Rat Terrier - Appearance & Grooming

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Rat Terrier


Rat Terriers are lively, muscular dogs that are often described by fanciers as “compact but meaty.” They have strong shoulders, deep chests and muscular legs. The ears of the Rat Terrier are carried erect when alert and can be either tipped or upright when the dog is in repose. The head is wedge shaped and muzzle is strong and slightly shorter than the skull. The nose color should correspond with the color of the coat. The jaw is strong and the teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The tail can either be docked between the second and third joint, or left natural, whether long or bobbed. The tail can be carried in various positions, but should not curl over the back. Rat terriers come in a variety of colors and color combinations, and almost all Rat Terriers have white markings.

Size and Weight

Rat Terriers may be anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds and can stand from 13 to 18 inches at the shoulder. There are also miniature Rat Terriers that stand under 13 inches and larger Rat Terriers that weigh more than 25 pounds. Most kennel clubs recognize both standard and miniature size divisions, but recognition of the giant Rat Terriers varies by individual club.

Coat and Color

The Rat Terrier sports a short, smooth coat made up of very dense, very shiny fur. They may come in a variety of colors including white, black with tan, black with rust, white and black or tan, red, blue, lemon, chocolate or orange. Some dogs may have ticking, and almost all Rat Terriers have white markings.

Grooming Needs

The Rat Terrier's coat only needs to be brushed once or twice per week to remove loose hair and keep the coat looking healthy. They shed lightly throughout the year and heavy in spring and fall. Baths are only required as needed depending on the activity level of the individual dog.

Check the dog's ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and prevent gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.

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