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Rat Terrier Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The first thing you’ll want to know about this little guy is that he is naughty!  And not in a “mean” way, but in a way that lets you know these guys are brilliant.

Now this is…

Probably because the Rat Terrier Dog Breed is one of the most miniature hunting breeds, and like many “hunting” dogs, these dogs need to depend on their natural intelligence to succeed on a hunt.  He’s also a true terrier – brave, courageous, loyal, affectionate, funny, and intelligent. He is a highly energetic little fellow, always searching for rats and other vermin.

This Mixed-Breed Dog is…

Originally from the UK, but made his way to the United States in the 19th century.  Since then, the Rat Terrier has been integral to American history and culture. These days he is regarded as a family pet, but there was a time when he served a beneficial purpose – eliminating rats.


President Theodore Roosevelt was one of his biggest admirers. When President Roosevelt was in power, the White House had a severe rat infestation problem.  Back then, this little White House resident was quite a little terror, the Rat Terrier that rose to the occasion, getting rid of every rat within and outside the White House. It was a highly efficient and ruthless operation, almost military-like!

President Roosevelt was certainly impressed!


The Rat Terrier may be compared to other Terrier breeds such as the Chihuahua-Rat Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Jack-Rat Terrier, and Bull Terrier.  It would also be fair to compare him to other family pets such as the American Cockapoos, Askal Dog, Italian Greyhound, French Bulldog, Pug, Puggle, and German Shepherd.  Mainly because this “Mixed Breed Dog” was developed from many breeds, including the:

But is he the one for you?

The Rat Terrier is better suited to families with children aged five and above. The Rattie, as he is called, is small enough to live happily in an apartment or condo. But given a choice, he’d prefer to live in large estates or farms where he can hunt for rats and small animals.

But remember…

Always buy Rat Terrier Puppies for Sale from a reputable breeder who runs an ethical breeding program. You can read the rest of this article to learn more about Rattie.

Rat Terrier Fast Facts

Country of Origin: USA

Original Purpose: Hunt small vermin

Height: Miniature: 10 to 13 inches; Standard: 13 to 18 inches

Weight: 8 to 25 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Terrier group

Life Span: 12 to 18 years

Origin of the Rat Terrier Dog Breed

The Rat Terrier may be initially from the UK, but he came into his own only in the United States, mainly because it was here in the United States that he was bred as a multi-purpose farm dog.  Back then, it was his job to kill rats and other vermin. Something that he was good at.  This is why these little guys remain one of the most common dogs in the American countryside!

And while…

It’s fair to say that the “Rat Terrier” is unlike any other dog breed; one should acknowledge that this little guy is a “mixed-breed” dog. They were developed from many species, such as the Italian Greyhound, Whippet, Miniature Pinscher, Beagle, and Chihuahua.  This is probably why the American Kennel Club didn’t decide to fully recognize the Rat Terrier until 2013, despite these little guys being around for centuries!

Physical Characteristics

Rat Terriers are tireless, active, muscular dogs. They have a compact structure, strong shoulder blades, legs, and deep chests.  These dogs have wedge-shaped heads, strong muzzles, powerful jaws, sharp teeth, docked tails, and small, erect ears.


The breed standard is of two sizes – Miniature and Standard.  Miniature Rat Terriers are 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder level, and Standard Rat Terriers are 13 to 18 inches tall.


The Rat Terrier has a short, smooth coat with dense, shiny fur. The skin comes in different colors, such as black with tan, white, black with rust, red, blue, lemon, orange, chocolate, white and black, or white and tan. Almost every Rat Terrier has white markings on its coat.


The Rat Terrier is one of those dogs with minimal grooming requirements. You only need to brush his coat once every week. That should be enough. Could you make sure to clean his ears regularly to prevent ear infections?

Temperament and Personality

The Rat Terrier is one of the best family pets you can have. He may be a small dog, but he thinks he is much bigger than he is.  He won’t hesitate to fight for you if you are in danger or under any threat. He is simply a fearless little dog, not afraid to take on humans or other much bigger dogs.

He is excellent with kids!

The Rat Terrier is one of those dogs that is always in the mood to play. He likes to be a part of the games kids play. He loves children and follows them everywhere. He is loyal, affectionate, and protective of the kids in the family. Kids love him, too; they see him as an adorable little brother.

Just one thing…

He has a loud bark and can wake everyone in the neighborhood. Also, he is a high-energy dog; he gets bored when you leave him alone for too long.  He remains an adorable little creature and can be an excellent companion dog for singles, couples, and seniors. And he is remarkably healthy too.

Potential Health Problems

The Rat Terrier is one of the healthiest dog breeds out there. He has an excellent life expectancy of 12 to 18 years. 18 years? That’s incredible for a dog.  But like all breeds, even these dogs are prone to specific health issues. You should be aware of these problems if you want to bring a Rat Terrier home:

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, but they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues.  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Bella G. December 18, 2020, 8:50 am

    Is he good with other dogs?

    • Liza January 6, 2021, 4:39 pm

      They are good with other dogs. If you get one as a puppy they should be fine. But if you adopt an older dog, it depends.

    • Tammy May 18, 2022, 7:40 pm

      We had an almost 2 year old rattie and bought another rattie puppy. They hit it off right away and, 6 months later, they’re pretty much inseparable.

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