The Rat Terrier is a breed with a lot of variety. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed has two size varieties. However, the National Rat Terrier Association also recognizes two other size varieties. These four varieties include the Toy (NRTA), Miniature (AKC), Standard (AKC), and Decker (NRTA), also called the Decker Giant variety. Miniatures measure between 10 and 13 inches, while Standards measure between 13 and 18 inches. Rat Terriers weigh, on average, between 10 and 25 pounds. Toy Rat Terriers are the smallest variety, while Decker/Decker Giant Rat Terriers are the largest. Miniatures are typically preferred for hunting small vermin. All Rat Terriers make excellent companions.
In general, the Rat Terrier is a hardy breed. It has a lifespan of about 12 to 18 years. Like their sizes, their colors also vary greatly. Most Rat Terriers have piebald patterns. Brindle patterns are typically rejected by breed standards, though there is a movement to accept this among Rat Terriers. Merle patterns are always rejected. Rat Terriers can have two or more colors on their coat. Possible colors include white, black, tan, chocolate, blue, pearl or isabella, apricot, lemon, pale gold, and dark mahogany.
Rat Terriers, as an official breed, have a pretty short history. That said, their ancestors date back to the 1500s. The first known rat-catching dog is believed to be Hatch, a dog whose remains were found on the Mary Rose, a flagship belonging to Henry VIII. The ship sank in 1545 and was raised in 1982.
The breed comes from a variety of small breeds used by the British to catch rats in the 1600s through the 1800s. In the late 1800s, these dogs were bred with Italian Greyhounds, Beagles, and Manchester Terriers. Certain varieties later began to diverge from the Rat Terrier line and became their own officially recognized breeds.
In the 1900s, Rat Terriers were popular on farms and as hunting companions. They remained one of the most popular dog breeds until the 1950s when chemical pesticide use and commercial farming increased drastically. Breed popularity declined. However, the Rat Terrier breed loyalists maintained the bloodline and continued to breed them. This led to the modern-day Rat Terrier.
Today, Rat Terriers continue to work on farms. They are employed in other industries as well. For example, police agencies often use them as contraband search dogs. Rat Terriers were first officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2012.
Rat Terriers have very interesting personalities. They are very stubborn. However, they are also very social creatures and eager to please their owners. This makes them a highly trainable dog breed. In addition, they are also a pretty intelligent breed, as most working breeds are.
Socialization in puppyhood is extremely important for Rat Terriers. Socialization should be done gradually. Rat Terriers are okay around other dogs, but they will not be best friends right away. Children are a bit of a different story. Rat Terriers are excellent family pets due to how well they get along with children. They are also quite loyal to their families. This does include other pets if given the proper time to adjust to one another. These dogs are one of the more affectionate breeds. So, you can expect lots of cuddles with your Rat Terrier.
Rat Terriers are quite sensitive to their environments. They do not do well in families that are too chaotic or live an ever-changing lifestyle. Though they do well with children, they are not fond of lots of noise and hectic movement. It is best to get a Rat Terrier for a calm household environment.
Keep in mind that Rat Terriers have very strong prey drives. So, they are typically not a good mix with cats and smaller pets, such as hamsters or rabbits. They will not always recognize them as family members, and they will pose a risk to these pets.
Rat Terriers adjust well to most living spaces. They handle both small apartments and large homes with ease. That being said, they are high-energy dogs that need a ton of stimulation. So, you should have some space for them to move around. If you have a small home or apartment, you should plan to give them plenty of access to a large yard or local park. On the contrary, you do not need a yard as big if your home is big and has a lot of space for them to play in.
Rat Terriers tend to dig a lot. Be sure to watch them carefully when they are getting used to their yard. It is a good possibility for them to tunnel out of the yard if you are not vigilant of them. To prevent this, you can get a fence that extends underground so that they cannot dig through it.
Fenced yards are essential for Rat Terriers. Even if your specific Rat Terrier is not used as a working dog, they all still have strong prey instincts. It would not take much for your Rat Terrier to go running off after a squirrel, rabbit, or another type of animal without warning. This can be dangerous for other neighborhood animals as well as your Rat Terrier since they may not pay attention to threats, such as moving vehicles.
Regarding temperature, Rat Terriers are not as well-adapted as other hunting and working breeds. They adjust very well to high temperatures. However, this is not the case for cold weather. Avoid getting this breed of dog if you live in a cold area. If you do happen to own a Rat Terrier in an area with cold weather, make sure you supply them with a sweater and warm doghouse in the winter months.
