The Rat Terrier Chihuahua mix, sometimes called the “Ratcha” or the “Ratchi,” is a blend of two small breeds with enormous personalities. Chihuahuas have recently crossed with many other breeds because of their diminutive size and indomitable spirit. Adding Rat Terrier to the mix makes for a slightly larger pup without diminishing his energy level.
The Ratcha resembles other designer dog hybrids like the Jack Chi, the Jack Russell Chihuahua mix, or the Yorchi, the Yorkshire Terrier Chihuahua mix. These mixes blend the best of the personalities of these charming breeds but may be more dog than some families are ready to handle.
If you think a Ratcha might be the perfect addition to your family, consider the traits of his two parent breeds, the Rat Terrier and the Chihuahua. Understanding the characteristics of these two high-energy breeds will help you choose the best pup to be your sidekick.
The feisty Chihuahua may be the smallest dog breed in the world, but he doesn’t know it. Chihuahuas are an assertive breed. Chihuahuas have a bloodline dating back to pre-Columbian times and are a national symbol of Mexico. As big as Chihuahuas like to think they are, they are under six pounds and are too small for roughhousing with boisterous children. Ideal city companions, Chihuahuas are often crossed with larger breeds to create a more versatile family pet.
The Rat Terrier was originally an amalgam of breeds, including Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, and many more. Because they were farm dogs, they had to serve many purposes. Not only were they ratters, but also hunting companions, watchdogs, henhouse guardians, and family playmates. This background as an all-around farm family companion makes the modern Rat Terrier an active but affectionate companion that is wonderful with children who are careful with his small size.
Rat Terrier Chihuahua Mix
The Rat Terrier Chihuahua mix is a happy pup with energy to spare. Adding size from the Rat Terrier side makes your Ratcha pup as satisfied in the country (supervised while outside, of course) as in the city and able to play more safely with young children. Both breeds are relatively healthy, so your Ratcha should have few genetic health problems.
You can expect your Ratcha to show tremendous bravado even though his body is still very small. Neither Rat Terriers nor Chihuahuas are ones to back down from an argument, so it will be up to you to keep your Ratcha out of harm’s way. Be sure he’s supervised with larger dogs, especially in places like the dog park, where he’ll meet new individuals frequently. Even in your backyard, he may be in danger from coyotes or stray dogs who enter his territory.
Your Ratcha will have a “terrier” mentality because not only is he half Terrier, but Chihuahuas also have a bit of a terrier attitude. Even though they may not always want to do what you ask, they always want to be with you. This cross creates a loving, independent-minded companion who misses you desperately when you’re away from home. They may be prone to separation anxiety, so you’ll need to find a way for them to stay calm so their barking doesn’t disturb your neighbors.
Ratchas may be snappy if handled roughly, but they aren’t aggressive. They’re not fond of backing down, and they’ll protect themselves if someone hurts them. They are physically larger than Chihuahuas and better able to roughhouse, but young children still need supervision when playing with a Ratcha.
If adequately socialized with other dogs from puppyhood, most Ratchas can get along with other dogs. Take care they aren’t left with larger aggressive dogs, however, because they are likely to bite off more than they can chew. Otherwise, your Ratcha is an excellent canine citizen. If you have cats or small animals like rabbits or other small furries, remember that Rat Terriers were bred to kill rats, and their prey drive is high. Monitor your Ratchas body language closely around small animals and limit his access to them when you’re not around.
Size & Appearance
He’ll likely stand between ten and fifteen inches at the shoulder and weigh between eight and eighteen pounds. Your Ratcha’s appearance won’t be as extreme as the Chihuahua’s with his apple dome head and pronounced stop. The Ratcha will have a flatter skull, and the back of his head will flow more smoothly into his neck. His body will be more muscular in type than the Chihuahua’s.
Coat & Colors
The Ratcha’s short, smooth coat is easy to care for and leaves less hair behind than many other dogs his size. Ratchas come in most colors, but because the Rat Terrier is a pied breed (comparatively large patterns of white with one or more colors with color patches), first-generation crosses will likely have some interesting markings. Due to incomplete dominance of the pied pattern, one copy of the piebald allele results in a dog with minor white markings, so your Ratcha should have some white trim.
Both the Rat Terrier and the Chihuahua have short coats that shed seasonally. He may be prone to typical terrier skin allergies, but a daily brushing with a hound mitt should be enough to knock off any dirt he picks up outdoors and stimulate oil glands in his skin for a healthier coat.
