When it comes to small breeds, there are many options available, from the popular Chihuahua to the beloved Yorkshire Terrier. One breed that often gets overlooked is the Rat Terrier. Despite their relatively low profile, Rat Terriers have many qualities that set them apart from other small breeds. In this article, we will explore what makes Rat Terriers unique and compare them to other small breeds.


Origins and History

The Rat Terrier has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. They were bred to be skilled rat hunters on farms and in cities. They are believed to be a mix of several breeds, including the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, the Whippet, and the Beagle. Rat Terriers were eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2013 and have been gaining popularity ever since.


Other small breeds, such as the Chihuahua and the Yorkshire Terrier, also have interesting histories. Chihuahuas were originally bred in Mexico to be lapdogs, while Yorkshire Terriers were developed in England to be ratters in clothing mills. While each breed has its unique origins, Rat Terriers stand out for their history as skilled hunters.


Size and Appearance

Rat Terriers are small dogs, typically weighing between 10 and 25 pounds and standing 10 to 18 inches tall. They have short, smooth coats that come in a variety of colors, including black, white, and tan. They have pointy ears and almond-shaped eyes that give them an alert expression.


Compared to other small breeds, Rat Terriers fall in the mid-size range. Chihuahuas are the smallest of the small breeds, weighing in at just 2 to 6 pounds and standing only 6 to 9 inches tall. Yorkshire Terriers are slightly larger, weighing between 4 and 7 pounds and standing 8 to 9 inches tall. Rat Terriers are bigger than both of these breeds, but still small enough to be considered lap dogs.



One of the most notable things about Rat Terriers is their personality. They are known for being active, intelligent, and playful dogs. They are also fiercely loyal to their owners and make great companions. Rat Terriers are good with children and other pets, but they do have a high prey drive and may try to chase smaller animals.


Chihuahuas are known for being spunky and feisty. They are often described as “big dogs in small bodies” and are fiercely loyal to their owners. They can be timid around strangers and may need extra socialization to prevent aggressive behavior. Yorkshire Terriers are known for being brave and confident, with a tendency to bark at strangers. They can be stubborn at times but are generally good with children and other pets.


Compared to other small breeds, Rat Terriers have a more even temperament. They are playful and energetic, but not as high-strung as Chihuahuas. They are also more adaptable than Yorkshire Terriers, which can be more sensitive to changes in their environment.



Rat Terriers are highly trainable dogs. They are intelligent and eager to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. They excel in obedience training and can also be trained for agility and other dog sports. Rat Terriers are also good at problem-solving, which makes them good candidates for tasks that require problem-solving skills.


Chihuahuas can be more difficult to train than other small breeds. They are known for being stubborn and may require more patience and persistence from their owners. Yorkshire Terriers are trainable, but they can be sensitive to correction and may require a gentle approach. Overall, Rat Terriers are one of the most trainable small breeds.


Exercise Needs

Rat Terriers are active dogs that require daily exercise. They are known for being athletic and enjoy activities such as running, playing fetch, and going on walks. They have high energy levels and can become destructive if they do not get enough exercise. Rat Terriers also enjoy mental stimulation and need activities that challenge their minds, such as puzzle toys and training sessions.


Chihuahuas have relatively low exercise needs and do well in small spaces. They enjoy short walks and indoor play sessions. They do not require as much mental stimulation as Rat Terriers, but they do enjoy having toys to play with.


Yorkshire Terriers have moderate exercise needs and enjoy going on walks and playing in the yard. They also enjoy mental stimulation and can do well with puzzle toys and training sessions. Compared to other small breeds, Rat Terriers have higher exercise needs. They require daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.



Like all breeds, Rat Terriers are prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health concerns for Rat Terriers include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and allergies. Rat Terriers are also at risk for developing dental problems, as small breeds are prone to dental disease. Regular veterinary checkups and good dental hygiene can help prevent these issues.


Chihuahuas are also prone to certain health issues, such as dental problems, luxating patellas, and tracheal collapse. They may also develop heart problems later in life. Yorkshire Terriers are prone to dental problems, as well as liver shunts and collapsing tracheas.


Compared to other small breeds, Rat Terriers have relatively few health concerns. However, it is important to keep up with regular veterinary checkups and provide good dental care to prevent potential issues.



Rat Terriers have short, smooth coats that require minimal grooming. They shed seasonally, but regular brushing can help minimize shedding. They only need occasional baths and nail trims.

Chihuahuas also have short coats that require minimal grooming. They shed seasonally, but regular brushing can help minimize shedding. They may need occasional baths and nail trims.


Yorkshire Terriers have long, silky coats that require daily brushing and regular grooming. They do not shed much, but their coats can become tangled and matted if not properly cared for. They also require regular baths and nail trims.

Compared to other small breeds, Rat Terriers require the least amount of grooming. Their short coats are easy to maintain and do not require much attention.



Rat Terriers are a unique and versatile breed that make great companions. They are active, intelligent, and loyal dogs that are easy to train and have relatively few health concerns. Compared to other small breeds, they have higher exercise needs but require less grooming. While other small breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers, have their own unique qualities, Rat Terriers have a combination of traits that make them stand out.


If you are considering adding a Rat Terrier to your family, it is important to do your research and find a reputable breeder. It is also important to provide your Rat Terrier with regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. With proper care and training, Rat Terriers can make wonderful service dogs, therapy dogs, and beloved family pets.

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