Rat terriers are small dogs; with a short, smooth, sleek, and shiny coat that can come in a variety of different colors. But what about shedding? What can you expect regarding hair loss in this energetic breed? And what about allergies? Here is what you will want to know.
So, do rat terriers shed? Rat terriers do shed; although minimally compared to other breeds. While they shed a small amount year-round, they do shed more than usual in the spring and fall (which is otherwise known as shedding season). This is when a dog prepares its coat for the incoming change in weather/temperature.
The rat terrier coat is universally short, so with regular brushing and other grooming, you should not expect a lot of hair around your home with this breed.
And that’s true regardless of their coat color.
They are considered to be a low-maintenance breed regarding their grooming.
This is excellent news for owners, especially those who may have a mild pet or dog allergy.
Besides, there are always ways to improve the situation further, as we will get into shortly.
But just consider that shedding is natural and is to be expected somewhat with this breed.
It is one way that they are able to regulate their body temperature, and it’s common for many dogs to lose some of their coat to some extent.
Let us now take a closer look at the coat of the rat terrier coat before we look at shedding in further detail.
We will also be taking a look at some of those other questions you main have; mainly whether or not this breed can be classified as hypoallergenic.
At the end, we will discuss some of the best tips that owners can consider to keep their rat terriers coat healthy.
So keep on reading to get all the information you need!
The Rat Terrier Coat
The rat terrier coat is smooth, sleek, and dense. Their shiny fur comes in a range of colors – white, brown, lemon, red, tan, black with tan, black with rust, white with black, white with tan. Typically all ratties have some white markings on their fur, regardless of color.
The coat of the rat terrier is easy to keep in good condition; all you need to do is brush their coat once a week to remove dead hairs.
Some hairs will naturally fall out and to the ground, but by brushing you will be able to collect it before it is deposited around your home!
Rat terriers shed the most during the spring and fall; otherwise known as shedding season.
During this time they will require more frequent grooming as their hair will fall out more during these times.
For rat terriers, who possess a shorter coat, it is recommended to use a slicker brush or a brushing glove that has a type of bristle on the palm (like these best sellers on Amazon).
These will enable you to loosen dead hair and also to massage your dogs natural oils throughout their coat.
By doing so, you can promote future hair growth and keep it in its optimal, silky condition.
When brushing a rat terrier, it is best to first brush against the hair growth to remove loose hair, and then brush the opposite way to remove it. Repeating the process a few times tends to work best.
With a mitt, or glove, you can also consider using a circular motion which also works well.
Do Rat Terriers Shed A Lot?
Rat terriers are a low shedding dog breed; but they do still require the brushing of their coat at least once per week to keep the shedding to a minimum.
As previously mentioned, keep in mind that these dogs will shed more than usual during the spring and fall.
This is otherwise known as seasonal shedding. During those times, you must brush their coat more frequently – daily is preferable but 2-3x per week is a good rule of thumb.
Shedding the coat is one way in which your rat terrier will natural regulate their body temperature, so it makes sense for them to naturally prepare as the weather changes.
In the fall, rat terriers will shed some of their summer coat to make way for the new fur growth. This new fur will be thicker, and it will keep them warm throughout the winter season.
In the spring, shed their winter coat, their fur becomes thinner, and this keeps their body cool as well as preventing their bodies from becoming overheated in the summer.
Shedding is a normal part of life for the rat terrier, but you can rest assured that this dog breed does not shed a lot for the majority of the year.
Once you understand that they shed the most during the seasonal changes, you can take steps to remove dead hair and keep it off your clothes and furnishings.
Are Rat Terriers Hypoallergenic?
Rat terriers are not classified as hypoallergenic. While they don’t shed as much as other breeds, these dogs are not most suitable for those with dog allergies.
In fact, no dog is technically 100% hypoallergenic. All breeds do shed to some extent and all produce different levels and types of ‘dander’. This is actually at the root cause of allergic reactions to dogs along with other animals.
Dander, is microscopic particles of skin that contain proteins which cause allergies in susceptible individuals.
They also tend to suffer when coming in contact with particles that are also found in a dogs saliva, urine, mucous and feces.
However, in some breeds, with poodle cross-breeds being the most notable, they shed to such a little extent and release so little dander, that they are classified as hypoallergenic.
These dogs are great for allergy sufferers.
But, this is not true of the rat terrier, especially during shedding season! This is when allergy sufferers do not tend to do well around this breed.
That being said, the amount a rat terrier sheds has a lot to do with how well they are cared for. Equally certain factors can affect shedding and make it heavier than usual.
So, in some respects, you can support allergy sufferers who need to be, or may even be in the presence of your dog from time to time.
For one, maintaining the quality of your dog’s coat is a good approach.
Failing to do so often results in a higher propensity for a dog to shed – resulting in more dander being released.
Beyond this, if you do your research and due diligence before acquiring your rat terrier, you can ensure that you get a dog that has been bred appropriately and been taken care of.
This increases your chances of getting a dog with a better quality coat, while also being closest to the breed standard.
From there, make sure that you feed your dog a high-quality diet, brush the coat at least once per week, and bathe once every four to six weeks.
How Do I Stop My Rat Terrier Shedding?
You will never be able to stop your rat terrier from shedding; it is perfectly normal and just one aspect of ownership.
However, you can undoubtedly reduce shedding with weekly brushing, bathing appropriately, and supplying your dog with a healthy diet.
You’ll also need to take special care of your rat terriers coat in the spring and fall months as this is when shedding increases and you can best influence the quality of the new coat coming through.