Exercise & Living Conditions
Your Ratcha may not be as high energy as a purebred Rat Terrier, but he’ll need at least two periods of brisk daily exercise to keep him healthy, body and mind. He’ll enjoy walking with you around the block and especially appreciate a safely fenced yard where he can run and play to his heart’s content. Ratters are often diggers, so keep this in mind when he’s loose in the yard. A towel by the back door to wipe off the fresh dirt and an occasional hole-filling day out back are helpful additions, and he’ll thoroughly enjoy the toweling and “helping” you in the yard.
In the winter, your Ratcha pup will likely need a jacket for outdoor activities. Both parent breeds tend to be cold-natured and have thin coats and little body mass to preserve heat. A dog sweater or jacket will help him stay warm as the temperatures drop. Be sure he has a warm bed in which to snuggle.
A Rat Terrier Chihuahua mix may challenge you when it is time for training. Neither dog is a pushover, so you’ll need patience and perseverance with a blend. Be consistent because any terrier or terrier mix may only begrudgingly comply. These dogs are notoriously independent. Combined with the Chihuahua’s stubbornness, this makes for a tough-to-train combination.
Keep training sessions short and to the point. Reward him quickly when he exhibits the desired behavior and then move on, as he will get bored quickly. Reward good behavior with treats and praise, so he sees that doing what you want is worth his while.
Socialize your Ratcha early to other dogs so he’ll be less likely to try to assert dominance towards new acquaintances. If you acquire him as a puppy and already have adult cats, he’s likely to grow up respecting them as family members. Be careful when introducing new kittens or cats in the future. The Rat Terrier side of his lineage instinctively sees small furries as prey. Other small mammals in your home are best kept safely away from your Ratcha.
Your Rat Terrier Chihuahua mix has some genetic predispositions to specific health problems. Chihuahuas are prone to heart problems like patent ductus arteriosis, mitral valve disease, eye disease, patellar luxation, and idiopathic epilepsy. Rat Terriers may have a tendency towards hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and cardiac and eye disorders.
Because there’s an increased incidence of hip dysplasia in individuals from both breeds, pay special attention to your Ratcha’s growth rates. If they show gait abnormalities, ask your vet about luxating patellas. Consider cardiac and PLL (Primary Lens Luxation) DNA tests.
Depending on the parent breeds, most mixed breed pups will be healthier than their purebred parents. There’s a lower incidence of crosses expressing negative recessive traits when two breeds with different foundation stock are used in the mix. This is an advantage of adopting a mixed breed dog.
Choose a high-quality formula that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards and is designed for your pup’s first year of life. Feed for moderate growth during his first year to reduce the health risks associated with dysplasia. Feed according to the weight chart on your food brand, and keep an eye on his body condition to adjust his intake as needed.
A high-quality kibble including meat protein, fiber, healthy carbs, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals will meet your Ratcha’s nutritional needs. Terriers often have skin allergies, so choosing a formula with a protein source unlikely to trigger an allergy is a good idea.
Your Ratcha will shed, but not as much as other dogs. His small size and seasonal shedding habit make a relatively light hair load in the house for most of the year. Wipe his short coat daily with a hound mitt to remove debris and loose hair. This tool is excellent for stimulating oil production in the coat. You’ll need to step it up during shedding season to manage the loose hair. A slicker brush serves as a shedding tool for this short-haired pup.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
Finding a Ratcha puppy near you may be as easy as checking online. Breeders of purebred Chihuahuas and Rat Terriers in your area may also be able to steer you in the right direction. The Ratcha is not a pure breed but a cross of two breeds that would command higher prices in the purebred market. Homebred pups may be available for a rehoming fee under a hundred dollars, while in other areas of the country, this blend may fetch over $500.
Rescues & Shelters
You may be able to find a Rat Terrier Chihuahua cross available looking for his forever home or a cross of very similar breeds like the Jack Russell (Jack Chi), Feist, or larger Fox Terrier.
If you’re not sure if a Ratcha will work in your household, you might find a shelter looking for individuals to foster a pet. You can see how a particular dog interacts with your existing pets and if you have the time and energy to handle a Ratcha.
As Family Pets
- Ratchas are great for families with older children who understand small dogs are delicate.
- Need to be socialized with other dogs from puppyhood.
- Have a high prey drive, so must be supervised around other small furries.
- Keep training sessions short and reinforce desired behaviors with praise and treats.
- Can suffer from separation anxiety.
- Provide plenty of exercise to keep them healthy in body and mind.
If you have an active family, the Ratcha may be the perfect pup for you. Be sure you can handle the challenge of a tough little dog who still needs to be handled with care. Remember that Ratchas need a lot of attention, and if they’re left alone for too long, they may bark their protest loudly for all to hear. Find time to take him for a brisk walk two or three times a day, and he’ll be happy in suburbia or as an apartment dweller. Half Rat Terrier, half Chihuahua, and all attitude, your Ratcha will keep you on your toes as he warms your heart.