Rat Terrier German Shepherd Mix: The Complete Guide

In this article, we zoom into the remarkable crossbreed, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix. Embark on a captivating journey with us as we reveal the intriguing blend that brings together the audacious spirit of the Rat Terrier with the protective nature of the German Shepherd. This unique mix promises a delightful companion, ready to add boundless joy and companionship to your life.

The History of the Rat Terrier German Shepherd Mix

The Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier

Though their exact origins remain a mystery, Rat Terriers are known to be descendants of European terrier breeds, such as Manchester Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers, and Old English White Terriers. During the 1800s, British immigrants brought these ancestors to America. Upon arriving in the United States, early settlers used them for their exceptional ratting abilities on farms and homesteads.

American breeders perfected the modern Rat Terrier by crossing these small terriers with other breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets. The breed’s heightened agility and quickness made it a favorite farm dog, adept at hunting rodents and helping their owners with tasks like herding and protecting livestock.

The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd

German Shepherds find their roots in the late 19th century Germany, where Captain Max von Stephanitz sought to create an exceptional, all-purpose working dog. The breed’s foundation was built upon the naturally intelligent and agile sheepdogs native to Germany.

Von Stephanitz meticulously developed the modern German Shepherd, focusing on traits like strength, intelligence, and loyalty. His efforts bore fruit, making the breed highly versatile in various fields, from military and police work to search and rescue missions. Today, the German Shepherd stands as one of the most recognizable breeds worldwide.

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd Mix

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix likely emerged in the latter part of the 20th century as crossbreeding became more popular. Its exact lineage may vary, but one aspect is clear: this mixed breed inherited its intelligence and energy from its parent breeds. The agility and hunting instincts of the Rat Terrier are perfectly combined with the loyalty and protective nature of the German Shepherd, creating a one-of-a-kind canine companion.

This mixed breed is known for its diligence, intelligence, and energy, making it a great addition to active households. While it may not be a breed officially recognized by dog breed registries, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix has earned its rightful place amongst the myriad hybrid dogs worldwide.

Physical Appearance

As a pup of two highly varied breeds, this mix boasts an intriguing blend of characteristics from both its Rat Terrier and German Shepherd lineage. However, exactly which traits the breed will adopt largely depends on the genetic dice roll.

Size and Weight

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix generally falls between a medium to large size dog, heavily influenced by which parent’s genes dominate. As the Rat Terrier is a significantly smaller breed than the German Shepherd, the mix breed’s size can range from 10 to 23 inches in height and 17 to 70 pounds in weight, depending on the individual pup.

A unique characteristic of any mixed breed, including the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix, is its genetic variability. This crossbreed could end up leaning towards the smaller Rat Terrier size or the larger German Shepherd size or might surprisingly land somewhere in between.

Coat and Colors

The coat of a Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix is typically short to medium in length, with the possibility of a dense double coat inherited from the German Shepherd side. However, if the Rat Terrier’s genes are more dominant, the coat may lack an undercoat and be smoother and finer.

As for color, the possibilities are vast. Rat Terriers are usually bi or tricolored with white as a predominant color mixed with shades of black, tan, chocolate, red, or lemon. On the other hand, German Shepherds are commonly seen in combinations of black and tan, but can also be blue, black, or white. A Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix could inherit any of these colors or a uniquely blended shade.

Facial Appearance

This breed displays bright, expressively intelligent eyes, which can range in color from a light hazel to a profound brown. They typically possess a strong muzzle, much like the German Shepherd, and have a pair of high-set ears that may either stand erect or fold over, taking after the Rat Terrier.

Temperament and Personality

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix inherits an array of personality traits and characteristics from both of its dynamic parent breeds, giving rise to a fascinating blend of temperament. While some variation will stem from their mixed heritage, certain qualities shine through in this delightful crossbreed.


Owing to the brilliant nature of both parent breeds, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix is blessed with mental prowess. This canine is often highly trainable and enjoys engaging in stimulating activities. Their innate smarts make them excellent companions for dog sports, obedience training, and various dog-related hobbies, ensuring they remain mentally and physically fit.

Energy and Enthusiasm

Combine the energetic Rat Terrier’s keen hunting instincts with the German Shepherd’s working dog mentality, and you have a high-energy mix eager to engage in physical activities. The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix is happiest when it has a job to do or exercises its energy outdoors. This breed is an excellent choice for active individuals who enjoy an adventure and are willing to provide their four-legged friends with ample outlets for mental and physical stimulation.

Loyalty and Protectiveness

The Rat Terrier and the German Shepherd are known for their fiercely loyal nature, which most certainly carries over to their mixed-breed offspring. The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix tends to be deeply attached to its family members and displays a protective demeanor over its preferred humans. This quality is particularly pronounced when inherited from the German Shepherd side, known for their role as guardians and protectors.

Socialization and Adaptability

Given the natural instinct of the Rat Terrier to chase and hunt smaller animals, it is crucial to invest in early and consistent socialization for your Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix. This training helps them adapt to various environments and ensures they can coexist peacefully with other pets. The same goes for interaction with smaller children, who may need to be taught how to interact appropriately with the dog, given their energy and size.

When properly socialized, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix will likely be adaptable and friendly with people and other pets. This breed thrives in an environment where they receive attention and stimulation.

Care and Training

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix, adorned with a unique blend of traits from both parent breeds, requires special attention in terms of care and training.

