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Rat Terriers originated in America as a cross between Fox Terriers and a long list of European Terriers, including Manchester Terriers and Bull Terriers. To stop a rabbit epidemic that threatened crops in the 1920s, farmers increased the speed and agility of these dogs by crossing them with Whippets and Italian Greyhounds. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, hunters crossed the early Rat Terriers with Beagles to improve their tracking abilities and prey drive. Bred primarily for protection against vermin on the farm or ranch, and not as earth dogs, the Rat Terrier will follow most quarry to ground but are more suited to trailing, flushing, treeing game and hunting rabbits and vermin. President Theodore Roosevelt is said to have given the breed its name after his own terrier had eradicated the rat infestation at the White House.
A Ratter Terrier is true to its terrier blood. He can be stubborn, independent, fearless, and can be quite a handful if not properly trained, socialized and exercised. He is generally friendly with other dogs and aloof with strangers.
The Rat Terrier needs a lot of extensive activity to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. Their size makes them appealing for apartment dwellers, but a commitment must be made to providing your Rat Terrier with as much outdoor activity as possible. Fortunately these little dogs can catch and chase for hours on end without getting bored.
There are two size divisions. The Miniature is 10-13 in (25-33 cm) tall at the withers. The Standard is over 13 in (33 cm) up to 18 in (46 cm). The average weight is 10-24 lb (4.5-11 kg).
The coat is short, close lying, smooth and shiny. It may have a slight ruff or wave along the back.
His coat may come in any variation of pied patterning. Pied is described as comparatively large patches of one or more colours in combination with white. Acceptable colours, with or without “tan points,” include predominately black, chocolate, red, apricot, blue, fawn, tan, lemon or white.
The Rat Terrier’s smooth coat is easy to groom with a quick weekly brushing to remove dead hairs. During shedding season in spring and fall, you’ll want to brush him more frequently to keep loose hairs under control.
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