One of the oldest functions performed by dogs in the service of humans is the extermination of rats and mice, which are not only dangerous pests, but also carry many infectious diseases. There are rat-catchers everywhere where rodents are found, day and night they fight with their countless hordes – it is for this that the dogs have earned great love and respect for man, and the most dexterous have become the subject of great pride of their owners.
It would seem, why do we need rat-catchers, if from time immemorial this function was performed by cats? However, this is not entirely true – the history of rat-catchers dates back to the Middle Ages, and cats in those years were considered helpers of dark forces and were not particularly popular with residents. That is why for many centuries the catching of mice and rats was for the most part the privilege of specialized breeds of dogs, especially in the countries of the Old World.
Dogs were kept on farms, granaries, sides of merchant ships, where dogs made their way into the narrowest cracks, destroying rats no worse than cats. In those years, even a very bloody sport became widespread. It consisted in the fact that thousands of rats were driven into the sports arena, and then the dogs were released there and betting on how long it would take the dog to destroy all the rodents. Some animals showed themselves as real champions – especially flexible and swift dogs caught up to 15 rats in one minute!
Billy the terrier went down in history – he was able to destroy 100 rats in 12 minutes, as well as Jacko the terrier, who caught and strangled over 1000 rodents in a day, while he dealt with the very last batch of 100 pests in just 6 minutes. A case is known when a dog placed in a barn with grain per day exhausted 2,500 pests.
However, it happened that pests also injured animals: driven rodents in a panic united and attacked dogs, often leaving them without eyes and ears.
What properties should rat-catchers have?
Thanks to the crossing of rat-catchers with some other hunting breeds, many new, improved varieties of these unusual animals were bred. Most often, light dogs with small black or red markings were taken for breeding. So it was easier to see the dog in dark rooms where they caught big rats: in warehouses, in the holds of ships, tanneries, taverns and stables. That is why, in the vast majority of cases, rat-catcher dogs have such a suit.
However, over several centuries, the exterior of these animals has undergone significant changes. Ratcatchers have external differences, they can be light, gray, and even black, but at the same time there is a lot in common between them.
First of all, these animals are distinguished by their innate courage and passion for pursuing prey – so strong that it exceeds the feelings of self-preservation and fear during the corral. Dogs have excellent hearing, thanks to which they can hear the slightest rustle made by pests. At the same time, the dog should have a small, but very strong, flexible body, strong jaws and a triangular head – its structure should allow not only to deal with a rodent, but also to quickly overtake prey and penetrate into the narrowest holes where rats hide.
Today, many rat-catchers are bred as companion dogs, they are distinguished by loyalty and devotion to their owner, they become good playmates for kids and get along well with other pets, especially cats, because they can rightfully be called “colleagues”. “.
But keeping such animals under the same roof with hamsters, chinchillas and decorative rats is not worth it – the hunting instincts of the ancestors will certainly make themselves felt, and the dog will not be stopped in pursuit of the “enemy”.
There are quite a few breeds of rat-catchers. Let’s take a look at the most popular of them.
- Rat Terrier (Rat Terrier). This German dog is a real master of trapping rodents. Funny, miniature and stocky animals at one time were specially created to protect the London Underground tunnels from hordes of rats. By the way, it is known that it was the rat terrier that was the pet of the stiff politician Theodore Roosevelt, who spent a lot of time with his pet.
- Andalusian rat-catcher (ratonero). It is estimated that in two days this dog can catch over 2,000 rats and mice – in terms of the effectiveness of its hunt, any cat will remain far on the sidelines. This animal is so dexterous, assertive and reckless that it can even uproot wooden plinths behind which rodents hide, and in a matter of seconds overtake every pest that has fallen into its field of vision.
- Smooth Fox Terrier. This is one of the best hunters for burrowing animals, he is excellent at dealing with rodents. It was these dogs that most often participated in the battles in the arena, where they invariably came out victorious.
- Prague rat. The smallest dog in the world, which is even smaller than a chihuahua. Her height at the withers does not exceed 23 cm, and her body weight is 3 kg. However, it is also one of the best rat-catchers in the world. Animals were bred specifically for the destruction of rodents, which in the Middle Ages posed a great threat to the cities and villages of the Czech Republic. Nowadays, dogs are distributed mainly in their homeland, as well as in Japan, these are very rare dogs and very expensive.
- Lakeland Terrier. Dogs of this breed love to be in constant contact with a person, they adore children and get along well with other pets, but only if the latter are larger than the terrier itself. They get along with small animals only if they are accustomed to communicating with them from birth. Lakeland Terriers are very playful and active dogs that are most often used as companions these days. But if a mouse starts up in the house, then be sure that the pet will save you from an uninvited guest in the blink of an eye.
- Dachshund. These are funny dogs with a long body and short legs, which, however, does not prevent them from showing themselves to be excellent hunters. Animals are distinguished by curiosity, activity, courage and exceptional intelligence. They are ideal companions for families with children. Dachshunds are very fond of digging, and during a walk they invariably show the instinct of pursuit and the excitement of hunting, so not a single rodent slipping past will escape their attention.
- Miniature Pinscher. Pinschers are the ancestors of most modern rat-catchers. In earlier years, they were often used in tandem with ferrets and rat-catchers: a man looked for accumulations of rodents, a ferret drove out rats, and pinchers were assigned the role of “executioner”. This dog easily caught and strangled even the most nimble pests.
- Russian toy terrier. Despite its miniature size, this animal has perfect hearing and high speed, and these qualities are truly indispensable when hunting rats. During the years of the Soviet Union, it was Russian toy terriers that often completed government fruit and vegetable bases.
How to choose?
All representatives of mouser dogs have exceptionally high performance characteristics. In the fight against uninvited guests and pests of pantries, barns, chicken coops and cattle pens, dogs show themselves at their best. Therefore, the choice between specific breeds is made, focusing only on your taste and financial capabilities.
However, it should be borne in mind that most of the rat catchers are quite rare breeds, and therefore their cost is very high. This is often used by unscrupulous breeders who give out one breed for another. For example, Russian toy terriers are often passed off as Prague rats. Outwardly, these animals are very similar, but the cost of rats due to the low prevalence of the breed is an order of magnitude higher.
Before choosing a puppy, familiarize yourself with all the features of the breed and its exterior, and it is best to take a specialist with you who can confirm that the pet offered to you has all the required breed characteristics.
And, of course, give preference only to proven nurseries with a good reputation and positive reviews.
Today, rat-catchers are rarely used for their original purpose – they are mainly acquired as companions, therefore, the cost of pets largely depends on their class.
- Show class – these are the best breed representatives, which are invariably winners of exhibitions and competitions, are used for breeding and are highly valued.
- Brid class – these are pets that receive “good” and “excellent” marks at exhibitions, usually they are purchased for subsequent breeding.
- pet class – these are dogs that have some external defects that do not allow them to participate in exhibitions and be used as breeding material. However, this does not detract from their merits: these animals are loyal, loyal, active, friendly, and if a rodent appears on the horizon, they immediately demonstrate their best hunting characteristics.
Pay attention to the state of health of the proposed dog: its weight and height must be appropriate for its age, eyes and ears must be clean. An unpleasant smell from the mouth, bloating in the abdomen, as well as dermatitis and inflammation on the skin are not allowed. Pay attention to the physical condition of the selected puppy – it should be active, cheerful and nimble.
The story of the Prague rat see below.