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Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats

Updated on December 7, 2016
Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats
Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats

Dog Breeds that Excel at Catching Rats

I used to believe that the cat was the universal pet for catching mice, rats, and other rodents. Or maybe I have watched too many Tom and Jerry episodes. It turns out, cats are not that willing to chase their prey unless they feel like it. I tried once to make my cat catch a rat in the garden — she completely ignored the rat and me, and just and continued laying in the grass.

Then, I did some research online and discovered that cats will only occasionally bringing home a rodent prey just to brag about it, but they're not as prone to catching them. Dogs, on the other hand, are the ideal solution to any rat problem. There are certain breeds that were specially created to control the rat population.

Most of these breeds are different kinds of Terriers.

  • Terrier comes from the word "terra," which means earth. This is the reason some people refer to terriers as "Earth dogs." They were bred to hunt rodents and other tiny animals that live underground.
  • These dogs all have small bodies and surprising amount of energy. They can quickly dig up a hole in order to catch their pray.
  • The Terrier also has a thick tail which the owner could use to pull out the dog from the hole if needed.

There are some other dog breeds which are pretty good rat catchers, but the Terriers are definitely a majority. This article will go over the top ten dog breeds ideal for catching rats or rodents.

Top 10 Dog Breeds for Catching Rats

Rat Terrier

Cairn Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

West Highland White Terrier


Miniature Schnauzer

Lakeland Terrier

German Pinscher

1. Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier
Rat Terrier | Source

Their name says it all: this dog is the perfect rat hunter. Rat Terriers are small, active, and can be a great companion.

  • Rat Terriers are very loving, which makes it appropriate as a sweet family pet. They are really good with children, especially if the dog is raised by the family since he or she was a puppy.
  • They are are very easy to train, and will play and even swim with you. Their energy is remarkable.
  • You can raise this breed even in an apartment. Just keep in mind that it needs regular exercise to use up its energy. If you live in a house with a garden, then prepare to have an occasional hole in the ground since rat terriers love to dig. It's in their nature.
  • They come in a variety of coat colours, including spotted, black, red, chocolate, and white.

2. Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier
Cairn Terrier | Source

The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest Terrier breeds. They have hundreds of years of experience in hunting and killing mice and rats.

  • This cute little dog has a weatherproof and hypo-allergenic coat, which needs regular grooming and maintenance. Their most common coat colours are black, red, grey and cream.
  • Cairn Terriers are very lovable, loyal, cheerful, and friendly. They also like to be independent, but if you show them who the boss is, you will have no trouble training them.
  • These dogs need to be played with and walked on a fairly regular basis, so make sure to fit a daily walk in your schedule.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier | Source

The Yorkshire Terrier, also known as the Yorkie, is a rather small, toy-sized dog. But don't let its size fool you, because this is one of its best advantages when catching rats and other vermin.

  • This breed has a silky coat, and its most common colours are brown and black. Weekly combing and brushing will ensure the good look of the beautiful fur.
  • The Yorkie is a very clever and energetic dog. It can also be willful sometimes and try to take over the whole house. It needs to be properly trained to become an amazing companion.
  • The Yorkshire Terrier is perfect for a family with grown children. It can be happy both in an apartment and a house with a yard. Just keep in mind that this breed also needs to exercise on a daily basis.

4. Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier
Norfolk Terrier | Source

The Norfolk Terrier is a British terrier breed, and is one of the smallest working dogs. The small size is, again, an advantage when hunting rodents.

  • This dog has a straight coat that comes in red, black or tan colours. It needs to be brushed daily.
  • They may be tiny, but its courage is enormous. It is also very affectionate, friendly and easy to train.
  • If you don't have a problem with rats, you can still use the dog's ratting instincts for playing. The Norfolk Terrier will be more than happy to retrieve anything you toss for it — a ball, a toy or a stick.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier | Source

The Jack Russell Terrier is considered one of the best ratters. It originates from a fox hunting breed, so catching small animals such as rats and mice is one of its basic instincts.

  • Its coat is short and smooth, with predominantly white as the colour. It's easy to groom the coat as well — simply use a firm bristle brush regularly.
  • Jack Russell Terriers are very clever, cheerful, loving and playful dogs. They get along with children easily, as long as the kids don't tease or hit them.
  • If trained correctly, these Terriers can perform fascinating tricks.
  • Since Jack Russell Terriers are extremely energetic, they need to be taken on long daily walks. Consider this fact when deciding whether this is the right dog breed for you or not.

