Country of OriginUnited States of America
Nicknames and Other NamesAmerican Rat Terrier
Decker Giant
Ratting Terrier
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypePurebred
GroupTerrier Group
Bred ForControlling rats and rodent on farm
and family pet
SizeSmall to medium-sized
Recognized ByAKC, UKC
Life Span12-18 years
Ideal Weight10-25 pounds (male and female)
Ideal HeightMiniature: 10-13 inches (male and female)
Standard: 13-18 inches (male and female)
Fur TypeSmooth, single-coated
Common ColorsBlack Tan and White, White,
Blue White and Tan,
White and Black, White and Fawn,
White and Red, White and Tan,
White and Chocolate,
Red White and Sable
MarkingsPiebald, Blanket-back, Tan points,
Solid, Irish marked
AvailabilityCommonly available
AchievementsFeatured in movies
Suitable for ApartmentsYes
Used in World WarNo
Most Similar ToToy Fox Terrier

Rat Terrier is an original breed of America which comes in two sizes: Miniature and Standard. It is an adorable little dog that is very lively and fun to be around. Life with this breed is not a boring life, they are full of life and are always making people laugh with its silly acts.

Rat Terrier is not for someone who is always busy with work and are out most of the time. They are only suitable for an active owner who remains in the house and has a small yard or garden where they can dig.

Rat Terrier is a muscular little dog with a strong shoulder, muscular legs, and deep chest. Their head is wedge-shaped with alert eyes and ears that are either erect or dropped. The coat is short, dense, shiny, silky, and soft.

Origin and History

The Rat Terrier is an original breed that is bred in the USA as an all-purpose farm dog. They were developed in the 19th century and their ancestor includes Beagles, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds.

The mix of Whippets and Italian Greyhounds bought speed and Beagles added scenting ability. Its main job was to kill rat, vermin and hunt other small game. They were an excellent rat hunter and they controlled the rats and vermin in the house as well as in the farm.

The Rat Terrier was officially recognized by American Kennel Club in 2013 as a member of Terrier Group. The United Kennel Club recognized this breed in 1999.

Is Rat Terrier Child-Friendly?

Rat Terrier is a very lively little dog who gets along with children and can be an excellent playmate for them. They are friendly with kids that are not even part of the family. They adore children and are not aggressive towards them.

The interaction with small children should be always supervised so that the kids don’t play rough with them and hurt them.

Rat Terrier is Child friendly
Image Source: instagram-@jyoung419

Temperament, Behavior, Personality

Temperament: The temperament of the rat terrier is very active, lively, and entertaining. They are always playing and keeping themselves busy with some activities. They will make a great companion for those who love an energetic dog that is fun and making everyone laugh.

Rat Terriers are a good swimmer, not afraid or have a problem with water. Therefore, if there is a pool in front of the house, you will see it enjoying in the water.

Behavior: Rat Terrier is a fearless dog that does not get afraid of standing in front of anyone if they see any threat towards them or their family. As a hunting dog, they have a high chasing instinct, so when outdoors, keep them on a leash so that they do not go after some small animals.

Personality: The personality of the Rat terrier is friendly, lovable, and outgoing. They are a very clever and intelligent dog and can trick you easily. They go well with other pets in the house if raised from an early age but may not do well with small pets like cats due to their prey drive.


Training the Rat Terrier is a tough task to do as they are stubborn and independent. They have no desire to please their owner and will not respond to training quickly.

Rat Terriers need a confident and patient leader who can train them gently. They will respond well to rewards like delicious treats and a lot of praises. Once they complete their basic obedience training, enroll them in the agility training.


  • The Rat Terrier ranks 96 of 193 registered breed in American Kennel Club as of March 2019.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan of the Rat Terriers, he brought many of them in the White House.
  • One of the Rat Terrier has appeared in a movie of 1930s which is called “The Little Colonel”.

Health Issues

General HealthHealthy
Common Health IssuesEye Problems, Legg-Perthes Disease,
Heart Problems, Patellar Luxation,
Hip Dysplasia
Vaccination RequiredLeptospirosis, Canine Parainfluenza,
Canine Parvovirus, Kennel Cough,
Rabies, Canine Distemper, Canine Coronavirus
SheddingAbove Average Shedder
DroolingLow Drooler
GroomingMinimal Grooming Required
Weight Gain PotentialAverage
Separation AnxietyHigh Chance
Diets and SupplementsProtein: 20%
Fat: 5%
Digestive Enzymes
Fish Oil

The Rat Terrier is usually a healthy dog breed. They might get some genetic health problems during their life span of 12-18 years. Some of the canine diseases that they might get are explained below:

  • Allergies: Allergies are common a common disease. They might get allergies like skin, food, from the foreign particles which are not suitable for some dogs. To avoid any allergies, use dog products and control what they eat. You should know from what kind of stuff they are allergic too.
  • Patellar Luxation: This is a common problem in small dogs like Rat Terrier. It is caused due to dislocation of bone or joints that move slightly away from its original place. It is not a serious serious problem and after the dog does some movements with its leg, it will come to a place.


The Rat Terrier comes in following colors and markings:

  • Black & White
  • Red, White, and Sable
  • Blue, White, and Tan
  • Black, Tan, and White
  • White & Apricot
  • White
  • Black, White, and Tan
  • White & Black
  • White & Blue
  • Chocolate & White
  • White & Blue Fawn
  • White & Blue
  • Lemon & White
  • White, Black & Tan
  • White & Silver
  • Red & white
  • White & Fawn
  • Markings: Badger, blanket-back, Irish marked, Piebald, Sable, White, Spotted or Patched, Tan points, Solid, Piebald


Cost: The average cost of the Rat Terrier puppy is between $300-$500 USD. If the quality of the breeder is good then it might cost more than $500.

Height and Size: The average height of the Rat Terrier is 10-18 inches (Miniature) and 13-16 inches (Standard). The average weight is 10-25 pounds.

Similar Dog Breeds to Rat Terrier

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Toy Fox Terrier Similar dog to Rat Terrier

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Smooth Fox Terrier Similar dog to Rat Terrier

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Parson Russell Terrier Similar dog to Rat Terrier

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