Affectionately known as “ratters,” the most common breed for hunting vermin are terriers. In fact, the word “terrier” comes from the Latin word “terra,” which literally translated to “the earth.” It’s an interesting tidbit, as many terrier breeds “go for the ground” when hunting burrowing pests.
If you’re trying to keep your rat or mouse issue under control and aren’t a cat person, one of these 10 breeds of rat-hunting dogs is sure to strike your fancy.
The 10 Best Dog Breeds for Hunting Rats & Mice
1. Rat Terrier
Their namesake says it all: Rat Terriers make ideal ratters. Small, energetic, and feisty, this breed is often used by exterminators to rid farms and other large homestead properties of rats.
Additionally, these pups are great at keeping rabbits and squirrels at bay. Swift and skillful, these 20-pound pooches are utilized on many smallfarms. Due to their loving nature, they are also great family pets.
2. Cairn Terrier
The Cairn Terrier’s name is derived from the Scottish term “Cairn,” which means a small mound of stones. These pups got their name from the ability to push through stone fences when on the hunt for small prey animals. Care-free and cheerful, these dogs make excellent pets for those seeking a hypoallergenic dog.
Lovingly known as “sausage dogs” thanks to their long bodies and short, squat legs, Dachshunds hail from Germany, where they were bred to hunt rodents and other vermin. Their small stature enabled them to get into all types of tight areas, including underground tunnels.
While Dachshunds excel at keeping mice away, they are not fit for killing large rodents. Stubborn and strong-willed, they are better suited for the experienced pet parent.
4. Yorkshire Terrier
Known for her prim and proper appearance, don’t let the Yorkie’s good looks fool you! Because of her petite size, she’s great at catching mice and other types of vermin. Due to her energetic nature, your Yorkie needs to start being trained from a very early age.
5. Jack Russell Terriers
Known to be spirited and stubborn, Jack Russell Terriers make for excellent ratters. They are named for Revered John Russell, who loved to promote these small pooches for the job of hunting foxes. Due to their unlimited amounts of energy, you need to thoroughly exercise your Jack Russell every day to tire him out while also keeping boredom at bay. If not properly physically and mentally stimulated, he can succumb to unwanted behaviors, such as excessive barking and chewing.
6. Miniature Schnauzer
These loyal and loving farm companions were developed for their inherent need to guard. Their small size makes them the ideal size to chase rats and mice. Whether you call a rural property or apartment home, you can have the peace of mind knowing that your space will be pest-free.
7. Norfolk Terrier
A huge personality in a tiny package, the Norfolk Terrier typically stands only 10 inches high at the shoulder. Bred to work in packs, these terriers are truly gregarious little dogs. Famous for chasing away rats and mice, the Norfolk Terrier will go after anything that scurries away. Their natural tendency to hunt makes them perfect for fetching a ball or stick.
8. West Highland White Terrier
Also known as Westies, these little fluff balls are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They were originally bred way back in the 1500s to control the rodent population on Scottish farms. Smart, sassy, and independent, their personalities embody their hunting heritage.
9. Lakeland Terrier
Originally bred in the vermin-infested fields of England’s Lake District, the Lakeland Terrier is a great ratter for active families. Due to their natural need to chase small animals, your Lakeland Terrier should be socialized with cats and other small pets starting from an early age.
10. German Pinscher
This breed dates back to the 1800s when they were utilized for killing pests and guarding coaches. Nowadays, this breed makes a devoted companion but is still up to the task of hunting down vermin in homes and backyards.
Final Thoughts: Dogs That Hunt Rats
While terriers sometimes get a bad rap for being highly energetic and standoffish dogs, they’re a great dog breed for hunting rats and mice, and they make loving and loyal companions when trained and socialized properly. If you have a pest problem, consider getting one of these amazing breeds to ward off rodents.
Featured image credit: Sundays Photography, Shutterstock