Rat Terrier

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The Rat Terrier (American Rat Terrier, Feist, Decker Giant, Ratting Terrier) is a small to medium sized breed of dog, it originated in America and was used as a hunting dog. This dog is often mistaken for the Jack Russell Terrier. It is more of a jack of all trades in the hunting world, however they do excel in catching rats and other vermin, hence the name this dog breed has acquired. It was highly common in family farms in the 1920s and 1930s. This breed is quite rare. The reference to rats in their name actually originates from being used in rat pit gambling. It is likely that this breed came from cross breeding of various Terriers such as the Manchester Terrier, the English White Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier and also a bit of Whippet. Recently however many other breeds have been added to improve their personality in the family environment. Usually small breeds of Rat Terrier are actually classed as Toy Fox Terriers.


This breed comes in many different colours and patterns. It often can be found in tricolour form. The ears of this dog are either button, tipped or erect, this helps to give them different distinct looks. Interestingly another breed split off from this breed, due to a mutation in a Rat Terrier, and thus the American Hairless Terrier was born in 2004. The Rat Terrier goes from 33 cm to 45 cm to the withers, and is from 4 kilos to 12 kilos. It should be noted though that smaller versions of this dog are being bred as households have found them to make good pet dogs. Larger dogs than these standard sizes have also been bred and they are generally referred to as Decker Giants, this is due to Milton Decker who was the instigator of the larger version of this dog.


This dog is an active intelligent dog that works well in the family environment, and is equally happy on a farm sorting out pest problems. This dog is often compared to the Jack Russel as they have a similar look however they tend to be less aggressive. So much so that they love to just sit on the sofa, as opposed to the Jack Russell who tends to just go. Due to their ability to gauge social situations they tend to be quite trainable and easy to live with. However this only works if they have had the appropriate socialization at a young age. They need to be exposed to a wide variety of people and pets to ensure they will behave in the family environment. These dogs make fairly good apartment dogs.

Grooming and care

Due to the Rat Terriers short coat it is fairly simple to groom. All that is needed is sometimes to remove hairs by brushing. This dog needs a decent amount of exercise, generally 30 minutes per day should be enough. It loves to play games and do tricks. Due to their short coat care should be taken that they do not get too cold outside.


These dogs tend to live between 15 and 18 years. This is in part due to the fantastic genetic variance in this breed it tends to be a very healthy breed. It has a low incidence of hip dysplasia.