Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a small to medium sized American hunting terrier named in honor of America’s 26th President ,Theodore Roosevelt.  Although Roosevelt was never instrumental in developing the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, while serving as President of the United States he popularized the lower-set, shorter legged, more muscular, and heavier boned version of the Rat Terrier by owing a small black and tan mixed terrier of this build named Skip; a dog he had acquired from one of his hunting guides. The breed as it is today, shares the vast majority of its ancestry and early history with the American Rat Terrier, Fox Paulistinha and Tenterfield Terrier. As of this writing (March 2012), the breed is only recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC), the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other major registries refuse to recognize the breed.

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
Size: 
Small 8-15 lb
Medium 15-35 lb
LifeSpan: 
12 to 15 Years
Trainability: 
Very Easy To Train
Energy Level: 
High Energy
Grooming: 
Brushing Once a Week or Less
Protective Ability: 
Varies From One Dog To The Next
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
No
Space Requirements: 
Apartment Ok
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Generally Good With Other Pets
Generally Good With Other Pets If Raised Together
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Litter Size: 
2-4 puppies
Names: 
Type B, Short-legged Rat Terrier, Bench legged Feist

Height/Weight

Males: 
10-25 lbs, 8-15 inches
Females: 
10-25 lbs, 8-15 inches

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

UKC (United Kennel Club): 
History: 

 

In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became America’s 26th President.  Roosevelt, better known as Teddy was an avid hunter.  He was often accompanied on his hunting trips by a small pack of mostly black and tan short-legged Terriers.  He brought one of these dogs to the White House with him, both as a companion and to exterminate rats.  Named Skip, the dog was black and tan and short-legged.  Teddy Roosevelt called the dog a Rat Terrier due to its proficiency at killing rodents, and the name stuck for the entire breed.  There is long-lasting myth that Teddy Roosevelt’s Rat Terrier exterminated the rats from the White House.  While that dog surely did kill its share of rats, most of the actual extermination work was done professionally by an exterminator that made use of both Terriers and ferrets. 

 

The President’s dog helped to popularize a breed that was already relatively common, and the Rat Terrier began to increase dramatically in numbers.  For the first three decades of the 20th Century, Rat Terriers were some of the most numerous dogs in America, and were a very common sight on American farms.  At the time, Rat Terriers were incredibly variable in appearance, and continued to be bred almost exclusively for working ability.  It is said that a Rat Terrier holds the record for most rats killed in a barn, with the record holder supposedly killing 2501 rats in 7 hours.

 

Throughout the 20th Century, dozens of Rat Terrier registries were founded to keep pedigrees of these dogs, and many distinctive varieties were developed, especially of Feist.  Many of these varieties were regularly interbred, although some were kept pure.  Short-legged Rat Terriers eventually became known as Teddy Roosevelt Terriers, in honor of the President who popularized them.

 

In 1999, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized two distinct varieties of Rat Terrier as separate breeds, the Rat Terrier and the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. Other than the UKC and American Kennel Club (AKC), most Rat Terrier registries refer to the Rat Terrier as the Type A Rat Terrier and the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier as the Type B Rat Terrier. Both the Rat Terrier Club of America (RTCA), formed in 1993 and the AKC do not consider Teddy Roosevelt Terriers/Type B Rat Terriers to be Rat Terriers, and do not recognize them.  The RTCA/AKC will not even register dogs whose parents are known to be Teddy Roosevelt Terriers.  The RTCA and AKC also do not recognize Toy Rat Terriers or Decker Rat Terriers, although their position on the descendants of these dogs is less clear.

 

In a series of letters written to his children (Alice, Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archie and Quentin) during his presidency Mr. Roosevelt made numerous comments about his beloved little terrier, Skip:

 

ABERNETHY THE WOLF HUNTER

Glenwood Springs, Colorado, April 20,1905.

DEAR TED:


I do wish you could have been along on this trip. It has been great fun. In Oklahoma our party got all told seventeen coyotes with the greyhounds. I was in at the death of eleven, the only ones started by the dogs with which I happened to be. In one run the three Easterners covered themselves with glory, as Dr. Lambert, Roly Fortescue and I were the only ones who got through excepting Abernethy, the wolf hunter. It happened because it was a nine-mile run and all the cowboys rode their horses to a standstill in the first three or four miles, after which I came bounding along, like Kermit in the paper chase, and got to the end in time to see the really remarkable feat of Abernethy jumping on to the wolf, thrusting his gloved hand into its mouth, and mastering it then and there. He never used a knife or a rope in taking these wolves, seizing them by sheer quickness and address and thrusting his hand into the wolf's mouth in such a way that it lost all power to bite. You would have loved Tom Burnett, the son of the big cattle man. He is a splendid fellow, about thirty years old, and just the ideal of what a young cattle man should be.


