The Rat Terrier is an energetic, loving, curious, eager, playful, hardworking and adaptable dog. He is an affectionate family pet who loves to give kisses. He'll follow you around like a shadow, then curl up in your lap for a nap--as long as he gets plenty of exercise first! He is both a housepet and a fearless, hardy, tenacious working dog, ready when called on to hunt or play. He needs a great deal of physical and mental stimulation. He wants to go with you and do whatever you do; he craves attention and companionship and is a not a dog who can be kenneled. Loyal and intensely responsive, intuitive and extremely anxious to please you, he is very easy to train. He thrives on praise, learns quickly, and is easy to housebreak. He is extremely playful and likes challenging games and lots of outdoor romps. He loves water and swimming, or tearing around with his toys in his mouth. He needs a long daily or walk or jog. When outdoors, he should always be on a leash or in a securely fenced area, as he will chase after small animals. He loves to dig and climb and can go either over or under a fence; so he's not a dog who can be left ignored in a yard. He's a friendly dog who for the most part loves people, although he can be aloof with strangers at first. He will warm up to them if you are with him, and if he's given lots of chances to meet people while still a puppy. He makes a good watchdog because he is very protective and quick to sound the alarm at the approach of an intruder. He will bark to alert you, but is not a yappy dog. He prefers to communicate with you by using his paws, or by making grumbling, mumbling, and growly sounds. He can be quite "talky" and demanding when he wants your attention! He is generally friendly and curious toward other dogs, and can get along with family pets, including cats--but is not good with smaller, rodent pets. He's an instinctive ratter and is more likely to hunt a mouse than makes friends with it! He's patient and tolerant with children, especially if he has been raised with them from puppyhood, and makes a fun and loving playmate for them, as long as they are kind and considerate to him. He is a medium-shedder, and so might not be a good pet if you are concerned about dog-hair in the home.
The Rat Terrier is 13 to 18 inches tall (to shoulders) and weighs 10 to 22 pounds. He has a short, thick, shiny coat. His coat color can be solid white or have two or three colors, and can contain white, black, blue, brown, tan, red, sable, or yellow.
He only needs an occasional brushing. Some owners who dislike hair in the home will brush him more often (what you brush out doesn't end up on your carpet).
The Rat Terrier is now a rare American breed, but during the 1920's and 30's he was the most common dog found on working American farms. He arrived with working-class British immigrants during the 19th century, and was developed from various terrier breeds, the Whippet, and the Italian Greyhound, among others. Until the 1950's he was commonly used to hunt rats, squirrels and other small game, but since then his breed has declined in number, and is only now being revived. In 2004 the Rat Terrier was admitted to the AKC's Foundation Stock Service, the first step to being recognized as an AKC breed.