Home » Are Schnauzers Good Ratters? [Hunting, Catching + Killing Rats]
do schnauzers kill rats?

Are Schnauzers Good Ratters? [Hunting, Catching + Killing Rats]

There are certain species of dogs that are highly adept at hunting rodents. If you’re looking for a dog to keep rats away, consider getting a schnauzer.

Schnauzers are bred to be ratters and guard dogs on farms. They’re good at hunting rats, able to chase, catch, and kill them. Schnauzers are equipped with a small body, muscular build, strong paws, fast-moving legs, sharp eyes, and excellent hearing.

So, it’s easy for schnauzers to follow rats into their burrows and kill them. The mini schnauzer is highly skilled at this, being the smallest type. The standard schnauzer is faster, making them good at chasing down rats. The giant schnauzer is bigger and slower but delivers lethal attacks.

Can You Hunt Rats Using Schnauzers?

Schnauzers are among the best rat-hunting dogs and have been used for hunting rats for centuries.

Schnauzers appeared in Germany in the 14th century, and in the coming centuries, they were selectively bred. This was designed to increase their prowess as hunting and guard dogs, particularly when targeting rats and other rodents. Because of their unique body size, athleticism, and instinct for hunting down rats, schnauzers were often the go-to ratting dog.

They remain popular today as rodent control dogs due to their natural desire to hunt. Even when kept as a family pet, it’s not uncommon for the instincts of schnauzers to be triggered when it spots a rodent. It will often pursue and injure the rat, even if it doesn’t kill it outright.

Training sharpens this natural skill. When training your schnauzer to hunt, you should:

  • Use a dummy rat when playing together
  • Teach them that rats should be chased, bitten, and shaken
  • After multiple sessions, wherein the behavior becomes consistent, the training has been successful

Mechanical rat toys are ideal since you can have the rat flee automatically from your schnauzer, encouraging them to give chase and react similarly when presented with a real rat.

Encourage your dog to chase the rat and reward it for doing so. If your schnauzer instinctively goes after the rat upon release, the training is going well.

Can Schnauzers Catch Rats?

All schnauzers are fast enough to catch rats. Of course, certain types are more skilled than others, but each is equipped to pursue, catch, and kill rats.

Likewise, all types of schnauzers are predatory toward rats. Standard and miniature schnauzers are better as ratters than giant schnauzers.

Their size and muscular build make it easier for them to chase rats deep into their burrowing spots.

Do Schnauzers Kill Rats?

Schnauzers often kill rats when they catch them.

They’re not prone to toying with their prey, although young schnauzers that are inexperienced may be confused about how to finish the job. This will result in more pouncing, biting, and chasing until the schnauzer’s instincts guide it.

Schnauzers use their powerful jaws and strong paws to injure their prey with a hard slap or bite. They won’t usually eat their kill, presenting the dead rat to you for disposal (and rewards).

Why Are Schnauzers Good Ratters?

As mentioned, schnauzers were originally bred as ratters and guard dogs on farms. This wasn’t an arbitrary choice, as schnauzers have many natural advantages over rats.

They’ve grown to become all-purpose dogs, but their instincts remain. Even when compared to other dogs, certain traits and adaptations make them superior ratters, including:

Strong Paws

Schnauzers are muscular dogs with strong builds.

They have powerful limbs and paws that allow them to reach fast speeds. Once they’ve caught the rat, they can kill it instantly.

Good Eyesight

According to a Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, dogs have remarkable depth perception and visual acuity.

Although schnauzers have limited color vision, they have a wider field of vision that allows them to detect faraway objects much better than humans.

That visual advantage makes it possible for them to see rats from a long distance, especially in wide-open spaces with few obstructions.

While you may not notice a rat is present until it draws closer, the keen eyes of a schnauzer will spot and react to it almost immediately.

do schnauzers catch rats?

Small Size

Both standard and mini schnauzers are usually smaller than most canine breeds.

This allows them to chase after prey with more agility and makes it possible to squeeze through small spaces and chase rats directly into their burrows.

Heightened Sense of Smell

According to the Frontiers In Veterinary Science, dogs have 30% more olfactory receptors than humans.

This enables them to detect odors that people ordinarily can’t, including small cues that a rat is present, such as feces, urine, or natural odor. Schnauzers can use this to detect rats and track them down.

Compared to other dogs, schnauzers have a potent sense of smell. This trait was bred into them since it allowed schnauzers to follow a trail of rodents to their nests and flush them out.

Excellent Hearing

Their good hearing allows them to detect the squeaking of rats from afar and know where they’re hiding. Also, it enables them to respond to commands from owners, retreating from a burrow when required.

What’s The Best Schnauzer For Catching Rats?

If you want to buy a schnauzer as a ratting dog, you may wonder if some breeds have an advantage over others. All schnauzers are ratting dogs.

Mini Schnauzer

The miniature schnauzer is a small dog, standing at 11-14 inches when fully grown.

This breed is adored for its bubbly and affectionate temperament. Aside from being the smallest of all schnauzers, it’s also the newest variety, only been bred since the 1800s. 

Initially bred as a ratter and guard dog, this schnauzer breed has become an all-purpose dog. Nonetheless, it’s still widely used as a ratter due to its hunting instinct and small build.

That enables them to easily squeeze through crammed burrows to pursue their rat prey. This is essential as rats can squeeze through small spaces.

Standard Schnauzer

The standard schnauzer is larger than a mini schnauzer yet smaller than a giant schnauzer.

A fully-grown dog stands at 18-20 inches. Like the mini version, standard schnauzers were first bred as ratters and guard dogs on German farms.

Both their medium-size and powerful drive for hunting makes them good ratters. They can run faster than minis and aren’t limited by their body weight.

However, unlike mini schnauzers, standard schnauzers aren’t small enough to fit into tight spaces.

Giant Schnauzer

The giant schnauzer is the largest of all schnauzers, standing at 25-27 inches. Originally bred in Germany to serve as a working dog, the giant schnauzer is intelligent and highly driven.

While giant schnauzers are highly-rated guard dogs, they’re less successful at ratting than standard and mini schnauzers. As you’d expect, this is due to their large size, which slows them down.

This makes it hard for them to pursue rats, which are rapid movers. Similarly, giant schnauzers are less capable of accessing rats’ burrows and nests, unlike their smaller counterparts.

Do Schnauzers Keep Rats Away?

Since schnauzers are active hunters, they can cull rats and deter others. Rats are intelligent creatures and can tell when a predator lurks in an area. So, rats will tend to avoid that place.

Having a pet schnauzer may not prevent rats from entering your home, but it can deter them from setting up nests and settling in.

Will the Scent of a Schnauzer Deter Rats?

Schnauzers’ urine contains pheromones that rats can easily detect. The smell of a schnauzer will alert rats that a predator is nearby, discouraging them from nesting in that location.

Which Dogs Kill Rats?

All dogs are predatory toward rats.

Wild dogs (and their canine cousins such as foxes, jackals, and coyotes) rely on rats and other small rodents as their main food source. However, dogs are given food by their owners when kept as pets.

Domestic dogs still hunt rats, and most types can be used for rodent control. If you want sharper instincts and more effective traits for killing rats, you’ll need selective breeding.

Here are other prolific canine ratters to consider:

  • Dachshund
  • Norfolk terrier
  • Rat terrier
  • German pinschers
  • Lakeland terriers

While schnauzers can be bold and stubborn, they’re usually playful and amiable toward other pets, making schnauzers the preferred choice over other good ratters.