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Rat Terriers: Small Dogs and Good Family Pets

Updated on July 17, 2013
Our beautiful granddaughter holding her favorite rat terrier, Duchess.
Our beautiful granddaughter holding her favorite rat terrier, Duchess. | Source

Why Rat Terriers Make Good Pets

Rat Terriers:

  • are very smart
  • are easy to train
  • are small dogs
  • don't eat much
  • have beautiful, expressive faces
  • are great with children
  • are great lap dogs
  • love a game of fetch
  • have a playful disposition
  • are very loyal to their owners

Why Choose a Rat Terrier?

Rat terriers are a good dog for anyone looking to add a pet to their home. When I got my very first rat terrier 18 years ago, I was a single mother living in a downtown neighborhood with two small children. The neighborhood was safe enough. But, I wanted a small dog - a little barker - who would let me know if someone was approaching our home late at night.

The kids and I chose our rat terrier from a litter of four pups, and she developed a fierce loyalty to our family. She was about 3 months old when I decided to sell an appliance. As the buyer approached our home, she began her most protective bark. Mission accomplished! My little barker was alerting us to strangers!

While this was my primary motivation for choosing a rat terrier, I also wanted a dog that would be good with my kids and would be easy to train. It was important to me that the dog be small, as I was a single mom pinching every penny I had. By choosing a small dog I would be sure to keep dog food costs down.

Other folks may choose a rat terrier because of their ability to hunt and kill mice. These small dogs have always been effective at ridding barns and haystacks of mice and rats.

Rat terriers are easily housebroken. Along with the ability to learn other commands and play a game of fetch, these dogs are wonderful in home companions.

Some folks may want a playful dog that will interact with them for years. Rat terriers do remain playful all of their lives!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our family pet, Daisy May, and her first litter of rat terrier pups.The face of a really cute rat terrier pup!A playful rat terrier pup
Our family pet, Daisy May, and her first litter of rat terrier pups.
Our family pet, Daisy May, and her first litter of rat terrier pups. | Source
The face of a really cute rat terrier pup!
The face of a really cute rat terrier pup! | Source
A playful rat terrier pup
A playful rat terrier pup | Source

I think I would enjoy a rat terrier as a pet.

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Basic Care of Your Rat Terrier

Your rat terrier will need a crate or kennel with a pad or mat for sleeping. All dogs enjoy a "safe haven" like a kennel that is "their" place. Place the crate in a permanent position in your home wherever the dog will sleep. Keep the crate in the same place. Your dog will come to know the crate as his home base.

Plan to feed your rat terrier twice daily and make water available at all times. Refer to instructions from your veterinarian or dog food packaging for recommendations on how much to feed.

Be sure that your rat terrier is wormed and receives vaccinations on schedule.

Make time to interact with your dog daily. Rat terriers are very social creatures and genuinely love their families. A good tummy rub or backscratch after a walk or some play time will be appreciated!

Get in the habit of taking your puppy outside on a leash immediately after waking or getting out of the crate. The dog will be ready to urinate at that time. It is a good training to get the dog outside at this time. Let him walk and sniff a bit. Within a few steps, he will urinate. Be sure to praise him and pet him at this time to reinforce the behavior.

Long Lasting Toys for Rat Terriers

KONG Wubba Dog Toy, Small, Colors Vary
KONG Wubba Dog Toy, Small, Colors Vary

Kong Wubba is by far the best chew, tug and fetch toy I have ever used.


Toys for a Rat Terrier

Rat terriers are natural chewers and are very playful all their lives. Chew toys should be provided for them as pups to enjoy and to preserve your carpeting and furniture! Starting a pup out with toys will lead to the ability to fetch and retrieve later.

While there are many toys on the market, I do have some favorites. Stuffed toy animals generally do not hold up to what your rat terrier will do. Expect these toys to last from hours to one week.

One simple toy that is great for rat terriers is a simple knotted rope toy. This is a stretch of rope about 8-10 inches long that is knotted on each end. This toy is great for chewing and for tugging. You can have a great tug of war game with your dog with this one. If you have more than one dog, they will entertain each other by tugging on the rope and playing keep away.

Probably the most durable toy I have found is the Kong Wubba. It is a silly name, I know. But for all of the toys our dogs have been through that were touted as indestructible, the Kong Wubba is the only one that really has stood the test of time. These toys are made in various sizes for small dogs up to large dogs. They contain two rubber balls (one of them a squeaky, of course) covered in a very durable fabric strips. This toy has been through years of play with our dogs at home and we still have it. That's a lot of entertainment for a $10 investment!


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    • DawnRae64 profile image


      3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I still miss my Rattie. She was the best dog ever.

    • RunAbstract profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      One of the best dogs I ever had was a Rat Terrier. His name was Dinky and he was so smart! I would say "speak" and he would bark. I would say "whisper" and he would just softly, barely bark. I would say "dancing Dinky, dancing" in a sing song voice and he would stand on his hind legs and twirl around. He was so much fun!

      I really enjoyed this Hub.

      Voted up and more!


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