Do Rat Terriers Kill Rats / Mice? Can They?

Do Rat Terriers Kill Rats / Mice? Can They? Yes; But Read This First

Dog owners think Rat Terriers got their name because of the Rat hunting specialty. So, I thought of discussing one of the FAQs; do Rat Terriers kill rats or mice? Are they good at it?.

Duke is my three-year-old Rat Terrier. He is friendly and intelligent, and despite the small body size, it is packed with so much energy.

Also, I have to mention that Duke can be a bit of a troublemaker once in a while. Before getting Duke, I knew that Rat Terriers have their roots coming from hunting backgrounds and sometimes can be a lot to handle.

Some people would prefer if their dog is a good hunter, but it might not be the case for everyone. Due to this, many have concerns regarding the hunting behavior of Rat Terriers.

Why were they named Rat Terriers in the first place? Because they hunt rats? Let’s find out!

So, do Rat Terriers kill rats or mice? The most straightforward answer would be yes. This dog breed got its name for its efficiency in hunting rats. There are plenty of dog breeds well known for hunting, and Rat Terriers are one of those breeds. Rat Terriers possess a natural prayer instinct, and they are excellent at hunting rats. 

Back in the days, Rat Terriers were quite a popular dog breed, specifically among farmers, due to their ability to catch rats and other small animals that ruin farms.

But nowadays, Rat Terriers are not limited to farms; they are raised in many homes as perfect family dogs. Nonetheless, purebred Rat Terriers inherit genes that make them good hunters.

So it doesn’t matter whether they live on a farm or a house they still can be good rat hunters. Read this article to thoroughly understand the hunting behavior of Rat Terriers.

Do Rat Terriers kill rats?

When you hear the name Rat Terrier, it is not surprising to hear that these dogs kill rats. If we observe the roots of this dog breed, Rat Terriers were first bred around the early 1900s, and they were bred to eliminate farm pests, including rats.

Due to their exceptional ability to hunt rats, they became popular farm dogs pretty fast.

Dogs are undoubtedly great human companions, but don’t forget that they also can be good hunters; not all of them but many.

Rat Terriers, as already mentioned, are a breed that associates history of catching rats. It only takes a few seconds for a Rat Terrier to hunt a rat, and within a short amount of time, it can kill a large number of rats.

Do Rat Terriers eat rats or just kill them?

This is the next burning question regarding the rat hunting of these dogs. Now you know that Rat Terriers are excellent hunters, and they do kill rats.

But do they eat rats? You might have heard that rats can be poisonous. So if a Rat Terrier eats a rat, what could be the consequences? So let’s first find out whether Rat Terriers eat rats or just kill them.

Due to the hunting instinct, Rat Terriers tend to kill small animals; as dogs are omnivore eaters, you cannot completely guarantee that they will not ingest rats.

Still, you can adequately train a Rat Terrier only to catch the rat and not eat it. This requires constant and proper training.

The good thing is nowadays, Rat Terriers have become family dogs rather than farm dogs; hence they get a lot of space to socialize with people and also with other pets if you have any in your house.

The socialization skills that a Rat Terrier gains from the family help many of them dilute their predator behavior and avoid eating the rats they hunt. 

Why are Rat Terriers chasing rats?

Have you ever heard of the term “ratter dogs?” The dogs that are developed to catch rats and similar small animals are known as ratter dogs. Rat Terriers are iconic dogs that belong to this category. 

Rat Terriers are small in their body size yet strong. Their bodies are perfectly built to run after their prey. Previously, I told you that we could reduce Rat Terriers’ predator behavior that raises in a household.

Still, it is impossible to eliminate it completely. So the urge to chase rats will somehow be seen among Rat Terriers.

Not only that, Rat Terriers are curious little dogs, so if they see a catch, they will certainly chase it. 

Are Rat Terriers a good option for catching rats?

Rat Terriers are undoubtedly a good option for catching rats. As comprehensively discussed, this dog breed naturally has the ability to catch rats; furthermore, proper training can enhance their hunting skills.

Below are some of the essential factors that make Rat Terriers extremely good at catching rats.

The sneaking and sniffing abilities of Rat Terriers make them ideal rat hunters. The standard breed Rat Terriers are relatively small in body size, but they have a strong posture and legs.

This body structure makes it easy for them to run fast and sneak to catch rats. Rat Terriers are small in their size yet fast, agile, and strong.

Moreover, Rat Terriers have strong senses; they can sniff things pretty well. If you are someone who needs to get rid of rats, these dogs will certainly do the job for you, and if you train them from a young age to catch prey, it will polish their hunting abilities. 

Here are some final thoughts

As the name itself implies, Rat Terriers are prominent rats/mice hunters. As a result of their prey instinct, small yet strong bodies, and intense sense of smell, it only takes a split second for a Rat Terrier to hunt a rat.

Most of the Terrier breeds, including Rat Terriers, were primarily bred for hunting purposes.

However, in recent days Rat Terriers can be seen in plenty of households as family-friendly dogs rather than hunting dogs.

Growing up in a typical household, Rat Terriers might not get an intense predator behavior; still, it will always be there as they naturally inherit it.

So it is not bizarre that your Rat Terrier chases after a rat even if you don’t specifically train them for it.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts. Have a nice day!


  • 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.

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