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This FAQ is the result of a lot of hard work by some very generous rat-terrier.com members. Thanks to Nat (aka Cookie), Paul, Scott (aka Jscott), and Jillian (aka Jillian & Lady, aka the artist formerly known as LadyLover) for all the help! Thanks also to all the members for contributing answers to these and many other questions over the years!


Rat-Terrier.com Site Questions

Q. Can I contribute a header graphic for the site?
Yes, you can, in fact please do! There are some criteria that it must meet:

  • 990 pixels in width total
  • Has a rat terrier in it!
  • Says "Rat-Terrier.com" on it
  • No more than 275 pixels in total height
  • Picture has to be decent photo quality, "clean", "crisp", and pleasing.
  • Preferably a real photo, rather than a painted one - with some exceptions.

If you want to send me a header graphic, email it to lance at rat-terrier.com. Keep in mind that I'm only going to change it every few weeks so it might take a while for yours to get up there - especially if its holiday specific (like St Patrick's day) instead of just "seasonal".

Q. How do I add or update my avatar?

  1. On the upper right corner of the screen, you will find a link called My Profile. Click on that link.
  2. Scroll down to and click on Edit Profile.
  3. Scroll down to the Avatar section, and next to "Upload Avatar" click the browse button. Choose a photo from your computer files to use as your avatar.
  4. After selecting the photo, be sure to scroll down to and click on "Update Profile" to save the changes.

To change the avatar photo, use the same directions for editing your profile, and click ‘Remove’ at the avatar section to remove the old photo, then ‘browse’, and choose a new photo from your files to add as your new photo avatar. You may need to refresh your browser to see your changed photo. Sometimes, due to caching, you may need to logout, then log back in to see the change.

Q. How do I post messages to the forums?

First, in order to be able to post you'll have to become a member. We do this only to keep the community free of spam. To become a member, click the "Register" link at the top right of the website.

After logging on, you can go to any forum thread by clicking on the name of the forum (such as "Just Chat"). Then you'll see a list of all the subjects in that forum. Alternatively, you can click on any of the "Recent Posts" shown in the upper left corner of your screen.

To post a new message, click on the "add new topic" link at the very top left of the forum.

To post a reply, simply click on the "add reply" link at the bottom left. Type in your reply, then hit the "Post Reply" button. If you change your mind and don’t want to send what you typed, you can always hit "cancel".

To post a reply that contains a quote from a previous message, instead of clicking the "add reply" link, click the "quote" link.

Q. How do I include photos in the messages I post?

Photos are only allowed in the forums that are designated as such. Currently the forums that allow photo posting are:

  • Photos
  • Photos - High Quality
  • Photo Contests
  • Meet The Members
  • People Pictures

In these forums, when you post a message, just above the "Post" button will be a "Message Attachments" section. Here you can click on the "Browse" button to find photos on your computer that you'd like to include in the message.

Q. How can I see a list of all the photos posted on rat-terrier.com?

If you use IE7, Firefox or any blog reading software, you can subscribe to the rat-terrier.com photo RSS feed.

Q. How long has rat-terrier.com been around? Who started it?

Rat-Terrier.com was started in December of 2003 by Lance Robinson. Several of the moderators and active members have been contributing to the site since the very beginning.

Q. How do I include bold words or links in my forum post?

To do this, you have to put HTML inside your post. If you want to include bold, that looks like this:

this is bold

To make a link, the procedure is similar:

this is the link text

Q. How do I get stars/bars next to my name?

All members start out as "newbie" rank. The more messages you post, the higher your rank gets. To see the current list of ranks, look here.

Q. Who do I ask more questions?

You can email one of the moderators, or just post a new message in one of the forums. Our community is very friendly and everyone is happy to help you out!

Rat-Terrier Breed Questions

Q. What are the breed standards?

UKC Standards
NRTA Standards

Q. Why are tails commonly docked?

Historically, and I mean a really long time ago, dog tails were docked to protect against injuries during hunting. At the same time, an English law was passed which taxed "non-working" dogs. Rat Terriers are natural hunters, and were (and still are in some cases) commonly used for hunting, thus their tails were historically very commonly docked.

A natural tail is not a penalty in the breed standards.

The term "NBT" (natural bob-tail) refers to dogs that are born with a bob tail already, and so do not need their tails docked.

