Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Nina Butorac / Wikipedia.org

Take a quick look at a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier (TRT) and it’s easy to mistake him for a Jack Russell Terrier (JRT). These two breeds share many features in common, largely because the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier’s ancestors were descended from Jack Russell type dogs.

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a small breed in physical size, but as a terrier, he’s big on character. Typically, a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier’s stature is slightly longer than he is tall, given that his legs are a little on the stumpy side.

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier has many excellent features, of which the most outstanding is his easy-going character. Although equipped with the go-getting energy levels of the Jack Russell, he has a far more laid back attitude to life. A people-orientated dog, when treated with respect, he gets on well with children and can make a good family dog.

About & History

Where did the intriguing name of this breed come from? The origin of the name is actually a little disappointing. On the one hand, it’s said the 26th US President serving from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt, developed the breed and was a big fan. Unfortunately, this seems likely to be urban myth.

What is more likely is that in the 1990s people worked to make two similar lines of terriers more distinctive; one line was then named in honour of Roosevelt as he was said to have owned dogs of a similar appearance (and the other line became the Rat Terrier).

As to the breed’s origins, these go back to the 18th century and the arrival of British immigrants. They brought with them a wide variety of working terrier-type dogs in order to control vermin on the voyage and then on their homesteads.

Some of the dogs that formed the foundation stock include smooth Fox Terriers, the White English terrier (now extinct), Beagle, Whippet, Manchester Terrier, and Italian Greyhound. From this mish-mash, two lines of distinctive terriers were born. Type A had longer legs and went on to become the Rat Terrier, whilst Type B had shorter legs and is what’s now called the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier.


Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Large Photo
Dkm1987 / Wikipedia.org

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a compact, stocky dog with large prick ears. He is proportioned such that he’s slightly longer than he is tall, whilst remaining obviously muscular and athletic. Traditionally, as working dogs, their tails are docked.

He has a short, smooth coat that lies flat to the skin, and prick ears that reflect his alert demeanour. The most common coat colouration is mostly white with darker patches of black or tan (or both).

Character & Temperament

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is an adaptable blend of active and laid-back. His working roots mean he loves to be on the go all day. He also has a strong prey drive and, if he sees a squirrel, will automatically give chase.

However, unlike some other terrier breeds, the Teddy Roosevelt is relatively laid-back. Once home after a day in the fields, he’s content to take part in family life and settle down for a snooze. He’s also considered a gentle chap that will get along with children and even other pets. Of course, this requires the puppy to have been well-socialised from an early age and be treated with respect. But the potential is there to make a great fur-friend to all ages and species.

Whilst the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is loyal and loving to his owners, he can be suspicious of strangers, which makes for a good watch dog. His loyal nature also means he prefers the company of his owner to that of other dogs. Given his natural high energy levels, this breed excels at activities, such as agility.

And, lastly, the Teddy Roosevelt may have roughy-toughy roots, but the modern breed is very much an indoor dog. He needs human company and will be miserable is kept isolated outdoors or tied up for long periods of time.


These dogs are fearless characters who adore being with their owner. Indeed, they a fun-loving and eager to please, which makes for a great combination when training. They respond well to reward-based training methods and will often work for praise (although treats also go down well).

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier makes for a great companion for interactive dog-owner activities, such as agility. Not only will the dog thrive on the one-to-one interaction with the owner, but it also meets their need for activity and mental stimulation.

All-in-all the Teddy Roosevelt is considered easy to train. However, their owner should be knowledgeable about the correct way to handle bad behaviour, so as not to frustrate their dog.


There are insufficient numbers of Teddy Roosevelt Terriers to yield reliable data about any trends for health problems. They are, however, closely related to the Rat Terrier for which there is more information. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to assume a fair amount of overlap in the conditions they are most prone to.

Skin Allergies

Pollens and grasses can trigger an allergic reaction in many dogs. In people, we know this as hay fever, and the symptoms are usually sneezing and streaming eyes. However, in dogs the signs show up as itchy skin.

Affected dogs are often very itchy at certain times of the year. This can lead to thickened, dark skin and even self-trauma. It’s not possible to cure an allergy, but there are happily several medication options to control the symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

This refers to poor hip anatomy, such that walking or running causes inflammation, which leads to pain. In the worst cases, this causes early arthritis and a total hip replacement may be needed.

Dental Bite Problems

In some dogs, there is a mismatch in the length of the upper and lower jaws, leading to a misaligned dental bite. This can lead to problems chewing food and promote dental disease due to plaque and tartar build-up.

Orthodontic correction is not often feasible, and the owner must take special care to brush the teeth daily so as to keep them clean.


As a small active breed, there is a risk that the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier doesn’t get enough exercise and piles on weight. Obesity is a preventable problem that every owner should be aware of and monitor their pet’s weight carefully.

A combination of providing plenty of activities and regular twice daily walks, along with feeding an appropriate diet are key to preventing obesity. If obesity does develop, this can shorten the pet’s life by predisposing him to heart and lung disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This breed does best when his need for plenty of exercise is met, as this prevents frustration, which could lead to bad behaviour. The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier will adapt to life in an apartment, as long as he gets twice daily walks and lots of activity.

The breed loves to play interactive games with their owner, such as fetch, hide-and-seek, or simply by learning new tricks. They do well as hiking companions and are well-equipped to keep up over a variety of terrains. Do consider enrolling your dog in dog sports, such as agility or rally, as he will love the challenge.


The short-haired coat is super-low maintenance. It only needs brushing once a week with a deshedding tool or rubber groomer. However, if you want to put a healthy gloss on his coat, then daily burnishing with a chamois or rubber mitt will do the job. This also has the benefit of capturing shed hair on the brush so that it’s not shed on the soft furnishings.

As with any dog, it’s important to brush his teeth daily. Use a pet-friendly toothpaste, since human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs. Regular brushing gets rid of plaque before it can harden into tartar and therefore reduces the risk of inflamed gums and dental disease.

Another important aspect of grooming is checking the dog over after each walk. Be alert for parasites, such as ticks and remove them promptly. In the summer, check inside the ears and in-between the toes for grass awns, which could pierce the skin and cause a nasty abscess.

Famous Teddy Roosevelt Terriers

Whilst none appear on the big screen, you can always unearth pictures of this lovely breed and gain an insight to the lives of every day Teddy Roosevelt Terriers on Instagram.


The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a relatively young breed, having only emerged in its own right in the 1990s. Given the breed is still establishing its own reputation; they are little used for hybrid matings.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.