A Jack Russell Terrier in Action

6. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier
West Highland White Terrier | Source

The West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie, is one of the most popular breeds in the United Kingdom and the U.S. This dog was bred to control the rodent population in farms and can quickly catch any rat or mice.

  • All Westies are white, with a soft undercoat and hard outer coat.
  • This dog can be an extremely loyal companion and will travel to the end of the world for its owner.
  • The Westie is very friendly and is suitable for families with children. But keep in mind that some Westies can be pretty stubborn and training them can be quite difficult. Once trained, they will show only loyalty towards their master.

7. Lakeland Terrier

Lakeland Terrier
Lakeland Terrier | Source

The Lakeland Terrier originates from the Lake District in England. This breed's size and energy levels make them ideal for hunting rodents in hard to reach places.

  • This breed also has two layers of coats — hard and wiry on top, and a softer fur underneath. This breed doesn't need a lot of grooming, and they can happily live in an apartment.
  • These Terriers love children and are very joyful and playful.
  • It's also in this dog's nature to chase smaller animals, so if you have cats or other small pets, you should socialize the Lakeland Terrier with them in early age.

8. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzer | Source

The Miniature Schnauzer comes from Germany, where it was bred by farmers to be efficient ratters.

  • This breed usually comes in colours of black, black and silver, white or a "salt and pepper" mix. The Miniature Schnauzer is also famous for its coat clipped as a beard, moustache and eyebrows.
  • Despite its size, this breed can be a great guardian dog that is completely devoted to its master and family.
  • The Miniature Schnauzer is also a very intelligent, cheerful dog that enjoys being around children. If you live in an apartment, then this dog is the perfect companion for you. This breed is very calm indoors, given that it gets its daily dose of exercise and walking.

9. Dachshund

Dachshund | Source

The Dachshund, also known as the Wiener or Sausage dog, is famous for its short legs and long body. It was bred to hunt small animals such as rats, rabbits, and prairie dogs.

  • The coat of the Dachshund comes in many colour variations: brown, black, cream, tan, grey, as well as other different colour combinations.
  • These dogs are very active, clever, brave, happy, and curious. Dachshunds are suitable for families with older children and they also travel well.
  • Like all of the other ratter breeds, these dogs love to dig and have an instinct for chasing smaller animals, but if trained properly they can get along with other pets.
  • Give a Dachshund human leadership and long daily walks, and it will become the perfect family companion.

10. German Pinscher

German Pinscher
German Pinscher | Source

The German Pinschers date back to the 18th century when they were mainly used for guarding coaches and killing vermin. Nowadays, these dogs are more of a family companion, but can still be seen searching and chasing rats in open areas or homes.

  • The coat of the German Pinscher is strong and glossy and comes in dark brown, black and tan or red colour.
  • The German Pinscher is a guardian by nature. So, often, it will bark to announce the arrival of visitors. But it will soon calm down and become the sweet, lively and playful dog it is.
  • This breed requires a lot of long walks and exercises.


All the above-listed dog breeds are not only cheerful and loyal companions, but they can also be a great help to you if you have problems with rodents. The dogs will give their best to make their owner and ancestors proud by eliminating the unwanted pests. Sometimes, even a rat control team can't catch a rodent as fast as a ratter dog can. So we shouldn't underestimate the potential of the smaller breeds.

Is your dog a ratter too? Please share your experience with us below and let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading!

Which One of These Breeds Will You Choose?

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    • beeezo profile image

      beeezo 3 years ago

      Great hub. Very insightful!

    • cuttler profile image

      Cuttler 3 years ago from HubPages

      Very interesting. Who knew that dogs could actually catch rats??? Nice hub. My choice, the German Pinscher.

    • rohanfelix profile image

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      I'm sure this article required a lot of research. Kudos!

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 3 years ago from London

      Yes, it took me several days to make the research and gather all this information. But I think it was worth it :)

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

      That Jack Russel terrier I think is very clever indeed. It's the same dog breed that starred in 'The Artist' and he's definitely a scene-stealer!