Balanced Diet

As medium to large-sized, high-energy dogs, this mix needs a balanced diet rich in proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates. It is vital to offer a diet that matches their life stage (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Always make sure the food is fit for a medium or large type breed, and monitor weight gain to prevent obesity, especially if the dog leans more towards the German Shepherd’s size.

Regular Grooming

These dogs generally require moderate grooming. Weekly brushing can help manage loose hairs and keep their coat clean. If their coat leans more towards the German Shepherds, they might experience two blowout seasons where they shed heavily. During these times, more frequent brushing will be necessary. Regular ear checks, teeth brushing, and nail trims should also form part of their grooming routine.

Exercise and Activity

Being an energetic and intelligent hybrid, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix requires plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. A couple of long walks or play sessions each day, coupled with high-intensity exercises like fetch, agility training, or running, satisfy their energy levels. Providing toys that challenge them mentally can help avoid boredom and any associated destructive behavior.

Health Considerations

As for most breeds, routine vet check-ups are vital for staying on top of a Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix’s health. They can be prone to health issues that typically affect their parent breeds. These may include hip dysplasia, allergies, and eye conditions. Regular vet appointments will help in the early detection and treatment of these potential issues.


Both the Rat Terrier and the German Shepherd are intelligent breeds, which suggests their offspring will be eager and quick to learn. Training should start at a young age, focusing on socialization, obedience, and positive reinforcement. Consistency, patience, and positive rewards are the key ingredients for successful training. They often respond well to food rewards and praise.

Living with a Rat Terrier German Shepherd Mix

Adopting a Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix into your home means coming to a mutual understanding and adapting to each other’s lifestyles. Equipped with distinct personality traits, this crossbreed offers an enriching experience, suitable for various living situations when their needs are well met.

Home Environment and Living Space

Rat Terrier German Shepherd mixes can adapt well to different types of homes, ranging from apartments to houses with yards. However, due to their inherent energy, occasional barking, and potential size, they might be better suited for larger living spaces. Providing an enclosed yard or outdoor space for them to exercise is ideal, but in any case, daily walks and outings are essential to keep them content and well-behaved.

Interaction with Family Members

Loyalty and affection are prominent features in these dogs, making them emotionally attached and highly protective towards their family members. They usually form strong bonds, often with a preference for one family member, though they can be loving companions for all. Investing time in building the relationship through regular attention, play, and cuddling sessions is essential.

While they can be excellent family pets, their energy levels and possible size make it essential to monitor their interaction with smaller children who may be unused to the dog’s vitality. Teaching children to interact respectfully and gently with the dog will help establish a harmonious relationship between them.

Compatibility with Other Pets

Although the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix can get along well with other pets, this depends on their innate temperament, genetic predisposition, and exposure to early and consistent socialization. The Rat Terrier’s hunting instincts can be strong and may require diligent training and attentiveness, especially when interacting with smaller pets like cats, small dogs, or rodents.

Introducing new pets to the household should be done with care, patience, and supervision to ensure harmonious interactions. Maintaining separate spaces for the pets in the beginning and gradually increasing the time they spend together can help smoothen the process.

Potential Challenges

Like any other breed, the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix can present some challenges:

  • High energy: Due to their inherent energy and intelligence, they must be given enough exercise and mental stimulation. Failure to do so may result in boredom-related destructive behavior.
  • Barking: Rat Terriers, in particular, are known for their vocal nature; if this trait is inherited, you may experience occasional barking that requires consistent training to control.
  • Training: Being intelligent dogs, investing time in consistent training and socialization from a young age is crucial in helping them become well-rounded adult dogs.

Fun facts about the Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix, a unique hybrid dog breed, boasts an interesting blend of characteristics inherited from both their parent breeds.

Ancestral Fascination

  • Parent Breed Prestige: The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix is quite an extraordinary blend, as one of its parent breeds, the German Shepherd, has consistently held its spot in the top 3 most popular dogs in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
  • Heritage of Versatility: Their other parent, the Rat Terrier, was a favorite farm dog in America during the early 20th century, prized for their remarkable versatility in catching pests and playing companion to their farming families.

A Blend of Talents

  • Double Duty: Interestingly, both breeds have historically been working dogs, albeit in different lines of work. While the German Shepherd is renowned for its contributions to service fields such as the police, military, and search and rescue, Rat Terriers were famous for ridding farms of vermin, showcasing an exciting blend of utilitarian heritage.
  • Natural Hunters: Borrowed from their Rat Terrier parent, the keen hunting instinct of this mixed breed may result in a fascination with smaller creatures, including bugs. Don’t be surprised if your Rat Terrier German Shepherd blend takes up duties as a backyard insect controller.

Intriguing Characteristics

  • Intelligence: Both Rat Terriers and German Shepherds are renowned for their intelligence. As a result, their mix tends to be highly trainable and eager to learn — but this also means they need mental stimulation regularly to avoid getting bored.
  • Unique in Appearance: Individual appearance can be quite a surprise with this breed. Depending on which parent’s genes are more dominant, a single litter can have a fascinating array of different looking puppies.
  • Energy Powerhouse: Borrowing highly energetic traits from both parent breeds, expect these canines to be active. Showcasing an adventure-loving side inherited from the multi-talented German Shepherds and the sporty Rat Terrier, these dogs make for enthusiastic jogging or hiking buddies.

Final Thoughts

The Rat Terrier German Shepherd mix, derived from two remarkably distinct and dynamic breeds, offers an intriguing ensemble of traits. Their surprising heritage, blended skills, and emotional characteristics make them a fascinating hybrid to learn about and an outstanding companion to those ready to embrace their unique nature.

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