The rat terrier has an expected lifespan of 12 to 18 years, so they provide many years of fun, love and laughter for your family. The "toy" label is often used by sellers and is not officially recognized: officially, the breed comes in only miniature and standard sizes.
Toy rat terriers are often eight inches in height and weigh between four to six pounds, according to Dog Breed Info Center. Small rat terriers can be up to 13 inches. These small dogs are muscular, but not bulky since the muscle is flat and and blends into the body, according to the American Kennel Club. The rat terrier has a short, smooth coat that comes in black, red, chocolate, fawn, tan, lemon or apricot. The eye color varies from dark brown to hazel, but blue or blue-fawn dogs may have gray eyes, according to the American Kennel Club. The ears can be erect or tipped. Tails may be naturally short or full-length, but it's not uncommon for tails to be docked between the second and third joint when the terrier is 24 to 48 hours old.
Toy rat terriers are loyal to their human pack. They prefer to be close to their family and may develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods, according to the Rat Terrier Club of America. Unlike most small breeds, the rat terrier is patient and tolerant of children. They are generally friendly with other dogs, but their natural instinct to chase may come into play with family pocket pets and cats. However, if the rat terrier is raised around small animals, he may see them as part of the family. The rat terrier is a great watchdog, but not a yapper, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. Training is quickly mastered with this highly intelligent breed.
The rat terrier is energetic and loves to play both indoors and outdoors. They remain playful throughout their lives, but tend to slow down with age. A daily walk or jog of at least 30 minutes is needed to help this breed burn energy. The rat terrier loves to dig and jump, so they should be closely supervised if fenced into a yard, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. Walks, fun training sessions with a lot of praise, and playing catch are great activities for this breed.
The rat terrier does shed, but shedding is minimized by frequent brushing to remove dead hair. An occasional bath and regular nail trimming is necessary. Use bathing products without fragrance since allergies are a commonly reported health problem for this breed, according to Rat Terrier Club of America. If you take your rat terrier to a groomer, remind her not to cut your terrier's whiskers.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.