Rat Terrier

Published: Last updated: by rat terrier breed laying down

Happy, curious, and fearless, the Rat Terrier is a jolly, long-lived dog with a great sense of humor and a love of family.

Average size and lifespan

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Height: 1ft 0in - 1ft 4in
Weight: 10-24lbs
Lifespan: 13 - 18 Years


  • Affection4/5
  • Kid-Friendly4/5
  • Stranger-Friendly2/5
  • Dog-Friendly3/5
  • Barking Amount3/5


  • Grooming Difficulty2/5
  • Shedding Amount3/5
  • Easy to Train4/5
  • Can Be Alone3/5
  • Exercise Need3/5


  • Cold Tolerance1/5
  • Heat Tolerance4/5
  • Apartment-Friendly5/5

Rat Terrier Information

The breed is compact and sturdy, weighing up to 24 pounds, with an elegant, agile appearance. His smooth coat is most often white with or without markings of black, chocolate, red, apricot, fawn, tan, lemon, or blue.

The Rat Terrier originated in America in the 1800s and comes from a mix of quite a few different breeds – Fox Terriers and other European Terriers of the time, plus Beagle, Toy Fox Terrier, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and more. The result is a versatile canine who makes a faithful hunting dog specializing in small game.


The Rat Terrier, a small yet hardy breed, is a true American original. With roots tracing back to the 19th century, these scrappy little pups were bred for their vermin hunting prowess and were a staple on farms and homesteads across the country.

Just don’t let these beginnings define this breed – these pooches have much more to offer than their rodent-catching abilities. Their compact size, playful disposition, and trainability make them a popular choice for city dwellers and suburbanites.

Rat Terrier dog breed sitting in grass

Training and Temperament

Regarding training and temperament, Rat Terriers are a veritable tour de force. They are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them a breeze to teach new tricks and commands. However, their boundless energy and insatiable curiosity can make them a handful for the unprepared or faint of heart. Consistency and firm, yet kind, guidance is key in shaping their behavior.

One aspect that sets the Rat Terrier apart from many other breeds is their insatiable desire for companionship. They thrive in the presence of their human family and can become quite aloof and even destructive when left alone for extended periods. So, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet that you can neglect, this isn’t the breed for you.


Grooming-wise, these pooches are relatively low maintenance. Their short, smooth coats are easy to brush and keep clean, and they don’t have an overbearing “doggy” odor. However, they do shed a fair amount, so regular brushing is a must to keep the shedding under control.

All in all, the Rat Terrier is a unique and endearing breed that offers a wealth of companionship and entertainment. Their small size, playfulness, and intelligence make them an excellent choice for the right person or family. They are a bundle of boundless energy and will keep you on your toes, but in return, they will shower you with love and affection.

All dogs have their own personality and unique training, causing them to differ slightly from these breed stats. However, please let us know if we made an error in the stats, we appreciate your help!

Breed FAQs

Can Rat Terriers be apartment dogs?

The Rat Terrier is an excellent apartment dog. They don't need as much space for activity and will be happy in a condo or apartment.

Can Rat Terriers be left alone?

While Rat Terriers prefer to be around their owners, they can do fairly well when left alone if necessary.

Are Rat Terriers good with kids?

Rat Terriers do well with kids. As with any dog they should be monitored closely, they're unlikely to become aggressive.

Are Rat Terriers friendly with strangers?

Rat Terriers tend to be uncomfortable with strangers. They will require extra training effort to socialize them with those outside their family.

Do Rat Terriers get along with other dogs?

Although Rat Terriers will mostly get along with other dogs, they may have some issues. They can typically be dealt with by socializing them with other dogs.

Do Rat Terriers bark a lot?

As far as dogs go, Rat Terriers bark an average amount. You can expect them to bark to alert you, get your attention, or when there are strangers or other dogs.

Do Rat Terriers shed a lot?

Rat Terriers shed a medium amount. They will have seasonal shedding, but aren't terrible to clean up after.

Do Rat Terriers need a lot of grooming?

Rat Terriers don't require very much effort for grooming. You'll just need to provide typical maintenance and baths.

Do Rat Terriers need a lot of exercise?

A Rat Terrier will need a moderate amount of exercise to be happy. You'll need to plan some basic walks or fetch during the day.

Are Rat Terriers easy to train?

Typically, Rat Terriers are easy to train. They enjoy the bonding process with their owner and are quick to learn.

Can Rat Terriers handle cold weather?

Expect Rat Terriers to not do well with the cold. If you live in a cold climate you'll need to take special consideration for this breed.

Can Rat Terriers handle hot weather?

Rat Terriers do well in hot climates and can stay out longer without overheating.

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