Rat Terrier Info Guide, A Friend to the Elderly Why This Breed May Be Perfect for You

Rat Terriers photo
Small Breed X-Small Breed Rat Terrier

Is the Rat Terrier right for you?

  • 1 Rat Terriers are a compact dog breed once bred as vermin hunters.
  • 2 Nowadays the Rat Terrier is a great family dog, obedient and with a happy disposition.
  • 3 Consider agility training for exercise as these dogs have impressive agility capabilities.


A cross between the Smooth Fox Terrier and Manchester Terrier, the Rat Terrier was first bred in England in the early 19th century. Later crossbred again in America with the Beagle, to add size, and the Whippet, to increase speed, the Rat Terrier quickly became the apex of rat-baiting and hunting, the record being held by a Rat Terrier that reportedly killed over 2,500 rats in under seven hours. Originally called the English Feist, they were first called Rat Terriers by former President and Rat Terrier enthusiast, Teddy Roosevelt.

Quick Facts

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    15 - 17 years, though some have lived to be 20

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    Hair Length


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    Male Height

    14 - 18 inches (36 - 46 cm)

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    Male Weight

    15 - 25 pounds (7 - 11 kg)

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    Female Height

    10 - 15 inches (25 - 38 cm)

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    Female Weight

    8 - 16 pounds (3.6 - 7.3 kg)

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    Litter Size

    5 - 7 puppies


The Rat Terrier is a ball of energy. They love to play and are great with kids, especially if they grow up with them. They make a great family or companion dog, as well as good watchdogs, farm dogs, and, obviously, ratting dogs. They are smart, quick learners that are eager to please, making training easy. Like other small dogs, they should not be allowed to get away with behaviors like jumping up on people, as these signs of dominance will begin to manifest in what is commonly known as โ€œsmall dog syndrome,โ€ which is basically when the dog thinks that they are the leader of the pack. However, if they are trained well, the Rat Terrier is a fantastic companion..


Most Rat Terriers are dual- or tri-colored with white as the base color. This may include several colors of brown, tan, yellow and black.

Health Concerns

The normal life span of Rat Terrier is 13-16 years. Generally a healthy breed, the Rat Terrier is not prone to any significant health problems.


A small, but well-built dog with a strong, athletic body and legs. They have a small head with large, pointed ears, and a small, narrow muzzle. Their tail can be either short or long, and is generally left alone (not docked). The Rat Terrier can be found in a few different sizes: Standard (~20 inches and ~25 pounds), Mid-Sized (~11 inches and ~10 pounds), and Toy (~8 inches and 5 pounds).

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