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Who Says You Need a Cat? Dogs Ideal for Catching Rats
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Who Says You Need a Cat? Dogs Ideal for Catching Rats

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jul 6, 2022

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When you think of a pet that's good at catching rats, the first animal that comes to mind is probably a cat. But did you know some dog breeds are not only skilled at catching rats, they were also specifically bred for the job? A good ratter dog comes in many shapes and sizes, and some breeds skilled at catching rats might surprise you.

1

Rat terrier

Rat Terrier LTuray / Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, a rat terrier is a great choice if you want a dog ideal for catching rats. Rat terriers were bred to work on farms catching rats and other pests, and they're quite skilled at it. They also make great pets as they are both affectionate and easy to train. There are two sizes of rat terrier, miniature and standard, but this is truly a case where size doesn't matter. Miniature or standard-sized, they're one of the best rat-catching breeds out there.

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2

Jack Russell terrier

Jack Russell Terrier franciskocz / Getty Images

Jack Russell terriers were bred as fox hunters, so they're fast, sneaky, and skilled at catching rats. These dogs are not only intelligent, but they're also naturally hardworking and love having a job to do. Jack Russells are loving and playful, and they make excellent pets as long as you give them enough exercise. This breed is exceptionally energetic and gets bored easily. Without enough activity, they can be destructive in the home.

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3

West Highland terrier

Westie outside surrounded by flowers Salima Senyavskaya / Getty Images

You probably know the West Highland terrier or westie from their cute white fur and teddy bear looks, but don't let those things fool you. West Highland terriers were bred to hunt rats, mice, and other pests on farms. Their compact bodies are ideal for getting into small spaces, and they're hard workers. Westies are friendly and can make a great pet in a home with children, but they're a stubborn breed, so training them may be a little difficult.

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4

Dachshund

Dachshund fotyma / Getty Images

Dachshunds are known for their unique looks, but their long bodies and short legs serve a purpose: they help them hunt and catch small prey, like rabbits, prairie dogs, and, yes, rats. These dogs like to dig and have a high prey drive. They're smart, brave, happy, and very curious dogs that make excellent pets for homes with older children.

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5

Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire Terrier VioletaStoimenova / Getty Images

Most people assume that Yorkshire terriers are a pampered toy breed that looks more like stuffed animals than stealthy hunters, but they're skilled rat hunters. Their small size and intelligence make it easy for them to catch rats and other small animals. Yorkies are small, so they're not a great match for families with young children who might play rough. They need weekly grooming and daily exercise, but they can be ideal companions with proper care and training.

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6

Border terrier

Border Terrier Mike Powles / Getty Images

Border terriers are unique among terrier breeds for their otter-shaped heads and long legs. These dogs were bred as farm dogs and will skillfully and happily catch any rat or other pest they come across. They are athletic, energetic, and endlessly curious, so they need vigorous daily exercise and mental stimulation. Border terriers are generally easy to train. They respond well to praise but are very food motivated, so be careful not to reward them with too many treats.

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7

Cairn terrier

Cairn Terrier Sima_ha / Getty Images

Cairn terriers are an old breed, and they have centuries of experience hunting foxes and rodents, like rats. This breed loves to get outdoors and explore. They're loyal, loving, and affectionate but can be stubborn and independent, so training is a must. Cairn terriers are full of energy and need daily walks to keep them calm.

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8

Norfolk terrier

Norfolk Terrier dog sitting on a sofa

Small size is a plus when hunting rats, and the Norfolk terrier is one of the smallest working dog breeds. They only grow to be about 10 inches high and weigh only about 12 pounds, but they're hardworking, energetic, fearless, and easy to train. These traits make them excellent hunters and great pets. Norfolk terriers were bred to hunt in packs, so they're very loyal to their families.

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9

Lakeland terrier

Lakeland Terrier with toy animalinfo / Getty IMages

In many ways, Lakeland terriers are as confident and full of personality as other terriers, but they're working dogs at heart. These dogs are always ready to go, and they're skilled at catching rats. Lakeland terriers love to run around outside and do best in a fenced-in yard. They have a bit of an independent streak, so they need socialization and training.

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10

German pinscher

German Pinscher sommersby / Getty Images

German pinschers are larger than most ratters, but they were bred to hunt rats and other rodents and have been doing so for hundreds of years. In the 18th century, these dogs guarded coaches and killed rats and vermin. Today, they still have their hunting and guarding instincts, but they also love spending time with their people. German pinschers are great pets with smooth, glossy coats that require minimal grooming. These pups have extremely high energy levels and need a lot of daily exercise.

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