How Long Do Rat Terriers Live? Guide For A Longer Lifespan

How Long Do Rat Terriers Live? Guide For A Longer Lifespan

Originated in the early 1800s, Rat Terriers are quite a popular American dog breed. These energetic, feisty little dogs are family-friendly and considered excellent farm dogs. Rat Terriers have a relatively longer life expectancy than other Terrier breeds with long lifespans.

If you own a Rat Terrier, or most importantly, if you are willing to adopt a Rat Terrier, you may consider their average lifespan and tips to give them their best lifetime. In that case, this article will address all your burning questions. 

So, how long do Rat Terriers live? Rat Terriers have a relatively longer lifespan than most other Terrier breeds. Typically, they have an average life expectancy between 15-18 years. Yeah! They live long. However, there are certain things you should know about Rat Terriers’ lifespan.

As mentioned before, there are more facts that you should know to get a thorough knowledge about the life span of this dog breed. And this article will help you with that.

So here are some essential facts that you should know about the lifespan of a Rat Terrier. 

What is the Rat Terriers’ lifespan? 

It is known that dog years are counted differently from human years. Commonly one year of a dog equals 7-10 years of a human being. Despite the fact that the breed they belong to, the general life expectancy of a dog tends to be 10-13 years.

When it comes to Rat Terriers, their life expectancy average is 15-18 years, which is a pretty long life span for a dog.

Read – Jack Russell Vs. Rat Terrier Comparison – Which One Is Better?

Generally, terriers have a long life span compared to many other dog types. Rat Terriers own a long life span as a type of terriers mainly because of their genes and behavior patterns.

Rat Terriers are intelligent and curious little dogs. They are very energetic and often lively. Due to their small body size and active lifestyle, they are healthier than many other dogs. They have less vulnerability towards growth-related health concerns.

How long do Rat Terriers live? Comparing with other Terrier Breeds

Terrier BreedAverage Life
Terrier BreedAverage Life
Airedale Terrier10-12 YearsMiniature Bull Terrier11-14 Years
American Staffordshire Terrier10-15 YearsNorfolk Terrier12-15 Years
Australian Terrier11-13 YearsNorwich Terrier12-14 Years
Bedlington Terrier12-14 YearsParson Russell Terrier13-15 Years
Black Russian Terrier10-11 YearsRat Terrier15-18 Years
Border Terrier12-15 YearsRussell Terrier13-15 Years
Boston Terrier13-15 YearsScottish Terrier13-15 Years
Bull Terrier10-14 YearsSilky Terrier12-15 Years
Cairn Terrier12-15 YearsSkye Terrier12-15 Years
Cesky Terrier12-15 YearsStaffordshire Bull Terrier12-14 Years
Dandie Dinmont Terrier12-15 YearsTibetan Terrier12-15 Years
Glen of Imaal Terrier10-14 YearsToy Fox Terrier13-14 Years
Irish Terrier13-15 YearsWelsh Terrier12-15 Years
Jack Russell Terrier13-16 YearsWest Highland White Terrier13-16 Years
Kerry Blue Terrier13-15 YearsWheaten Terrier12-15 Years
Lakeland Terrier12-16 YearsWire Fox Terrier13-14 Years
Manchester Terrier14-16 YearsYorkshire Terrier13-16 Years
Complied by JackRussellOwner

When is Rat Terrier considered a senior dog?

As we already discussed, Rat Terriers are energetic and lively family dogs. Still, it is evident that any dog would lose their energy levels as they grow older. Same with Rat Terriers.

Hence Rat Terriers are considered ideal farm dogs and hunting companions (specially in hunting rats); they usually burst with energy in their early and middle ages. However, once a Rat Terrier reaches the age of 13-14, they won’t be active as they used to be.

Read – Jack Russell and Rat Terrier Mix

You will notice specific changes in their behavior patterns by that age, and usually, they’ll act calm rather than playful. So you can consider a Rat Terrier as a senior dog once they reach the age of 13 or above.

Interesting fact, if you calculate that age in human years, it would be around 120-140 years! How fascinating is that?

When is Rat Terrier considered a senior dog?

What is the average age for a Rat Terrier to die?

If a Rat Terrier is generally healthy, and the owners take proper care of the dog, they would enjoy their maximum life expectancy level.

As already mentioned in the article, a Rat Terrier could live up to 15-18 years. If we take an average number, a healthy Rat Terrier dies around 14 years or above.

Read more – Wire Haired Rat Terrier –  All You Need To Know

You have to understand that as a dog ages, there’s more tendency that they face health complications. Therefore one can’t assure that this is the exact age that your Rat Terrier dies.

Yet, if we observe things generally, a healthy Rat Terrier might die at 14 years or more. 

What is the oldest living Rat Terrier?

Jake, the Rat Terrier, holds the record as the world’s oldest living Rat Terrier. Interesting fact, not only is Jake known as the world’s most aged Rat Terrier, but he also holds the Guinness record as the world’s oldest dog living! 

Jake was adopted by Ronald Jhonson, a man who lives in Iowa, United States of America. Jake was born in July 1994, lived 21 years, and died in July 2015.

Find out – How To Stop Rat Terrier’s Aggression? Explained With Tips

Sadly it’s been seven years since Jake left the world. But up until today, neither a Rat Terrier nor any other dog breed could beat his record as the oldest living dog.

