What Kind of Grooming Requirements Do Rat Terriers Have?

As his name implies, the rat terrier rivals cats as an accomplished rodent hunter. Because he was bred as an exceptional varmint hunter, your little guy's coat is designed to resist soiling and snagging while he's on the prowl. His grooming needs are low and easily accomplished.


Your little terrier's coat is short and functional, keeping him protected and warm as he seeks and destroys rats and other small vermin. He sheds lightly all year, with heavier episodes of hair loss in the spring and fall. Female rat terriers also shed more after heat cycles and giving birth. A quick rundown once a week with a soft brush or rubber grooming mitt removes the dead hair from his coat and prevents mats.


Rat terriers are exceptional diggers, which makes sense since most of their traditional prey take cover in burrows. Don't be surprised if your little guy executes a cunning tunnel-assisted escape when you leave him alone in the backyard, or comes to the door covered in dirt and mud. Give him a bath as needed to keep his coat clean and healthy. Frequency is entirely your call, but take care not to dry his skin by washing him too often. Use a gentle dog shampoo and rinse him thoroughly.

Teeth and Ears

Although there's no need to seek out a doggie dentist to care for your terrier's teeth, you'll need to brush them regularly to keep dental problems at bay. Give his pearly whites a scrub every day to keep them clean and healthy, or at least three times a week. Only use toothpaste made for canines, as human toothpaste isn't meant to be swallowed and can upset his stomach. Check his big, erect ears weekly to catch any early signs of infection, such as redness or odd odor. Clean them with a cotton ball and ear cleaner to promote good health. Never stick anything into his ear, as you could damage his hearing. Just clean the parts you can see.

Nail Trimming

Trimming your terrier's nails keeps him comfortable, while saving you and your home from unsightly and painful scratches. His nails grow constantly and will start curling under if he does not wear them down naturally in his daily goings-on. They need to be trimmed at least once a month, but this is not a task as simple as it sounds. A vein grows inside dog nails, and will bleed if the nails are trimmed too short. This not only causes him pain and gives you a horrible guilt trip, but it will also make him very uncooperative the next time he needs his nails trimmed. Have a professional groomer or your vet trim his nails when needed. He'll be happy and you'll stay on his good side.

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