I'm officially bitten by the bRAT bug. Not since MinPins have I felt a kinship and passion for a breed like I do these Toy Rat Terriers. Vanna the black merle and Sara the blue merle come to Tri-Del by way of the Phoenix area. Thank you Doreen Lester of Microratz in Gilbert, AZ for giving us the opportunity to learn a new rattitude! Nikki the pearl merle girl comes to us by way of Cloudland GA. Thank you Rhonda Gregg of RGRats for your beautiful Rat Terrorists that I fall in love with more every day. Contact either of these great ladies and you will be so satisfied with your puppy. What started as an innocent "I want something Merle" turned out to be an obsession.
Smart, easily trained, house-breakable, crate-trainable, obedient, eager to please, loyal, human companionship oriented, friendly, practically fearless, hard playing, loving, sleepy under-the-covers lap dogs, this is a Toy breed to beat most breeds I have had the privilege to know. Compared to my own breeds? I would describe them as nearly perfect in temperament and demeanor. They are neither as independent aloof as a Miniature Pinscher, nor as clingy demanding as a TFT. Not the over-the-top obnoxious confidence as most MinPins, but more sporty bravado than most TFTs. They do not compare exactly to either of my breeds. Toy Rat Terriers have most definitely become my 2nd true love. Under 10lbs, averaging around 4 to 8lbs and generally 10 inches tall and under they are small easy keepers. Low maintenance short soft satin like coat with an endless kaleidoscope of color offer a color and pattern to please everyone’s eye. If you are interested in a Toy sized breed, that has the intelligence, game and endurance of a sporting/working breed, but knows when to relax & vegetate and thrives in small spaces, I encourage you to investigate the Toy Rat Terrier before buying any breed you may think you have in mind.
Canine Health Information Center recommended testing for Rat Terrier breeding stock
Congenital Cardiac Database
■ OFA Evaluation
■ OFA Evaluation - OR
■ PennHIP Evaluation
■ OFA Evaluation
■ OFA Evaluation
Optional testing Eye Clearance (Optional)
■ CERF Evaluation - Annual exams until at least Age 8ys (96mo)
Congenital Deafness (Optional)
■ OFA evaluation based on BAER test
■ GDC evaluation based on BAER test
Elbow Dysplasia (Optional)
■ OFA Evaluation
Primary Lens Luxation (Optional)
■ OFA/University of Missouri DNA Test
Breeders of Piebald and/or Merle patterned Toy Rat Terriers take upon themselves added responsibility because the reduced pigment of white fur and merle patterning carries increased risk of hereditary inner ear (slight impaired hearing to total deafness) and inner eye (slight impaired sight to total blindness) abnormalities in both piebald dogs and merle dogs. If your dog has white fur located on the head (especially highest risk dogs where white touches an eye or an ear) or your dog is merle, before being bred, the dog should be "CERF examined" by a board certified AVCO Ophthalmologist and "BAER examined" by a ACVIM Board Certified Veterinary Neurologist to ensure you are not directly contributing hereditary blindness and deafness into the breed's future generations.
Basically my "need" for merle came from being owned by a Harlequin Great Dane named Fancy who also had a merle patch on her shoulder. Age takes many Danes early and I lost her in 2008 to the rainbow bridge. When Fancy was gone, I decided I wanted a Merle something again someday. For my eyes, the Merle pattern is stunning to behold. This time I wanted a breed that would be able to play and interact with my MinPins and TFTs safely.
My love for Brindle came from an American Staffordshire Terrier named Jeb. Dual UKC and AKC Champion Chronos Southern Gentleman, bred by Amanda and Gerrit VanVorhees of Chronos Am Staffs, Jeb (R.I.P. my friend) was the best pit bull am staff ambassador for his breed. I watched his owner show him as he blossomed into the perfect canine companion. Beauty, love, grace, candor and bull in a china shop hilarity only an Am Staff can give you. I loved Jeb as if he were mine. While I love Am Staffs/Pit Bulls, they are too much rough and tumble Terrier flesh to be wrestling my Toy Terrier show dogs who instigate battles they can not win.
