tell me about your Rat Terriers?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by patandchickens, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    87
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    No particular reason, she said whistling aimlessly, and I am *not* getting another dog til winter is mostly past... but, tell me about your rat terriers, eh? Good points, bad points? Specifically, how likely would it be to find/train one to live nicely with four housecats, and how do they do with cold weather?

    Thanks,

    Pat, going to get something from a shelter when we do get another dog but I am starting to mull over what types would be better candidates than others. Needs to be cat-friendly (or at least cat-civilized), maybe 15-30 lbs, non-fluffy, interested in being trained, reasonably active but not nutso, and not a beagle LOL)
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  2. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Ho boy! I have a rattie. He was dumped and decided to live under my horse trailer. I chased him off. I put him in the back of the truck and dumped him a mile away. I squirted him with a hose. Didn't matter. He decided THIS is home so home it is. Now, before anyone condemns me for all of this, please know that in this county they CHARGE you $50 to bring a dog to the shelter, which is probably why somebody dumped him on me. So after all of the above, I finally admitted defeat. That was about 2 years ago, I think.

    I call him Jack and he's as smart as my Dobies and GSDs. But unlike the Dobies and GSDs, he does NOT have an off switch. If he's awake he's going. That dog cannot sit still, not even for food. Otherwise he's a sweet dog, just MASSIVELY hyper. He races around the house. He does so many circles at the door when he wants out that I get dizzy just watching him. He IS fixed, but the vet forgot to tell HIM he's fixed. He torments my birds. TG we don't have cats anymore or I wouldn't have a house left.

    And yet, he's a sweet little guy and he does try to please. He just tries too hard, if that makes any sense.


    HTH

    Rusty
     
  3. RiverOtter

    RiverOtter Chillin' With My Peeps

    354
    1
    121
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oxford, AR
    Quote:LOL, That's pretty much the short version right there.
    Now, some of them you can train to get along with cats, but for some of them if they think they can take it in a fight it's fair game. Puppies get a free pass but everything else with fur is up either prey or a challenge.
    And they just can't resist a good challenge.
    Their best home and where they're most likely to get along well with cats is when they can have acceptable prey and plenty of opportunity to hunt it (rats, coons, nearly every day) and unacceptable prey (cats, chickens). But if you say to a rat terrier "Ok, RT, you're awfully cute and just the right size so live here with these cats and we'll get you a good long walk every day" it's a pretty safe bet none of you will be happy.

    So lets see, the not-so-short version (keeping in mind there are exceptions to every rule);
    Possibly cat-civilized, but probably not
    In the size range
    Definitely not fluffy
    Interested in being trained so long as they feel you are the most interesting thing around
    Activity level of a Border Collie on crack, but far shorter in the leg

    And, umm, what's wrong with beagles? I've got a beagle...
     
  4. ChickenFanaticAB

    ChickenFanaticAB Chillin' With My Peeps

    194
    0
    129
    Jan 15, 2007
    GA
    I have a different story about my two ratties. Best dogs ever. Miss them a ton. We had a male, more of a standard size, and a female who was more of a toy size, and both were great dogs. Female was about 8-9 pounds, and the male about 18, so definitely the size you are looking for. Ours were always AMAZING with all of our pets...ranging from cats, duck, chickens, guinea pigs, gerbils, you name it, and I would trust them with it, as long as they knew it was a member of our family. They didn't chase cats, but would kill rabbits, moles and rats with the best of them, and these are suburban dogs, not dogs out on a farm. Ours were trusted completely off leash, and rarely were fenced up when we were at home, they always stayed in the yard. I think that they have gotten over bred now, because I don't think they are meant to be a hyper dog like a jack russell. Both of mine have been dead a few years now, which makes it almost 20 years since we got them, and they have gotten a lot more popular over the last 20 years (=more backyard breeders and poorly bred dogs being sold in pet store etc.). They are hardy little dogs and I plan to have more someday.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    87
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    That's interesting... the ones I've known have been much more like what ChickenFanaticAB describes than what RHF and RiverOtter are describing... sort of like JRT's but *with* an off switch (capable of just lolling on the sofa or in the tackroom at times, although not necessarily the exact times you *want* them to) and more apt to take *some* interest in what people would like them to do than JRTs are. But the rat terriers I've known were (like ChickenFanaticAB) probably twenty-plus years ago, so maybe the breed has indeed changed since then. I didn't realize they'd gotten popular/overbred, but I guess it makes sense with the (incomprehensible [​IMG]) popularity of JRTs lately.

    I'll have to look into it more.

    Quote:Oh, I love beagles. But I especially love them when they belong to OTHER people not to me [​IMG]

    We live out in the country and I do not want to spend the next fifteen years trying to figure out where the beagle (or other scenthound) has wandered off to, and retrieving him from the next county over, which seems to be a major occupation of all the beagle owners I've known who don't keep 'em on a chain or in a *seriously* mega-fenced suburban backyard. I mean, we have fencing, but it is neither beagleproof nor beagle-proof-able. Whereas we have enough rodents around here that I think a terrier would largely want to hang around here even if he escaped supervision for a minute [​IMG] Also the beagles I've known have not been the most, um, paying-attention-during-training type dogs in the world ("oooo, what's *that* smell?") which is somewhat important to me.

