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Rat Terrier Dog Breed Profile

Jul 3, 2008
I am a happy owner of two rat terriers. They are half brother and half sister and other than coat color and size and natural hunting abilities they are not at all alike. The male "Bingo" is bossy and impudent and outlandishly boisterous. The female "Zoey" is shy and somewhat retiring and loves nothing better than to curl up in your lap and be petted.

I can speak with authority that they are not the dog for everyone. First of all they are not "cuddly" in the sense of a lap dog. They have short hard coats and hard bodies...not a lot of soft fur, that sort of thing. BUT they look at you with their liquid eyes and can melt your heart with the best of the soft cuddly little fru fru dogs!

Their coats do shed a lot..( I also own large hairy goobery slobbery newfoundland dogs and let me tell you the little rat terriers shed equally as much AND their hair is short and "sharp" and has a tendency to stick better on the furniture than the longer hairs of the Newfoundlands.

Rat terriers are definitely a noisy dog. My son, who owns Goldens, is temporarily keeping my male rat terrier while I am going through a move. He LOVES the fact that Bingo sets up an obnoxious and noisy barking at the least sign of any intruder whether it be human or animal...and yes indeed they do certainly let you know when there is an "invader" in their territory.

The goldens are nowhere near as noisy and they are prone to wag their tails and greet everyone affectionately while Bingo jumps back and forth and perhaps even appears threatening with his loud, shrill, repeated yapping at various delivery men and salesmen who arrive and depart. (This is the MALE, the female is merely noisy but wouldn't dream of appearing to actually leap at someone.)

The rat terriers have done more damage to my household than a newfoundland ever did. Both of them are chewers and even with age this has not changed. A record of the "losses":

two arms from two couches...(stuffing removed)

the battery cover to my computer camera ( it is now taped to hold the batteries in place...thank goodness for duct tape!)

the remote control to my TV (the end got chewed off but if you point it JUST RIGHT it will still turn the TV on and off)...

Various denominations of paper money ranging from one dollar to a twenty dollar bill...

One leg of my antique library table now looks like hash...

and the list goes on!

I originally got a "rat terrier" because I had heard that they were "varmint dogs" and basically I was sick of the little four footed "varmints" who seem to frequent my kitchen every winter. Believe it or not, I truly have not had a mouse in the house since the day I brought home the rat terriers. They may be there but somehow they just don't have the bravado to run across the floor any more while I am talking on the phone or sitting at the computer. The also get "varmints" in the yard, from squirrels to grinnies to dead birds.

Bingo buries his grinnies and jealously digs them up and re-buries them somewhere else if you are watching him. He watches out of the corner of his eye and if you see where he buries it he will look at you suspiciously and dig it back up and run around the corner of the house and find another spot!

They get along famously with my Newfoundland. Except the male, he gets all fired up when a new dog comes on the scene and he just has to show his superiority, by reaching out and "nailing" the big dog in the face as he sits on the arm of the chair where I am sitting. He shows his jealousy to the new dog in this manner. I always hold his mouth shut and tell him NO but he still tries it for several weeks until the new dog has settled in and become a member of the family.

Once the new dog, be it old or young, is accepted into Bingo's life then he plays endlessly with them, chewing on their legs and playing hide and seek..the two rat terriers together can literally make the newfs dizzy, racing back and forth and around the house at top speed and barking at each other all the while. The Newfs love this entertainment..I admit it, so do I!

Rat terriers are not for everyone. But if you dont like cats, and you have mice, you might want to give it a try! You get a lot more interest added in to your life than a cat would give you (I think so anyhow!)
About the Author
Get more info and advice on the Rat Terrier or a full list of dog breeds at this Dog Behaviour website.
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