Rat-Terrier.jpg
Breed Group Group 6: Terrier Breeds
Sub-group :
Origin Country United States
Weight Males: 12-35 pounds. Females: 12-35 pounds.
Height Males: 13-18 inches. Females: 13-18 inches.
Other Name(s) American Rat Terrier, Benchlegged Feist, Rat Terrier Type A, Rat Terrier Type B, Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD
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Rat Terrier

Breed Group Group 6: Terrier Breeds
Sub-group :
Origin Country United States
Weight Males: 12-35 pounds. Females: 12-35 pounds.
Height Males: 13-18 inches. Females: 13-18 inches.
Other Name(s) American Rat Terrier, Benchlegged Feist, Rat Terrier Type A, Rat Terrier Type B, Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

The Rat Terrier is thought to have descended from several different breeds, beginning in England in the 1820s when a Smooth Fox Terrier was bred to a Manchester Terrier. This produced a remarkable dog that was both strong-willed and relentless in his hunt for rats and other vermin. They were feisty little dogs, which is why the English first called them “Feists.”

These dogs were thought to be beyond compare as ratters—dogs that were used to catch and kill the rats that plagued nineteenth century England and America. A dog that could keep the rat population of the home or business low was certainly appreciated, which is one of the main reasons why these little dogs grew in popularity. In fact, a sport grew out of many owners’ belief that they had the best ratter in the area. Bets were placed and rats were poured into a pit with a ratter to see how many it would kill. The betting wasn’t limited to the “rat baiting” that went on in the pit; it also followed out to farmers’ homes and barns. The record is held by a Rat Terrier that killed 2,501 rats in seven hours in an infested barn.

In the 1890s miners went to the United States to make a living and carve out a better way of life, and these working-class people took their dogs with them across the sea to their new homes. It was during this period that the “feist” was bred again to the Smooth Fox Terrier. When canines are bred for change, it’s usually because someone has decided a slight shift in the canine’s personality, body type, or senses will make a human task easier to accomplish. In this case, these early frontiersmen hoped to develop a stronger hunting dog. Even though this cross didn’t really add anything to the hunting abilities of the dog, it did succeed in stabilizing the existing qualities and characteristics.

It was during his presidency (1901-1909) that President Theodore Roosevelt called his Feist a Rat Terrier, and the name stuck. He’s said to have loved the dogs and was fond of taking them with him on big game hunts. He owned at least three, with Skip being the most popular of the bunch.

The Rat Terrier was later bred to the Whippet and the Greyhound in order to improve the dog’s speed, and it was also bred to the Beagle for that breed’s hunting abilities, scenting prowess, and trailing skills, as well as an increase in size and sturdiness. The Greyhound and the Whippet are thought to be the source of the brindle and blue dogs, while the red color was probably a gift from the Beagle. The Spitz-type dogs were bred in for bear hunting, and to this day some pups will be born with a thicker coat that originated when the Spitz breed was introduced into the Rat Terrier lineage. Today, Rat Terriers are still used for hunting rats in some parts of the world, but they are also used by their American owners for hunting raccoons, wild boar, squirrels and deer.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The skull may have flat planes or be just slightly arched. In profile, and from above, the head forms a distinct wedge shape, tapering from the broad skull to the narrower muzzle. The skull is broad, being as wide (measured across the top in front of the ears) as it is long (from stop to occiput). The occiput is not prominent. Temporal and cheek muscles may be smooth to well-developed. Apple and domed skulls are incorrect. The head is clean-cut and without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color in black-nosed dogs. Eyes may be green to amber in nonstandard colors. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Small to medium in size, V-shaped, and set high and wide at the corners of the skull. The outer base of the ear is aligned with the outer corner of the eye. Ears may be firmly erect, tipped, rose, button, or asymmetrical combinations of these types. The ears are never long, overly large, or hound-like.
Muzzle: The muzzle is strongly developed, full, and somewhat broad. The muzzle tapers only slightly from the base to the tip of the nose. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, are equal in length, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in nonstandard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows, or just slightly below in bench-leg types. The forechest is just slightly prominent in profile.
Body: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup, but as a natural extension of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often straight out or in a curve that is level with the topline or higher, but never tucked. The tail may be left natural (preferred) or docked short. Natural tails are medium to long in length, and may be straight, or may form a slight curve, “sabre,” “hook,” or “sickle” type. Docked tails should be cut between the 2nd and 3rd vertebrae or longer, and are never removed completely. However, the length of the dog’s tail is irrelevant and a dog should not be penalized for tail length.
Movement: The Rat Terrier’s movement is quick, energetic, efficient, and effortless. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Rat Terrier is one of the most popular terrier breeds due to his compact size, energy, and alertness, as well as his devotion to his family. Because there is not much that gets past him, he makes for a formidable watchdog. Rat Terriers are also useful to have around the property, since their rat-hunting instincts (and squirrel and other small animals) are very strong in this breed. They require little to no training to do what they were originally bred to do. However, they require training to curb that natural hunting instinct if one plans to keep other small animals around. However, unusual to terriers, they are well-known for being exceptionally tolerable and even friendly toward other dogs and cats, if introduced and socialized at an early age. In fact, they should not be sparred when being judged for conformation. These dogs bond strongly to their families and are devoted and loyal. However, reservation toward strangers in adult dogs is not to be faulted. Submissiveness should not be mistaken for fearfulness, nor faulted. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 6: Terrier Breeds

