HomeNewsOct 6, The Loyal Rat Terrier: Complete Breed Profile Information

    Oct 6, The Loyal Rat Terrier: Complete Breed Profile Information

    Small Dog, Big Heart

    Rat Terrier     by Janice Jones     |Updated 10-06-2022

    Loyal, loving, and energetic are all characteristics of the Rat terrier.  Sometimes called RT, or “Rattie”, these small dogs are the perfect pet for many dog lovers who are looking for a companion and exercise buddy.

    rat terrier

    They actually get their
    name from America’s 26th president Mr. Teddy Roosevelt. He had one
    that he named “Skip,” who did a very good job of clearing the White House of a
    rat problem that they had. Following that, he decided to call the breed the Rat
    terrier in honor of these very important work.

    This breed definitely lives up to its name by holding the record for
    the most rats hunted. One Rattie cleared a barn of 2500 rats in a mere 7 hours.

    However, these dogs are not just hunters; they are also a source of
    inspiration. Musician, Laurie Anderson actually created an album inspired by
    her little Rat terrier, Lolabelle.  In
    this album, she used music pitches and tones that were unperceivable to the
    human ear, and performed it on the steps of the Sydney Opera House to over one
    thousand dogs.

    They have large, pointed ears that stick up straight when
    they are interested in something. They also have large and expressive eyes that
    look bigger than they actually are due to the skinniness of their face.

    Although some people do not agree with it, most Ratties have a docked tail. The
    frame of the dog is compact but sturdy. They are very muscular and have
    strong shoulders and powerful, but small, legs.

    These particular small dogs are very
    adaptable and can live pretty much anywhere as long as they have the
    appropriate amount of exercise. These little dogs are very active, and they love to
    be running around the yard, or going on a walk.

    Families that do not have time
    for daily exercise with their RT may want to rethink adopting this particular
    breed of dog. However, if you are looking for a lively, energetic, smart and
    overall loving dog, then you may have just found your match made in heaven.

    Quick Facts

    Other Names Used: Rattie,
    RT, American Rat Terrier, Ratting Terrier, Decker Giant

    Affiliation: Ratter;
    farm and companion dog. AKC and UKC recognized


         Height: (Toy) 8

         Weight: (Toy) 4-6

    Coat Type: Smooth,
    single layer coat

    Colors: Black,
    tan, chocolate, blue, pearl lemon and apricot. May be tricolor or bi-color,
    with at least one color being white.

    Country of Origin: United

    Activity Level:  Moderate to High

    Life Expectancy: 15-21

    Good with Children: yes,
    but use caution around small children, as they can be delicate

    Good with Other Pets:


    Rat TerrierRat Terrier

    For a while during the 1900s, the Rat terrier was the main
    source of keeping mice, rats, and other varmints at bay, especially during the
    “dust bowl” era.

    They are a combination of the smooth coated fox
    terrier, the now extinct English White terrier, with a dash of Whippet, a
    little Beagle and a sprinkle of Bull terrier.

    At the beginning of the Rattie excitement, they were originally black and tan, and it is said that
    Teddy Roosevelt owned three black and tan Rat terriers.

    Now, the breed is listed in the terrier group (Foundation Stock) and is AKC’s 178th dog breed.

    A rat terrier on a leash is walking down a dirt path

    Personality of these Small Dogs

    Explanations for At a Glance Ratings 

    • Playfulness:  Most=5   Less=1
    • Affection:  Most=5   Least=1
    • Friendliness Towards Strangers:  Most=5  Least=1
    • Good with Children:  Good=5   Not Good=1
    • Good with Other Dogs:   Good=5   Not Good=1
    • Good for First Time Owners:  Good=5  Not Good=1
    • Amount of Exercise Required:  Much=5  Minimal=1
    • Ease of Training:   Easy=5   Difficult=1
    • Watch Dog Ability:   Excellent=5   Poor=1
    • Grooming Needs:   Extensive=5  Minimal=1
    • Shedding:   Heavy Shedding=5   Minimal Shedding=1
    • Cold Tolerance:   Cold Well Tolerated=5    Poorly Tolerated=1
    • Heat Tolerance:   Heat Well Tolerated=5   Poorly Tolerated=1

    Rat terriers are basically little bundles of joy when it
    comes to their temperament.

    They have a very strong bond with their owner and
    can be a very lovable pet for the right family; however, they are not
    particularly good with small children because of their small and dainty leg

    However, if you raise a RT from puppy-hood onward, they can be
    absolutely great with children, depending on how they are raised.

    A rat terrier dog running through an agility challenge

    Ratties are also
    very adaptable and can live pretty much anywhere as long as they have room for
    lots of exercises. Ratties can adapt to either your couch potato lifestyle or
    your on-the-go lifestyle.  They do prefer
    to be active at least for some of time during the day. They also make really
    good watchdogs, and despite many popular beliefs, are not that yappy at all.

    Rat terriers are often confused as Jack Russell Terriers, which have a
    completely different attitude and temperament. Like most Terriers, it is said
    that Rat terriers have an “off switch.” Meaning one minute they will be running
    around the yard, and the next minute they will be passed out on the couch with
    their owner.

    Extensive socialization and training at a young age is
    crucial for the particular breed; however, training is very simple and many
    describe it as fun to train a Rattie. Training is a joy and also fun and easy, unlike
    other terriers.

    They are very eager to learn and live to please their owner. Ratties
    also make very good swimmers, and they are not anxious or afraid to get their
    paws wet. They are overall very loving, loyal, and fun dogs to have in one’s
    family. Most anyone would be overly content owning a Ratties.


    Rat terriers luckily have a very short and smooth coat,
    which makes grooming very easy to do. An occasional brushing or combing to get
    all the dead hair out is all it really needs.

    This is not a non-shedding breed,
    so they shed seasonally and brushing with a soft rubber brush or glove can help
    keep the shedding at bay.

    They need to be bathed regularly, especially if they spend
    much time outside. While bathing, the paws, eyes, ears, and anal glands need to
    be checked. Other than that, the RT is a very easy breed when it comes
    to grooming.

    Health Concerns

    From all the robust breeding, the RT is generally very
    healthy and can live many years. Only a few common health problems need to be
    checked up on, but other than that, your Rattie is set!


    Primary Lens Luxation

    Patellar Luxation

    Hip Dysplasia

    Legg-Calvé-Perthes Syndrome



    • Adaptable
    • Loyal
    • Fun and easy to train
    • Easy to groom
    • Make good watchdogs


    • Need more than average amount of exercise
    • Caution around small children 
    • Can suffer from Small Dog Syndrome if not
      socialized properly as a puppy
    • Can be fragile

    More Resources

    The Rat Terrier Breed Profile at the American Kennel Club

    Pin for Future Reference

    The Rat Terrier Pin Image

    Especially For the Rat Terrier Lover

    Do You Have a Rat Terrier? Care to Share Your Experiences

    Do you have or have had a rat terrier? We’d love for you to share. Your dog’s story, that is, not your dog.

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