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Hi! I would love a small rat terrier (not Decker) from a reputable breeder that does all the health testing and also aptitude testing. But, I am not looking for a hunting dog or one with a strong prey instinct, just a family pet, and it looks like (online) many of the breeders are breeding for working dogs with strong prey instincts. Can anyone suggest experience with a specific breeder? Thank you!
 

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Have you looked at the Rat Terrier Club of America's website? https://www.ratterrierclubofamerica.org/ Most breed clubs have a breeder referral list. Another option is to visit some dog shows, and chat with people there.

I had a rescued Standard Rattie for nearly 14 years, and he was a nice little dog.
 

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I'd recommend going through the national breed club, a local breed club, or attending a few local shows.

That being said - you most likely aren't going to find a rat terrier without strong prey instinct. That's just what the breed is about. If your future dog not having a high prey drive is important to you, I'd recommend looking outside of terrier breeds.
 

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I'd recommend going through the national breed club, a local breed club, or attending a few local shows.

That being said - you most likely aren't going to find a rat terrier without strong prey instinct. That's just what the breed is about. If your future dog not having a high prey drive is important to you, I'd recommend looking outside of terrier breeds.
Most rat terriers, even those used for hunting, don't actually have crazy prey-drive. I know 'terrier' and 'rat terrier' make it sound like they're nuts, but the vast majority are actually fine with, for instance, small livestock. They're bred to rat, yeah, but also to be all purpose farm dogs. They'll rat, they'll be used to hunt squirrels in some areas of the country - but the same dogs will herd ducks, do a little work with moving light sheep and be safe around the chickens/baby chicks.

My RT cleared barns of rats, killing tons of them - and lived in total peace with cats and a dwarf rabbit (and actually a pair of pet mice). He would *chase* wildlife he encountered out but never to the degree of losing his mind - like easy, easy call offs. They're also highly biddable (well, for a terrier - for a dog they're basically 'pretty danged biddable - they're not BCs but they listen and care) and have 'soft' temperaments, which aids in their responsiveness to that call off.

Definitely check the breed club but also talk to people/breeders, OP. You may be surprised to find that even those hunting bred dogs are pretty low on what you're imagining the scale of prey-drive to be, particularly if you're comparing it to other terriers. They're very... far end mild on the scale of terrier-ness when it comes to terriers. (They also don't tend to dig a lot, don't bark, don't typically have problems with other dogs).
 

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I agree that most Ratties aren't as "game" as most terriers breeds. Lucky lived with a plethora of cats and a bird, as well as other dogs, his entire life. The only issue I had with him, after one of my cats put the fear of feline into him at a young age, was that after a couple of years of putting up with an obnoxious GSD puppy, he decided he'd had enough, and I had to keep them separated for the last year of his life (he had some health issues going on, though). While he would hunt small game, he wasn't obsessive about it.
 

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Every Rat Terrier I've ever met went instantly into "kill mode" when it encountered a non-dog small animal. Including the one that tore its way through a basket of kittens at my barn back when I rode horses. Most of them were from the same lines (a breeder that used to live close and ride at the barn, as well), so perhaps that was it. But having witnessed that, and having to hold a dying kitten while my riding instructor put it down... Well, we can just say I wouldn't trust terriers around small animals.

That being said, I didn't say they were all blood-thirsty small animal killers. I said they had strong prey drive. Which in my book means 'they're likely going to chase small animals and training is unlikely to prevent that because it's a genetic thing'. And that's true of every RT (and most terriers) I've met. Then again, all of the terriers I've met have also been owned by amateurs who know next to nothing about training and have never worked to manage or counter condition prey drive.

Haha, no offense meant Cpt Jack, but since I'm pretty sure you could probably train a deaf Husky to recall, I'm not super surprised your RT had a good one. I would be surprised if you thought that type of recall could be trained by someone without a lot of experience and know how.
 

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I appreciate the compliment, but no. Not relevant in this case. For one thing, my RT was from before I was seriously involved in dogs. His whole life the only thing I taught him to reliably do was sit, and that one took me SIX MONTHS. Otherwise, nothing - his recall came installed from his breeder as an adult when I got him, and she trained his recall. Via very, very 'pet level' training methods (recall on a long line, periodic cookies, total inconsistency), some punishment for returning nonsense.

So, as much as it'd be nice to take the credit - No, not hardly.

