It all began in England about the year 1820. At this time they were termed  "Fyce" because of their spirited nature when going after prey, in America it is pronounced " Feist". The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as "a small dog of mixed ancestry; mongrel" They were a cross between a Manchester Terrier and Smooth Fox Terrier  and proved to be one of the best mixtures in the sport of rat baiting. The Rat actually holds the record for killing 2,501 rats in a seven hour span in an infested barn.
     These dogs were first brought to the USA in the 1890's. President Theodore Roosevelt kept Rat terriers as house pets due to their keenness, intelligence and perfect self groomed appearance. He often hunted with the breed and was so taken with the dogs' ability to rat, he coined the name Rat Terrier, which the breed is so named today. Before this time they were commonly called Fox Terrier and some people still refer to them by this name today.
      When they first came to America the breeding process was based on function. They were almost exclusively black and tan colored, their ears buttoned over and they were approximately 18lbs, of medium size.  They quickly gained popularity in the Southern parts of the United States. The settlers found that the Rat Terrier could easily adapt to different climates and terrain. They had the ability to keep the farms free of vermin (rats, fox) along with excellent hunting abilities for small and large game, from squirrel and rabbit to wild pig, deer bear and cougar. They were also quick, fierce and able to get into small burrows.
     The American people began to modify the breed for their needs.  Enhancing the breed to include the ability to Rat and Hunt being first and foremost in the developers minds. The Smooth Fox Terrier was re-introduced setting the predominance of white coat color. Their inherent abilities were constantly improved upon by the additions of animals such as Whippet, Greyhound and Beagle. Adding speed, power, agility, hunting ability and intelligence would only make them more proficient workers. Function and practicality came first, beauty last. These dogs carried many different colors and ranged in size from 18- 45lbs.  For those seeking a smaller version of this mighty hunter, smaller breeds were introduced. Toy Fox Terrier and Toy Manchester Terrier decreased their size and produced a dog capable of going to the hole. Toy fanciers further decreased size with the addition of Chihuahua. Care was taken to keep the natural abilities and produce a smaller version of the original dog.
     The most solid attribute of the Rat Terrier is an undying will to please their master and a need to be near him.
     Their intelligence is far supreme to most breeds; holds extremely keen senses and a loyalty that transcends them as a family dog. The three qualities that are essential to the Rat Terrier breed are:
          Quality 1. A capable utility/hunting dog.
          Quality 2. A wonderful family companion.
          Quality 3. A watch dog with keen alert senses picking up intruders very quickly.
     In summary, the Rat Terrier is still widely used throughout the USA on farms for any kind of vermin and for hunting and treeing by hunting individuals. They work well as a team and are extremely efficient at their jobs. As a house pet they are unsurpassed, being extremely intelligent, loyal, friendly and happy to be alive. They have a long life span of 14-18 years, so they will be around to enjoy. Their coats are short and smooth leaving you with little grooming if any at all. The expression in the eye of the Rat will tell story after story and the attentiveness to their master is like no other. They are natural born entertainers and will be your child's best friend. Being extremely loyal they make favorable little guard dogs. No one will enter with out first being announced by your Rat Terrier, but they stay on their best behavior when company calls.
     The Rat Terrier is now recognized by many registries across the USA.


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