Q. How large do Rat Terriers get?

Rat Terriers come in three sizes: Toy (less than 10 pounds), Mini (10-17 pounds), and Standard (17-30 pounds).

Q. What is the difference in type A and type B Rat Terriers?

Rat Terriers have two body types. The only difference is that Type A Rat Terriers have longer legs. Take a look at the Rat Terrier breed standards, which do mention both body types.

Q. When will my Rat Terriers ears stand up?

Ears on a Rat Terrier puppy may or may not stand. They sometimes go through several stages before standing erect, if they are going to stand at all. The two most common styles of ear carriage are: a) erect ears, and b) button ears. Erect ears will stand on their own—no cropping, taping or posting is required. If the ears are going to stand, they will most usually be erect by 10 months of age, but many puppies have their ear carriage earlier than that. Button-type ears fold over toward the front of the head, but the base of the ear is slightly lifted up from the skull.

Q. How much exercise will my Rat Terrier need?

Rat Terriers are highly energetic dogs, and require a fair amount of exercise to keep them happy, well adjusted, and physically fit. They not only like to run and play, but is seems to be their nature to do so. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, and they need to be exercised. Exercise can be in the form of playing indoors, a brisk walk, running along with you on a jogging path, or anything in between, but they must have some form of physical release of their energy. A fenced yard is an ideal playground for a Rat Terrier, but they adapt well to apartment living also, as long as exercise is provided.

Health Questions

Q. Why does my dog scoot on his/her hind end?

Scooting USUALLY denotes an anal sac problem, but can also be the result of tapeworms, a back injury, ulcers near the anus, or other problems. Please seek veterinary care to diagnose and treat any ongoing scooting problem.

Q. Why does my dog smell bad?

Well, it could be that he just needs a bath! If that is not the problem, its possible that he needs to have his anal glands expressed, or that there is an infection of the anal glands. Again, discuss with your vet.

Q. What is anal expression?

First of all, be aware that this procedure is not recommended in otherwise normally healthy dogs. Doing it when not necessary may disturb the normal balance, leading to inflammation or infection. Most dogs do this naturally by scooting, grooming themselves, etc. When it needs to be done though, there are two kinds of anal expression. External expression is simply pushing gently on the skin over the sacs in an upward motion to empty the contents of the sacs (Do not aim at your friends, and make sure to have a tissue at the ready!). Internal expression requires a latex glove and inserting your index finger just inside the sphincter to aid in pushing out the contents of the sac. Anal expression is best left to your veterinarian.

Q. Do I need to worry about dental care for my rat terrier?

Definitely. You don't want your buddy to be toothless one day do you? Seriously, this is an important area where all owners could easily help their dogs. Hard crunchy foods tend to be better for the teeth than soft foods, because the kibble acts like a toothbrush against the teeth. Also, there are "treats" available made for the same purpose; your dog chews on the treat in order to help clean his teeth. Many dog owners even use a toothbrush or a brush that fits over the fingertip to brush their dogs teeth. They even have chicken flavored toothpaste (although I can't say that helps the breath much)!

Q. How do I keep my dogs breath fresh?

Three major things: clean her teeth, feed her dry kibble, and hard chew toys.

The dry kibble and hard chew toys will help clean the teeth by effectively "brushing" them during the crunching and chewing process. Some treats even offer mint flavors.

As for cleaning your dog's teeth, start by getting her used to have your fingers or a toothbrush in her mouth. After a couple weeks of doing this regularly, then you can start using a toothbrush. Canine toothbrushes can look similar to a standard toothbrush for people, and there are also some that fit over your fingertip (recommended). You can also add canine toothpaste (do not use people toothpaste!), which comes in doggie friendly flavors like chicken!

Q. Do Rat Terriers shed?

Actually, yes. Especially when they are shedding their "winter" coat. It can be very misleading because they are shorthaired dogs. Their short hairs come off on your hands when you pet them, and stick to your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. Just be sure to brush them often with a soft brush or rubber curry mitt to remove dead hair. And don't wear black clothing!

What is socialization?

Rat-Terriers tend to be very intelligent, which leads to boredom easily. They need to be entertained and challenged. They love and need to be around people and other dogs (all on leashes of course). It is recommended that your rat-puppy "meet" 100 people by the time he is 4-5 months old. If a puppy is not properly socialized, it can lead to behavioral problems in the future. While your unsocialized dog will make a good watchdog, s/he will not be comfortable around strange people and other pets. This could lead to aggression or other unhealthy behavior.

