So, are Rat Terriers aggressive? Rat Terriers generally aren’t considered aggressive dogs. Depending on the context, they can be somewhat aggressive

Are Rat Terriers Aggressive Towards Strangers, Kids, Or Other Pets?

Not all animals get along well with human beings, but some animals bond very well. Speaking of animals that get along well with us, dogs own their position at the very top of the list. Most potential dog owners ask us, “Are Rat Terriers aggressive?”. So, we thought of writing about the Rat Terrier’s aggressiveness in this post.

Usually, dogs that are raised in households are gentle, but at the end of the day, they are also animals, which could make them a bit aggressive at some points. 

When adopting a dog, not all the owners look into the same factors, but most of us are concerned about whether the dog is aggressive. This article will answer the frequently asked questions regarding the aggressiveness of Rat Terriers.

It is often said that Rat Terriers make ideal family dogs; however, you may also have heard that Rat Terriers can be aggressive in some cases. 

So, are Rat Terriers aggressive? Like any dog breed, Rat Terriers can have varying temperaments and behavior tendencies. While Rat Terriers are generally friendly and sociable dogs, individual personalities and experiences can influence their behavior towards strangers, kids, and other pets.

It’s important to note that proper socialization and training play a significant role in shaping a dog’s behavior. Early socialization exposes a Rat Terrier to different people, animals, and environments, helping them develop positive associations and appropriate reactions.

When it comes to strangers, Rat Terriers may exhibit caution or wariness initially, as they are typically protective of their families. However, with proper socialization, they can learn to be accepting and friendly towards unfamiliar people. Early positive experiences and ongoing exposure to a variety of individuals can help minimize potential aggression or fearfulness.

Regarding children, Rat Terriers can generally get along well with kids if they are raised together and have positive experiences. However, as with any dog, supervision is crucial when dogs and children interact.

It’s essential to teach children how to approach and interact with dogs respectfully and without causing stress or fear. Additionally, dogs should have a safe space where they can retreat if they feel overwhelmed or need a break.

With proper socialization, Rat Terriers can also coexist harmoniously with other pets. Early exposure and positive interactions with other animals help them learn appropriate behavior and develop positive associations.

However, monitoring interactions and introducing new pets gradually and under controlled circumstances is important to ensure a smooth transition and prevent conflicts.

It’s crucial to remember that individual temperament, training, and socialization experiences greatly influence a Rat Terrier’s behavior. Responsible ownership, consistent training, and ongoing socialization are essential to help ensure that Rat Terriers are well-behaved, friendly, and accepting of strangers, children, and other pets.

Suppose you have specific concerns or are considering getting a Rat Terrier. In that case, it’s recommended to meet and interact with individual dogs and seek guidance from a reputable breeder or professional trainer to assess their compatibility with your family dynamics.

Read this article to figure out how aggressive a Rat Terrier could be, what could potentially make them aggressive, and what tips and tricks you can pursue as the owners to overcome the aggressive behavior of Rat Terriers.

Are Rat Terriers aggressive towards strangers?

We all know that any dog would be protective of their owners, so do Rat Terriers. If you have seen a Rat Terrier, you might doubt whether these little dogs could be good guards.

Don’t be too quick to judge because although Rat Terriers are small in their body size, they are energetic, intelligent, curious, and alert dogs. And these characteristics of Rat Terriers could make them aggressive towards strangers.

Rat Terriers are typically fond of people. Especially if you train your Rat Terrier from a young age to associate with people other than the family, they will most likely be friendly even with strangers.

But Rat Terriers also naturally inherit genes that make them alerted and smart dogs. If they sense something is wrong, they will act aggressively around strangers. This mostly happens as the Rat Terrier attempts to be protective of themselves and their owners.

Are Rat Terriers aggressive towards kids?

This question can be answered from different perspectives. As mentioned, Rat Terriers are family-friendly dogs, also protective of their owners.

On top of everything, they are super energetic and playful, which technically makes them good friends with kids. Speaking about kids, Rat Terriers are best to have around children between 4 to 12 years of age. Because children of this age group are energetic and playful, their energy levels blend pretty well with Rat Terriers.

If you have kids below 4 years old, Rat Terriers might not be the best fit, mainly due to the mismatch of their energy levels. This doesn’t mean that there is no way of having a Rat Terrier around kids below 4 years. If the dog is trained properly, they will act mindfully even around small kids.

But naturally, Rat Terriers are active and yappy dogs. These characteristics are controllable but unavoidable.

Are Rat Terriers aggressive towards other pets?

Are Rat Terriers aggressive towards other pets? Sometimes they could be. Terrier dogs usually have feisty and high-spirited behavior.

However, Rat Terriers belong to the Terrier family, and they tend to be less aggressive towards other pets. As already mentioned, Rat Terriers have a good intelligence level.

