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King Rat: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

King rat swimming dog

Height: 10-18 inches
Weight: 10-25 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Colors: Pied, red, brown, black, white
Suitable for: First-time owners, those looking for a Velcro dog
Temperament: Loyal, clingy, loving, easygoing, obedient, quiet

They may sound more like a villain from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” than a beloved family pet, but the King Rat Dog can actually make a fantastic companion.

It’s actually a designer hybrid breed that’s made from mixing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Rat Terriers, giving you a small dog with an oversized personality. However, their natural boisterousness is largely limited to their tail and ear-to-ear smile, as these aren’t particularly noisy pups.

Given the fact that this is a relatively new breed, you may be completely unfamiliar with the King Rat Dog. Never fear, though, as this guide will quickly brief you on all the pertinent information on these adorable little rascals.

Divider 1King Rat Dog Puppies

aussalier puppy - king spaniel shepherd
Image credit: Pxhere

King Rat Dog puppies aren’t much smaller than the full-grown versions, so you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting yourself into size-wise from day one. The little tykes do tend to be more energetic, though, so expect to have a bouncing little ball of fluff on your hands.

Given their small stature, King Rat Dog puppies are capable of getting into just about anything, so you’ll likely need to be more thorough about babyproofing your home than you would be with, say, a Great Dane pup running around.

King Rat Dog puppies only have three settings: eat, sleep, and play. They never stop moving until they completely stop moving, collapsing into adorable little heaps for a long siesta.

You should be aware, though, that these dogs have issues with separation anxiety, and it’s particularly pronounced in the puppies. Unless you or a family member can be at home with them most of the time, you might be better off adopting a more independent dog.

Then again, you can take these little guys with you everywhere, so you don’t have to choose between your best friend or your social life.

3 Little-Known Facts About the King Rat Dog

1. You’ll Probably Love Them But Your Yard Might Not

Both of the King Rat Dog’s parent breeds were created to hunt down rats and other small vermin. Naturally, chasing rodents involves going into holes after them — and even creating new holes when the situation calls for it.

We’re assuming that you don’t want your dog regularly bringing you dead rats, so you might not think highly of their innate skills. You may think even less of them when you see all the holes that they’ve dug in your yard in pursuit of their elusive prey.

You may be able to reduce the amount of digging they do by training them well and exercising them thoroughly, but you’ll likely never be able to completely eliminate it. If you’re especially proud of your yard, this breed may not be for you.

2. They Don’t Do Well by Themselves

Any dog can suffer from separation anxiety, but King Rat Dogs are clingier than most breeds. They love being with their families, and they truly aren’t happy when they’re kept away from their humans.

This can lead to destructiveness while you’re gone or simply just put emotional stress on your dog. If you can’t spend much time with your dog, it may be better to find a less-needy breed.

Even if you can dedicate a great deal of time to your pup, you may still need to line up an emergency dog walker or sitter for the times when life keeps you away.

3. They Can Be Suspicious of Strangers

Given their need to be around you all the time, you may be tempted to just carry them along the next time that you have errands to run. After all, it would satisfy the companionship needs for both of you, right?

King Rat Dogs can make excellent carry-along pets, but only if they’re properly socialized first. Left to their own devices, they can be wary of new people and protective of their owners, which can lead to problems in public places.

Parent Breeds of the King Rat
Image Credit: Jumpstory

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Temperament & Intelligence of the King Rat Dog 🧠

These dogs aren’t couch potatoes, but neither are they hyperactive pups that require hours of daily exercise. They’re happy to spend some time playing with their humans before curling up with them for the afternoon.

They’re loyal and eager to please — traits that make them easy to train. However, they have quite the stubborn streak as well, and you may find yourself in the occasional battle of wills (especially over the question of digging in the yard).

Like most working dogs, King Rat Dogs are smart, and they’ll alternate between using those brains to please you and manipulate you. Don’t be surprised if they “forget” certain rules or commands when it suits them.

