Rat Terrier dog breed is a lively and intelligent dog breed that comes in three sizes. These energetic dogs are extremely affectionate and playful around children. However, they should not be left unsupervised around small children as they are not very tolerant of the teasing and rough handling of small children.
The breed was developed in Great Britain by the cross breeding of Smooth Fox Terriers and Manchester Terriers. Later on, they were further crossed with other breeds like Whippets, Beagles etc to improve their agility, speed and hunting abilities. These dogs were originally used for killing rats and dog fighting. Other names for Rat Terrier dog breed are “Fiest” and “American Rat Terrier”.
The athletic and agile Rat Terrier dog breed is characterized by a well muscled and sturdy body. These dogs tend to have powerful legs. The tail can be naturally short or full length. Their upright or tipped ears are usually carried erectly thereby contributing in the overall alert expression of these dogs.
Color: Rat Terriers are available in a variety of colors like chocolate, brindle, sable, red and white, black and tan, blue and white and other tricolors.
Height: As already mentioned, Rat Terriers are available in three sizes, that is, standard size, mid size and toy size with average height of 14 to 23, 8 to m14 and up to 8 inches respectively.
Weight: Standard Rat Terrier dogs usually weigh around 12 to 35 pounds. Mid sized and toy sized Rat Terriers generally around 6 to 8 and 4 to 6 pounds respectively.
Rat Terrier Dog Breed Health Problems
They tend to have a sensitive skin and are hence prone to skin problems. Some dogs of this breed have also been found susceptible to mange caused by parasites.
Also, these high spirited dogs should be exercised at least 20-30 minutes on a daily basis or else they tend to become lazy and sluggish. On the whole, these long lived dogs usually are not prone to many health problems.
Life Expectancy: The average lifespan of these lovely and lively dogs is 15 to 17 years.
Litter Size: The average litter size of Rat Terrier breed dogs is 5 to 7 puppies.
Rat Terrier Dog Grooming Requirements
The short and closely fitted single hair coat of a Rat Terrier requires minimal grooming. It can be brushed easily with a firm bristle brush or rubber brush at least once a week in order to keep it in perfect condition.
Rat Terriers do not shed much. They should be bathed only when necessary, maybe two times in a year in order to retain the natural oils present on the sensitive skin. Nail clipping, ear cleaning, teeth brushing etc also form an integral part of Rat Terrier Grooming.
Rat Terrier Dog Temperament
These dogs are characterized by an energetic, affectionate, bold, alert, intelligent, inquisitive, loyal, playful and well mannered in temperament.
These attention seeking dogs are easily trainable on account of their high intelligence and their keen interest in pleasing their owners. They can be a bit aggressive towards unfamiliar smaller animals owing to their strong hunting instincts.
Moreover, they can become bossy, stubborn and strong willed at times, especially not trained or socialized properly. When bored, these dogs prefer to engage in diligently digging holes and voicing their opinions about being bored and lonely. They are usually friendly with strangers but still make for good watchdogs.
Dog Breed Pros and Cons
The short hair coat of a Rat Terrier is usually not sufficient to keep the dog warm in cold temperatures. Therefore, these dogs should be made to wear sweaters during winter seasons. Rat Terrier dogs are highly active dogs that need a good amount of physical activity on a daily basis.
Interactive play sessions and daily long daily walks are highly recommended to keep these curious little creatures in good health. In apartment situation, they should be provided with at least a small to medium sized yard for play and physical activity.
Make sure the yard is properly fenced, as these smart dogs have a tendency to wander off to other places following their exploratory instincts.