Q. I think my dog lost some teeth, is that normal?

Yes..puppies start losing their baby teeth between 4 and 6 months of age. If you notice any "adult" tooth loss after that, see your vet to make sure there is not a more serious dental problem.

Q. What are dewclaws?

The dew claws grow higher up on the leg, rather than on the feet. Because of this, they can easily get caught on objects, and cause injury and pain to your dog. For this reason a lot of people have the dewclaws removed. Some are born without dew claws.

Q. How do I take care of my Rat Terrier's skin and coat?

Rat-Terriers are very low-maintenance as far as grooming goes. A bath every 3-4 weeks and regular brushing is all that is needed for most of them. And a healthy diet to keep their coat shiny. Some people use fish oil supplements to help keep the skin moist.

Q. My dog has hairless and/or scabby patches in her coat, what causes this?

The term for this is called pruritus. It is not a disease in itself. Rather, it is a sign of an underlying
disease or condition such as a skin infection, fleas, allergy, or mange.
Often times there is a combination of conditions, all of which need to be
treated to resolve the itching. See your vet.

Q. What is demodectic mange?

Demodectic mange is a non-contagious mange, meaning that if your dog was around other dogs, they would not catch it. It also doesn't eat away at the skin, it lays eggs in the skin. It mostly infects the puppy at a very young age, when their immune system has not developed yet, and may or may not die out by adulthood. However, it's similar to herpes in that it is a parasite that does not leave completely, but lies dormant until the immune system weakens again. The infection of demodectic mange may point to other infections such as heart worms, etc.

Q. What is sarcoptic mange?

Sarcoptic mange is a mange that eats at the dog's skin & flesh. A dog may have it at any age, and this mange is bacterial. A dip or series of dip treatments will cure it, but the infestation of sarcoptic mange may point to other infections as well.

Q. Why is my dog's nose wet/dry?

Typically if your dog's nose is wet, it means he is healthy. That being said, an otherwise healthy dog might have a dry nose if he is dehydrated. For example if he has been sitting in a hot, dry place for a while.

Q. When should I get my puppy spayed or neutered?

Spaying or neutering your puppy can not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but can also prevent some health problems later in life. It is recommended that females be spayed before their first heat cycle (which usually occurs at around 6 months of age). Males should also be neutered in the first 6 months.

Q. Is my Rat Terrier over or under weight?

This depends on what kind of rat-terrier you have. There are 3 sizes:
Standard: Height 14-23 inches (35½-58½ cm.)
Standard: Weight 12-35 pounds (5½-16 kg.)
Mid-sized: Height 8-14 inches (20-35½ cm.)
Mid-sized: Weight 6-8 pounds (3-3½ kg.)
Toy-Height: 8 inches (20 cm.)
Toy-Weight: 4-6 pounds (2-3 kg.)

Q. Is my Rat Terrier too short or too tall?

Nope, they are all perfect.

Q. How should I treat and prevent insect bites?

Preventing insect bites primarily involves using a topical treatment to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. When choosing a topical powder, spray or once-a-month flea control product, be sure to choose a product that not only kills fleas but repels them as well. Treatment of a serious infestation of insects or parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, or mites can be remedied by your veterinarian and should be addressed ASAP.

Q. Why are my dogs eyes watery?

A watery eye can be traced to anything from a foreign object in the eye to complex conditions. Some dogs simply have narrow tear ducts. Allergy, irritating dust in the air, or infection can lead to excessive tears from conjunctivitis. Your vet will be able to determine the cause and corresponding treatment.

Q. My rat terrier is having serious health issues. What am I going to do?

Canine diseases are a very real part of life. Unfortunately your dog - just like you - can fall ill. You can learn to interpret the danger signs, and know what action to take. Some minor health difficulties like fleas and ticks can be dealt with easily, while more serious problems should be dealt with by your vet.

