All About the Breed Rat Terrier

Have you recently fallen for the Rat Terrier? If you are trying to decide whether this is the breed for you, this information is a must, including: Breed History, Personality Traits, Train-ability, Benefits and Disadvantages, and Common Health Concerns.

The Rat Terrier is a small and energetic breed that loves to run and play. But how do you know whether you are ready to own a pet and if this is the right breed for you and your family? This information is vital in making the big decision of purchasing a dog.


While the Rat Terrier is known as an all-American breed, its roots are believed to be traced to several European and early terrier breeds, such as the Old English White Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Beagle, the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Toy Fox Tenier, the Whippet, and even the Greyhound. No scientific connection has been made to the modern day Rat Terrier and any of these breeds, though enthusiasts stick to their guns.

During the plague of the Kansas Jack Rabbit on American farms in the early 1900's, the Rat Terrier's U.S. popularity began. This breed is known for its strong instinct to chase and kill small rodents, and its sensitive nose.

Today, the Rat Terrier is generally purchased as a pet and companion dog. This breed remains well-known worldwide.

Personality Traits

Like all terrier breeds, the Rat Terrier is most notably known as an energetic and playful dog. While they can chase sticks or balls for hours and enjoy a good swim, they are just as comfortable indoors napping on a master's lap.

This breed is known especially as being a one-person dog. The Rat Terrier will often grow attached to certain individuals (often children) and favor them over others.

In some cases, the Rat Terrier can be a rather sensitive and aggressive breed. These dogs fear confrontation and pain, so their defenses sometimes run high. When frightened by a person or other animal, the Rat Terrier is known to growl and snap a little more often than most other breeds. As long as these dogs feel safe and secure, these feelings of fear usually don't emerge and cause little to no problems.


The Rat Terrier is a typically a relatively easy breed to train. Their attachment to specific individuals makes them very eager to please and responsive to reward training and most basic commands.

Due to their need to chase and strong sense of smell, the Rat Terrier can sometimes be difficult to train outdoors. When on the chase, these dogs can be hard to keep up with and will often ignore your calls and commands.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed

There are many benefits to owning a Rat Terrier. This breed has a sleek, low shedding coat that requires very little grooming or attention. The Rat Terrier is a lively and playful breed that loves affection and being with their master. Their strong nose and attitude towards strangers makes this breed an excellent guard and watch dog for its size.

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to owning a Rat Terrier. This breed is very energetic and can sometimes be hyper-active. The Rat Terrier requires daily exercise and room to run. Anyone wishing to purchase a Rat Terrier without adequate time and space to dedicate to the dog is strongly advised against doing so. A Rat Terrier lacking the proper amount of exercise can become quite the nuisance and will lead to destroying personal property, loud barking, and will often ignore basic training, such as housebreaking.

The Rat Terrier is a somewhat sensitive breed that strongly dislikes feeling frightened or intimidated. Due to these strong feelings, this breed can become somewhat aggressive around strangers and unfamiliar animals and is known to snap and growl more often that most other breeds.

These dogs need to be supervised when outdoors, even in a fenced-in area, due to their amazing skill at digging. It is not at all unusual for a Rat Terrier to dig its way under a fence in the matter of minutes.

Common Health Concerns

While this breed is typically known for being very healthy and can often live for fifteen years or longer, Rat Terriers are victim to a few health concerns, such as: various knee and joint problems such as arthritis; sensitivity to food, chemicals, inhalants, shampoos, and grooming products; and skin sensitivity to fleas, ticks, and worms.

Now that you know all about the breed, do you think you are ready to own a Rat Terrier? Remember, purchasing a pet is an important decision and should be discussed thoroughly and seriously with your entire family.