Up here we have opened well. We have two cracker jacks as guides—John Goff, my old guide on the mountain lion hunt, and Jake Borah, who has somewhat the Seth Bullock type of face. We have about thirty dogs, including one absurd little terrier about half Jack's size, named Skip. Skip trots all day long with the hounds, excepting when he can persuade Mr. Stewart, or Dr. Lambert, or me to take him up for a ride, for which he is always begging. He is most affectionate and intelligent, but when there is a bear or lynx at bay he joins in the fight with all the fury of a bull dog, though I do not think he is much more effective than one of your Japanese mice would be. I should like to bring him home for Archie or Quentin. He would go everywhere with them and would ride Betsy or Algonquin.


On the third day out I got a fine big black bear, an old male who would not tree, but made what they call in Mississippi a walking bay with the dogs, fighting them off all the time. The chase lasted nearly two hours and was ended by a hard scramble up a canyon side; and I made a pretty good shot at him as he was walking off with the pack around him. He killed one dog and crippled three that I think will recover, besides scratching others. My 30-40 Springfield worked to perfection on the bear.


I suppose you are now in the thick of your studies and will have but little time to rest after the examinations. I shall be back about the 18th, and then we can take up our tennis again. Give my regards to Matt.


I am particularly pleased that Maurice turned out so well. He has always been so pleasant to me that I had hoped he would turn out all right in the end.

 


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BEARS, BOBCATS AND SKIP

Glenwood Springs, Colorado, May 2, 1905.

BLESSED KERMIT:


I was delighted to get your letter. I am sorry you are having such a hard time in mathematics, but hope a couple of weeks will set you all right. We have had a very successful hunt. All told we have obtained ten bear and three bobcats. Dr. Lambert has been a perfect trump. He is in the pink of condition, while for the last week I have been a little knocked out by the Cuban fever. Up to that time I was simply in splendid shape. There is a very cunning little dog named Skip, belonging to John Goff's pack, who has completely adopted me. I think I shall take him home to Archie. He likes to ride on Dr. Lambert's horse, or mine, and though he is not as big as Jack, takes eager part in the fight with every bear and bobcat.


I am sure you will enjoy your trip to Deadwood with Seth Bullock, and as soon as you return from Groton I shall write to him about it. I have now become very homesick for Mother, and shall be glad when the 12th of May comes and I am back in the White House.

 


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SKIP IN THE WHITE HOUSE

White House, May 14, 1905.

DEAR KERMIT:


That was a good mark in Latin, and I am pleased with your steady improvement in it.
Skip is housebroken, but he is like a real little Indian. He can stand any amount of hard work if there is a bear or bobcat ahead, but now that he is in the White House he thinks he would much rather do nothing but sit about all day with his friends, and threatens to turn into a lapdog. But when we get him to Oyster Bay I think we can make him go out riding with us, and then I think he will be with Archie a great deal. He and Jack are rather jealous of one another. He is very cunning and friendly. I am immensely pleased with Mother's Virginia cottage and its name. I am going down there for Sunday with her some time soon.


P. S.—Your marks have just come! By George, you have worked hard and I am delighted. Three cheers!

 


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HOME AGAIN WITH SKIP

White House,May 07 1905.

DEAR KERMIT:


Here I am back again, and mighty glad to be back. It was perfectly delightful to see Mother and the children, but it made me very homesick for you. Of course I was up to my ears in work as soon as I reached the White House, but in two or three days we shall be through it and can settle down into our old routine.


Yesterday afternoon we played tennis, Herbert Knox Smith and I beating Matt and Murray. To-day I shall take cunning mother out for a ride.


Skip accompanied me to Washington. He is not as yet entirely at home in the White House and rather clings to my companionship. I think he will soon be fond of Archie, who loves him dearly. Mother is kind to Skip, but she does not think he is an aristocrat as Jack is. He is a very cunning little dog all the same.


