Rats can be a nuisance and even a health hazard if they invade your home or property. Getting rid of them isn’t always easy, but some dog breeds have strong rodent-hunting instincts and can help you control or even eradicate a rat problem.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Terriers like Jack Russell Terriers and Rat Terriers, as well as Dachshunds and Miniature Schnauzers, are particularly effective ratters thanks to their strong prey drive, athleticism, small size, and intelligence.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at the best dog breeds for killing and catching rats, both indoors and outdoors. We’ll discuss each breed’s rat-hunting abilities, temperament, potential drawbacks, and more.

We’ll also provide tips for training your dog to hunt rats safely and effectively.


When it comes to rat hunting, terriers are often the top choice for many people. These small and feisty dogs have a natural instinct for hunting and catching rodents, making them highly effective in controlling rat populations.

Terriers are known for their tenacity, agility, and determination, making them excellent rat hunters.

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is a popular choice for rat hunting due to its high energy levels and strong prey drive. Originating from England, these dogs were specifically bred for hunting small game, including rats.

Their compact size and fearless nature allow them to navigate tight spaces and dig into rat burrows to flush out the rodents.

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, which make them great at outsmarting rats. They are highly trainable and can quickly learn new commands and techniques for rat hunting.

With their keen senses and sharp instincts, these dogs excel at tracking down and eliminating rats.

Rat Terrier

As the name suggests, the Rat Terrier is a breed that was developed specifically for rat hunting. These dogs have a natural talent for catching and dispatching rats, making them highly efficient in controlling rodent populations.

Rat Terriers are known for their agility, speed, and determination, which allow them to swiftly chase down and capture rats.

These dogs have a strong prey drive and are always on the lookout for potential targets. They have an incredible sense of smell and hearing, which helps them locate rats even in hidden or hard-to-reach areas.

Rat Terriers are also highly trainable and can easily adapt to different rat hunting techniques.

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is another excellent choice for rat hunting. Originating from Scotland, these dogs were originally bred to hunt and kill small prey, including rats. Cairn Terriers are known for their boldness and fearlessness, which make them highly effective in confronting and dispatching rats.

These dogs are small in size but have a strong and muscular build, allowing them to take on larger rats with ease. Cairn Terriers have a keen sense of smell and can quickly detect the presence of rats in their surroundings.

They are also known for their digging abilities, which come in handy when rats try to hide in burrows or underground.


Dachshunds are a popular choice for rat hunting due to their unique physical characteristics and hunting instincts. Their long bodies and short legs allow them to easily navigate tight spaces and burrows where rats often hide.

Dachshunds have a strong sense of smell and excellent tracking abilities, making them highly effective at sniffing out and catching rats.

Standard Dachshund

The Standard Dachshund is the original size of the breed and is known for its fearless nature and tenacity. These dogs are typically larger and stronger than their miniature counterparts, making them well-suited for rat hunting.

Standard Dachshunds have a keen sense of smell and a strong prey drive, which allows them to quickly locate and eliminate rats. They are also known for their loud barks, which can help scare away rats and alert their owners to the presence of rodents.

Miniature Dachshund

The Miniature Dachshund is a smaller version of the breed and is equally adept at rat hunting. Despite their smaller size, these dogs are still highly capable of tracking and catching rats. Miniature Dachshunds have a lively and energetic personality, which makes them great companions for rat hunting.

They are known for their determination and persistence, traits that are essential for successfully eliminating rats. Their compact size also allows them to access narrow spaces and burrows where rats may be hiding.

When considering a Dachshund for rat hunting, it’s important to remember that each dog is an individual and may have varying levels of prey drive and hunting instincts. Proper training and socialization are key to ensuring that your Dachshund is well-behaved and effective in rat hunting.

Additionally, it’s important to consult with a professional dog trainer or breeder to determine if a Dachshund is the right breed for your specific needs and environment.

For more information on Dachshunds and their suitability for rat hunting, you can visit https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/dachshund/.


When it comes to rat hunting, Schnauzers are considered one of the best dog breeds for the job. They have a natural instinct to hunt and are highly skilled at catching and killing rats. Schnauzers are known for their intelligence, agility, and determination, which make them excellent ratters.