Secondly, seriously, I'm not talking about na individual. I worked closely with several breeders. At one point I co-owned one of Jack's offspring with a second breeder, with intent to maybe breed him at some point to a third breeder. Those breeders were confo,hunting (squirrel) and all the agility (and weight pull and flyball) dogs I know now from different lines. All those dogs, over YEARS and what you are describing has as much to do with a rat terrier as calling a lab as being dog and human aggressive and unlikely to be reliable off leash.

Does it happen? Yes.

Does that make it what the breed is and is supposed to be? Not hardly.

Do rat terriers have prey drive? Yes. Otherwise they wouldn't hunt. Do they have out of control prey-drive on par to most terriers? No.

Heck, go read some of the breed history and info. They're common in dog sports, on farms, and as family pets for reasons and it's not 'hard dog to own'. They're not JRTs, or Parson's. They're slightly more terrier-like than your average YORKIE - they will chase, they will hunt, and they will also chill out calm down and mostly do okay in most households. I'd be hard pressed to find an EASIER dog to own for the majority of households.

Spreading misinformation based on being exposed to what sounds like some radical outliers and/or horribly bred dogs, without a good understanding of the breed? Just isn't cool. It'd be like me saying Cocker Spaniels are aggressive because I keep meeting crappy examples of the breed. Or Danes are all human- aggressive because I keep meeting THAT.
 

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""Beyond being a farm dog, Rat Terriers have proven themselves to be a versatile, multipurpose breed with a playful, happy-go-lucky attitude. They are an all-in-one dog -- able to do virtually anything they are trained to do -- and they are easily trainable and exceptionally intelligent. They excel in conformation, agility, obedience, rally obedience, terrier racing, earthdog, barn hunt and lure coursing. They are capable of hunting rodents and vermin above and below ground. They make fine therapy and service dogs. And they are loyal friends and companions -- especially for families."
-- The Westminster Kennel Club"

(Relevant to the conversation)

The people there are very well versed in the breed. I know you'd maybe not prefer a rescue but RT is one of those places where rescue is often run by breeders. And I'll put you in contact with my dog's breeder, She's now in Danes (unsurprisingly somehow) but she still has a ton of contacts. And send on a couple of more.
 

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It'd be like me saying Cocker Spaniels are aggressive because I keep meeting crappy examples of the breed. Or Danes are all human- aggressive because I keep meeting THAT.
I've never met a non-aggressive Cocker Spaniel. And unfortunately, HA in Danes is becoming more and more common. I see a new 'my dog bit someone/keeps snapping at strangers/tries to bite children' thread on my Dane group every week or so.

So I wouldn't actually have a problem with either of those two statements. Unfortunately, in many breeds, 'crappy examples' are also becoming 'by far and away the most common examples'. I'd bet that 1 in 20 Danes most people meet on the street are actually well bred.

But point taken.

She's now in Danes (unsurprisingly somehow) but she still has a ton of contacts.
That's an interesting breed transition! I wonder if I know any of her dogs.
 

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Not sure what you mean by aptitude testing and why that's important to you. But I would tend to think there there will pups who are less "apt" in every litter, even when coming from working lines. One of those particular pups could possibly fit the bill as a great general purpose pet.

My advice would be to contact some breed club members and be frank and upfront regarding what you're looking for, and what your concerns are. Also ask them if they feel more of a show line temperament might be better suited for you and your family and your goals.
 

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Also ask them if they feel more of a show line temperament might be better suited for you and your family and your goals.
There are definitely variations within prey-drive an aptitude at various things, but the split in RT is an odd one, still and not really working/show lines divisible. Until they were recognized by kennel clubs RT were feists (type of dog not a breed of dog - like Alaskan Huskies). All RT are feists and were feists but not all feists were RT - and some feists have RT in them. The only division there really is, is in RT being bred AS RT, versus RT that are being called, bred as, and called feists.

That said, there are different lineages, though tracking it because of their history is hard. They're a mixed up muddled up breed where in places there is more sighthound influence in the creation, and in other places (geographically) more beagle - both along with terrier. Then those two variances (along with other stuff) got intermingled.

The best you can really do is talk to breeders about what your specific concerns and needs are. Odds are high you'll have no problem finding what you want. Though I will STRONGLY caution against the super tiny ones, as most of those breeders are highly disreputable. Small is fine. "Toy" not so much.
 
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