Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
10 Traits and Facts About Rat Terriers
Almost 4 years ago, my husband and I found the cutest little rescue pup. With her hazel colored eyes and small brown nose nudging my hand through the cage, my heart melted. I read her biography card…hmmm, a rat terrier? I knew next to nothing about the breed but quickly researched it on my phone. After reading through my impromptu research, I took her out of the kennel and held her. Such a calm, quiet puppy for her being 4 months old. While all the rest of the rescue dogs were barking madly, Talulah (soon to be called Amber) sat quietly in my arms, only to lean into my chest. This cute puppy just found herself a home.
Zoom forward a year. Amber is loved and spoiled, along with her kitty brothers and sister. She liked playing with them, but I could tell she really needed another dog to keep her company while we worked. At another rescue, my husband, Ian, notices the saddest dog in the kennel. Looking frightened and basically shut down, Jax lifted his head as Ian spoke his name. Another rat terrier! Perfect! We rushed home to get Amber so that she could meet Jax. We wanted to make certain they would get along. Jax just sniffed Amber then plopped himself into Ian’s lap. He knew he’d found his papa.
By now, we were quite the experts on “ratty” behavior, personality, and history. As avid fans of the breed, what better way to share our love of this comical dog known as the rat terrier (Told by our two ratties, Jax and Amber.)
1. No, I’m not a Chihuahua!
I am often confused with a Chihuahua, but our breed is actually made up of around 8 different breeds, which include the Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, the now extinct English White Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier, Beagle, Toy Fox Terrier, Whippet, and Italian Greyhound.
2. I’m not a Jack Russell Terrier either!
Although, according to AKC, we are in the same family of dogs known as Feists. (That means we’re good little hunters, and maybe a bit ornery too.) Plus, we typically come in 2 sizes, miniature and standard.
3. We’re often seen as big clowns.
Being energetic, playful, and intelligent, Jax and I often get into big messes, but our cuteness and goofy personality get us off the hook…most of the time.
4. We are great hunters.
Our breed was actually created to hunt vermin and other small animals such as squirrels, rabbits, etc. (We love to hunt kitties too, which makes for challenging times in our 4 kitty household.)
5. We are very smart too!
Being highly intelligent can cause problems as we easily get bored. Make sure you have lots of toys and activities to keep us mentally stimulated.
6. Ratties are easy to train.
Despite being so smart, we are people pleasers and very food motivated. Both of us will do anything for a tasty treat! (I even love my crate!)
7. We like naps too!
Even though we have a lot of energy, we also love to chill with our human pack. Ratties make the best nap buddies and love to snuggle under the covers.
8. We’re pretty darn healthy!
Because our breed is made up of so many other breeds, we’re less likely to develop severe health issues. Although, like many other smaller breeds, we are prone to hip dysplasia and other joint diseases.
9. We are excellent watchdogs.
With our large ears, sharp vision, and keen nose, we can sense intruders in a flash and will alert our family of anything suspicious. (Although Mama and Papa think we both bark too much, but that’s OK, they still love us.) The mix of breeds that makes up the rat terrier was very deliberate. Farmers and hunters wanted an all-around good hunting dog, so over the years, one breed was added for a better sense of smell, other breeds added in for sound and vision. Ratties are very unique as they are considered a sight, sound, and scent hunter.
10. We are so low maintenance.
Rat terriers have a short, dense coat that develops very little odor. An occasional brushing to get rid of seasonal shedding and a damp cloth to clean up any messiness and us two awesome doggies are ready to roll.
Originally published Apr 5, 2017/Odyssey