Factors that influence the life expectancy of Rat Terriers

Who would not love your pet dog to live a long life with you? Any dog owner would. You can be delighted if you own a Rat Terrier because Rat Terriers tend to live older than many other dog breeds.

They barely die from a young age unless it is a particular circumstance. So, let’s have a look at some of the potential factors that could impact the life expectancy of your Rat Terrier.

Genetics affect Rat Terrier’s lifespan

Genes of your Rat Terrier impact its behavior patterns and play a massive role in its health. Usually, Rat Terriers have energetic genes and are considered a healthy dog type.

You might be interested in reading – Are Rat Terriers Brindle?

One can’t precisely say that an animal’s body size decides its age of living. However, studies have proved small-sized dogs live longer compared to giant-sized ones due to their genes.

Hence Rat Terriers are small made dogs the vulnerability towards genetic disorders is relatively low. But there could be exceptions too. If the puppies come from a mixed breed, there are chances of getting genetic complexities. 

Food and appetite plays a major role in the life expectancy of Rat Terriers

The overall diet of your Rat Terrier could make a considerable impact on its life span. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog’s life solely depends on what it eats.

Yet, you can’t ignore the importance of its appetite. As the owner, you have to make sure that you give proper food an adequate amount of nutrition to your dog.

Read – Rat Terrier’s Characteristics And Personality Traits

Also, it’s important not to give junk food or overfeed it because the obesity of a Rat Terrier has many chances to threaten its life span.

Exercise affect for a longer lifespan

Exercise is another critical factor when it comes to your Rat Terrier’s healthy long life. Rat Terriers are energetic dogs, so they tend to be active and playful in their day-to-day lives.

However, proper exercise is a must. You can train your Rat Terrier to an exercise routine or daily – walking routine, so it gets to release its energy while staying fit and healthy. It would be easier if you live in an apartment.

What health problems do Rat Terriers have?

Even though Rat Terriers are generally healthy, they also face health issues at certain points. Below are some of the common health issues that occur among Rat Terriers.

Find out – Long Haired Rat Terrier and Miniature Rat Terrier

Therefore, the answer for how long do Rat Terriers live depends on how you care for them.

  • Infections

Ear Infections are one of the most common health issues that can be seen among dogs, including Rat Terriers.

They could catch bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, for example, rabies, parvo, norovirus, distemper, and blastomycosis.

You might be interested in – Do Rat Terriers Bark A Lot?

If you notice changes in your Rat Terrier, such as fever, vomiting, runny eyes, diarrhea, excessive shedding and a snotty nose for a while, they may be indications of an infection.

Infections are preventable, so it’s important to give the vaccines to your dog on time and keeping the eye on your Rat Terrier’s weight.

  • Parasites

This is an another health issue popular among them. It could attack your Rat Terrier either internally or externally.

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

Some examples would be ticks, lies, ear mites, and worms such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. These parasites can be transmitted to your Rat Terrier’s coat in several ways.

A couple of them are poor hygiene and mosquito bites. Diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, weight loss or over-weight, and dehydration are some symptoms that your Rat Terrier indicates if parasites are affected.

Parasites are curable, but it is vital to get the preventive actions as soon as possible; if not, your pet might end up with serious health concerns or even death. 

Read – Are Rat Terriers And Cats Getting Along?

  • Bone and joint issues

Sometimes your Rat Terrier may have bone and joint issues due to genetic predisposition. Hips and elbows dysplasia can be commonly seen in Rat Terriers.

Complications in bones, joints, muscles, tail will cause discomfort to your dog. Vets have shown that young Rat Terriers are more vulnerable to a condition known as Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease.

The exact cause behind this is still not known, but this can be fixed through surgery. Not all bone and joint issues require surgery, but if you don’t be cautious enough, the dog might have to undergo expensive surgeries; some are painful for them.

Find out – Do Rat Terriers Like Water? Can They Swim?

Some other common health concerns among Rat Terriers are allergies, low blood sugar, hernia, and epilepsy.

Keep in mind that not all health issues of your Rat Terrier decrease their lifespan, but if you keep ignoring them, then there’s a huge possibility that it may affect your pet’s life.

As the owner, you can prevent many health issues by giving good food, regular exercise, and veterinary checkups.

Final thoughts about Rat Terrier’s lifespan

So today, we discussed the topic, “How long do Rat Terriers live?” Rat Terriers, compared to many dogs, have a longer life span. A healthy Rat Terrier usually lives until 15-18 years.

Rat Terriers might face health problems as they age if the owners don’t take good care of them. If you own a Rat Terrier, make sure you pay attention to small details and take good care of your dog.

It is not something hard to do! And then your four-legged friend can enjoy a happy, healthy, and long life!


  • Lisa Watson

    Lisa W. is a practicing certified veterinarian (BVetMed Hons in Veterinary Medicine) who graduated from Royal Veterinary College, UK. One of her research fields is mixed-dog breeds and their temperament, behavioral issues, and genetic health concerns. Also, she gathers data about purebred dog breeds and their origin, lifespan, and genetic conditions. Lisa is a loving dog parent who is keen to share her expertise with other fellow dog parents.

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