What Dog Breeds Kill Rats?

Adrienne Farricelli

Dog breeds that kill rats are several, and most of them have a history of being specifically bred for the task.

While cats are the perfect role models for chasing and killing rats, dogs should not be underestimated for the task. Introducing the "ratters," several dogs breeds blessed with a long term history of being selectively bred for the non glamorous task of killing rats.

The History of Ratters

Ratters are simply dogs selectively bred for catching rats. Not all dogs met the criteria for being great ratters: it took a special temperament and physical traits. In general, the best ratters were dogs who were on the smaller scale in size. Such dogs were purposely bred for tenacity and quick reflexes, and of course, lots of courage and determination.

Back in the olden days, the task was quite fundamental considering the primary role rats played in the spread of fatal diseases such as the black plague in Europe. Not to mention the extensive damage small rodents caused to food supplies and factories, leading to great losses.

Did you know? The "rat catcher" was a person who turned the art of catching rats into a primary business. Jack Black, a popular rat catcher dating back to old Victorian England was often seen accompanied by a small furry helper. Several of his caught rats were used for the purpose of rat-baiting, a bloody sport consisting of placing numerous rats in a pit, and having dogs exterminate them all. Bets were often made on how quickly dogs would kill them all.

What Dog Breeds Kill Rats?

A good percentage of dogs breeds known for killing rats belonged to the class of working terriers developed in England, Ireland and Scotland. Following is a list of some dog breeds that kill rats.

Bedlington Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Manchester Terrier

Rat Terriers 

Jack Russell terriers


Cairn terriers

Norfolk terriers

Norwich terriers

Sealyham terriers

Border terriers




Patterdale terriers

Lakeland terriers

Prague ratters

West Highland white terriers