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Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a small sized dog from the US and named after the 26th president. It has a life span of 12 to 16 years and was developed to be a hunting terrier and to have a great temperament too. Owners also appreciate that as well as being a good looking dog it is also a healthy one. It is also known as the Short-legged Rat Terrier, Bench-legged Feist, Type B and Teddy Roosevelt Rat Terrier.

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier at a Glance
Name Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Other names Short-legged Rat Terrier, Bench-legged Feist, Type B, Teddy Roosevelt Rat Terrier
Nicknames TRT
Origin USA
Average size Small
Average weight 8 to 25 pounds
Average height 8 to 15 inches
Life span 12 to 16 years
Coat type Short, dense, smooth/medium hard, shiny
Hypoallergenic No
Color Solid white, white and black, lemon and white, white and tan, tri-color
Popularity Not yet recognized by the AKC but is a member of the FSS
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Moderate – needs some protection from the cold with a sweater
Shedding Moderate – will be some hair in the home to clean up
Drooling Low – not especially prone
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Moderate to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Occasional – some barking but should not be constant
Exercise needs Somewhat active – needs daily activity
Trainability Moderately easy to easy
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Very good but need to be confident with it
Good family pet Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good, has a high prey drive so needs socialization
Good with strangers Good but wary and needs socialization
Good apartment dog Very good – make sure it gets outside daily for activity
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but a few issues can include Ectopia lentis, joint dysplasia, patellar luxation and allergies
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for a license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys
Average annual expenses $705 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $500
Rescue organizations Rat Terrier Rescue, also see local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier’s Beginnings

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier comes from the feisty small dogs brought over in the 1800s by immigrants from Britain. They were seen as the common people’s dog being as they were mostly owned by miners and other working class people. As well as being companions these dogs were excellent ratters and vermin hunters and since there were no poisons in those days these dogs were used at work, in ports, in mines, in homes and in warehouses to hunt vermin. Back then they were also used in rat killing competitions and dog fights as a form of entertainment.

These rat terriers were over time crossed with other breeds including the Manchester Terrier, English Terrier (extinct now), and the Smooth Fox Terrier and then later on for speed the Greyhound and the Whippet. To improve the hunting ability some breeders also later added the Beagle. These crosses led to two types of rat terrier evolving, distinguished by their leg length, the lean and long legged Type A and the short legged and more muscular Type B. The latter being the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. In 1901 President Teddy Roosevelt brought with him to the White House a type B, it was he that coined the term rat terrier for the dog, and its name was later changed to honor him. He helped make the breed popular and it remained so for three decades becoming one of the most common dogs in the US.

New Lease on Life

There is though some division about whether the Teddy Roosevelt Terriers or Type Bs are actually still rat terriers, the AKC and the Rat Terrier Club of American would say no and do not recognize them. In 1996 the UTRTCA United Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Club of America was formed. The UKC in 1999 recognizes the Rat Terrier and the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier as two separate Rat Terrier breeds and it is the only major kennel club to do so.

The Dog You See Today

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a small sized dog weighing 8 to 25 pounds and standing 8 to 15 inches tall. It is a low set dog with a muscular and sturdy body that is slightly longer than it is tall. Its neck is long and slightly arched with powerful shoulders, short but strong legs and compact oval shaped feet. Its tail is usually docked (a practice that is still allowed in the US though not so much now in Europe). If left natural it is thicker at the base then tapers to the end. Its back is level and its coat is dense, short and smooth or hard to touch. Common colors are solid white, a mix of two colors like lemon, chocolate, tan, black, red, white, orange and blue and it can also be tri-colored.

This dog has a head that is wedge shaped and a skull that is domed slightly and broad and then tapers to the muzzle which is chiseled. The nose is black and it has strong jaws good for catching vermin with. Its teeth should meet in a level or scissor bite. The eyes are prominent and are almond or round in shape. They are small and can be amber or dark brown in color. Its ears are V shaped and can be tipped, button or erect.

The Inner Teddy Roosevelt Terrier


The TRT is a versatile dog, it is a good hunter, does well in obedience and agility trials and is also a great companion. It needs lots of human companionship and interaction and craves attention and affection. It forms very close attachments too and can bond more closely to one owner especially though it still affectionate to the other members of the family. It is eager to please and is a dog that will want to be close to you wherever you are in the home.

With strangers it is aloof at first and socialization is important. It is a good watchdog though as it is alert and will let you know by barking if there is someone breaking in to the home. It is protective and it is territorial so it may try to act to defend its home and you. This is a bold and spunky dog and it is intelligent too. It can often start acting out and clown around to try and get attention so be prepared for some laughs and some mischief. It is playful and energetic but loves to also nap on your lap at the end of the day when it is time to relax.