Mother walked with me to church this morning and both the past evenings we have been able to go out into the garden and sit on the stone benches near the fountain. The country is too lovely for anything, everything being a deep, rich, fresh green.


I had a great time in Chicago with the labor union men. They made what I regarded as a rather insolent demand upon me, and I gave them some perfectly straight talk about their duty and about the preservation of law and order. The trouble seems to be increasing there, and I may have to send Federal troops into the city—though I shall not do so unless it is necessary.

 


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SKIP IN THE WHITE HOUSE

White House, May 14, 1905.

DEAR KERMIT:


That was a good mark in Latin, and I am pleased with your steady improvement in it.
Skip is housebroken, but he is like a real little Indian. He can stand any amount of hard work if there is a bear or bobcat ahead, but now that he is in the White House he thinks he would much rather do nothing but sit about all day with his friends, and threatens to turn into a lapdog. But when we get him to Oyster Bay I think we can make him go out riding with us, and then I think he will be with Archie a great deal. He and Jack are rather jealous of one another. He is very cunning and friendly. I am immensely pleased with Mother's Virginia cottage and its name. I am going down there for Sunday with her some time soon.


P. S.—Your marks have just come! By George, you have worked hard and I am delighted. Three cheers!

 


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SORROWS OF SKIP

White House, April 1st 1906

DARLING ARCHIE:


Poor Skip is a very, very lonely little dog without his family. Each morning he comes up to see me at breakfast time and during most of breakfast (which I take in the hall just outside my room) Skip stands with his little paws on my lap. Then when I get through and sit down in the rocking-chair to read for fifteen or twenty minutes, Skip hops into my lap and stays there, just bathing himself in the companionship of the only one of his family he has left. The rest of the day he spends with the ushers, as I am so frightfully busy that I am nowhere long enough for Skip to have any real satisfaction in my companionship. Poor Jack has never come home. We may never know what became of him.

 


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THE "WHY" AND ITS CREW SPORTS OF QUENTIN AND ARCHIE

Oyster Bay, Aug. 18' 1906.

DEAR KERMIT:


Quentin is the same cheerful pagan philosopher as ever. He swims like a little duck; rides well; stands quite severe injuries without complaint, and is really becoming a manly little fellow. Archie is devoted to the Why (sailboat). The other day while Mother and I were coming in, rowing, we met him sailing out, and it was too cunning for anything. The Why looks exactly like a little black wooden shoe with a sail in it, and the crew consisted of Archie, of one of his beloved playmates, a seaman from the Sylph, and of Skip—very alert and knowing.

 


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SKIP AND ARCHIE

White House, October 23, 1906.

DEAR KERMIT:


Archie is very cunning and has handicap races with Skip. He spreads his legs, bends over, and holds Skip between them. Then he says, "On your mark, Skip, ready; go!" and shoves Skip back while he runs as hard as he possibly can to the other end of the hall, Skip scrambling wildly with his paws on the smooth floor until he can get started, when he races after Archie, the object being for Archie to reach the other end before Skip can overtake him.

 


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TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF SKIP

White House, May 12, 1907.

Dear Kermit:


... The other day Pete got into a most fearful fight and was dreadfully bitten. He was a very forlorn dog indeed when he came home. And on that particular day Skip disappeared and had not turned up when we went to bed. Poor Archie was very uneasy lest Skip should have gone the way of Jack; and Mother and I shared his uneasiness. But about two in the morning we both of us heard a sharp little bark down-stairs and knew it was Skip, anxious to be let in. So down I went and opened the door on the portico, and Skip simply scuttled in and up to Archie's room, where Archie waked up enough to receive him literally with open arms and then went to sleep cuddled up to him.

 


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DEATH OF SKIP

Sagamore Hill, Sept. 21, 1907.

BLESSED ARCHTEKINS:


We felt dreadfully homesick as you and Kermit drove away; when we pass along the bay front we always think of the dory; and we mourn dear little Skip, although perhaps it was as well the little doggie should pass painlessly away, after his happy little life; for the little fellow would have pined for you.


Your letter was a great comfort; well send on the football suit and hope you'll enjoy the football. Of course it will all be new and rather hard at first.


The house is "put up"; everything wrapped in white that can be, and all the rugs off the floors. Quentin is reduced to the secret service men for steady companionship.

 

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