Breed Spotlight: Rat Terrier

 Tuesday Oct 24,2023
By  Lancaster Puppies

Rat Terriers are named after their skill at hunting rodents on 19th-century farms. They now make playful family companions who are easy to train. They’ll make a great pet for a family in almost any environment. Read on to learn if this is the right breed for you!

Breed History

Rat Terrier characteristics: affectionate, kid friendly, minimal grooming, easily trained, athletic

There are many rat-catching breeds developed over hundreds of years of history, but the Rat Terrier’s origins start in the late 19th century. They were developed by mixing many fast breeds together until the breed standard was defined in the early 20th century. Their speed and size helped them to control the vermin population on farms, which threatened crops. With the invention of pesticides, Rat Terriers weren’t needed and their population declined. Some breed enthusiasts kept it alive, though, and they still make affectionate family pets today.

Rat Terrier Characteristics

Appearance & Coat

Rat Terriers are found in two sizes, standard and miniature, both of which are muscular and athletic. They have short, smooth, and shiny coats that come in a variety of colors and markings, including white, black, tan, chocolate, and others. Their ears remain erect and their tails are typically docked.


Rat Terriers are playful and intelligent companions who require early socialization. They respond well to training and their affectionate nature has made them increasingly popular as therapy dogs.


Rat Terriers are overall a very hardy breed that could live for 16-19 years. They could, however, develop some conditions, such as patellar luxation, cardiac abnormalities, pancreatic issues, hip dysplasia, and Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome. It’s recommended that you get your pup tested for all of these conditions.

Caring for a Rat Terrier

The Rat Terrier’s Ideal Home

Did you know Rat Terriers were given their name after Teddy Roosevelt's own terrier cleared out a vermin infestation at the White House

The Rat Terrier was originally bred on farms and still does well in those environments, but it’s an adaptable breed. Rat Terriers will do well in any home, including apartments, so long as they are given a creative outlet. Get some toys that will stimulate their intelligence and curiosity.

Training Best Practices

Rat Terriers respond very well to positive reinforcement in training. They aim to please and were originally bred as farm dogs, meaning they can pick up on a lot of tasks. It’s important to start training early and socialize them with other pups to prevent mischievous behavior, however.

Exercise Needs

Rat Terriers have a moderate energy level that can be satisfied with daily walks and playing inside. They were developed with speed in mind, so a fenced-in yard that allows them to run free will do wonders, but is not necessary. Consider taking them to the dog park every so often instead.

Grooming & Hygiene

The Rat Terrier’s glossy coat doesn’t shed too much and only needs a weekly brush to keep it shiny. You may need to brush more often during the spring and fall shedding seasons. A monthly bath will usually be enough to keep the dog smell away but you may need to bathe more often if they get dirty outside.

Does the Rat Terrier sound like the perfect fit for your family’s lifestyle? Find Rat Terrier puppies for sale near you and adopt one today!