Rat catchers

December 13, 2009

Some interesting stuff about rat terriers (well, interesting to me because we just got one):

The breed name comes from the occupation of its earliest ancestors; brought to the US by working class British migrants, these quick, tough little dogs gained their fame in rat pit gambling. However they were, for the most part, bred for speed. Their speed is used for controlling vermin and hunting squirrels, hare, and other small game.

Rat Terriers were cherished as loyal and efficient killers of vermin on 20th century American Farms, as well as excellent hunting companions. As a result they were one of the most popular dog types from the 1920s to the 1940s.The Rat Terrier was a common farm dog…bred for catching barn rats in haystacks. Purportedly a rat terrier holds the record for most rats killed in a single infested barn: 2501 rats in 7 hours.

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt owned a small, dark colored dog that became well known for eradicating rats from the White House, and some have claimed the dog as a Rat Terrier.

The genetic diversity of the Rat Terrier is undoubtedly its greatest asset, and is responsible for the overall health, keen intelligence, and soundness of the breed.

Although often mistaken for a Jack Russell Terrier, the Rat Terrier has a different profile and a very different temperament. Rat Terriers are finer of bone and have a more refined head. They always have a short single coat, i.e., they are never wire coated.

Rat Terriers tend to be less aggressive than Jack Russells; while they have a definite terrier personality they also have an “off switch” and love lounging on the sofa in a lap as much as tearing about the yard. Rat Terriers are normally cheerful dogs, and they tend to be calmer and more sensitive than Jack Russells to changes in their environment, owner’s moods, or to unexpected noises, people, and activities. The “social sensitivity” of Rat Terriers makes them very trainable and easier to live with for the average pet owner, but it also means that extensive socialization from an early age is critical.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Terrier

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