Therefore if you start from the early stages, you can easily train a Rat Terrier to socialize well with other pets. However, do not forget that Rat Terriers own a great prayer instinct. So if the dogs aren’t trained, they could be aggressive towards other pets.

Keeping that in mind, owners should train their Rat Terriers from the youngest age so they won’t be aggressive towards other pets as they grow up.

Why could Rat Terriers be aggressive?

Dogs can be aggressive for several reasons. Some dogs are naturally aggressive, while others can act aggressively under certain circumstances.

When it comes to Rat Terriers, aggressiveness is not usually one of their temperaments; still, these little canines could be aggressive because of the below reasons.

  • Lack of socialization

Lacking socializing skills is one of the key reasons that make a Rat Terrier aggressive. Rat Terriers were bred as hunting dogs.

To be more precise, farmers used these dogs for hunting rats and pests on farms. So they have strong and aggressive genes naturally embedded in them.

Proper training definitely helps your Rat Terrier to learn how to associate with strangers and other pets. But if the dog is not trained for that, it will likely be aggressive.

  • Being protective of their owners

Rat Terriers are family-oriented dogs. It doesn’t take much time for a Rat Terrier to bond well with its human family. So they always attempt to show their love to owners.

One of the ways that they show their love is by being protective. As mentioned before, Rat Terriers are alerted dogs with hunting instincts, and they sense things pretty fast.

If they feel some sort of threat, they try to be protective. In such cases, Rat Terriers might be aggressive to others. 

  • Health concerns 

If your Rat Terrier acts aggressively out of nowhere, perhaps it may indicate the dog is sick. Dogs’ behavior patterns considerably change when they are sick.

Most of the time, when they are sick, they indicate lethargic and tired behavior. Still, in some sicknesses, they could act aggressively too.

For instance, if your Rat Terrier undergoes a hormonal imbalance or genetic or metabolic disorders, it might act aggressively. 

Tips to control the aggressive behavior of Rat Terriers

Since Rat Terriers are family-friendly dogs, it is not complicated to mitigate their aggressive behavior.

But it is vital that you take appropriate actions from the youngest age of your pet because, as we say, “sooner the better.” So here are some easy steps that you can follow to control the aggressive behavior of your Rat Terrier.

  • Give proper training 

Proper training is mandatory to reduce the aggressiveness of your Rat Terrier. You don’t have to be a well-experienced trainer to train your Rat Terrier.

You can follow simple tactics, for instance, teach them the basic commands, and take them to public places, so they learn to associate with people.

Most importantly, be gentle with the training process. Don’t force the dog to do things, and if they are stubborn, give them minor punishments, but not harsh ones, because that could make them aggressive as they grow up. 

  • Discourage dominant behavior

Rat Terriers naturally become protective and alert dogs; therefore, they attempt to be dominant, ultimately leading to aggressive behavior.

You cannot wholly avoid the dominant behavior of a Rat Terrier, but you can certainly discourage them. When the dog is less dominant, they are less aggressive. 

  • Be kind to the dog

Make sure that you make your Rat Terrier feel loved. Rat Terriers are attention seekers; if they feel like they are not getting enough attention or love from the family, most probably, they could get depressed or act out aggressively.

Suppose that you adopt an adult Rat Terrier. It could be more challenging to raise an adult than a pup. In such cases, you have to be extra mindful.

  • Seek professional help

Even though you are gentle with the dog and train the dog well, you might still fail to control your Rat Terrier’s aggressiveness.

In such times, you can seek professional support. Because sometimes, your dog may act aggressively if they undergo some health issues.

If the aggressive behavior of your Rat Terrier is sudden and frequent, either consult a vet or get advice from a professional dog trainer.

Here are some final thoughts!

We attempted to determine if Rat Terriers are aggressive dogs through this article. Rat Terriers aren’t usually considered aggressive dogs out of many dog breeds that exist.

These lively little canines adore spending time with their owners, and typically they make ideal family dogs. However, there can be a few exceptions too.

In some cases, Rat Terriers could act aggressively. Still, the good news is you can control their aggressive behavior through proper actions. And not every Rat Terrier becomes aggressive due to the same reason, and not all of them express it in the same way.

So the bottom line is even though you cannot entirely eliminate the aggressiveness of a Rat Terrier, owners have the capability to mitigate it.

Therefore pay attention to your beloved dog, raise them with love and take action as required. That way, you can avoid them being aggressive.


  • George Brown

    George B. is the founder of the JRO Organization. He believes in creating a better world for domestic animals. He believes domestic animals are more vulnerable than other animals, especially dogs, since they have been used to depending on their owners for generations. So, he started JRO to share his ideas and insights while helping vulnerable dogs worldwide. George runs multiple projects on street dogs in developing countries, especially Sri Lanka.

    [email protected]

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