Their big brains require as much stimulation as their bodies, if not more. Hiding food or toys around the house is a great way to give them a mental workout, and that can be just as taxing for them as a long walk.

They’re not terribly welcoming to strangers. This can make them a nuisance when you have guests over, but it also makes them a surprisingly effective guard dog. No one will sneak in while a King Rat Dog is on duty, that’s for sure (least of all a rat, presumably).

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

King Rat Dogs are Terriers, and like many dogs from that group, they have their pros and cons when it comes to dealing with children.

On one hand, they’re extremely enthusiastic about playing with kids, and they’ll happily spend an entire day tuckering your children out. They’ll also be just as protective of your brood as you are.

On the other hand, many Terriers are prone to nipping when they feel that their boundaries are getting encroached on, and King Rat Dogs are no exception. You’ll need to supervise them with your kids at all times.

That goes double for when your kids have friends over. While a King Rat Dog may forgive a few trespasses from a family member, they’ll be less lenient with strangers, regardless of their age. They may also feel the need to protect your child from the other kids if roughhousing gets out of hand.

Families with older children or empty nests may be better suited for these dogs, as they can give them all the attention they need without worrying about any nipping incidents. Still, it’s nice to have a few extra sets of legs around for burning off any excess energy that these dogs may have.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

These pups usually tolerate other dogs well. In fact, they love having a partner in crime to race around the yard with (not to mention a patsy on whom to blame all the holes in the yard).

They can be domineering, though, so be careful after first introducing the two new dogs. Quickly prevent any attempts to dominate (this will likely be easier to do if both animals are fixed).

As far as cats and other small pets are concerned, it’s a 50/50 proposition. Remember, these animals were bred to hunt rats, so if they see a gerbil running around, their instincts might kick in.

Then again, many King Rat Dogs are completely nonreactive around smaller pets. It’s luck of the draw — but tons of socialization certainly helps.

Generally speaking, they do better with other pets when they’re raised with them from puppyhood. You’re more likely to have problems if you introduce an adult King Rat Dog to new friends, but even then, there’s a good chance that everything will be fine.

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Things to Know When Owning a King Rat Dog

King Rat Dogs are fairly low-maintenance pets, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble raising them. They’re great for inexperienced or first-time dog owners, as they’re eager to please and aren’t prone to too many behavioral issues.

There are still a few things that you should know about these dogs before you bring one home, though. Below, we’ve listed essential information that prospective King Rat Dog owners need to know about their new friends.

It’s important to realize, however, that since this is such a new breed, they’re still working the kinks out, so to speak. That means it’s hard to draw sweeping generalizations about these dogs, as they haven’t produced enough generations to be thoroughly studied yet.

As a result, your dog may be more of an individual than if you brought home a different breed. Treat the information below as guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules, as your King Rat Dog may be a complete outlier.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

These are little dogs, but they can be extremely active, so it’s important to feed them a high-quality diet.

We recommend a high-protein kibble that’s full of fruits and vegetables, like spinach, cranberries, etc. Look for one that’s also high in fat and fiber, as those will keep your dog feeling full and help them stay regular, respectively.

Watch out for ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, and animal by-products. These are considered “cheap fillers” because they don’t cost much — but they don’t provide much in the way of nutrition either. In some cases, they can even cause digestive issues, so feed them to your dog at your own risk.

Obesity is awful for any dog, but it can be especially devastating for smaller breeds like King Rat Dogs. Be sure not to let your dog’s weight get out of control, and give them portion-controlled meals rather than letting them free-feed.

They can be prone to hip and joint issues later in life, so you may want to give them a supplement, like glucosamine, before any issues arise. Keeping their weight under control will also go a long way toward helping in this regard.

Exercise 🐕

These dogs need plenty of exercise to keep their baser urges in check, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to devote your entire afternoon to tuckering them out.

They love to play, so you can throw a ball for them or dangle a rope toy, and they’ll do most of the work for you. They also love to sprint around at high speeds, so time in the backyard or at a dog park will be well-spent.

Given their small size, walks do more to tucker them out than they would for other breeds, so a long stroll through the neighborhood once or twice a day might be all your King Rat Dog needs.