Q. How can I tell if my dog is in need of medical attention?

There are many signs that your dog needs immediate medical attention. Here are just a few common reasons:

  • Constipation or diarrhhea lasting for longer than 48 hours.
  • Refusal to eat for more than 24 hours.
  • Vomiting, gagging, sneezing or coughing repeatedly.
  • Gasping or shortness of breath; sneezing or nasal blockage.
  • Progressive weight loss over a period of two to four weeks
  • Pale or swollen gums
  • Drinking or urinating excessively.
  • Unexpected weight gain.
  • Changes in skin/coat condition

Q. How do I deal with the loss of a pet?

The death of a beloved pet can be very distressing. Our pets are not only members of the family, they are our faithful friends, our children’s devoted playmates and reliable, affectionate companions. They enrich our day-to-day lives and their passing makes for a deeply felt loss.
A grieving period is to be expected. It can be addressed by talking to friends or relatives who understand the serious feeling of your loss. There also are online organizations that help you to cope with your loss.

Q. What other health issues do I need to be aware of?

A good way to keep your Rat Terrier healthy is to pay attention to his needs. Do a visual "check" occasionally, checking his teeth and gums, inside the ears, and general skin and coat condition. Make sure that he has no ticks, stubborn scabs, or dry/hairless patches in his skin. Make sure that he is on a good reputable heartworm preventative if you live in an area where mosquitoes are a problem. Keep him on a good flea/tick repellant, and have a basic emergency kit made up and available that includes blood-stop powder, bandages, a good anti-bacterial cream or ointment for those unexpected boo-boos, your vet's phone number, and the phone number to a 24-hour emergency vet. A healthy dog is a happy dog!

Food and Treats

Q. Is it ok to feed my dog people food?

What can be healthy for people may not be good for your dog. Foods like chocolate and other snacks may actually be fatal! Use caution when feeding your dog from the table.
Some dog owners give their dog table scraps like pasta, meat, eggs, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Some of these foods are fine in small quantities but others can be harmful even just one time. Many people also give their dogs leftover bones after a meal. This is fine, but should be monitored. Also, never give your dog poultry bones (they are too brittle and can cause physical harm)! The best thing to feed your dog is good quality dog food with the appropriate nutritional value. Rat Terriers needs a balanced diet. Cheese and milk are great sources of protein, but some dogs may be sensitive to lactose products. Use a premium dog food that provides a nutritionally balanced meal.
An improper diet can lead to health problems and a shorter life span. Many human foods can result in allergic reactions in your dog.

Q. What about raw food diets?

Some dog owners have used the B.A.R.F. (Bones And Raw Foods) diet for their dogs. Some say that dogs have no nutritional requirement for grains, and derive all their energy from proteins and fats. There are many informational topics available both pro and con on this subject. You should do some research on this before deciding whether it is the right choice for you and your dog and certainly before making a change in your dog’s diet.

Q. What kind of treats and food should I purchase?

Many people purchase packaged treats for their Rat Terriers, and some make their own homemade treats. Packaged treats come in many shapes, sizes and flavors. You may need to experiment with different treats to see which ones your dog prefers. Whatever you choose, remember that it is a treat, not a meal. You can even cut packaged treats into smaller pieces to use, if they are larger than your dog needs.

There is a multitude of commercially produced ready-to-eat dog foods available today. You should choose a premium grade of dry dog food that is age-appropriate, meaning puppy food for up to one year of age, and adult food thereafter. Some breeders recommend dry food supplemented by canned, if needed. An active adult dog living in the country and having free run will have different nutritional needs and will require a different amount of food than a young puppy living in an apartment. Check the printed feeding guidelines on the dog food package for suggested amounts to feed according to your dog’s weight.

Preparing For and Getting a Rat Terrier

Q. Where can I get a Rat Terrier?

The last place you should get your rat terrier is the pet store. Yep, thats right. Instead, find a local breeder with a good reputation. Better yet, get a rescue. There are a lot of Rat Terrier's looking for a home. Check out Ratbone Rescues if you're interesting in rescuing a buddy.

Q. How are Rat Terriers around other pets?

Because of their calm temperament, rat-terriers tend to get along with other pets just fine. They will likely see their pet siblings as members of their family, and will be very protective of them.

Q. Are Rat Terriers good around children?

Rat terriers tend to be very patient and tolerent of children..especially their "own". Because of their temperament, they are usually not aggressive and are comparatively calm compared to other breeds. They are very loyal, loving, and protective of members of their family. However, they do exhibit the typical "terrior" personality and are very energetic. It is important that anyone with small children who may be contemplating rat-terrier ownership be aware of this. This is one of the most common reasons rat-terriers are given up for adoption or taken to shelters.