Rat Terriers are somewhat anxious when left alone. It depends on the specific dog and the level of training that they have had. Take notice of your Rat Terrier and see how they handle the separation. If they show signs of anxiousness, you will want to get them a companion to hang out with while you are gone. Otherwise, they may engage in destructive behavior, such as chewing on furniture and other objects that are not toys.
Rat Terriers have a smooth, short-hair coat that is likely to shed fairly frequently. That being said, they are very easy to groom. They should receive a complete bath once every three or four weeks. Use a specially formulated dog shampoo that has been designed for short-hair, smooth-coated dogs. Using a different type of shampoo or washing too frequently could cause dry skin. Because they tend to dig a lot, you may want to have a towel ready to wipe your Rat Terrier’s paws whenever he or she comes inside the house.
Brushing should occur on a weekly basis. You can do this with a soft rubber brush or a grooming mitt. Rat Terriers shed lightly throughout the year, though it is more prevalent in the spring and fall. Females tend to shed more during heat cycles or shortly after they have had puppies.
Dental care is important for Rat Terriers. It is recommended that you clean their teeth several times during the week at least, though every day is ideal. Use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs.
You should also clean the outer parts of your Rat Terrier’s ear frequently. With the amount of digging and time spent playing outside, it is common for them to get dirt and other debris in their ears. This can lead to unpleasant ear infections if not controlled. Do not stick anything in the ear canal. Simply use a soft cloth or cotton ball to wipe the outer parts of the ear that you can see. If you notice signs of infection, contact a veterinarian right away.
Rat Terrier nails grow frequently, so monthly trimming is required. They will file down naturally as they play outside. However, you do need to clip them yourself, as well. Be sure not to trim the nails too short. This could cause injury to your Rat Terrier.
Rat Terriers are not a slobbery breed. So, luckily, you will not have to constantly wipe the drool from their face.
You can take Rat Terriers to professional groomers, but this is not necessary since their coats are low maintenance. However, if you are ever unsure about parts of the grooming process, it is good to contact a veterinarian or professional groomer before trying it on your own
Rat Terriers are one of the most energetic breeds you can get. They should get at least one long walk or jog every day, lasting between 20 and 30 minutes. Younger Rat Terriers may require more than this, though. Before investing in this dog, you need to be prepared for hours of play and activity each day. Exercise must be structured in order for Rat Terriers to get any benefit from it. Simply leaving them in the yard to their own devices typically is not sufficient.
Without proper exercise, your Rat Terrier could experience a number of physical and mental health issues. They are somewhat susceptible to weight gain. Additionally, a lack of proper exercise could actually drain their energy level and make them lethargic and depressed.
One interesting feature of the Rat Terrier is that they are able to tailor their energy level to that of the household. Ideally, they should be brought into an active household. That said, they can handle lazy days as well. They adapt well to a variety of routines. So, while it is important to plan for daily exercise, it is not a crisis if it does not happen.
Rat Terriers are generally very playful dogs that love toys and wrestling with their families and other dogs. Because of their natural prey drive, small toys that resemble prey creatures are a great choice for rat terriers. Be prepared for cleaning up lots of stuffing, though. Rat Terriers like to tear their toys apart, so make sure you get them some strong ones.
In addition to physical exercise, Rat Terriers also need a decent amount of mental stimulation. For example, you can play hide and seek with them or get them puzzle-type toys, such as ones that have snacks hidden inside of them.
Rat Terriers are highly energetic and require a high-calorie diet. As with any breed, it is a good idea to get food that is specifically designed for that breed. At the very least, you should get food that is designed for small breeds in general. Rat Terriers have a high metabolism, low body fat, and low blood sugar. Small breed dog food is designed to match the needs of these features. These foods also have smaller kibble sizes, which is necessary for preventing choking hazards in Rat Terriers.
Rat Terriers also require diets that are high in protein content. In general, a single source of high-quality protein is preferable over multiple low-quality proteins, like a mixture of fish meal and chicken meal.
This breed is prone to joint problems. One way to avoid this is by providing them with plenty of omega three and omega six fatty acids in their diet.
Dry food is fine for Rat Terriers as long as it has all of these components. In addition, you will want to avoid foods that are high in grain content. This is typically used as a filler in lower-quality dog foods, and it does not add any nutritional value to your Rat Terrier.
All dog breeds, but especially highly energetic ones like the Rat Terrier, require a constant supply of freshwater. Encourage your Rat Terrier to drink after each play or exercise session. Veterinarians recommend using metal bowls for food and water versus plastic since plastic bowls can excrete harmful chemicals into the diet. Change the water at least once a day. For Rat Terriers, you may need to change it more often if they are constantly bringing dirt and debris into their food or water dishes.
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