Brooke, black/tan merle tuxedo
While looking for Merle and/or Brindle I kept running into the Toy Rat Terrier. Finally something merle and small enough in size and tough/big enough in big breed attitude to play with our show dogs. Rat Terriers were a breed bred to be any color as long as one color is white. They should be a parti-color dog, exhibiting both color & white. This Feist breed was fancied for its mind, body and abilities, with no regard to the coat color. Color would be a personal preference of the owner.
Brindle and Merle are highly popular and desired in the Toy Variety of Rat Terrier, but they are not currently accepted in the show ring in the Mini and Standard Varieties. The Toy Variety of Rat Terrier is currently still in a rare breed status, a developmental status, meaning the International dog show registries like UKC and AKC have not yet recognized a breed standard for the Toy Variety. The Toy Rat Terrier is a Universal Kennel Club International UKCI registered breed. The UKCI still is the world’s original, the oldest and largest registrar of all varieties of pure bred Rat Terriers. The UKCI has a specific designation for Toy, 10lbs and under. The UKCI registers them as pure bred and has a written standard, but being as the registry is not a conformation registry there are no judged shows to grade the breed for perfection.
In 1999, the Standard and Miniature Rat Terrier are recognized by the United Kennel Club. Finally a competition registry where the breed can be officially judged, but the UKC’s ARTA club no longer accepted the registration of “Toys”, Brindle or Merle. Why didn’t the Toy fanciers join the club to promote their dogs when there was obviously a following for up to 19 years prior to the UKC’s acceptance of the breed?
I was surprised that the Toy Rat Terrier was not YET recognized by the AKC’s RTCA. Breeders were said to have started developing the Toy variety in the 1980s. Surely there were breeders already working on that development before 1980. When I was a kid in the 1970s and 80s, the only examples of Rat Terriers I knew were TOY Rat Terriers. They were most definitely Toy Rats, not Toy Fox Terriers, they were colored dogs with minimal white. The one I remember most was from 1982-ish. He was either a chocolate or pearl sable merle. He was a great little dog, much much smaller than my own dog a small bitch for her breed, she was a small-small Brittany. I had never seen a Rat Terrier larger than a MinPin until I attended a UKC dog show in 2007. Obviously the farmers, breeders and owners in central/eastern Virginia fancied the Toy Rats for at least 30 years. Could it be that the Toy Rat fanciers weren’t saavy enough to join & promote their version of the breed when the clubs and standard were being formed?
Brooke, Ruby and Nikki
I wanted the Toy Rat Terrier that I knew as a kid. I do not understand the Toys not being pursued in the AKC or the UKC. Why didn't the Toy fanciers seek UKC or AKC recognition? Probably because the Brindle and Merle are fancied in the Toy variety, but not the Mini or Standard Rat Terrier. It cannot be because Toy Rat fanciers left the breed and went with Toy Fox Terriers. I have owned and bred Champion Toy Fox Terriers for 10 years now, but TFTs are not Toy Rats in body or temperament and therefore do not fill the niche. As far as Merle arguments go, I won't be breeding merle to merle, so health problems should not be an issue due to the merle gene. I will simply have mine CERF & BAER tested for sight & hearing and go with the facts as they present themselves. Do your own research, consult the veterinary experts personally and decide for yourself, I did. http://www.lsu.edu/deafness/StrainMerleJVIM2009.pdf
I see the Toy Rat Terrier gaining popularity and surpassing the Miniature and Standard Rat combined in registrations. The Toy is just as urban friendly as it is on the farm, requiring less space making the Toy variety the variety of the future. The Toy Rat Terrier Club of America will be successful as it grows in achieving their goal of getting the variety or a specific breed unto itself AKC recognized.
The Canine husbandry is a constant learning experience, I am open to new arguments to be convinced that my position on the Merle Toy Rat Terrier is right, wrong or indifferent. For now they are “oh so right”!
PLEASE DON'T LITTER have your pet spayed or neutered! Leave breeding to those who have dedicated their lives to improving the well being of the breed! Click here for information on low-cost altering for your pet.
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Cindy Clark, Tri-Del Miniature Pinschers, Saint Stephens Church, Virginia, U.S.A.