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      When I was a child I was very fond of our neighbors dog, it never stops until it catches a rat. It was a terrrier but nit sure what kind. Very informative hub and i really learned a lot.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Excellent Hub, I never ever though about using a dog to catch a rat. I always thought it was the cats job, or even a mouse trap. I guess some of the bigger dogs or not really cut out for it. Not agile enough.

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 3 years ago from London

      Thank you, Hezekiah! A big dog can also kill a rat but it will have troubles catching one, especially if the vermin is hiding in a small hole.

    • biblicaliving profile image

      biblicaliving 3 years ago from U.S.A.

      Very well written hub. It was informative and your analysis of terriers being great "varmit" dogs is spot on. Not only are cats prone to being "slackers," but a big enough rat will kick their... Good Hub!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Do these dogs hunt for the kill, or do they actually eat the rats? I think Cats eat rats, but what about dogs? My dog has killed a rat, two kittens and a rabbit. I have a hard time reigning her in. I wonder if it's an instinct, or maybe sometimes she kills for the blood (sometimes it's hot so I wondered if she wants to drink the blood, so now I always bring water for her to drink).

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 3 years ago from London

      I think these dogs hunt rats just for the kill. Its one of their basic instincts. While I was doing my research, I didn't come across any information about a dog actually eating a rat. What breed is your dog?

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The photos in this hub are beautiful! The hub is informative, too. Thanks for sharing all the details.

    • profile image

      brockbasher 3 years ago

      You forgot miniture english bull terrier, sealyham terrier, border terrier and the terrier with the best nose the bedlington.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Beatris Johnson, sorry to respond so late. My dog is a mix, and I'm not sure what mixture she is. She's the daughter of a street dog that my neighbor noticed was pregnant and so she adopted her. When the puppies were born, we were given one. That's all I know of her past.

    • profile image

      John 3 years ago

      Plummer terrier is probs the best dog for ratting, funny how all theses breeds are British

    • profile image

      Hey there 3 years ago

      American pitbulls were used to kill rats in pits after dogfighting and bull/bear baiting became illegal.

    • profile image

      Bastian 2 years ago

      Dachshund are great rat dwarf-dachshund girl goes absolutly crazy when she see other animals cats rats mouse

    • profile image

      mg 2 years ago

      Terriers are the best,I have a border x jack Russell and if a stray rat wanders on my property,sorry Mr rat your going to the big trash pile in the sky.

    • profile image

      Bettyboop 2 years ago

      You left off probably the top dog at catching mice.. the Schipperke!

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 2 years ago from London

      I must admit that while doing my research on the topic, I didn't come across this breed. Thank you, Bettyboop, for sharing it!

    • profile image

      Dave 2 years ago

      Our Cocker Spaniel has caught and killed 6 field mice/rats this summer. We have 7 ac. and they are coming out of the woods. He and our cat have a competition going i think. He is just 9 months old and we don't let him out all the time but while he is out he does a good job.

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 2 years ago from London

      And he is probably doing a better job than the cat ;)

    • profile image

      Eowyn 2 years ago

      The dachshund was originally used to hunt badgers.

    • profile image

      Pickles1 2 years ago

      I have a cairn terrier and he has killed a couple of rats. When he hears them below the ground he tries to get to them. Awesome at rodent killing, but they do not eat them. Go for the kill by attacking the abdomen. Only attacks when moving. Just sniffs them when dead or paralzed.

    • profile image

      roodkapje 2 years ago

      Great article! But I think you forgot a breed. It's a dog Espacially bred for ratcatching in Prague. This breed is originated from Czech. Its not really a well known breed. Its called Prazsky Krysarik, which roughly translates to ratcatcher. A really funny, energetic and lithe dog. Here Is a link to the Prazsky Krysarik club

    • profile image

      Vin 2 years ago

      I have a mixed shi-tzu & poodle she chases squerrils & has caught a mouse is this common?

    • Beatris Johnson profile image

      Beatris Johnson 2 years ago from London

      @roodkapje Thanks for sharing this cute looking breed :)

      @Vin I don't think this is common for shi-tzus but maybe yours is more curious and playful one :)

    • profile image

      lindon 2 years ago

      I have a shitzus cross jack russell believe me they kill rats ive seen her v quick

    • profile image

      Jess 2 years ago

      I have a miniature dachshund and he's great at catching mice. I've seen him go from sleeping to bolting after a mouse (don't have rats here) in less than 4 seconds. He almost always catches them. He doesn't usually kill them though. He messes with them for a bit until he's confident they're dead (when really, they're just playing dead) then he gets distracted and off to his next adventure and the mouse stands up and bolts.

