Ratting dogs are glorious. It’s funny that cats get all of the attention for being rat killers when in reality the terriers are absolute killing machines.
Domesticated cats do not really hunt rats for the hunt – they probably will if they’re bored and want to present you a rodent gift, but they will not do it all the time. Dogs, on the other hand, have been chasing, catching and killing vermin so long that it is literally in their DNA.
While any dog can be used for ratting, the toughest and the most effective dog breed for the job is the terrier. Referred to by some people as “earth dogs,” terriers – whose name is derived from the Latin word terra or earth – are bred specifically for hunting underground critters like rodents.
Because of their small bodies, they are agile and quick, with energy that allows them to dig holes, follow and catch their prey. Not only that; terriers also have long tails, which owners could use for pulling them out of holes, if necessary. Here are the top terrier breeds that make excellent rat hunters.
Rat terriers – which come in different colors like red, white, black, chocolate are easy to train, playful and loving, which makes them an excellent family pet. They are good around kids, especially if they grew up in the family. Because of their energy, they need to be let out of the house regularly – they need the exercise. Rat terriers love to dig, so be prepared to see holes in your garden.
Here is a great video of some terriers in action. If you are offended by seeing rats get killed then don’t watch the video.
Here is another glorious video of a pack of ratters being turned loose on a serious rat infestation.
And here is one more video because, dang it…I LOVE watching these dogs do what they were born to do!
The oldest of the terrier breeds, the Cairn terrier has hundreds of years of rat hunting experience behind it. Like the rat terrier, cairn terriers need plenty of exercise. They can be a little high maintenance though, as their hypoallergenic coat requires regular grooming. Though highly independent, the Cairn terrier can be trained and are cheerful, loyal and friendly.
The Yorker or the Yorkshire terrier is rather small, but it is exactly this diminutive size that makes the breed ideal for hunting rats and other kinds of vermin. Despite its size, the Yorker has a very willful personality and can take over an entire household if not trained well. It has boundless energy too, which is why it needs regular exercise and playtime.
The Norfolk terrier is an affectionate and friendly little dog. Like the Yorkshire terrier, the Norfolk terrier makes a very good vermin catcher because of its size. This easy to train breed comes in coat colors like tan, red and black. Playful and energetic, this dog breed is ready to hunt all the time, so if you don’t have rats to think of, make sure to spend a lot of time playing with it.
The Jack Russell terrier is not just one of the most popular terrier breeds, it is also one of the best ratters there are, having come from a breed that hunts foxes. Besides being ideal rodent hunters, dogs of this breed are clever and can be taught to do many tricks. Energetic and playful, they are also good with children, as long as the children treat them well. They need long daily walks in order to expend their energy.
The West Highland terrier counts among the most popular of the terrier breeds in the United States and the United Kingdom. Also known as the Westie, this terrier breed is raised to control rodent reproduction in farms. Some Westies can be very stubborn, but good training can turn them into loyal and friendly members of the family who will love playing with the kids.
The Lakeland terrier is named as such because it comes from England’s Lake District. They are ideal for hunting rats and mice in places that are very difficult to reach because of their energy and their size. Playful and cheerful, this breed naturally chases after smaller animals. Thus, it is important to have your other pets like cats and rabbits socialize with them from an early age.
The miniature Schnauzer is of German origin, originally bred by farmers for ratting purposes. Aside from being excellent ratters, schnauzers make great guardian dogs, no matter their size. You can keep its energy levels down by daily walks and exercise.
Despite its rather comical name of sausage dog or wiener, the dachshund is a great ratting dog. Famous for its long body and short legs, the dachshund is bred for hunting prairie dogs, rabbits and rats. Like all ratting dogs, the energetic wiener likes digging holes, chasing small animals and going out for long walks. Given proper training and care, sausage dogs make good travelling companions and wonderful playmates for older children.
German Pinschers are not just great family dogs; they are also good at guarding coaches and hunting rodents. With its glossy coat that comes in red, tan, black and dark brown, the sweet and loyal German pinscher makes a handsome guard, companion and playmate that require good training, long walks and lots of exercise.
These dog breeds are, by nature, rodent hunters and killers. However, recent breeders have been developing them solely for their beauty, which have diminished their hunting abilities. Given a free rein, these breeds would revert to their nature and help in eliminating unwanted rats and other vermin that cause damage to lives and property.
Of course if you don’t want to invest in a dog to deal with your rats then you can always take care of the infestation with some rat traps!