Rat Terrier

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Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier Overview

If the word “rat” makes you squeamish, the Rat Terrier could actually be a great breed for you. These American farm dogs are named for their ability to hunt out small pests and keep families safe from vermin.

Small in stature but quite hardy, they can squeeze into small spaces and won’t stop until the job is done. They love running through green fields, jumping in the water and hiking up hills. Once work time is over, they bring their energy to family time. Because they’re a social breed, they’re great with kids of all ages. Rat Terriers basically embody that happy-go-lucky farmer stereotype. For a small dog, they don’t have any of that fussy or high maintenance behaviour.

Because they’re generally bred for their athleticism more than aesthetics, they come in a variety of colours including black, tan, white, red and brown. They have strong shoulders, necks, chests and legs with ears that pop up at the smallest sound. Owners of Rat Terriers love the outdoors and can commit to daily exercise with their dog. Because of their easy disposition, they’re becoming family dogs, and not farm dogs, more and more. They’re also used in hospice, assisted living and other human care facilities. 

Did you know?

Giving a new meaning to “Rat Pack,” Rat Terriers have been used to control New York City’s rodent problem.

Rat Terrier Stats

  • Kid-Friendly Kid-Friendly

  • Good with other animals Good with other animals

  • Easy to train Easy to train

  • Working dog Working dog

Popularity ranking**
10-18 in / 10-25 lbs (S)
Average lifespan
12-18 years
Activity level
When necessary
Barking level
When necessary
Coat length

Caring for your breed

Daily serving

Daily kibble serving

1-2 cups

Daily exercise

Daily exercise

1-2 hours


Grooming frequency

Weekly brushing

Dog Food

Feeding your Rat Terrier

The amount that you feed your Rat Terrier depends on its size. If it’s on the smaller size (less than 10lbs), ¼ - ½ cup a day is enough. Larger versions of this breed (30-40lbs) can eat 1 ½ to 2 cups of kibble daily. The activity level of your dog will also make a big difference. If they’re running around in the yard all day, they can eat more without getting obese. A Rat Terrier that’s on the cuddly side and loves to snooze on the couch should eat less, of course.


*Contrary to popular belief, there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs. There are breeds, however, that have non-shedding coats and are suited well to allergy sufferers.
**The breed popularity ranking is based on the most current ranking of the American Kennel Club (AKC)

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