    Pat
     
  6. RiverOtter

    RiverOtter Chillin' With My Peeps

    354
    1
    121
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oxford, AR
    If you think about it, lets give dogs a 3 year generation gap, 20 years is nearly 7 generations. A lot can change.
    I went through the same thing. When I was a child, neighbors had a Cocker Spaniel that was The Best Dog Ever. And I had met several other Cockers that were just the same, awesome, healthy family dogs. When I was old enough to go looking for a dog of my own, the Cocker Spaniels I remembered seemed to no longer exist.
    I know enough about dogs now that I could probably hunt one down. Someone, Somewhere still has a line of healthy dogs that can play with children and go find a bird weekends instead of a cartoonish mop - but I wouldn't expect to find one at the pound.

    I remember Rats of the type you describe. That was back when all JRTs were long legged, wire coated rat killing fanatics. (there would be the very rare smooth or short legged puppy in the litter but they were frowned on - they were usually given away free to the first kid who wanted a pup)
    When the JRT became wildly popular, as a breed they were both overbred and mellowed out - rat catching was not the sole criteria for breeding them.
    But some people still needed a long-legged rat catching fanatic. And there were enough Rat terriers out there that still fit the bill - who were now the most popular ones of their breed.

    So instead of the other way around (like it was 20 years ago), the Rat Terrier became the livebreatheatsleepdie rat hunter of choice and the JRT became the mellower pet-dog-that-could-catch-a-rat.

    So I'm not saying that you can't find a Rat Terrier like that. Many show breeders have them. But most pounds don't. They might have a JRT that would fit the bill.

    LOL, and not trying to talk you into a beagle, but there is a major personality difference between your average beagle and one from "rabbitdawg" stock. When DD said she wanted beagle I was like <moan> Really? Really, honey? Are you sure? Really sure?
    It wasn't until after I did serious research into the breed that I realized there is bird-dog, ranch-dog type split. I really like the field-bred ones and I thought I'd never say "like" in the same sentence as "hound".
     
  7. ChickenFanaticAB

    ChickenFanaticAB Chillin' With My Peeps

    194
    0
    129
    Jan 15, 2007
    GA
    Yeah, a lot can change in 20 years, that's for sure. I know there are still some breeders who are keeping the 'farm dog' standard of ratties, but, like was said above, might be challenging to find that in a pound. Such a shame because rat terriers are some of the oldest farm dogs around. If you plan to rescue (which is awesome, of course) I would recommend looking for small dog rescues, and search for rat terriers on petfinder in your area. The best scenario, is to find one that you like in a rescue and foster to adopt, which any good rescue should allow. You will then get to have the dog at home, give him or her a few days to settle in, and really get to know the dog.

    Agree 100% about JRTs...don't know how anyone can live with them. Smart dogs, but all that I've met have been little sh*ts, and definitely not good around other small pets. Sadly, it's become popular to deliberately breed Jack-Rats, JRT-rat terrier mixes...can't imagine why.

    You may also consider a manchester terrier, or if you are willing to go a little bigger, closer to 30 pounds, a Decker rat terrier, it's like the less-popular sibling of a standard or toy rat terrier.
     
  8. Godsgrl

    Godsgrl Ostrich wrangler

    1,992
    14
    198
    Aug 27, 2007
    at the zoo usually
    My friend has one. She is a wild, HYPER little devil dog. She bounces all over the place, including on people. She runs like the wind, and has no slow down at all. She is a good ratter, and does her best to get rats around the barn yard.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    87
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    There is a good-sized rat terrier rescue in Toronto that always has a buncha listings on Petfinder. So if I *did* end up going that way (at least searching), they're who I'd contact. But I want to get more of a sense of what the breed is like in general, especially "these days" apparently [​IMG], before bothering them.

    I have seen mention of the Decker rat terrier but since I really want to get a dog from a shelter or rescue and they seem pretty rare I don't think it's something I can really search for very well. (Although, any larger rat-or-JRT-cross type thing that is cat-socialized and otherwise suitable would be fine, I totally do not care about purebred vs mutt, well actually I kinda like mutts better [​IMG])

    the JRT became the mellower pet-dog-that-could-catch-a-rat.

    Oh yeah? Interesting. I have not met any Jack Russells of that sort. But if they exist these days, then maybe I should not rule the breed out entirely. My husband (who is generally anti-small-dog and thus it is not like it's in HIS best interest to tell me this, LOL) was just telling me this afternoon about a local eventing trainer who breeds them and has "a whole bunch of really well behaved" ones. So maybe my experiences are biased... although I really have met an AWFUL lot of the "Jack Russell Terrorist" types [​IMG]

    Thanks for the input, everyone,

    Pat​
     
  10. RiverOtter

    RiverOtter Chillin' With My Peeps

    354
    1
    121
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oxford, AR
    Quote:Well, I understand that you do spend a lot of time around stables and most horsey folk prefer the original "Is that dog on speed?" Die Rat DIE types of JRT. But in my experience that is the personality of your average Rat Terrier these days

    It is so extreme that the breed has been working on splitting in two for years now, at least here in the US, to the Parson and the Jack.

    But hey, if there is an active breed rescue near you, go on and bother them. See if they have dogs you can meet. The, if you like any of them, tell the rescue EXACTLY what kind of personality you're looking for and get on their waiting list. Good rescue's generally love that.
    -But beware, bad rescues may try to make you feel bad about not just taking on any "special needs" critter that comes along or try to convince you that their breed is so wonderful that any and all of them will be a good fit. It doesn't happen often, but I've worked with a lot of rescues and it does happen sometimes. If you start getting that vibe, there are lots of rescues and lots of dogs to be rescued out there.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by