The Rat Terrier is an extremely intelligent dog that is willing to adapt to most situations and environments. Because of this intelligence they do need basic obedience training because they will try and get over on their humans.

    They get along well with other animals including ferrets, cats and other dogs provided that the existing pet in the new home is accepting of the Rat. The Rat Terrier welcomes companionship human or other. They are very enthusiastic and willing to do what ever the owner wants to do and they are also very content sitting on your lap and snuggling close to you. They love the closeness of humans and bond very heavily. Rats are humorous and entertaining to watch and interact with as they are quite animated. Each part of their body tells a different story.  They are also extremely sensitive and can get their feelings hurt easily.

Although the Rat has traits and characteristics that are common in all of them they also have their own individual personalities. It is like brothers and sisters. You can have an outgoing and perhaps a somewhat rebellious personality and then you can have a sweet loving one and they both came from the same parent. It is in the socialization of the dog and the person owning them that makes them what they ultimately are.

Because of there moderate to heavy pack instinct new owners need to show them who is boss but you must also be cautious when doing so. They are very forgiving but once their spirit is broken you can have a heck of a time getting them back. To break the spirit of the Rat may cause them to be set back as long as a year. Only with extreme patience and consistency can they be brought back and built up.  Proper discipline is usually the key with an unruly Rat but please be sensible when corrections are necessary.

     They have a willingness to accept almost anything, get along with all that come in contact with them and amongst each other and are very trainable. Generally speaking they are not barkers or yippers. A number of Rats have been also been used as therapy dogs around the country with tremendous success and of course their hunting abilities stand out. They are also adept at Search and Rescue and were used on Sept 11th at the New York Trade Center.
New owners should be prepared for a lot of energy and the initial housebreaking which is generally easy if they do it consistently. Most owners don't break a dog quickly but they will learn quickly if given the chance. Some have even been trained to go potty in a litter box with great success.
They need to make sure that if they are going to a family with kids, the kids need to treat the puppy with respect. A Rat Terrier is very willing to have a kid as its best friend but will not put up with any kind of abuse.  And as with all puppies people need to puppy proof their homes so that they do not get into un-necessary trouble.
Most anyone can own a Rat Terrier, people in wheel chairs, elderly, family, and single persons. They do well in apartments and with city dwellers like New York as well as people on farmland or ones with large yards. If a person wants a dog and has the ability and time to take care of a dog and that means any breed, they can take care of and raise a Rat Terrier. The person who is not willing to do the right things in owning a dog should not own a dog period.
There are 3 sizes of Rat Terriers. Toy which includes the tot size being less than 10 pounds, Mini 10-18 pounds and Standard 18-28 pounds. The conformation for each size is exactly the same with the exception of weight. Body- leg ratio remains the same. What you see is a smaller or larger version of the Rat Terrier no other differences. Top line, head structure etc remains the same for each type. There is also the Decker Strain Rat Terrier. Milton Decker in Oregon created this strain. The NRTA is keeping alive the hard work that Mr Decker did in creating the strain. What is meant by strain is that he locked in specific traits by selective breeding of Rat Terriers. They remain Rat Terriers and were created as such. Generally speaking though they reach a larger size ranging from about 22-40 pounds.
     As far as the two body types there is a Class A and Class B. This has been done because in order to have them breed true to type they should not be bred together. This breaks the uniformity of the type. During development the Rat Terrier developed two ways in body style. Some went the class A square and some went the Class B shorter leg in proportion to body length. Regardless of their body style they are still Rat Terriers and have always been developed as such.
     The Rat Terrier breed is one of the few breeds to date that are in great condition as far not aggressive, child biting, hole digging, run away; need to always be fenced in, hyper dogs. It is the people who ruin the Rat Terrier because frankly they shouldn't own a dog to begin with. They are ignorant to care, training and socialization of any animal. They are not a breed that should be cloned into set of limited standards only to destroy a large population of them because they don't fit into a size or color range.  They are a fascinating breed that has come into popularity over the last 25 years and should be enjoyed for what they are NOW.
People are most fond of the variety of color, body types, sizes, intelligence and individual personalities that these little dogs have. They were created along time ago to be this way. Their owners love them dearly and all that come in contact with them.
     If you want a dog that will live a long healthy life with little care as far as grooming and health issues; and want the companionship or hunting partner or playmate or agility master or entertainer or protector and has the brains and the sensitivity to pull it all off the Rat Terrier is a dog for you. Lastly, be warned that they are VERY addictive!

     The Rat Terrier breed is extraordinarily important to me, to the people in the NRTA and to the owners all over the United States and world of these most exemplary animals.

Margaret Burz