Gos Rater Valencià

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Gos Rater Valencià
Monimex / Wikipedia.org

The Gos Rater Valencià is also known as the Valencian Ratter. The latter name explains something of what these dogs are: A hunting dog from Valencia. In this respect, these game four-legged fellows could almost be described as the Spanish equivalent of a Jack Russell terrier. Indeed, in appearance they are a little like a cross between a Jack Russell and a Fox Terrier.

Small, compact, but tough, these little dogs were bred to hunt out vermin and keep the rat and mouse population down. They are considered brave, as you would expect when faced with an angry rat, as well as lively and fast learners.

Another aspect of the Valencian Ratter’s nature is a love of their own voice. These little guys know how to bark and aren’t afraid to advertise the fact. This makes them a great guard dog, but in their modern role as companion animals, this barking can make them unpopular with neighbours.

About & History

The Valencian Ratter originates from Spain. They are one of five native rat-hunting dogs; the others being the Andalusian Ratter (used to control rats in vineyards), Majorca Ratter, Murcian Ratter and Basque Ratter. These five ratter breeds have a communality of appearance and purpose, which suggests they are hold distant relatives in common. One theory as to the origins of the breed is linked to Andalusia.

It’s said in the 16th century English wine merchants, visiting the sherry regions of Spain, took with them dogs of a Fox Terrier type. Some of these dogs stayed and bred with the local canines to produce types now known as the Spanish ratters, including the Valencian Ratter.

Although the breed has a history going back several centuries, official recognition came much later, in the 21st century. Indeed, a Valencian Ratter won first place in National Dog Championship for the first time as late as 2011. Now occasionally used as a working dog to hunt rabbits, the Valencian Ratter has found a new place, in the home, as a canine companion.


Gos Rater Valencià Large Photo
Monimex / Wikipedia.org

This is a diminutive breed with a big personality. They stand a little over one-third of a meter to the shoulder, and weigh in at the equivalent of an out-sized cat. A short-coated breed, they are most commonly tricolour; the majority of the coat being white with black and tan patches over the head and ears. Other acceptable colour combinations include white and black, white and cinnamon, white and chocolate, or white and tan.

These are well-proportioned dogs with a fox-shaped skull and a good length of leg for their body. The breed standard lists them as having no tail, which unfortunately can mean they are docked at birth.

Character & Temperament

The Valencian Ratter is a typical terrier by temperament. If they see something small and furry move, then it’s fair game to chase it. Sadly, this can include other fur-family members, such as cats or pet rabbits. Thus, the Valencian Ratter makes for an uneasy housemate in a multi-pet household.

As you would expect from a dog whose business it is to hunt rats, these are bold, brave, and courageous fellows, to the point of being reckless. This also means they are strong-minded and don’t readily back down from a challenge. Indeed, when a terrier feels anxious or fearful, they are liable to come out fighting, as their breeding dictates that attack is the best from of defence. This can make their behaviour around young children a little unpredictable.

Whilst there are many sweet-natured, reliable Valencian Ratters, the prospective owner needs to be aware of this tendency to attack when cornered and supervise children at all times. Although the Valencian Ratter is an outgoing dog, they are also happiest with people they know well. The breed is naturally suspicious of strangers, which again, can result in tumultuous barking (at best) or even aggressive behaviour. In this respect, they do make for a great pint-sized guard dog.


The Valencian Ratter is an intelligent dog that learns quickly. However, they’re also free-thinkers capable of making their own decisions. This means they do best with an experienced owner that knows how to motivate the dog and keep their attention.

The breed responds well to reward-based training methods. This teaches the dog the appropriate way to behave, by rewarding desired actions, such as calmness, in the face of a stressful situation.

Old-fashioned dominance-based training techniques are totally inappropriate. Whilst they may appear to work superficially, the owner’s control is based on fear. As we already know, when anxious, the Valencian Ratter is liable to bite. Thus, the dog behaves well for one person (the owner) but is unpredictable around strangers.


In truth, there a no data on the specific health problems facing the Valencian Ratter. However, given their common heritage with the other Spanish Ratter breeds, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate common problems from these dogs.

Legge-Perthe’s Disease

This condition is more correctly known as ‘Avascular necrosis of the femoral head’. This descriptive term tells us that the head of the femur (part of the hip joint) lacks an adequate blood supply (avascular) and the bone dies away (necrosis). This condition is most common in small breeds. It’s thought to be caused by a mismatch between fast bone growth and the blood supplying the region. Symptoms occur in young dogs, often in those under 12 months of age.

The signs of Legge-Perthe’s disease include a marked lameness on the affected hind leg, and pain on manipulation of the hip joint. In mild cases, pain relief can give the dog short-term relief, but in the long term, corrective surgery is the way ahead. A surgical procedure called a 'femoral head excision' removes the crumbling bone of the thigh bone. This then forms a muscular joint instead of a bone-on-bone joint. Dogs usually do very well with this procedure, which has the huge advantage of making the patient pain-free.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation goes by the more familiar name of a ‘wobbly kneecap’. This is the result of various anatomical quirks, which mean the kneecap isn’t firmly anchored and can slip to one side. This causes a mechanical locking of the knee joint, which causes the dog to skip and miss a step on the bad leg.

The severity of this problem varies and can range from mild (the odd skipped step but no pain) to disabling painful. The appropriate treatment differs from case to case, but includes occasional pain relief in the mildest cases, to reconstructive surgery on the knee for the worst affected.

Dental Disease

As with any dog, it’s important to give proper attention to their teeth. Daily tooth brushing is the ideal and the gold standard to which all owners should aspire.

Small dogs in particular are more prone to dental disease, including inflamed gums (gingivitis), receding gums, and wobbly teeth. Therefore these little guys are especially dependent on their pet parents taking due diligence with their daily dental routine, and brush regularly. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, pawing at the mouth and reduced appetite. Always see your vet if you suspect a dog has oral discomfort.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Their heritage as a working hunter means the Valencian Ratter needs plenty of exercise. This is not only to keep the dog’s body fit and healthy but to provide much-needed mental stimulation.

Ideally, the Valencian Ratter needs at least two, one-hour exercise sessions per day. These should be off-lead and allow the dog plenty of opportunity to sniff and explore. Teaching the dog to play fetch ticks a lot of boxes, as it helps expend the dog’s energy whilst not exhausting the owner.

It should also be borne in mind that although the Valencian Ratter is physically small, they aren’t necessarily suited to apartment life. Their need for plentiful exercise, plus a tendency to bark when disturbed, means they are easily bored. This could result in barking that disturbs the neighbours, making you unpopular.


That short coat requires little by way of formal grooming. However, like any dog, they benefit from regular brushing, preferably once a day. This spreads naturally occurring conditioning oils over the coat and removes shed hair.

Be careful not to bathe a Valencian Ratter too frequently. Once monthly bathing should be sufficient in all but the muddiest of weathers.

Famous Gos Rater Valenciàs

Discover more about the breed (and brush up your Spanish) with the Valencian Ratters Facebook group.


As a newly recognised breed, owners of Valencian Ratters are more interested in promoting the purebred dog than using them to create hybrids.

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