A wonderful unique breed of dog is the Rat Terrier. They are diverse in their abilities and traits due to a few various factors.
But there are some specific attributes and facts about the breed which truly set them apart from other dogs. There are also some curious points of interest when it comes to Rat Terriers. A few of those facts include:
The rat terrier is bred to be the ultimate farm dog
As their name suggests, they are bred to hunt rats. In the 1910s and 1920s, the Rat Terrier began as the most popular farm dog in America.
They are well suited to the farm lifestyle and quickly were able to become the favorite companion for farmers of all types. Their ability to rid a farm of rats made them the saviors of many families.
The reason being that they might have gone hungry in the wintertime had a rat infestation ate its way through their crop.
There’s even one occurrence when an owner was able to document an amazing feat by their pup. On that day, a single Rat Terrier rid a barn of a rat population that numbered upwards of 2,500 rodents.
That wondrous dog completed this task by working for a grueling 7-hours of non-stop hunting. It is exactly this endurance and willingness to work, which made them the most popular dog of that period.
They are popular with a range of diverse types of owners
The amazing kind of work ethic of the breed is what makes these wonderful farm dogs a popular pet for many rural owners. Although, their intelligence, loyalty, and trainability make them a favorite for more urban dwellers as well.
Overall, the breed is popular by owners of all types, and they have made a large comeback. This happened after falling from favor in the 1950s when farmers began using poisons to control their rodent problems.
For this reason, many rural owners lost the need for these wonderful companions. Thankfully, during that time, the breed was preserved by a few dedicated breeders. Then, 30 years later, they made an amazing comeback to popularity when their diverse abilities were rediscovered.
The breed was created using 7 other breeds
The original unique breed is made up of a variety of other breed types. Each one adds certain sought-after qualities and traits to the final breed of Rat Terrier, which they create.
Those breeds include Smooth Fox Terrier, the now-extinct Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and Beagle.
The first four breeds were commonly used as working pets by many ranchers and farmers at the time.
Their breeding together was a natural outcome of owners having dogs of varying breeds housed together. What came of those original litters was a top-notch, agile, versatile hunting dog.
Many owners kept breeding purposely for the specific hunting characteristics they saw most important. These traits they considered most important included being compact, athletic, lively, and having a solid work ethic.
Later on, the Whippet and Italian Greyhound were bred in to add some speed to the breed. This trait came in handy when the dogs were chasing down the jackrabbits, which plagued farmers as they moved further west into America.
This integration got highly praised as a success, and the Rat Terrier moved west across the American frontier.
Finally, starting more in Central America, the breed had a union with the Beagle. This was to try to capture the pack hunting prowess of the Beagle.
Again, another successful blend appeared, and the final version of Rat Terrier ‘the one we know and love today’ came to be.
Ingredients in the rat terrier mixture
- Manchester Terrier One of the oldest known terrier breeds, this addition gave the Rat Terrier its build/appearance, agility, energy, and hunting prowess.
- Smooth Fox Terrier Named for their foxhunting abilities this pedigree contributed a strong hunting instinct, energy, eyesight, and digging abilities. These dogs used this trait to dig foxes from their holes while Rat Terriers use it to dig up rodents.
- Old English White Terriers This now-extinct lineage of dogs gave the current Rat Terrier its loyalty to its owner, family, and pack. It also added to the breed’s ability to be calm and level, counteracting its highly energetic nature. In all, the Rat terrier can thank this lost line of dogs for its level-headed quality and its ability to control itself. Without this heritage, the breed would constantly be bouncing off the walls and unmanageable.
- Bull Terrier They added improvements that include both agility and power. Also, the Rat Terriers sweeter family-dog side can be attributed to them. Which makes them great pets for families with small children. All of which adds highly to their appeal as a pet in general.
- Whippet This thin and sometimes frail breed gave the Rat Terrier its speed, endurance, and intensity during pursuits. The laser-like focus when chasing down prey is what makes the Rat Terrier such a successful hunter. Then, the Whippet passed on the ability to shut the prey drive off at the drop of a hat. Which helped even out the aggressive prey seeking drive by letting the breed immediately calm down and change focus.
- Italian Greyhound These graceful dogs have given the terriers the sweet tender side that makes them such wonderful family pets. Also, the miniature greyhounds gave them their soft and shiny coat. So, because of them, the terriers are not only affectionate but soft to cuddle with as well.
- Beagle This final ingredient in the Rat Terrier mix added an unbeatable sense of smell. This adds to their incredible hunting abilities. Also, it gave the terriers an unparalleled ability to hunt as a pack. This widens the range of hunting that the breed is capable of partaking in. Initially used to hunt small rodents on the farm, this addition began the era of the terriers being able to pack hunt. This widened their resume to include hunting for bigger game like wild pigs, mountain lion, and bobcat. Additionally, with enough well-trained and experienced hunting dogs working together, Rat Terriers can even hunt bear.
As you can see, the Rat Terrier is a widely versatile breed of dog. They can be a wonderful, loyal, and loving family dog. Or, they can also be a ferocious, fierce, agile, determined, and capable hunting companion.
They do just as well for an apartment dweller in the city as they do for a person living in a mountain cabin in the woods.
They can play with children to the same degree that they can hunt rodents or predators on the farm.
The adaptability of the Rat Terrier has landed them a place in our hearts and our homes. This is where they will stay for many years to come.