12 to 18 years
Black, brown, white, silver
Families, hunters, farmers
Intelligent, lively, affectionate, alert, agile
The Rattle Dog is a hybrid breed, a combination of the intelligent Standard Poodle and the lively American Rat Terrier. You can expect these dogs to be clever, agile, and energetic, and excellent working dogs and watchdogs. They are eager to please and thrive off of having a specific job to do, and they are easy to train. In order to better understand this hybrid, let’s take a brief look at their parent breeds.
The Standard Poodle is one of the most intelligent dogs on the planet, usually coming in second after only the Border Collie. Poodles have a somewhat undeserved reputation as pampered show dogs, living a life of luxury among the rich and famous. However, they were originally bred as highly capable hunting dogs, and are still used for this purpose today.
As the name suggests, the American Rat Terrier was originally bred in the U.S. as a hunting companion and farm dog, specifically a ratter. These dogs are well-known for being stubborn to a fault, and pleasing their owners is not high on their list of priorities. This breed is the ultimate farm dog, and their strong jaws, speed, and small, agile bodies were made to flush vermin out of barns and homes. They are often mistaken for Jack Russell Terriers and Fox Terriers but have distinctly unique traits that owners of these dogs highly revere.
If this sounds like the breed for you, read on below for our detailed rundown of this spritely little hybrid.
Rattle Dog Puppies — Before You Buy
If you are looking for a small lapdog to laze with on the sofa, the Rattle Dog is not for you. These dogs are driven by purpose and are most happy when they have a job to do. They go by several enduring nicknames, including the Ratpoo! They are an affectionate breed that loves attention and pleasing their owners — despite the Rat Terrier’s reputation — so training them is usually a breeze. Indeed, they are well-known for their propensity to learn and perform a vast array of tricks, as they are highly intelligent and agile, a unique combination.
They can vary widely in size, as both their parent breeds have several different sizes, but they are usually a medium-sized pooch. Their coats are typically straight and coarse, like a Rat Terrier’s, but can be wavy like a Poodle’s. They are sturdy dogs, with a ton of playful energy and personality, and as puppies and adults, they will often send their owners into fits of laughter.
These dogs are a big responsibility to take on, especially for a novice dog owner, and their high energy should be taken into careful consideration before bringing a pup home. These dogs do not enjoy being alone, and they can become highly destructive if they get bored — having a job to do is important to these pooches.
What’s the Price of Rattle Dog Puppies?
Rattle Dog puppies are a comparatively affordable breed, usually ranging from around $300 up to $800, depending on several factors. The lineage of the parent breeds will have a big part to play in price, as well as the different breeders and availability in your specific area. A reputable breeder will be able to provide you with the health history and documentation of the parents, along with a health guarantee.
3 Little-Known Facts About Rattle Dogs
1. Rattle Dogs are highly intelligent
The Poodle is one of the most intelligent breeds on the planet, and the American Rat Terrier is no slouch either. Rat dogs fell out of favor for some time but are making a comeback these days. They are easy to train and are highly skilled at sniffing out and catching vermin, making them one of the most popular farm dogs in the 1910s and 1920s. You can be sure that the combination of these two breeds will make for a highly trainable, adept, agile, and intelligent pooch.
2. Rat Terriers came from several different breeds
Rat Terriers were created by farmers with a specific purpose in mind: catching vermin. Farmers sought to create the ultimate pest hunter, and in the end, they combined seven different breeds to create the Rat Terrier: the Fox Terrier, Old English White Terrier (now extinct), Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, and Beagle. Four different breeds of Terrier were to promote hunting and flushing instincts, and the Whippet and Greyhound were for speed and control. Lastly, the Beagle was added to give the Rat Terrier a healthy dose of pack mentality.
3. Rat Terriers are U.S. originals
Rat Terriers were created in the U.S.A. and owe their existence to a group of dedicated breeders who made the breed what it is today. While a version of the breed was created in the U.K. at some stage, the breed was refined and perfected in the U.S. Even the name has been credited to President Roosevelt, who had a prized Rat Terrier named Skip.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Rattle Dog
Rattle Dogs are universally intelligent, agile, and energetic, but their traits can swing one way or the other, depending on which parent breeds they most closely take after. For example, Rat Terriers can be highly stubborn at times, while Poodles rarely have this issue. This means that your Rat Dog may be a challenge or a breeze to train. Generally, however, Rat Dogs are more on the even-tempered side of things, enjoy pleasing their owners, and take well to training.
They are highly alert dogs that make excellent guard dogs, but they can get carried away with barking. This can be mitigated by good training, though, but they will still be comparatively vocal animals. If you decide to bring one of these puppies home, make sure you have a high fence. Both Poodles and Rat Terries have a big jump, and Rat Terriers in particular love to explore and thus, often escape, in order to satisfy their urges.
Are These Dogs Good for Families?
