OVERVIEW OF THE RAT TERRIER
If there has ever been a dog that would fit the description, “big personality in a tiny package,” it would be the Rat Terrier. Known for its feisty personality and high intelligence, the Rat Terrier is a breed that is perfect for homeowners that never want a dull moment in their household. Anybody familiar with the Terrier breed would expect these dogs to be very vigilant as Terriers are a breed of hunting dogs. However, this cannot be farther from reality when it comes to Rat Terriers; but, they do excel at hunting vermin and rodents around the house, so if you suffer from a rodent infestation, get one of these little balls of sunshine to lay your worries at rest.
However, the Rat Terrier does require an owner that has a specific level of mental fortitude to keep up with them — they are known to be quite the diggers. If you are a gardening enthusiast, you may not want to add a Rat Terrier to your family.
Rat Terriers might be small dogs, but they are very agile and enthusiastic. They are particularly great for households that have small children. You can sit back and relax while your dog and your toddlers play around and exhaust each other without you having too much to worry about, as these small dogs do not pose any threat to kids and are known to have high levels of affection towards their owners.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE RAT TERRIER
In the early 1910s, American farmers started looking for a solution for farm vermin. They decided to put together a few different breeds of Terriers to aid in protecting farmland; namely the Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, and Old English White Terrier. This breeding venture resulted in the development of the Rat Terrier, a more miniature Terrier, perfect to be kept on farms due to its ability to dig and seek out vermin. In the Midwest, these dogs were bred with Whippets and Italian Greyhounds to further enhance their speed. This was due to an infestation of Jackrabbits that broke out in the 1920s.
Although the population of the Rat Terrier quickly dwindled due to the increased use of poison and pesticides to control vermin, a vast majority of the American population stuck to the traditional ways. It preserved this breed, which led to further developments such as the Hairless Rat Terrier.
RAT TERRIER FOOD AND HEALTH
On average, a Rat Terrier weighs about 10 pounds, meaning they are a relatively smaller breed of dogs. Although they do not require a strict and expensive diet like some larger breeds, it is recommended that care and attention are still put into their diet. A nutritious diet will give your Rat Terrier a happier and healthier life.
These dogs are incredibly agile, feisty, and active; however, you will still need to ensure that they do not become overweight as this can become a hindrance to their naturally active demeanor. Your dog’s diet will depend mainly on its age, size, and daily activities it partakes in. On average, a young Rat Terrier consumes about 0.25 cups of high-protein dog food every day. Whereas an adult can consume up to 2 cups of dog food daily. Be sure to slowly increase your pet’s serving sizes as they grow.
Rat Terriers are typically considered healthy dogs due to their excessive energy and active lifestyle; however, like any other canines, they are susceptible to health problems. Some of these problems are slight and can be easily diagnosed and treated, but others can cause problems and an emergency visit to the vet.
The first problem commonly found in Rat Terriers is the incorrect bite. It is caused due to a deformed jaw bone. Fortunately, this problem is not usually a significant threat to the breed and might even fix itself as the dog grows into adulthood. Many human beings also suffer from this ailment as well and tend to live perfectly healthy lives. An incorrect bite can either be an overshot bite or an undershot bite, and the difference between the two can be visible with a little attention to your dog while eating. Most Rat Terriers grow out of this problem within ten months of their birth; however, they will likely live with it for the rest of their lives if they are unable to. Overall, an overshot bite or an undershot bite will not hurt the breed’s quality of life or bring upon any illnesses.
This problem prevails in Rat Terriers and is caused by an infestation of Demodex mites. This mite is an ectoparasite that can be found on any type of mammal, including household pets. If your dog suffers from a weak immune system, it is suggested to always be on the lookout for redness, patchiness, or balding on their legs, neck, and head, as these are the most basic symptoms of this ailment. If your dog becomes infected with Demodex mites, it is suggested that you bring them to a vet; typically, your vet will treat the infection with standard topical treatment.
Some of the other ailments that can be found in all breeds plague the Rat Terrier, such as food and airborne allergies, heart disease and diabetes due to overeating, and obesity. These ailments have relatively straightforward symptoms and solutions, but in the case of serious concerns, visit a nearby vet and get a professional diagnosis.
