The Difference Between A Smooth Coated Fox Terrier And A Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are often mistaken for Fox Terriers which is understandable because the two breeds do look very much alike. However, there are some distinct differences both in their physical appearance and their temperaments which are well worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these delightful and energetic little dogs.

The Fox Terrier

Known to be extremely affectionate and alert, the energetic Fox Terrier is an independent character by nature and a breed native to the UK. These little dogs are incredibly loyal and have a tendency to be quite territorial too. Smooth coated Fox Terriers boast an array of colours which includes white, tricolour, black, brown, black and tan as well as red. Their coats can be dense or fine, but they are typically quite rough and harsh to the touch. They stand at between 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder and can weigh in at around 19 lbs.

The breed is known to be highly intelligent which means they do really well when competing in canine sports like agility and Flyball. They are also very adept hunters and will track down their prey without fear or hesitation. When well cared for and fed a good nutritious diet to suit their ages, the Fox Terrier can live anything from 10 to 13+ years.

When it comes to health, the Fox Terrier is known to suffer from quite a few hereditary and congenital disorders which is why it's so important to buy a puppy from a reputable well-established breeder who always has any dogs they use in a breeding programme screened for the conditions the Fox Terrier is known to suffer from.

The American Rat Terrier

First bred in the United States, The Rat Terrier is also known to be a very alert and affectionate dog. They are also renowned for being extremey good "ratters", hence their name. Again, being terriers they are highly intelligent and although they are quick to learn new things, both good and bad, they have a little bit of a stubborn and wilful streak in them. As such, although they do make great family pets, they will pick up bad habits and quickly as they would learn a few bad ones too.

Rat Terriers like the Fox Terrier, have a short coat that can be black and tan, blue, tricolour, brown or white. They are slightly taller, standing at anything between 19 and 22 inches at the shoulder and they can weigh in at around 40 lbs making them quite a bit heavier than the Fox Terrier.

Being high energy dogs, the Rat Terrier likes to be kept busy and enjoys nothing more than taking part in all sorts of doggy activities which includes agility and games like Flyball and Frisbee. They are extremely good guard dogs and will soon let you know when any strangers are about. When they are well cared for and fed a nutritious diet to suit their ages, the Rat Terrier can live anything from 15 to 23+ years which is a lot longer than the Fox Terrier.

When it comes to health, the Rat Terrier is known to be a very healthy and robust little dog, although like the Fox Terrier, they are predisposed to suffering from quite a few hereditary and congenital health disorders. As such it is really important to contact reputable and well-established breeders who routinely screen all the dogs they use in their breeding programmes to make sure they are healthy.

Fox Terrier vs American Rat Terrier

  • Although they can be a little wilful and stubborn, the Rat Terrier is known to be easier to train than a smooth coated Fox Terrier. Fox Terriers really do benefit from being enrolled in obedience classes when they are young so they learn the "rules" and understand the boundaries.
  • However, when it comes to adaptability, the Fox Terrier tends to be able to cope that much better in different environments whereas the Rat Terrier finds it a lot harder to adapt to new situations, strangers and unfamiliar animals.
  • When it comes to exercise, Rat Terriers need a lot more than the Fox Terrier which means they are the perfect choice for people who love to spend all their spare time in the great outdoors with a canine companion to keep them company. The Fox Terrier on the other hand would be quite happy living in town or in an apartment than a Rat Terrier would.
  • Healthwise, both terriers are known to have a tendency to suffer from quite a few hereditary and congenital health issues although not all dogs will ever develop any of them during the course of their lifetimes.
  • When it comes to intelligence, the Rat Terrier is thought to be more intelligent than the Fox Terrier, but they are not as playful or as territorial. Rat Terriers are also far less independent than the Fox Terrier.
  • Size-wise, the Rat Terrier is a lot taller and heavier than their Fox Terrier counterparts with females of both breeds being smaller than the males.

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