      He also tries to go down gopher holes, biting at the ground and digging. One time he had so much dirt in his mouth my dad had to dig it out because he was choking on it...

    • profile image

      Bryce Miller 24 months ago

      Dachshunds were first bred to hunt badgers that is why they have their hot dog like shape to chase the badger out of its burrow.

    • profile image

      Bryce Miller 24 months ago

      Also I have a boxer black mouth cur mix she has killed rats and there is a chance I catch her eating them but it's rare to catch her in the act

    • profile image

      Chantelle 22 months ago

      I own and breed German Pinschers in the uk, and yes they love to chase and kill rats or pretty much any pray animal. Also yes mine do eat them given the chance.

    • profile image

      Todd 20 months ago

      My dog is an English retriever and has killed two rats this week. He's 100 pounds and looks a little slow, but when he smells a rat, he's full speed ahead ! He kills them on first chomp, amazing!

    • profile image

      Geordiesmb 19 months ago

      Sorry but the number one hunting terrier for all rodents , rabbits etc is the fearless hard as nails PATTERDALE TERRIER that's what there bred for to go down holes where other types won't . And they are fantastic family pets to ..

    • profile image

      Kyle 18 months ago

      Just thought I'd say that our Jack Russell caught tons of mice, moles, and even the occasional squirrel or bird. It was rare that I didn't find evidence of a kill when out mowing the lawn.

      I didn't realize how valuable his services were until a couple of years after he was gone. Mice in the house and moles in the yard!

    • profile image

      Patti 17 months ago

      I have a Jack Russell and a Dachshund/Yorkie mix (I call it a Dorkie). They both are great mousers. My lazy cat loves to watch them catch mice.

    • profile image

      Tina 16 months ago

      My Siberian Husky is the best at *mousing*

      If we hear a mouse anywhere on or in our property we just bring over our big fluffy boy, and within an hour no more mouse. He does not eat them it just takes one one hard bite and the mouse is dead. He is an amazing dog.

    • profile image

      David 15 months ago

      Our dog is a chiweenie and proving to be quite the ratter.

    • profile image

      Deb 15 months ago

      Will a mini schnauzer chew where a mouse has been

    • profile image

      WB 14 months ago

      Out of these, which would be the best with super active kids that are a little afraid of dogs, but want their own?

    • profile image

      Nick Alvarez 14 months ago

      As a dog owner of a Dachshund and Rat Terrier, both female, let me give you experiencedrama insight.

      The Dachshund is a very loving breed, loyal to its owner. They come in red or black. If you feed them too much they will get fat and slow as they love to eat anything you put down.

      There are always rats in this area and I never experienced my dachshund kill rats. Dachshund's do dig but not to catch anything. The problem with dachshund's is that because they are long, they get spinal problems that can paralyze them and have to be put down. So don't allow a dachshund to jump on you, jump up on anything and for God sakes don't let your brats pick up or stretch a dachshund.

      Dachshund's are hard to pottie train.

      Dachshund's that get out of your back yard are hard to recover because even with their short legs are fast.

      Dachshund's are obedient.

      Dachshunds will love anyone.

      Dachshund's will bark at first, but when they get to know you, they will want you to pet them.

      If you like to be alone at times, don't own a Dachshund.

      Dachshund's shit alot.

      Rat Terrier's are hyper active, disloyal to owners that want obedience and are stubborn.

      Ray Terriers are rat killers and will hunt. If you have any pet mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas ect...don't have a Rat Terrier around.

      These dogs are not fat because they are hyperactive.

      Rat Terriers learn how to pottie train very well.

      Rat Terriers are fast and quick.

      Rat Terriers have great markings.

      Rat Terriers are independent and love their space.

      Rat Terriers tend to be irritable.

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      Greg 14 months ago

      I have a Formosan , Taiwanese Dingo, I actually have two, and for rodent killing omg, my female has xray vision, she will stare at an empty pot thinking there is a rat in there. This morning at 4 am I had her outside and sure enough she found one on my upstairs patio, she cornered it and paralyzed it. I heard the rat shreeking I went upstairs and was horrified. my dog has always been a ratter, I feel sorry for the rat in question today, I just do.

