Rat Terrier
15-30 lbs.

The Rat Terriers are an American breed descended from the terriers brought over by  immigrants. These terriers
probably included crosses between the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier and the now extinct white
English Terrier. These dogs were sometimes used as ratters, and gambling on their ability to kill rats was a
favorite hobby of their owners. Some of these dogs were crossed with Whippets or Italian Greyhounds (for
speed) and Beagles (for hunting ability). Eventually, these tough little terriers evolved into today’s Rat Terrier.
The breed was popularized by President Teddy Roosevelt, who frequently hunted with his Rat Terriers. Many are
still used as ratters and squirrel hunters, particularly in the South, where they are sometimes known as “Feists.”
The Rat Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1999.

General Appearance                                                           

The Rat Terrier is a strong, active, small-to-medium hunting terrier. The head is broad, slightly domed, wedge-
shaped, and proportionate to the size of the body. Ears are V-shaped, set at the outside edges of the skull, and
may be erect or button. The Rat Terrier can either have a natural tail carried in an upward curve, a natural bob
tail, or a docked tail. The Rat Terrier comes in solid white, other solid colors with markings, and white with a
variety of colored patches. The Rat Terrier should be evaluated as a working terrier, and exaggerations or faults
should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work. Honorable scars
resulting from field work are not to be penalized.


The Rat Terrier is an energetic, smart and alert dog whose curiosity and intelligence make him easy to train. The
Rat Terrier has sometimes been described as having a dual personality. He is a fearless, tenacious hunter with
seemingly unlimited energy. When he is not hunting, however, the Rat Terrier is an exceptionally friendly
companion, getting along well with children, other dogs, and even cats. Rat Terriers enjoy human companionship
immensely and will enthusiastically share any activity with their owners. Rat Terriers should not be sparred during
conformation judging.