Q. How do dogs learn?

Dogs learn by associating an action with an effect or consequence. If the effect is pleasurable, the dog will tend to repeat the behavior. If the effect is unpleasant, he will tend not to repeat the behavior.

In training, you show your dog the action you wish him to learn. You can help him to perform it by luring him with food, toys, or collar pressures. When he performs the action, you immediately provide a pleasant consequence by rewarding him with a small treat and praise. This is called "positive reinforcement" and will cause your dog, after several repetitions, to repeat the action.

If you give your dog a command word at the same time that he performs the behavior, he will learn to associate the behavior with the command.

Here is an example: In order to teach your dog to sit, say the command "sit" as you help him to do it. This can be done by luring his head up with food or a toy held in your hand, which will cause his rear to sink into a sit, or by use of collar pressure coupled with the pressure of your hand on his rump. The instant he sits, give him a tiny treat. After many times of this he will make the association between the command word "sit" and the act of sitting. He will learn to obey the command by being positively reinforced by your praise and a treat.

Q. What is crate training?

Crate training is the process of training your new puppy to view its crate (aka kennel) as a safe, comfortable place to be. As a result, your puppy will have a "den" in which to retreat and relax, in which they will not potty (a great potty training tool). To this end, you should not use the crate as punishment. For more information on crate training, see our Training Tips.

Q. What are some basic commands I can teach my dog?
See our Training Tips.

Q. How do I establish discipline with my dog?

Sometimes dogs need to be disciplined, and some methods work better than others . You should use words instead of objects for disciplining your dog. Do not hit your dog . It’s the tone of your voice and how you act that tells him that he has done a bad thing. Saying "NO" in a harsh voice and waving a pointed finger lets him know he is being disciplined. Eye contact is very important Make sure you look your dog in the eye when correcting him.
Use short words like NO, or STOP. If this doesn’t work, grab the dog firmly his collar and repeat, "NO!". Keep the eye contact and make sure he knows you mean business. Then let go after a few seconds and wait a minute or so before petting him. This will reinforce that you were not pleased with his bad behavior.
Another good method is using a loud noise like a soda can with a dozen or so pennies or pebbles placed in it. If your dog always runs to the door and barks whenever the postman comes, and does not stop barking even after he is gone, you firmly tell him “no” and shake the can, making a noise that your dog doesn’t particularly like, the dog will associate the noise with bad his behavior. Sometimes this can work.
The important thing is consistency. If you are not consistent, you will not be good at disciplining your dog.

Q. What is time-out?

A Time-Out can be used to reduce "rude" behaviors like playing too rough, and non-fearful barking. The most important thing to remember is that it should be used sparingly It’s best to use the TO in moderation and put more effort into prevention and teaching him manners .

Decide on a location. Choose a place that your dog will find boring - neither scary nor wonderful and is safe, like a spare room, or bathroom.

Decide what misbehavior you will need to use a time-out for.

When your dog misbehaves, first give him a verbal warning (“enough").
If he stops what he was doing, let him know he did good (“good boy”)
BUT, if he continues to misbehave, calmly tell him "time out" as you go to him. Don’t look him directly in the eye when you walk towards him, as that can be intimidating.

Grasp his collar and walk him gently, but firmly, to his time-out space. Place him there for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes have passed, if he is calm, release him. If he is not calm, walk away for another few seconds before attempting to release him again.

Remember, the TO will only be effective if you are very consistent.

Q. When is it time to discipline my dog?

Any time that you feel that you are not in control , or when you begin to feel that your dog is in control of you, it is definitely time for discipline. Training and discipline are different even though in many cases they are exactly the same.

When training your dog, keep in mind that punishment usually doesn't work. Positive reinforcements will always net better results.

Q. How can I get help with aggression or other behavioral problems?

Dogs with aggression/behavioral problems are not looking at the world the way a normal dog does. They are unable to tell the difference between what they see as a possible threat and a real threat, or are unable to react appropriately.

Behavior modification means changing the problem behavior through changing the dog's attitude. Serious aggression or behavior problems should be addressed by someone with proper training to deal with these issues. If you suspect that your dog has serious issues with aggression or behavior, you should seek professional help for him/her.


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