Do you know where your Rat Terrier comes from? No, not the pet store” their actual history. Believe it or not, these feisty little dogs have quite the origin story. Let's look at their history and where they came from.

The Rat Terrier has been around for quite a while, and their exact origins are still a bit of a mystery. What we do know is that they were bred to hunt vermin, which includes both rats and rabbits. They're fearless little dogs, and they're incredibly versatile as well. They can be used for hunting, tracking, and even guarding livestock.

They're also known for being loyal and loving companions. Life span of Rat Terrier lies between 15 to 18 years. If you're curious about the Rat Terrier's origins or want to learn more about these fantastic dogs, keep reading!

Rat Terriers History in the United States

The Rat Terrier has a long and storied history in the United States. They were bred in the 1800s to help farmers and ranchers control the rat population. And over the years, they've become one of America's favorite pets.

Their long and versatile history means that there's a Rat Terrier for everyone. Whether you're looking for a small, playful dog that loves to run and play or a giant dog that can serve as a loyal protector, there's a Rat Terrier for you.

The Original Rat Terrier Breeds

Three breeds were used to create the Rat Terrier: the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, and the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. All of these breeds were used for hunting small game, including rats.

The Smooth Fox Terrier was known for its speed and agility, while the Manchester Terrier was known for its strength and tenacity. The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier was explicitly bred for hunting rats and was smaller and more agile than other rat terriers. All three of these breeds were used to create the Rat Terrier, known for its intelligence, athleticism, and hunting skills.

How Rat Terriers Gained Popularity in the US

English immigrants brought Rat Terriers to the United States in the early 1800s. They gained popularity quickly because they were excellent hunting dogs and great at exterminating rodents. They were also known for their loyal and friendly personality, making them a popular family choice.

Since then, Rat Terriers have become one of America’s most popular dog breeds. They are now known for being a versatile breed that can be used for various tasks, such as hunting, herding, tracking, and agility competitions.

Rat Terriers Combat & Hunting Skills

Rat terriers were bred to help with various tasks and had a knack for it. With their agile and nimble moves, they could easily hunt snakes and small rodents or act as couriers by carrying messages or belongings during wartime. And with their background of being mixed with various breeds, they had high endurance levels that allowed them to keep up with their tasks.

These little dogs were also used in combat tactics on the front lines, digging tunnels to enable surprise attacks or recovering injured soldiers stranded in unknown terrain. The rat terriers' agility made them excel at this task as well. They were even used as search and rescue dogs, thanks to their ability to sniff out prey from significant distances, whether rats or injured soldiers.

The rat terrier's versatile skills made them an asset during wartime and a favorite among farmers who needed help hunting rats around barns and stables. Today, these traits still make them fantastic pets for highly active lifestyles as if you enjoy endless outdoorsy activities like hiking and running, then a rat terrier is the perfect pup for you!

Evolution of the Rat Terrier Breed

As their name suggests, Rat Terriers were initially bred to hunt rats and other small rodents. They were created by crossing several small terrier breeds with a large variety of hounds, contributing to their intelligence, speed, and instinctual hunting skills.

But these canines weren't just bred for the hunt.”Rat Terriers were also prized for their loyalty, friendliness, and ability to get along with other animals. They soon gained popularity among farmers as farmhands that not only helped keep pests at bay but could also quickly herd livestock.

Over the years, Rat Terriers have been used for many purposes, including search-and-rescue efforts and even police work.  They've been a fixture in America for decades and have finally been recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 2013.


The rat terrier's story speaks to the resiliency of the human-animal bond. These dogs were bred for a specific purpose,” to kill rats,” and they did their job well. But when that purpose was no longer needed, they might have disappeared entirely if not for the people who loved them.

Today, rat terriers are cherished as much for their companionship as for their hunting skills. They are still versatile dogs, capable of adapting to various lifestyles. And they continue to be beloved by the people who know them best.