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      Jenny 13 months ago

      My dog Lucy is a mix of Rottie, Schnauzer, Weimeraner, and Saluki. She is obsessed with chasing the mice in my apartment. She hasn't caught one yet, but used to catch all kinds of mice, birds, and squirrels when we had a house.

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      Pat 13 months ago

      I have a cairn terrier. I also have a rat. My pup has slept through the night while our rat guest has chewed through the hall and even through my bedroom door. Was kind of hoping my cairn terrier might actually help me get the thing.... Instead I'm probably about to be forced into getting a second pet, a real rat hunting animal...a cat.

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      Becamay 12 months ago

      I Have a Cairn Terrier/Dachshund mix that has been catching mice in the back yard and brining them in the house to give me. I now know why she is intent on doing this!

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      Lyn 11 months ago

      Parson's Terriers/Jack Russell or Patterdales are the best ratters I've come across.

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      No One Important... 10 months ago

      AKC images say that the Norfolk Terrier, you show, is actually a Norwich Terrier. Norfolk Terriers have lop ears, unless these guys had there ears cropped. ???

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      Nikiaw89 9 months ago

      My 5year old shih tzu loves catching mice and bringing them to us

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      Fiona 8 months ago

      My Border Collie would out rat any of these dogs. Not just with speed and tenacity, but intelligence as well.

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      Hobbit70 8 months ago

      I have a chihuahua and he is obsessed with catching rats. Sounds odd he literally hunts them.

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      Conrad 8 months ago

      I have 3 pibulls they kill rats & racoons but not the tiny mice maybe i need a rat terrier for mice

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      Sharonville Peabody 7 months ago

      I have a maltese poodle mix. Looks like 100% maltese. He drives me crazy hunting rats. He doesn't like squirrels either.

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      Julia 7 months ago

      I had a 7lbs Yorkie and she caught a 3.5 lb rat with ease. We also have a Doberman and she was boss. Don't underestimate the Yorkie because of its size. She was lethal when it came to rodents!

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      Sharla D Pruitt 6 months ago

      My dogs i think are a mix of Irish Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, and Carin Terrier. The boys are protective over me and the female is protective over my boyfriend. Defiantly mamas boys and daddys girl. Not only are good chasing rats my oldest one can tell the difference between a sparow and a pidgin. At my uncles house he will protect the pidgins get rid of sparows that attack them.

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      Nicko 5 months ago

      My German Shepherd just caught and killed his first rat this morning. Did not try to eat just kept on sniffing around for more rats by the garage he left the clean up to me as usual with all the business he does outside :)

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      Debs 5 months ago

      Min pins have my vote.

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      Rick day 4 months ago

      How about iguanas, I am over run ,l can't have plants or garden or even citrus. I need help , ready to give up plus would love a canine companion

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      Christina 4 months ago

      I have a 7 yr old Yorkie poo that's dying to get a rat living just outside the side gate of my home. She has brought me a gopher, a little chewed on but still a prize catch! I really hope she gets the rat soon. He's less welcome than the gopher was.

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      Linda M 3 months ago

      Our terrier mix has been leaving

      Us dead rat presents at the back door. At least we think it's him. We also have an aussidoodle. I do worry that the dogs may get ill. They have all their shots. No one else seems to be worried about this.

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      Boris 3 months ago

      Had terriers all my life. They are exterminators of rats, no cat can come even close. One day at village we were clearing some old barn, one dog alone killed over 50 mice. They also dig and catch moles and one bat.

      Manchester terrier.

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      pop 3 months ago

      American toy fox terrier....

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      Foxy 3 months ago

      Believe or not labradors having been catching and killing rats you look online there is plenty of videos on you tube showing you just that

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      DB 2 months ago

      We have a 20 lb male Shih-tzu. To our surprise he's sniffed out and killed a few rats on our property.

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      Indira 2 months ago

      What is your opinion as to which dog breed would be the best to hunt voles? Not caring about the dog digging holes in the yard. Thanks!

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      Leslie Moser 4 weeks ago

      My APBT has caught 2 rats in the last week. This time she was sleeping on the couch next to me. Suddenly jumped up, no barking, ran outside and started rooting in front of the house. Next I check, she is on porch chomping on rat. Eek! Not ready for that

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      Mark 2 weeks ago

      I have 2 yorkshire terriers they seem to do more barking and try to chase rats and mice but never seem to try and kill them

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