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Rat Terrier - Temperament & Personality

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


According to legend, the Rat Terrier got his name from Theodore Roosevelt. These dogs were brought into the White House to help control a rat infestation, and they made quick work of the rodents, eliminating them completely from the executive mansion. They are high energy dogs who love to be “at work,” chasing, digging for and killing pests. They are independent dogs who may not listen very well, but the families who love them say Rat Terriers keep them laughing all day long. Ratters love farm life, soaking up the outdoors and keeping the grounds free from destructive pests. Suburban Ratters enjoy walking, jogging and playing ball for hours on end. Active families will get as much back from a Rat Terrier as they are willing to give.

Activity Requirements

Rat Terriers are little, but they need a lot of extensive activity to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. They thrive on farms, and are the most efficient rodent catchers you'll find. If you don't live on a farm, you'll want to walk your Rat Terrier a couple of times a day, and allow him to burn off energy chasing balls in the yard. These little dogs can chase and fetch for hours at a time, without getting bored.

Their size makes them appealing for apartment dwellers, but a true commitment should be made to letting your Rat Terrier have as much outdoor activity as possible. Couch potatoes should look for a less active breed, as these dogs won't be happy lounging around on a couch all day.


Training a Rat Terrier is not for the faint of heart. These little dogs are one of the most stubborn dog breeds around, and they posses almost no desire to please. You must start early with your Rat Terrier in order to establish leadership. You must also keep training sessions short and as interesting as possible, mixing up the activities in order to keep him as interested as possible.

Once your Rat Terrier has mastered basic obedience, you should graduate him on to agility training or better yet, Earthdog activities. These little dogs want to be active all the time and agility allows them to work both their minds and bodies, and Earthdog allows them to safely and constructively dig (which the love to do) for rodents in a controlled environment.

Behavioral Traits

Ratters are true to their Terrier blood. They are stubborn, independent, fearless, posture toward other animals and can be quite a handful if not properly trained, socialized and exercised. They should not be trusted around cats or rodents. If you have other small pets, your Ratter will chase them and in the case of caged rodents, will kill them.

When outdoors, unless you live on a farm, your Rat Terrier should always be on a leash or in a fenced yard. Their desire to chase is strong, and they will take off with no regard to your commands to return home. Even a well-trained Ratter will ignore you when he's giving chase. Fences should be high, and should also be stuck deep into the ground. They are excellent jumpers and if left alone, they will dig under fences in a matter of minutes.

Rat Terriers are not recommended for families with toddlers. Rat Terriers will not like being poked, tugged, or pulled. Small children do not understand dog's boundaries and limitations and a Rat Terrier's response to children will be to snap or bite.

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