Let’s look at some of the best practical ways in how you can keep your rat terriers shedding to a minimum:
High Quality Nutrition
Your rat terrier requires a healthy, highly nutritious diet from the day you bring them into your home.
Avoid feeding cheap dog food to your rat terrier as these often contain low-quality grains, lack protein as well as other important minerals and vitamins your dog needs.
Most often, cheap dog food is not balanced with nutrition, and your dog cannot obtain what they need to be at their best.
Don’t feed inappropriate scraps for the same reason.
It would also help if you provided your rat terrier with fatty acid and omega 3 supplements; these are known to make their skin and coat healthier.
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It is best to brush your rat terrier’s coat often and properly to minimize shedding.
It all starts with using a brush that is suitable for your rat terrier’s coat.
Some owners use a natural bristle brush. Otherwise, a slicker brush or grooming gloves are an ideal product for a first-time dog owner, it removes dead hair more readily, and it’s easy to use.
While rat terriers need bathing, its equally important that you do not do this too often. Once every 4-6 weeks is typically best. Unless of course, they roll in something smelly or get extremely dirty.
If you bathe your rat terrier more frequently, this can make their skin dry by removing the coats natural oils. It can also damage the hair follicles. Dry skin leads to more shedding, along with irritation and even pain.
When you do bathe your rat terrier, use a suitable shampoo and conditioner designed for dogs.
Human-based shampoos/conditioners often have a lot of chemicals and other inclusions which are not appropriate for a dog and can cause issues.
Once you have rinsed your dog, make sure that they are completely dry. Never leave them to naturally dry as this can result in a chill/stress.
Rat Terrier Grooming Tips
Thankfully, the rat terrier coat is easy to maintain, and they are low shedding due to their short-haired, sleek coat. They are known as a low-maintenance breed.
Nonetheless, you still have to groom them sufficiently and properly; being sure to use the right grooming supplies and using them correctly.
Let’s take a look at what you will need to do to maintain and groom your rat terrier’s coat as best as you can:
Prepare Your Dog For Grooming
Gather all your supplies so that you have them to hand. Pick a location to brush your dog’s coat; many owners choose to brush their rat terriers coat outdoors to eliminate hair from their home.
Grooming gloves are ideal for removing all dead hairs, dirt, and dead skin.
Grooming gloves are very easy to use and perhaps most suitable for first-time dog owners. It gives you a chance to stroke your dog and bond with them at the same time.
Aside from grooming gloves, slicker brushes are an excellent grooming tool as they get rid of any matting in a pain-free manner.
A slicker brush should be used whether you have a grooming glove or de-shedding tool as it gives the coat a final finish. Your rat terrier should look and feel great afterward.
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Make sure that you brush your rat terriers’ coats thoroughly before bathing them.
Bathe Your Dog
You will require towels, a dog shampoo, a washcloth, a sponge, cotton balls, and doggy treats.
Dog’s don’t like hot bathwater, and it can harm them, so make sure that you check the temperature beforehand. It should be warm but not hot.
Avoid washing your dog’s head and face, also avoid getting water into your dog’s ears.
Make sure that you wash your rat terrier’s body thoroughly, massage the shampoo well into the body, except for the head.
Get to work lathering the shampoo on your dog’s stomach, armpits, tail, rear, and paws.
Use a clean, dry towel to dry your dog. Make sure they are properly dry as any dampness on the coat can lead to them becoming cold.
If you want to use a blow-dryer, ensure that you do so on an appropriate setting.
Ensure it is not too hot, too loud or you place it too close to your dog’s body or for too long on any one area.
Clean The Ears, Teeth & Trim The Nails
When grooming your rat terrier, don’t forget to check your dog’s nails, ears and teeth.
Nails should be trimmed monthly, or as and when you hear any scratching or clicking of their paws on hard surfaces.
You should brush your terrier’s teeth at least twice a week, using a dog toothbrush or shampoo.
Otherwise, dental sticks/toys work well to reduce bacteria and the buildup of plaque.
While you shouldn’t get water in your dog’s ears, you still need to inspect them and clean them. You can use an ear cleaner designed for use on dogs and apply it onto a cotton ball.
Be gentle when swabbing inside your dog’s ear flap and remove all visible dirt.
Any foul-smelling odors, discharge or scratching of the ear are usually good signs a dog needs their ears cleaned.
Rat terriers are small dogs with short, dense coats.
They do not shed often, except from during two specific times of the year as they prepare their coats for the change in seasons.
Thankfully, however because they are small, there is less hair they can even dispose of anyway!
Taking it one step further, with consistent and diligent grooming, you can make it even less of an issue yet.
That being said, this dog breed is not considered hypoallergenic and is not suitable for allergy sufferers.
There are other breeds to consider if someone in the family does struggle with pets and dogs.
Ultimately, when owning a rat terrier you must ensure that you use the right tools and products.
Failing to do so does not benefit your dog’s coat, nor does it make the grooming experience as pleasurable and successful for them.
Beyond this, be sure to feed your dog with the highest quality and nutritious food as you can afford.
Along with some specific supplements, these can go a long way to promoting the health of your dog and is often a neglected aspect of coat maintenance and care.
Want to learn more about the Rat Terrier breed? Then my following guides may be of interest:
- How Much Do Rat Terriers Cost? [Average Price & Cost Guide]
- How Big Do Rat Terriers Get? [Average Height, Weight and Size]
- Do Rat Terriers Bark A Lot? [What Owners Can Expect]
- Are Rat Terriers Aggressive? [Typical Temperament Of This Breed]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.