the first half of the century. However, since there are few such farms around anymore, there is little reason for these little dogs to actually work for a living
They may be adapted to companion animal use and make very loyal and spirited pets. Nonetheless, Rat Terriers are now considered an endangered breed and are currently in the process of developing a breeding line with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
First and foremost, Rat Terriers are spunky dogs that love people and play. Being bred to kill rats in great quantities, they are quick to chase anything running around on the ground unless they\'ve been brought up with them. However, they are smart dogs and if they understand another animal is not to be harassed, they will be protective of them.
Indeed, rat terriers can be trained to herd and protect a great many different animals, sometimes being used to tend small livestock such as birds. They are usually good around other animals, including other dogs, though this trait is accentuated when your puppy is socialized with dogs and other animals while very young.
They tend to be very good around children, though there is clearly a preference for the children in his or her "pack." The way a rat terrier responds to strangers has everything to do with how well socialized they were when puppies. At best, they will be friendly with others when you indicate they are not invaders.
They are very protective of their people and home, and as such, make rather good watchdogs. They hear or see everything, so you may find that dogs that spend a lot of time indoors will alert you whenever anyone walks down the street in what they consider to be a threatening manner.
While it is somewhat rare for a rat terrier to get the idea that you, as the master or mistress, are to be growled at when your dog feels like it, is a major problem that needs to be stamped out immediately by reminding the dog that such behaviour will not ever be tolerated.
When the dogs (and bitches) are left unaltered, they often begin marking territory, especially if there are other dogs in the house. It is usually recommended you have your dog sterilized if you don\'t intend to breed them.
Thyroid Disease - Medium Risk
The Rat Terrier ranks #73 among all breeds for autoimmune thyroiditis prevalence. While this is not a high risk breed, there is still a good chance of disease transmission through breeding. Therefore, all dogs intended for breeding should be tested first.
|Rank Among Breeds||Number of Dogs Tested||Percent of Dogs With Disease|
You can download the full report (on all breeds) by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Here
Other Health Problems
Mange susceptibility: There is a single gene defect that has appeared in some rat terriers that causes a susceptibility to the parasite that causes the mange. There are treatments available to keep the condition at bay, but it cannot be eliminated, and such dogs should not be bred.