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History The Rat Terrier was developed in Great Britain during the 1800s. Originally, this breed was created by crossing Manchester Terriers with Smooth Fox Terriers. It was during the 1890s that Rat Terriers were brought to the United States. American breeders then crossed these dogs with the Smooth Fox Terrier again, but they also added the Whippet and the Beagle to the mix. The Beagle served to increase the hunting and training ability of the Rat Terrier, while the Whippet made the breed faster and more agile.
Rat Terriers were prized during the 20th century because they functioned as excellent killers of vermin and were often used in American farms. From the 1920s to the 1940s, these dogs were among the most popular breeds. Due to the growth of commercial farming and the usage of chemical pesticides, though, the number of Rat Terriers decreased during the 1950s. Fortunately, fanciers of the breed started breeding programs that maintained the bloodline of these dogs. In 1999, the Rat Terrier officially became recognized by the United Kennel Club.
Appearance Rat Terriers are little dogs with a compact but meaty body. They are well-muscled and have strong shoulders and a deep chest. The neck of these dogs is solid, and their legs are powerful. Their ears can either be upright or tipped, and are carried erect when they are alert. These dogs can be born with a short or full-length tail, and this tail can either be left naturally or docked when the dog is just two days old. The large, round eyes of these dogs are very expressive.
Colours The coat of these dogs can come in a wide variety of colours and colour combinations such as sables, chocolates, pearls, solid red, red and white, blue and white, black and tan, red brindle, and tri-spotted.
Temperament Rat Terriers are alert, loving, and intelligent dogs. They are energetic and lively, and are often inquisitive. As family pets, these dogs are affectionate and they make excellent companions. Rat Terriers can get along well with children, particularly if they've been raised with them since puppyhood. These dogs are also eager to please and quick to respond. They also enjoy human companionship.
Weight Rat Terriers are categorized into three different sizes: toy, standard, and mid-sized. Toy Rat Terriers stand at 8 inches and weigh 4 to 6 pounds. Mid-sized Rat Terriers are 8 to 14 inches tall and 6 to 8 pounds heavy. Standard Rat Terriers have a height of 14 to 23 inches and a weight of approximately 12 to 35 pounds.
Problems Due to careful and selective breeding, there are no health problems specific to this breed. The ailments affecting these dogs are those common to other dog breeds as well.
Living Conditions Rat Terriers can be kept inside apartments just as long as they are given sufficient exercise. It's best for these dogs, though, to have a small or medium-sized yard where they can run around and do other physical activities.
Requirements These dogs would enjoy being allowed to play or run around freely in a large, secure area. But although play sessions will give these dogs exercise, they should still be taken out for a long, daily walk or jog.
Training Requirements Being eager to please and quick to learn, Rat Terriers are relatively easy to train. Owners should, however, make sure that they act as the dog's consistent pack leader. It's important for owners to display strong leadership skills and to make the dog see that humans are higher in pack rank than canines. When training these dogs, firm and consistent methods should be used.
Life Expectancy The life span of these dogs is approximately 15 to 18 years.
Grooming These dogs are easy to groom. Their coat just needs to be combed and brushed occasionally to remove loose and dead hair. Bathing Rat Terriers should be done only when necessary.
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