Proportions: Continental Kennel Club recognizes two proportional varieties: the standard and bench-leg, along with three size varieties of the Rat Terrier breed: the standard, miniature, and bench-leg (also called the Teddy Roosevelt type or Rat Terrier Type B). Standard and Miniature The standard and miniature Rat Terriers are square to slightly off-square in proportion, with height at the withers being approximately equal to or slightly less than the length from the prosternum to the point of the rump. The ideal body-height-to-length ratio is between 1:1 and 10:9. Females may be slightly longer. The body is well-put together. Substance is sturdy and of medium bone. Bench-leg The Bench-leg Rat Terrier is so named due to his shorter stature and rectangular bodily proportions. The body is greater in length (measured from the point of the chest to the point of the rump) than the height (from the withers to the ground). The ideal body-height-to-length ratio is between 5:4 and 10:7. The Bench-leg type should never appear up on the leg—as that of the standard, low-slung, or dwarfed—as seen in the Dachshund.

Head

General Appearance: Mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The skull may have flat planes or be just slightly arched. In profile, and from above, the head forms a distinct wedge shape, tapering from the broad skull to the narrower muzzle. The skull is broad, being as wide (measured across the top in front of the ears) as it is long (from stop to occiput). The occiput is not prominent. Temporal and cheek muscles may be smooth to well-developed. Apple and domed skulls are incorrect. The head is clean-cut and without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Keen, lively, watchful, and interested.
Stop: The stop is moderate and distinct, but not definite or abrupt, being less than a right angle.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal to the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel or just slightly convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is strongly developed, full, and somewhat broad. The muzzle tapers only slightly from the base to the tip of the nose. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, are equal in length, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in nonstandard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks may be smoothly muscled to well-developed. They are not chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color in black-nosed dogs. Eyes may be green to amber in nonstandard colors. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Small to medium in size, V-shaped, and set high and wide at the corners of the skull. The outer base of the ear is aligned with the outer corner of the eye. Ears may be firmly erect, tipped, rose, button, or asymmetrical combinations of these types. The ears are never long, overly large, or hound-like.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows, or just slightly below in bench-leg types. The forechest is just slightly prominent in profile.
Topline: Straight and level from withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, flat and level, or slightly arched, yet supportive. The back is never swayed or roached.
Croup: Gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck-up present. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup, but as a natural extension of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often straight out or in a curve that is level with the topline or higher, but never tucked. The tail may be left natural (preferred) or docked short. Natural tails are medium to long in length, and may be straight, or may form a slight curve, “sabre,” “hook,” or “sickle” type. Docked tails should be cut between the 2nd and 3rd vertebrae or longer, and are never removed completely. However, the length of the dog’s tail is irrelevant and a dog should not be penalized for tail length.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The distance from the withers to the brisket may be equal to the distance from the elbows to the ground in standard and miniature varieties. The distance from the withers to the brisket may be just greater than the distance from the elbows to the ground in the Bench-leg variety.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of moderate bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Sheen, short, dense smooth coat.
Coat Color or Pattern: Black, liver, chocolate, brown, blue, grey, all with or without tan points, saddle, creeping tan, light tan to mahogany, apricot, lemon, sable, fawns, pearl. All with all with white markings, may include ticking, specking, or roan. All white.

Movement

The Rat Terrier’s movement is quick, energetic, efficient, and effortless. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Rat Terrier is one of the most popular terrier breeds due to his compact size, energy, and alertness, as well as his devotion to his family. Because there is not much that gets past him, he makes for a formidable watchdog. Rat Terriers are also useful to have around the property, since their rat-hunting instincts (and squirrel and other small animals) are very strong in this breed. They require little to no training to do what they were originally bred to do. However, they require training to curb that natural hunting instinct if one plans to keep other small animals around. However, unusual to terriers, they are well-known for being exceptionally tolerable and even friendly toward other dogs and cats, if introduced and socialized at an early age. In fact, they should not be sparred when being judged for conformation. These dogs bond strongly to their families and are devoted and loyal. However, reservation toward strangers in adult dogs is not to be faulted. Submissiveness should not be mistaken for fearfulness, nor faulted. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.