Hello, dog-lovers! Michga and I are ringing in a new category here.
As you may know (if you’ve read my About page), I love learning about dogs. So, in the pursuit of dog knowledge, I am going to use the “Breed Profile” posts to do some research about the dog breeds that are a part of my life. Nothing super in-depth, just enough to give a decent overview of the breeds.
And what better place to start than with Michga’s breed, the Rat Terrier?
Unlike most terriers, who were bred in the United Kingdom, the Rat Terrier is an American dog – by most accounts, anyway. A sort of ~proto-Rat~ was developed in Britain, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century in America that the breed was truly born.
American farmers bred these tenacious little hunters as a pest control dog. The farmers mixed a wide assortment of breeds together to finally arrive at the Rat Terrier – mostly other terriers, but later they threw in a little whippet and greyhound, too. Now not only did this breed have the fierce hunting instincts of a terrier, but it also had a little kick in speed. This proved to be useful to the farmers, as the dogs could effectively chase down rats all around the barn and farm.
FUN FACT! Fitting with their American heritage, President Teddy Roosevelt was the one to give the Rat Terrier its name. His own Rat Terrier, according to him, solved a rat infestation at the White House! People who come up with breed standards are pretty picky, though, and they aren’t sure the Rat we know today was really the one that Roosevelt gave that name.
I’m giving him the credit, anyway.
HEALTH AND APPEARANCE
Most terriers tend to be a pretty healthy bunch, and Rats are no exception. They’re prone to things like floating kneecap and incorrect bites, but nothing especially serious. Life span varies depending on who you ask, but 13 – 18 years seems to be the average range.
Rats are a small breed, with miniature and standard varieties. Short coats (that aren’t wiry like a lot of terriers) make them easy to care for, as far as grooming goes. Their coats also come in many colors, but almost always with white in there somewhere. Chocolate coats, like Michga’s, are pretty rare.
You usually find their ears will stand up on their own like a German Shepherd’s, instead of flopping over (although they are floppy when they’re puppies).
It’s a pretty adorable breed, in my opinion, but it’s possible I’m a little biased.
As with most terriers, this breed packs a lot of personality into a little bit of dog. Sources vary slightly in their description of their exact personality traits, but generally they are: intelligent, but stubborn; tiny, but fearless; loyal, but wary of strangers. These quick runners, and sometimes yippy barkers, make wonderful pets and companions – if you make sure to watch them closely.
IN MICHGA’S CASE
Fearless? Hahaha. No. She once got scared of a ladybug.
Wary of strangers? That’s an understatement.
So, Michga conforms to these breed standards… for the most part. She’s healthy, intelligent, and very loyal to her pack (which consists mostly of me, but extends sometimes to my parents). She is definitely a yippy watch dog, barking whenever she hears a knock or sees a stranger. And she’s a determined little hunter, especially for squirrels. Not that she’s ever caught any.
Since Michga would technically be classified as a toy dog, and the AKC apparently does not recognize that size for the breed, she’s probably been mixed with something back in her bloodline that means she is not a “true” Rat Terrier. I don’t really care, of course; mutt or purebred, she’s my princess either way.