Skip to main content

Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats

Beatris used to think that cats were the ideal rat-catchers until she discovered that dogs, in fact, are superior rodent hunters.

Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats

Top 10 Dog Breeds Ideal for Catching Rats

Ratter Dogs: 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 that 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 continued laying in the grass.

Then, I researched online and discovered that cats will only occasionally bring home 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. Certain breeds 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 a surprising amount of energy. They can quickly dig up a hole to catch their prey.
  • The Terrier also has a thick tail, which the owner could use to pull out the dog from the hole if needed.

Some other dog breeds 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.

The Top 10 Rat-Hunting Dogs

  1. Rat Terrier
  2. Cairn Terrier
  3. Yorkshire Terrier
  4. Norfolk Terrier
  5. Jack Russell Terrier
  6. West Highland White Terrier
  7. Dachshund
  8. Miniature Schnauzer
  9. Lakeland Terrier
  10. German Pinscher

1. Rat Terrier

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

  • Rat Terriers are very loving, which makes them appropriate as sweet family pets. They are really good with children, especially if the dog is raised by the family since he or she was a puppy.
  • They 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

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 into your schedule.
Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

3. Yorkshire Terrier

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.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Pethelpful

  • 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.
Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

4. Norfolk Terrier

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 their 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.
Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

5. Jack Russell Terrier

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

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier

6. West Highland White Terrier

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.
Lakeland Terrier

Lakeland Terrier

7. Lakeland Terrier

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 at an early age.
Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer

8. Miniature Schnauzer

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

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.
German Pinscher

German Pinscher

10. German Pinscher

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.

These Breeds Make Great Rodent Hunters and Excellent Companions

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 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!

© 2013 Beatris Johnson


Tanyaec on August 06, 2020:

Well, I just have to say.. I have a 'cheek'. Longhaired Chihuahua/Pekingese mix. I have never seen a dog more obssessed with catching mice and rats. She NEVER gives up, and constantly 'on the hunt' .. Finds one.. Wont sleep until she catches and kills. (gross)..

But, after dead, she brings me and drops, proud as can be...thank goodness.

Now about 9yrs old. We live near a field.. Her count so far this year... 10. Amazing girl

glenny on July 27, 2020:

Im from north east england best ratters (some good ones on here) but the manchester terrier has the record most rats in 5 mins the staffie in a hour most round here use patterdales or plummers border terriers common too

I imagine a fox terrier ,Irish terrier,welsh terrier,jagd terrier,kerry blue terrier would cause havoc too lol

Adopted by God on July 12, 2020:

I don’t quite understand the logic by some on here to not want these animals doing what God created them to do, what you call “instincts” are the blueprints under which God created them. Poison is dangerous to animals and people alike, and rats carrying these diseases have a balance in the animals that kill them, to protect people, another of God’s wonders after giving us dominion over them. The fact that any animals welfare is put above humans makes me sad as I’m sure it does God as well. Stepping down from soapbox now, May the Lord God bless you all and remember Jesus is Lord!

PS I am in need of such a terrier for rats as my cat is quite useless in this area lol

Eileen on June 04, 2020:

My silky terrier couldn't give a shit about rats, although she stalked a cabinet for an entire day when we had a mouse problem. My schnauzer mix (who was a stray) is another story. We have palm rats who like to eat the berries from the palm trees, and they hide in the garden. He is out the door in a shot, surfacing with a rat in his mouth. Has also come back with mice, toads and an already-dead baby bunny.

Rick on May 09, 2020:

We have a 44 lb dog that is half Weimaraner and possibly half lab but because of her size I'm sure there's another breed involved too. But she is apparently a ratter, she kills them, does not eat them. She also lays them out in the same spot in the flower bed beside the porch. She loves cats and never bothers them. Birds on the other hand always get her attention, but she's never had the chance to go bird hunting.

Brent on May 03, 2020:

Have mole problems in my yard and garden need a dog that will eliminate these rodents

E Ferrie on April 24, 2020:

Is 18 years for a cross between a Collie and a Jack Russell to live a record......

Michael Brown on January 28, 2020:

My Akita has done in Rat, Possum, and Raccoon. If it comes in the yard, she's gonna kill it.

Tab Morrow on January 26, 2020:

Just don't let the dog lick your face!!

Cynthia Fulcher on January 12, 2020:

The mice problem is so bad they are about to carry us away! We have tried the all natural stuff traps and my husband HATES cats

We resorted to poison which as work and then.... it happened 2 of our Aussies ate a block I caught it within minutes and are on Vitimin K 1

Now we will get a mousing dog

I’ve had rat terriers in the past and seen them in action they are incredible!!