Living with a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

What will training look like?

While it is intelligent and eager to please it also has a stubborn side to it and a strong will so training is not super easy and experience would help. Along with early obedience training you also need to devote time to early socialization too. Both are essential to have a trustworthy, happy and confident dog. Use positive training methods, offer rewards, treats and motivate it with encouragement and praise. But you still need to balance that with a firm and confident approach so it know that you are the boss at all times.

How active is the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier?

These dogs do have a lot of energy and love to play and be active. They need a minimum of 45 minutes a day with activity, this should include a couple of moderate and brisk walks, play with you and then time off leash somewhere safe to run around a few times a week. If you have a yard that is a bonus though it can adapt to apartment living as long as it gets those daily walks and play sessions. Be prepared that it does love to dig so will dig up your yard. As well as giving it enough exercise you also need to make sure it has enough mental stimulation too. As lively as it is, if there is a chance for a snuffle and attention it will pause its play for that!

Caring for the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Grooming needs

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is not a breed that needs a great deal of care and grooming so if you need a dog that is low maintenance this. Brush it once or twice a week with a brush or rubber curry and that should help with the loose hair. It sheds a moderate amount usually so there will be a little hair to deal with but not a huge amount. Only bathe this dog when it really needs to be cleaned – too often and you will damage its natural oils and for the same reason use a proper dog shampoo.

It will also need to have its teeth looked after by brushing two to three times a week or even daily if it will let you. The key to letting it brush its teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste is to start it gradually and when it is young. Its ears should be examined weekly for infection signs and then wiped clean using an ear cleanser and cotton ball, but do not push anything into them. The nails too will need trimming if not worn down naturally. If you do not know how have someone show you as cutting too low into the section with nerves and blood vessels can cause bleeding and pain.

Feeding Time

How much a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier eats will depend on its size, activity level, metabolism, activity level and age. Expect it to be around ¾ to 2 cups a day split into at least two meals. Choose a food of good quality that is more nutritious and give it access to water at all times that you change for fresh when possible.

How is the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier with other animals and children?

This dog is good with children with socialization and if raised with them though it is a good to supervise it around young children who like to tease and can be too rough. Otherwise it is playful, caring and lively with them. It does have a high prey drive so likes to chase small animals. With socialization it can learn to accept other non-canine pets but it will still go after strange animals. Keep it on a leash when out walking to avoid it getting away from you. It will learn to deal with other dogs but occasionally it can have dominance issues with dogs that is the same gender as it.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

A Teddy Roosevelt Terrier has a life span of 12 to 16 years. There are health issues that can occur though and they include ectopia lentis, joint dysplasia, patellar luxation, allergies and heart problems.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks against people in North America over the last three and a half decades, the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier cannot be found to have been involved in any incident. The Rat Terrier is listed has having just 2 incidents that did bodily harm over that whole time. This is not a dog to be overly worries about in terms of aggression towards people. The fact is any dog can have a bad day and we cannot completely prevent them but as responsible owners there are some things we can do to lessen the risks. Give it good training and socialization, raise it well, give it the exercise, stimulation and attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Teddy Roosevelt Terrier will be priced at about $500 for a puppy of good pet quality and then triple that or more from a top breeder. From a shelter or rescue you can get one for $50 to $400 but unless you find somewhere that is breed specific you are likely to find more mixed breeds than anything else. If all you are looking for is a playful and happy small dog for companionship you may just find a new best friend that way and give a dog a new chance at a forever home. Avoid getting your dog from places like pet stores, backyard breeder ads and puppy mills.

Once you have found the dog or puppy and it is coming home there are some things to get for it that it will need. These include items like a collar and leash, bowls, bedding, crate and carrier. That will be about $120. Then initial health needs will include things like spaying and neutering, micro chipping, blood tests, deworming, physical exam and shots for another $260.

Annual costs are then another aspect of the price of being a dog owner. For a good quality dry dog food and some dog treats expect a cost of around $75 a year. For medical needs (just the essentials) like flea and tick prevention, check ups, shots and then pet insurance or emergency savings, the annual cost is $435 a year. Then miscellaneous costs like toys, license, basic training and miscellaneous items will come to about $195 a year. This gives an annual cost of $705 as a starting figure.

Adding It All Up


Looking for a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Name? Let select one from our list!

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are smart, affectionate, lively and loyal but it also can be stubborn. Make sure you spend time training and socializing it and giving it enough exercise and games, toys and puzzles that challenge it. If you do not want a dog that wants to follow you around the home this is not the one for you. If you are especially fond of your yard without holes in it this is again not the dog for you!

Featured image credit: addictedknitter, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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