Standard Schnauzer

The Standard Schnauzer is a medium-sized breed that originated in Germany. They were originally bred as versatile working dogs, including ratting. Standard Schnauzers are known for their courage and tenacity, making them highly effective at catching and dispatching rats.

They have a strong prey drive and are quick to react, making them ideal for rat control.

If you are considering getting a Standard Schnauzer for rat hunting, it is important to provide them with proper training and socialization from a young age. This will help them develop the necessary skills and behaviours to excel in their role as a ratter.

Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is a smaller version of the Standard Schnauzer and shares many of the same characteristics. They are known for their alertness, intelligence, and feisty personality. Despite their small size, Miniature Schnauzers have no problem taking on rats and are highly successful at catching and eliminating them.

Miniature Schnauzers are often preferred for rat hunting in smaller spaces or urban environments where larger breeds might have difficulty maneuvering. Their compact size allows them to navigate tight spaces and access areas where rats may be hiding.

Both the Standard Schnauzer and the Miniature Schnauzer have a dense, wiry coat that helps protect them from bites and scratches while ratting. Regular grooming is necessary to keep their coat in good condition and prevent matting.

If you are considering getting a Schnauzer for rat hunting, it is important to remember that every dog is an individual. While these breeds have a natural instinct for ratting, not all Schnauzers will excel in this activity.

Proper training, socialization, and supervision are essential to ensure they are able to perform their rat hunting duties effectively and safely.

For more information on Schnauzers and rat hunting, you can visit https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/standard-schnauzer/ and https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/miniature-schnauzer/.

Training Your Dog to Hunt Rats

Start with Basic Obedience

Before you can train your dog to hunt rats, it’s important to establish a foundation of basic obedience. This includes teaching your dog commands such as sit, stay, and come. A well-trained dog will be easier to control and will be more focused during the training process.

If your dog already has a good grasp of basic obedience, you can move on to the next step.

Motivate with Treats and Praise

One of the most effective ways to train a dog to hunt rats is through positive reinforcement. Use treats and praise to reward your dog whenever they display desired behavior. For example, if your dog shows interest in a rat or successfully flushes one out, immediately reward them with a treat and plenty of verbal praise.

This will help to reinforce the connection between hunting rats and positive outcomes.

Supervise Closely

During the training process, it’s important to closely supervise your dog to ensure their safety and the safety of the rats. Keep your dog on a leash and maintain control at all times. This will prevent them from harming the rats or getting into dangerous situations.

Additionally, closely supervising your dog will allow you to correct any unwanted behavior and redirect their focus if necessary.

Remember, training your dog to hunt rats requires patience and consistency. It’s important to start with basic obedience and gradually introduce them to the concept of rat hunting. With the right training and guidance, your dog can become a valuable asset in controlling rat populations. Good luck!

Safety Tips

When it comes to using dogs for rat control, it’s important to prioritize safety for both the dogs and the humans involved. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

Protect Against Disease

Rats are known carriers of various diseases, including leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and rat-bite fever. To protect your dog from potential infections, make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations, including those for diseases commonly transmitted by rodents.

Additionally, it’s crucial to maintain good hygiene practices by washing your hands thoroughly after handling rats or their waste.

Watch for Aggression

While certain dog breeds have a natural inclination to chase and kill rats, it’s essential to closely monitor their behavior during these activities. Some dogs may become overly aggressive or possessive, which can pose a risk to both humans and other animals.

If you notice any signs of aggression, such as growling, snarling, or excessive barking, it’s important to intervene and redirect their attention elsewhere.

Prevent Injuries

Rat control often involves setting traps or using other methods that can potentially harm both rats and dogs. To prevent injuries, ensure that any traps or baits are placed in areas inaccessible to your dog.

It’s also a good idea to supervise your dog closely during rat control activities and provide them with appropriate protective gear if necessary. If your dog does sustain any injuries during the process, seek veterinary care immediately.

Remember, the safety of your dog should always be the top priority when using them for rat control. By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and successful rat control experience for both your furry friend and yourself.


Rats can multiply quickly and be difficult to fully eradicate, but the right rat-hunting dog can help control an infestation. Terriers and other small-to-medium sized breeds like Dachshunds and Schnauzers have strong instincts and physical attributes that make them ideal for killing rats both indoors and out.

With proper training and supervision, they can be an effective natural method of rodent control.

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