TOP-RATED CRATES, BEDS, AND DOGHOUSES FOR A RAT TERRIER
Rat Terriers are very affectionate creatures that adore their owners; unfortunately, this can cause increased separation anxiety when they are isolated. This is why many owners of this breed do not use crates, out of fear that they might cause unneeded stress for their dog. However, you might need a crate to properly train, transport, and socialize your Terrier. You will want to find a crate that has enough room for your dog to lay down and stand in but is not so big that it causes stress. They may be small in size, but they can be a handful when provided the freedom of an extremely large crate. Their explosive energy can cause them to create a mess within their crate. This is why it is suggested that your dog’s crate should be close to its size, and made gradually larger as the dog grows.
BEDS AND BEDDINGS
Rat Terriers require a lot of physical stimulation to get all that excess energy out. If they are not given the proper amount of exercise, they may begin to wreak havoc in their home. They may tear and rip apart their bedding and blankets out of frustration. It is recommended that the bedding and blankets picked out for your Rat Terrier, are made out of sturdy materials that will stand a beating. Otherwise, you may find yourself replacing their bedding every few weeks.
Your Rat Terrier will likely be spending most of its time in an outdoor space if you have one. This is why it is essential to invest in an excellent doghouse to protect your canine companion from harsh weather and give them someplace to rest between their adventures. As mentioned earlier, Rat Terriers love to dig and create large holes. Keep this in mind when you are choosing a dog house, and pick one that has a sturdy base.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR A RAT TERRIER
Although a small animal, looks can be deceiving for the Rat Terrier as they have an extremely strong drive to hunt down prey. Even the slightest sight of a possible prey can cause your dog to run off. This is why you must pick out an appropriate leash for your Rat Terrier and keep them close during your time out on walks. However, you will not want to use a leash and collar that is too heavy — this can hurt the neck of the small breed. It is crucial that you perform appropriate research to find a gentle yet sturdy option.
When picking out a collar, there are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind. Firstly, it must not be made from a rigid material with ragged edges like leather, as it might cut into the dog’s skin. Secondly, make sure to always use a collar that fits comfortably around your dog’s neck. A good rule of thumb is to insert two fingers between the collar when it is on your dog; if the fingers sit comfortably, the size is appropriate. Finally, you should choose a leash that has enough room for your dog to freely walk around. It is recommended that you choose a retractable leash, as this leash can be adjusted to fit your dog’s needs.
BEST TOYS FOR A RAT TERRIER
With such high energy levels, there comes a need to exhaust that energy somehow — what better way to do so than some playtime? This is why Rat Terriers are incredibly fond of toys and aren’t very picky when it comes to them. However, they do have specific standards for their toys.
As these dogs are extremely agile and intelligent, they require something both mentally and physically stimulating. These toys also need to be durable and should be capable of taking a beating as they would be on the receiving end of the playful wrath of a Terrier. And finally, the toy should be interactive, so that the dog will be able to exercise its mind as well.
Some of the best toy fits for a Rat Terrier are, chew toys, puzzle toys, fetching balls, and stuffed animals.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR RAT TERRIER OWNERS
The Rat Terrier is a great breed to have around if you prefer dogs with tons of energy. However, it is important to know that this breed is highly susceptible to infections. This is why it is essential to regularly check your dog’s paws and ears for any signs of infection. If you notice debris building up in such areas, gently clean it off with a cotton cloth and identify if there is an injury or infection hidden below.
As the Rat Terrier has a short coat that is very dense, you can always opt for a bath to get rid of all the debris or dirt that has accumulated in their coats. However, bathing on an as-needed basis serves the purpose just as well.
Dental hygiene is crucial for all breeds, but it is imperative in the case of the Rat Terrier. We understand how brushing your dogs’ teeth every day can be a hassle, but once a week is a necessity and should be a practice you take up for any dog breed. You can also provide them with dental treats, which can improve your dog’s breath and overall dental hygiene.
BEST ACCESSORIES FOR A RAT TERRIER
Rat Terriers are a ball of sunshine, and to let the world know about all the joy and happiness they bring you, you need to have appropriate accessories for them. As these dogs are extremely curious creatures, the first thing you need is a collar tag with return information on it in case one of their adventures takes them out of bounds of your restrictions. An elaborate collar tag with your contact information will look cute and provide the necessary insurance that you need to ensure your dog’s safety.
Although it can be fun watching your Rat Terrier run around ecstatically, it might be troublesome when you have them in your car and are trying to travel somewhere. This is why investing in a car booster seat with a seatbelt can never be a bad idea. Similarly, getting a cooling vest can also do them good as they run and sweat in warm climates. Other than that, it all falls on personal preferences, and what your dog enjoys, because who knows, next Christmas, it might even be expecting a sweater rather than a toy!
Please visit our breed hub page to learn more about small breeds like the Rat Terrier.