Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz

The Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz or Andalusian Ratter has been likened to a Spanish Jack Russell Terrier. These bold, brave dogs have a strong prey drive and were originally bred to keep vermin out of the cellars of Andalusian wine merchants.

Some things in life are universal, such as the presence of rats and mice wherever food is found. What has this to do with dogs? Well, those rats and mice need to be controlled and a good ‘ratting’ dog is many a farmers’ choice.

But these ratting dogs didn’t appear out of thin air. When a dog showed courage or skill at tackling vermin, they were used for breeding and pass those hunting genes onto the next generation. The Andalusian Ratter is one such dog and this is his story.

About & History

What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it happens. Take a close look at then name ‘Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz’ and all becomes clear. Anadaluz refers to Andalusia, in Spain, from where the breed originated. What is the Andalusian region well-known for? Sherry! ‘Bodeguero’ is Spanish for wine cellar, whilst ‘ratonero’ means rat hunting. Add everything together and it makes a Wine Cellar Pest Control Dog from Andalusia.

The Andalusian Ratter’s ancestors were likely Smooth-Coated Fox Terriers. Brought from England to Spain by British wine merchants around the 1800s, the Fox terriers kept rats under control on the merchant ships.

When merchants settled in Andalusia, their dogs came with them. These dogs with a high prey-drive roamed the cellars to keep vermin down amongst the wine barrels. Over time, they bred with local dogs, Raterillo Andaluz, (a type of terrier) to produce what is now recognised as the Andalusian Ratter – although it’s not hard to see why they acquired the moniker of the Spanish Jack Russell!

For a couple of centuries, the Andalusian Ratter got on with life, untroubled by the lack of an official breed standard. It was only in the 1980s that someone decided a breed standard would be a good idea so as to preserve this intriguing little dog. Official recognition came in the year 2000 when they were declared a ‘Spanish native dog breed'.


Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz Large Photo

The Andalusian Ratter is a working dog with an athletic physique to match. They are small to medium-sized dogs with a compact, but muscular build. Indeed, true to their nickname, their appearance has much in common with a Jack Russell Terrier.

This dog has a short coat that lies flat to the body. Most of the coat is white, except for the head. The latter is adorned with a mask of black, brown or tan. Indeed, it’s not unusual for a dog to have tan eyebrows, which can give the appearance of having four eyes. Some pups are born with naturally short tails. Controversially, those born with a full tail may be docked to about a quarter of their true length.

Character & Temperament

Given their heritage it’s no surprise that the Andalusian Ratter is first and foremost a hunting dog. In the modern day, this has implications for the prospective owner who has other fur-family members.

That strong prey drive means the Andalusian Ratter can’t distinguish between vermin and a pet rabbit or cat. The result could be disastrous for other family pets. Therefore careful consideration should be given as to the wisdom of introducing an Andalusian Ratter into a multi-pet household.

On the plus side, their terrier-like inclinations are ameliorated by a devotion to children. These little guys really love kids and will follow them round like a shadow. Of course, children and dogs should always be supervised together (more often for the sake of the dog than the child).

This is also an extremely active breed. Never under estimate how much exercise and mental stimulation these dogs need. If their needs aren’t met then a bored Andalusian Ratter is liable to develop bad habits, such as barking, digging or destructive behaviours.


Photo of Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz puppy

The single word that best describes the Andalusian Ratter’s attitude to life is ‘confident’. They are a dog blessed with self-belief that their decisions are correct. This can make them a challenge to train for a less experienced owner.

However, a combination of good socialisation as a puppy and reward-based training, go a long way to creating a responsive pet. Indeed, in the right hands and given the right guidance, this breed are ideal for active families or individuals. When trained to be well-behaved they make for a delightful family member.

But be prepared for training to continue throughout the dog’s life. If boundaries are relaxed or expectations slip, this is a breed that will quickly seize the opportunity and take advantage.


There are few statistics relating to health problems specifically linked to the Andalusian Ratter. However, given their heritage it is not unreasonable to assume certain issues in common with Fox Terriers and Jack Russells.

Legge Perthe’s Disease

This is an orthopaedic condition that affects young, actively growing dogs. The symptoms are a severe hind limb lameness and hip pain. This is due to the head of the thigh bone (femoral head) dying off due to an insufficient blood supply.

It’s thought Legge Perthe’s occurs because of a genetic predisposition. For some reason, the bone grows faster than the blood supply. When not constantly supplied with adequate calcium and building blocks for healthy bone, then the femoral head dies back and crumbles.

Sadly, once the condition develops, there is no cure. In the early stage, pain relief can alleviate the symptoms. However, in the long term, corrective surgery is required. This involves removing the femoral head so that the hip forms a muscular joint (rather than a bone-on-bone articulation).

Luxating Patellas

Also known as ‘wobbly kneecaps’ this is a condition where the patella (kneecap) can flip-flop out of place and cause the knee to lock in the wrong position. This is especially common in small dog breeds and is caused by anatomical issues, such as bowed legs, a shallow knee-joint, and too much laxity in the joint capsule.

Symptoms of a luxating patella include skipped steps on the back leg. For mild cases, this is just an inconvenience and occasional pain relief is all that’s required. But the more severe cases can be in constant pain. For these dogs, corrective surgery is the answer. These range from simply tightening the joint capsule to deepening the groove in which the kneecap sits, or even changing the alignment of the leg’s long bones.

Wounds and Skin Infections

The character of the Andalusian Ratter is such that they’ll actively seek out trouble in the form of rats or mice. This can result in some nasty nips and fight wounds. Prompt attention to any puncture wounds is essential, in order to prevent infection or even an abscess forming. This includes basic first aid measures, such as bathing the fresh wound with saline or a weak salt water solution.

Check any injuries daily and be alert for swelling, redness, or a discharge, which could indicate infection. If in doubt, always seek veterinary advice, since antibiotics may be required to prevent a more serious infection setting in.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Like most small terriers the Andalusian Ratter is energy on four legs. They are bred to be on the go all day long and are at their most content when they have a job to do.

In the absence of rats to hunt, this means their owner has to provide the entertainment. This means plenty of outdoor, preferably off-lead exercise, and mental stimulation in the form of games and training. Unfortunately, if these needs are not met the dog will use their energy to nefarious purposes. This includes bad behaviour, such as barking, chewing or digging.


Their short coat is easy to care for and doesn’t require trips to the parlour! Instead, a weekly slick over with a brush keeps things in good order. This spreads natural oils over the coat, which conditions the hair and aids waterproofing.

The Andalusian Ratter is an average shedder. However, those hairs are white which means they do have a habit of showing up on soft furnishings, which makes regular brushing all the more advisable.

Famous Andalusian Ratters

Unearth appealing pictures of the Andalusian Ratter on this Pinterest page.


The Andalusian Ratter is still establishing itself as a recognised breed in the modern world of dogs. Breeding efforts are therefore directed towards maintaining breed purity, than out-crossing to produce hybrids.

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