Prague Ratter

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Prague Ratter

Question: Which dog breed looks like a cross between a Miniature Pinscher and a Chihuahua? Answer: The Prazsky Krysarik or ‘Prague Ratter’.

This breed holds the record of being the smallest dog breed (measured by height) in the world. But whilst he only stands around 20 cm tall to the shoulder, he’s no slouch when it comes to tracking and killing rats… hence the name. Indeed, the Prague Ratter is a dog of contrasts, because whilst he’s a loving lapdog to a trusted owner, he is suspicious and grouchy with strangers. When weighing up whether a Prague Ratter would be a good family dog, know they have a strong prey drive and will make the life of other small pets a misery.

Indeed, do not underestimate the strength of character of this little dog has. When not properly obedience trained he’s a prime candidate for ‘small dog syndrome’ with his snappiness, barking, and general hostility to doing anything he doesn’t want to do.

About & History

There are no records of the exact origins of the Prague Ratter, but the breed dates back several centuries. Originally developed in Bohemia, these dogs were prized by Bohemian aristocracy. The Prague Ratter was frequently seen around court and at feasts, and given as state gifts from the Bohemian royal family to European rulers.

The Polish ruler, Boleslaw II, saw and imported two dogs and brought them to court. The little dogs' speed and small size, along with a nature skill for killing rats, made them popular not just at court, but eventually among ordinary people. They became a prized possession for many. However, during the 19th century another breed, the miniature Pinscher, became fashionable. This lead to a fall in the popularity of the Prague Ratter and a decline in its numbers. It was only in the 1980s, and, a concerted effort by admirers of the breed, that the Prague Ratter was revived and a breeding program undertaken.

In the present day, there are around 6,000 Prague Ratters worldwide. The breed is currently not recognised by any of major kennel clubs but do compete as a breed in dog shows in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Prague Ratter Large Photo

Visualise a Doberman shrunk down to the size of a Chihuahua for a fair impression of this black and tan dog’s appearance.

The Prague Ratter has short hair and is smooth-coated. They are characteristically black & tan, but can also come in other colours, such as brown & tan, and merle & red. The Prague Ratter has a straight, slender tail, which is sometimes docked.

They have the same athletic lean body shape as a Doberman, but on a diminutive scale. The head is pear-shaped with an almost fox-like, narrow muzzle. Their prick ears, which seem disproportionately large for their head, hint at the alert lively nature of the breed; whilst a tan spot above the eye give them a somewhat quizzical appearance.

Character & Temperament

There are many words to describe the temperament of the Prague Ratter, and to a certain extent, this depends on how well socialised they were as a pup and how knowledgeable their owner is with regards to training.

A Prague Ratter is by nature a wired, energetic, power-pack of a dog, which should come as hardly a surprise when a dog of such diminutive stature is prepared to take on rats. This is backed up by a strong prey instinct, which has them on high alert at the slightest movement that might hint at a squirrel up a tree or the family cat having a stretch. With this in mind, a Prague Ratter is a poor choice of pets for the family that already has a menagerie of small pets, as the dog is liable to stalk and attack them.

The Prague Ratter does best when he knows his place and is raised using reward-based obedience training methods. This helps him to constructively direct his energy into appropriate pursuits, and makes for a contented and satisfied pet, rather than a frustrated or bossy one.

Indeed, a well brought up Prague Ratter will be affectionate, loyal and loving to his owner, and can make a great pet for the right person. However, be aware that they harbour a natural suspicion of strangers, so only source a pup from a breeder who adequately socialises the pup from a young age.


The Prague Ratter may be an independent soul, but he does like to please. When motivated with encouragement and rewards, he responds well to training. The most common training pitfall is to overlook regular training sessions on account of the dog’s small size. Whilst it is tempting to physically scoop up the dog out of trouble, this makes for a dog who believes you are his servant and can lead to a snappy dog that suffers from 'small dog syndrome'.

Avoid this at all costs and, instead, consider the Prague Ratter as a miniature Doberman and give him the same level of obedience training as you would for a much larger dog. If this sounds too draconian, then harness the dog’s intelligence to teach him tricks. This clever little dog will enjoy the mental challenge of learning to shake paws or play dead, and when training sessions are fun, it helps him focus on the owner as the person in charge.


This tough-spirited little dog isn’t quite as robust as he believes himself to be.


The Prague Ratter undoubtedly has the heart of a lion, but his small size means his bones are proportionately thinner. His leg bones in particular are not robust, which makes them susceptible to injuries, such as fractures.

This doesn’t mean you should wrap a Prague Ratter up in cotton wool. However, since his small size means it’s tempting to carry him, be especially careful that he doesn’t leap out of your arms. Likewise, never leave him unattended on a table or raised surface, since jumping down from a height could increase his risk of breaking a leg. Also, ensure he eats a good balanced diet, which is designed for healthy teeth and bones.

Patella Luxation

In common with many miniature breeds, the Prague Ratter is prone to wobbly kneecaps. More correctly known as ‘patella luxation’, this problem allows the kneecap to pop out of alignment and lock the knee in a bent position.

Whilst the luxation itself is not painful, repeated luxation cause inflammation, which can be painful and in the long term leads to premature arthritis. This condition is genetic, passed down from parent to pup. If it develops then the optimal treatment depends on how severe the condition is. This can range from occasional use of pain-relieving medications to corrective surgery.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Prague Ratter is an active dog, despite his size. He does best when given regular daily walks with time off leash to romp, sniff, chase, and play. The breed loves retrieving objects and playing fetch, so harness this in order to give the dog an outlet for their natural hunting instincts.

Despite his small size, the Prague Ratter will enjoy activities usually associated with larger breeds, such as dog agility or tracking.


The Prague Ratter’s short, smooth coat is easy to care for and grooming parlour visits are not required. Simply use a rubber brush at least once a week in order to clear away shed hair and spread his natural conditioning oils over the coat.

Most Prague Ratters benefit from being bathed once a month, but take care to use a mild, moisturising dog shampoo so that the natural oils aren’t stripped from his skin and coat.

Make sure the dog gets plenty of walk on pavement or hard surfaces, in order to keep his nails worn down. If necessary, use a coarse energy board to buff off the sharp points of the nails and keep them in trim.

Famous Prague Ratters

If your interest in the Prague Ratter has been peeked, then check out some gorgeous goofy pictures of the breed on Pinterest.


The Prague Ratter is one of a number of breeds that have been in danger of becoming a thing of the past. It’s only in the past few decades that numbers of these dogs have revived, and therefore, most breeders focus is on maintaining and strengthening the breed, rather than diversifying it with hybrids.

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