Their natural athleticism and desire to please makes them great fits for agility training and other dog sports, so you might want to consider getting involved in those. They also love to sniff out treasures, so a scavenger hunt may do more to wear them out than an hour spent playing fetch.

The good news is that once you burn off any excess energy, these dogs are happy to just lay by your side all day. That makes them great pets for apartment dwellers, those with limited mobility, or anyone who prefers watching TV to hiking through the wilderness.

Training 🦮

Training a King Rat Dog is an exercise in extremes. They are smart and love to do whatever it takes to make you happy, so they’ll pick up on new commands in a flash.

That doesn’t mean they’ll always do what you command, though. Or rather, they’ll always behave while you’re watching — it’s when they think the coast is clear that they start listening to the little devils on their shoulder.

Their stubborn nature makes it hard to break them of bad habits, especially since they’ll rarely misbehave around you. As a result, you’ll have to get creative, both in how you catch them and how you stop them.

Compromise often works. For example, you may never get them to stop digging up your yard, but if you give them a designated portion in which to dig, they may leave the rest of it alone.

You should always use positive reinforcement during training as well, as they’ll grow resentful if mistreated in any way. That will obviously backfire in terms of training, so it’s better to use the carrot rather than the stick (just go easy on the treats, as you don’t want them getting fat).

Grooming ✂️

These dogs have short, bristly coats, so grooming isn’t much of a hassle. You’ll still want to take a slicker brush to them once a week or so to keep shedding under control — possibly more in the summer months, especially if you live in a hotter climate.

These dogs aren’t prone to smelling, but you should still bathe them every few months and whenever they become visibly dirty.

Pay attention to their nails, as if they get too long, they can break and injure the dog. However, if your pup is active enough (and this includes digging), they may file their nails down on their own, saving you a chore.

Their teeth need to be brushed as often as you can manage (preferably daily). You should also schedule a regular dental exam with your vet and have plenty of teeth-cleaning treats and toys around for them to chew on.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Most hybrid dogs are extremely healthy, as the genetic diversity reduces the likelihood of congenital defects. That’s not really the case with King Rat Dogs, though.

These dogs have a litany of potential health issues to deal with. Your pup may not experience all of them, but it’s best that you’re aware of what might be in your future so you can better plan for it (or even avoid it).

However, as we said above, this is a new breed that’s not through developing. Some of the “common” health issues that they’ve experienced may be simple bad luck rather than an indication of a pervasive issue within the breed. It will take a bit more time to have a good idea of what conditions these dogs are truly prone to developing.

That being said, here are a few things to watch out for.

Minor Conditions
  • Demodectic mange
  • Ichthyosis
  • Skin allergies
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Dental issues
  • Microphthalmia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Lens luxation
Serious Conditions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Heart disease
  • Mitral valve dysplasia
  • Syringomyelia
  • Urolithiasis
  • Epilepsy
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Diabetes

Divider 5Male vs. Female

There’s little difference between the two sexes of King Rat Dog. They’re even remarkably similar in terms of size.

There are minor differences in temperament (males tend to be clingier, while females are more independent), but even these will barely be noticeable.

Ultimately, if you’re trying to choose between one sex or the other, it will come down to personal preference (and maybe a coin flip).

Divider 3Summing Up

You may have a bit of a time tracking one down, but if you can find one, a King Rat Dog will make an excellent companion for you and your family. These dogs are fiercely loyal and attentive, and their natural eagerness to please makes them easy to train.

That’s not to say that they’re perfect, though. They’re prone to a variety of health conditions, and they may not be accepting of strangers, so they’re not a good fit for anyone who throws cocktail parties every weekend.

If you want a dog that loves you more than life itself and is loath to leave your side, though, you’ll have a hard time doing better than a King Rat Dog. You may not need them to sniff out vermin, but once they’re curled up in your lap, we’re sure you’ll agree: It’s good to own the King.

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Featured Image Credit:  CobraCZ, Shutterstock

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