Rat Terrier vs. Chihuahua: 7 Key Differences

Are you in the process of deciding between the rat terrier vs. Chihuahua to welcome into your family? Choosing between these two popular dog breeds can be a challenging task. Both of these adorable dogs can make wonderful additions to any household, but it’s essential to understand their differences to make the right choice for your family. In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth comparison of the rat terrier vs. Chihuahua, covering their physical characteristics, behavior tendencies, and more, to help you make an informed decision.

A Comparison between Rat Terrier vs. Chihuahua

Common Traits of Rat Terriers and Chihuahuas

Before diving into the distinctions between these breeds, let’s first explore some shared characteristics that can help you determine whether either of them is a good fit for your home:

  • Size: Although there are size differences between the two breeds, both rat terriers and Chihuahuas are considered small dogs. This makes them excellent choices for apartment and city living, as they have moderate exercise requirements. A brief daily play session is usually enough to keep them content, and they don’t require a large yard.
  • Intelligence: Both rat terriers and Chihuahuas are remarkably intelligent breeds, making them relatively easy to train. They have good attention spans and can excel in training with the right approach, although gaining their respect may require some effort.
  • Pack Mentality: These breeds share a strong pack mentality. Once they recognize you as their family and sense your affection, they become loyal and devoted companions. They tend to be affectionate with those they trust, although they may be reserved around strangers.

Appearance Comparison

Height and Weight

  • Rat Terrier: Rat terriers are known to be slightly larger than Chihuahuas, with a height ranging from 10 to 18 inches and a weight between 11 to 24 pounds.
  • Chihuahua: Chihuahuas are much smaller, typically growing to be 6 to 10 inches tall and weighing between 3 to 6 pounds. They are often referred to as “purse dogs” due to their diminutive size.

Coat Colors

  • Rat Terrier: Rat terriers usually come in various patterns and color mixes, with the occasional full white shade being the only solid color option.
  • Chihuahua: Chihuahuas offer a more extensive range of coat colors, including white, black, tan, silver, cream, and fawn.

Grooming Needs

Both breeds are relatively easy to groom, as they do not have long hair that requires constant attention. They shed moderately, but rat terriers may produce more dander than Chihuahuas.

Behavioral Differences

Rat Terrier vs. Chihuahua: Discover 7 Vital Differences


  • Rat Terrier: These dogs are generally friendly and enjoy the company of other dogs, children, and even strangers once they trust humans. However, their hunting instincts may surface if there are small animals like mice, hamsters, or birds around.
  • Chihuahua: Chihuahuas are mostly kind, but they can become aggressive if they feel threatened. Early socialization and exposure to various people and environments can help mitigate this behavior.

Attention and Social Needs

Both rat terriers and Chihuahuas are known to be needy dogs, requiring companionship and interaction. They do not thrive in situations where they are left alone for extended periods, making them suitable for families or individuals who can provide attention and care.

Health Considerations

Life Expectancy

  • Chihuahua: Chihuahuas typically live between 14 to 16 years.
  • Rat Terrier: Rat terriers have a life expectancy of approximately 12 to 18 years, providing a potential for a longer lifespan.

Common Health Issues

Both breeds are generally healthy but may be susceptible to specific health problems:

Rat Terriers:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease


  • Valvular Disease
  • Chronic Bronchitis

Conclusion: A Personal Choice

Ultimately, the decision between a rat terrier and a Chihuahua boils down to your personal preferences and lifestyle. Both breeds are loving, adaptable to apartment living, and deeply attached to their owners. It’s not about choosing the “right” breed; it’s about selecting the dog that resonates with your heart. Each breed possesses unique traits and quirks, so follow your instincts and choose the companion that captures your heart.