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Rat Terriers
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This is my Rat Terrier UKC CH. Nathan Junior

Rat Terriers are one of a few actual American Breeds although they started in Europe they as a breed were perfected and a standard was adopted here in the U.S.

Temperament- These are big dogs in a small package. Terriers in general are fearless and tough. The good thing about RT's is that unlike a lot of terriers they get along well with other dogs and yes, even the cat. They do not do well with small fuzzy critters unless you want them dead. Rat Terriers were bred to be ratters and they still do it. They will also kill snakes, and occasionally bugs.  The best thing about their temperament is that if you decide you want to go for a hike or run errands or just lay home on the couch all day they are up for everything. I take my dogs everywhere I can and they love it. They do require a good amount of exercise, but since they're small even if the weather is bad a good game of fetch in the apartment and some tug will do them. As long as they get plenty of attention they are very good dogs. 

Size- UKC officially recognized two sizes miniature (under 13" at the shoulder) and standard (over 13" at the shoulder) although you will hear people talking about toys also and a lot of non-UKC people go more by weight.  Toy RT's are very small some under 10lbs. The standards can be up to about 25lbs. And then there are Decker Giants that can be around 50lbs. or bigger. 

Varieties- There are different kinds of RT's although they are not considered RT's there are American Hairless Terriers which are basically a mutation in RT's.  These dogs are just  bald Rat Terriers. Great for people with allergies. Although, because they don't have fur, they require a good deal of care against sunburn and skin problems.  There are also Teddy Roosevelt Terriers (named for the fact that according to legend Teddy Roosevelt used to keep RT's at the White House to keep the rats away and he also hunted with them) these are essentially a short legged version of the Rat Terrier. They are also called type B terriers by a lot of folks and regular rats are type A.  None of the varieties should ever be interbred as they are now considered to be different breeds and out crosses are not considered to be pure bred. 

Care - Rat Terriers can be wonderful companion animals and they are great hunters.  These dogs would do anything for their humans, they are unbelievably loyal and protective. All that you really have to do to have a great dog are 3 things. First, exercise, a tired Rat is a good Rat.  Second, training basic obedience training is a must. These dogs are very intelligent,  fast and tough. You mustn't ever let them think that they are the boss. They are cute and smart and they will walk all over you. Earn your dogs respect through training and you and your dog will have a much happier life together.  And last but not least LOVE, Rat Terriers as a breed are very people oriented they will NOT be happy in a pen in the yard. They need to be in your lap, in your bed, and in your face. They are velcro dogs.  If you don't want a dog on your furniture  get something else. 

 Grooming- The good news is that grooming is very simple, make sure their nails are clipped, and every week or so roll them with one of those tape lint removers. They have a very short smooth coat and that is about the only thing that will get rid of all the dead hair. There is not a brush made that will work on them.  They are not prone to ear infections like a lot of dogs with floppy ears so just keep an eye on their ears- clean as necessary.   And bathing is a breeze just make sure you start young and get them used to it.

Buying a Puppy- always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder. NEVER take a puppy home that is less than 7 weeks of age. Preferably 8 weeks. The time from 6 to 8 weeks is when they learn doggy manners from their mothers and it is a very critical time if you want an emotionally sound animal, besides they hold their bodily functions a lot better at 8 weeks than at 6.  NEVER EVER EVEN IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE!!!  I cannot stress this point enough. Most of these puppies come from puppy mills.  Where dogs are kept in atrocious conditions bred to death for pure profit. These dogs are not screened for genetic diseased and often aren't pure bred. And if they aren't from a puppy mill they are trash that a breeder wouldn't sell out of their home because they were embarrassed.   Always buy from a breeder. A good breeder will have references and at least one parent on site and will be more than happy to answer what ever questions you have. Also a truly responsible breeder will make you sign a contract that states if you for any reason must give up your dog you have to contact the breeder first and not take the dog to a pound. For more information about puppy mills and breeders check out my links page. 
Rescue- There are a couple of Rat Terrier Rescue groups around I am part of Ratbone Rescues there are a lot of Rat Terriers out there who need good loving homes.  And not because they are not good dogs, mostly because they lived with people who didn't know what they were getting into, or they had to move, or any one of a million reasons. There is absolutely nothing wrong with most of these dogs.  In fact there are a lot of great things about adopting an older dog.  Housebroken and if not it's easier to train an older dog who has more control, many of these dogs already know basic obedience,  their temperament is known you know what you are getting. And these dogs NEED you.  Also it is a lot cheaper to get a rescue, not only the initial investment, but also these dogs are already up to date on their shots and spayed/neutered  before you get them so you don't have to.

 

 

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