The breed name comes from the occupation of its earliest ancestors brought to the US by working class British migrants as these quick, tough little dogs gained their fame in rat pit gambling. However they were, for the most part, bred for speed. Their speed is used for controlling vermin and hunting squirrels, hare, and other small game. Like all terriers of this type, Rat Terriers most likely developed from crosses among breeds like the English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, and Whippet. After the 1890s, as the breed type became popular in America, other breeds were added to the mix. Beagle, Italian Greyhounds, Miniature Pinschers, and Chihuahuas were likely used to add scenting ability, speed, and smaller size. Many of the foundation Rat Terriers were indistinguishable from small mixed-breed hunting dogs known as “feists”. The smaller varieties were split off from the Rat Terrier very early on, registered by the UKC as the Toy Fox Terrier beginning in 1936. Rat Terriers were cherished as loyal and efficient killers of vermin on 20th century American Farms, as well as excellent hunting companions. As a result they were one of the most popular dog types from the 1920s to the 1940s. However the widespread use of chemical pesticides and the growth of commercial farming led to a sharp decline in the breed from the 1950s onwards. Fortunately breed loyalists maintained the bloodline, leading to the modern Rat Terrier we enjoy today. The genetic diversity of the Rat Terrier is undoubtedly its greatest asset, and is responsible for the overall health, keen intelligence, and soundness of the breed. Most modern breeds were developed from a few founding dogs and then propagated from a closed gene pool. In contrast, the Rat Terrier has benefited from a long history of refinement with regular outcrosses to bring in useful qualities and genetic variability. Although often mistaken for a Jack Russell Terrier, the Rat Terrier has a different profile and a very different temperament. Rat Terriers are sleeker in musculature, finer of bone, and have a more refined head. They always have a short single coat, i.e., they are never wire coated. Rat Terriers tend to be less aggressive than Jack Russells; while they have a definite terrier personality they also have an “off switch” and love lounging on the sofa in a lap as much as tearing about the yard. Rat Terriers are normally cheerful dogs, and they tend to be calmer and more sensitive than Jack Russells to changes in their environment, owner’s moods, or to unexpected noises, people, and activities. The “social sensitivity” of Rat Terriers makes them very trainable and easier to live with for the average pet owner, but it also means that extensive socialization from an early age is critical. Proper socialization of a Rat Terrier puppy includes exposing the animal to a wide variety of people and places, particularly during the first three months of life. Like most active and intelligent breeds, Rat Terriers tend to be happier when they receive a great deal of mental stimulation and exercise. Data refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Terrier Rat Terrier Dog Club Data American Rat Terrier Association – The official UKC parent breed club. Breed standards, membership application, news, events, and yearly top ten dogs. Central Florida Rat Terrier Society – Online group of breed lovers who chat and meet others in Central Florida and the greater Southeast. Photographs from their events, stories, and care tips. Central Valley Rat Terrier Club – Club background, membership information, events, and photos. California. National Rat Terrier Association – Detailed breed history, standards with picture examples, photographs of various sizes and colors of the breed, breeder links, and registry. Rat Terrier Club of America – Club and breed history, breed standard, membership information, and calendar of events. Volcano View Rat Terrier Club – For enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest. Membership information, breed standard, information on upcoming events, and links to other relevant resources.
Rat Terrier Dog