With good training and plenty of early socialization, Rattle Dogs make great family dogs and are usually gentle with children. They love to play and will likely be a hit with kids, content to spend hours in the yard playing games. Bear in mind that these dogs are highly social and love to be around their owners. They will not enjoy being left at home alone for extended periods and will resort to digging, chewing, and barking to release their frustration and anxiety.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
These dogs will get on great with other pets — most of the time. Smaller family pets like rabbits and hamsters may be seen as prey and something to chase. Without proper training, this desire will be irresistible, causing endless headaches for any cats in the home! Of course, they can be socialized early and trained adequately to stop them from viewing the family cat as food and will likely be great friends in the end.
Things to Know When Owning a Rattle Dog
Food & Diet Requirements
Rattle Dogs are small to medium-sized dogs, but they do not have matching appetites. Due to their high energy and fast metabolism, they can pack away a surprising amount of food. This is why we recommend quality over quantity, as high-quality food will nourish and satiate them adequately and provide the correct nutrition. Some commercial foods are stuffed with empty-calorie fillers like wheat and corn, which will cause your dog to be hungry more often, eat more, and thus quickly get overweight.
Around 2 cups of dry kibble a day will be ideal, and we recommend dividing this into two separate meals to keep up with the Rat Dog’s fast metabolism. A kibble with high amounts of protein is preferred, as this dog will benefit greatly from the extra energy provided by protein. Of course, the best source is lean meats, and we recommend substituting their dry food with meat every few days.
Rattle Dogs require a ton of exercise to burn off their seemingly never-ending energy reserves. Around 2 hours of intensive exercise is needed with these dogs, preferably two separate 1-hour sessions a day. They love to play, so a vigorous run, jog, or hike, followed by frisbee or ball games, is ideal. They are clever pooches and will love mental, as well as physical, challenges incorporated into their routine. Chasing balls or sticks is especially fun for these dogs, as it taps into their hunting heritage.
Due to their propensity for chasing, a leash is essential for these dogs on a walk in public spaces. Even if they are well trained, they may not be able to resist the urge at times, and you don’t want them running off into busy traffic or getting lost. That said, they will benefit greatly from off-leash walks if you can manage it.
Rattle Dogs are eager to please and thus easy to train — most of the time. These dogs can inherit a stubborn streak from their Poodle genetics, and this can be a challenge while training. We recommend beginning training when you bring your puppy home to enforce good habits from day one. Making your Rat Dog sit before meals is one simple way to get them obeying commands from an early age, and “sit” and “stay” commands are the foundations of an obedient dog.
Leash training is also essential due to their hunting instinct and can be started early on. Using the leash can become a process they will learn to love, and you can begin by getting them used to it indoors first. Practice using the leash and introducing distractions and gently correcting their mistakes. Once they can walk at your side without tugging on the leash and will sit and stay when told, you can begin to take them outdoors for long walks, where the real distractions begin!
- Related Read: 50 Dog Breeds That Start with R
Try and make training sessions as fun and interactive as possible, as a dog that enjoys the process is far more likely to learn quickly. Also, keep the sessions short and action-packed, to prevent boredom or distraction and keep them interested.
The Rattle Dog has a short and coarse coat that doesn’t require any high-maintenance grooming. They will only require brushing occasionally to remove any dead hair. That being said, Rat Dogs can sometimes inherit the coat of their Poodle parents, and this may require more than average grooming and brushing. In this case, they will require daily brushing to prevent matting and knotting, as well as the occasional trim.
Be sure to keep an eye on their nails, as if they get too long, they can cause pain and discomfort to your pooch and eventually even lead to infection. Regular tooth brushing will also help prevent any dental issues in the future.
Health and Conditions ✂️
Rattle Dogs have the benefit that all mixed breeds enjoy, known as hybrid vigor. This trait makes them hardy and less likely to suffer from the genetic predispositions of their parent breeds. Plus, both the Poodle and American Rat Terrier have few genetic issues to worry about. There are a few conditions to keep an eye out for, though, including:
Patellar luxation is a disorder affecting the kneecap, common in medium and larger dogs like poodles. Hip dysplasia can also affect these dogs, and it is found in both Poodles and Rat Terriers. Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, Von Willebrand’s disease, and epilepsy are other major concerns to look out for.
Minor disorders include bloat, allergies, and eye issues.
Male vs. Female
Every dog is an individual and will have unique characteristics, no matter their gender. The Rattle Dog in particular has almost indiscernible differences between males and females, and the variations in size depending on their parent breeds negate any differences even further.
Most vets recommend spaying females and neutering males to aid in their general health, reduce aggression, and prevent wandering males and any unwanted puppies from females. There is no real reason to choose one over the other, and in the end, it just comes down to personal preference.
The Rattle Dog is an intelligent and high-energy pooch with a ton of character, bound to elicit bouts from laughter regularly. They are highly adept at learning tricks and new skills and will generally love the training process. These dogs are great with children and will be content to spend hours in the backyard playing ball games and fetch. They are gentle, even-tempered, and loving pooches that make ideal family pets, both to cuddle and exercise with outdoors.
If you are looking for a dog to join you in outdoor activities and have a loving companion at home, the Rattle Dog is a great choice.
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Featured Image Credit: Sarawut Sriphakdee, Shutterstock