Tiffany on November 22, 2019:

Can a chuihua help keep mice away?

Tammy on October 04, 2019:

Both of my Pembroke Welsh Corgis are mousers, will kill any snake the can get ahold of, and keep rabbits out of the garden.

Patricia Strickland on October 02, 2019:

I had a miniature pincher she loved to flush out the mouse and kill it

Michael on June 26, 2019:

My dachshunds have always killed rats, without any training. It's just instinct.

Lynn on May 13, 2019:

Rats have multiple diseases which can not only make a dog very ill but can also be passed to a human. Letting a pet dog kill rats is dangerous to the dog and humans. Pulling a dog by the tail will severely injure the dog. These are both terrible ideas. Please do not move a dog by pulling the tail and do not let your pet dog hunt rats. Secondary poisoning, bubonic plague, rabies and many other diseases can be passed to humans. These are bad ideas. Just ask your dog's veterinarian.

Mark on February 15, 2019:

I have a JRT and a terrier mix. Both have great innate ratting-killing instincts. However, when hunting together, the added competition aspect makes them incredibly lethal to rats. The kills are quick, relatively humane. The most the rat can get off is two squeaks.

Oddly enough, even through the JRT is a bit less than 20 pounds, she does not do the shaking-by-the-neck thing. No matter how big the rat is, she crushes it with her jaws. If I don't take the dead rat away promptly, she will usually pull its head off for good measure.

Greg Christensen on October 04, 2018:

With the increasing and lawful use of rat and mouse poison during certain months, I would NEVER own a dog that could catch and consume rats.

Rich on September 06, 2018:

We have two chihuahua mixes--one is a 8 lb. miniature dachshund/chihuahua (a "chiweenie") and the other is a 15 lb. chihuahua-terrier-thing (an adorable medium-small-sized brown animal). Individually, they're effective rat hunters/killers: both have very quick acceleration, the chiweenie is completely fearless, and the brown dog has the ability to jump like a deer and soar about 10-15 feet through the air. Hunting together, however, they become a super-ratter team. No rat ever stands a chance in our back yard.

tina on August 20, 2018:

We have two chow chows they have killed dozens of rats---same way shake them to death--

sophie on July 23, 2018:


anna on July 23, 2018:

hi im anna and i am so selfish and better than you all thanks not

Crossharp on July 05, 2018:

Watch this and then decide,

Alan Thompson on July 05, 2018:

Irish Wheaten Terrier

Debbie on April 14, 2018:

We have a shih tzu, who doesn't even make the list, he's great at catching mice, better than the cat

Todd on April 13, 2018:

My Staffordshire bull terrier used to hunt out and kill rats on regular basis as we walked along the canal towpath.

Parker Wall on March 23, 2018:

The silky terrier.... fast as lighting and strong enough to over power any rodent, small to fit in holes but not too small

Martin kirkbride on March 03, 2018:

Nonsense article. The Manchester Terrier is by far the the best rat catcher, bar none.

Jynn on February 23, 2018:

I bred mini schnauzers. They never caught a rat.

O had a working Aussie, she was amazing ratter

All the breeds you mention may have been originally bred for ratting, but this instinct is bred out of them now and they are great companion dogs but crap as hunters. Try again and get some breeds in your article that actually work as rat hunters and killers

Mshak on February 14, 2018:

My German Shepard just left a dead rat on his patio bed. Last week it was a small bird. He was raised since a pup with 3 cats. Maybe they influenced him, lol.

Dsw on January 29, 2018:

Is a parson terrier as good a ratter as a Jack Russel

christopher johnston on January 24, 2018:

I think you are missing one of the best ones .The Bull terrier.

Ms. D on January 09, 2018:

I have a mini Schnauzer mix, and, yeah, he's a fantastic hunter. He's killed several birds and a couple squirrels in my yard, but does a finer job sniffing out problems inside.

I own a couple of rental properties, and, since they're on the older side, rodents are occasionally a problem, despite my best efforts. When one presents itself, I bring him over and let him sniff around. He'll alert quickly on where they're getting in and/or nesting, and I can patch and treat in a meaningful way. I can usually have the problem licked within a week of a report, by using his "nose."

I also recently bought a home that HAD an outdoor rat problem. Since he's been using the yard, he's killed 2 and his alerting has gone way down...I assume they have decided it's "safer" to live somewhere else!