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Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Terrier Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dogs ability to perform its traditional work.


The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is an American breed descended from the terriers brought over by English miners and other working class immigrants. These versatile terriers probably included crosses between the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Beagle, the Whippet, the Italian Greyhound, and the now extinct white English Terrier. These dogs were used as ratters, and soon became known as Rat Terriers. Two types of Rat Terriers evolved, distinguished primarily by leg length. The short-legged Rat Terriers developed a devoted following and were named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1999.

General Appearance

A short-legged, strongly built small hunting terrier. Rectangular in shape when viewed from the side; balanced front to rear. Substantial bone for a small breed; not course or fine. Densely made and well-muscled without exaggeration. Expression is kind and intelligent yet alert. A piebald or tuxedo patterned dog of any variety of colors but always including white. They should be evaluated as a working terrier and must have the speed, agility, and strength to do the work for which they were developed. Any exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to interference with the dogs ability to work or deviation from breed type. Honorable scars resulting from field work are not to be penalized. Honorable scars resulting from field work are not to be penalized.


Originally bred for ratting and farm work, this multipurpose companion is capable of hunting above or below ground and treeing small game but is not spanned nor sparred. With a strong protective nature and well-developed pack instincts, he will vocally announce the presence of any strange animal or human. A devoted companion with a class clown mentality, he gets along well with children, cats, and other dogs when raised with them, but can be reserved with strangers. His eagerness to please and intelligence make him very easy to train; a heavy hand is strongly discouraged. They are a slow maturing breed, not reaching full maturity until 2-3 years of age with a life expectancy of 15 to 16 years of age.


The head is proportionate to the size of the body. When viewed from the side, the skull and muzzle are of equal length and joined by a moderate stop. Viewed from the front or the side, the Teddy Roosevelt Terriers head forms a blunt wedge shape.


The skull is broad and slightly domed. It tapers slightly toward the muzzle. The jaws are powerful with well-muscled cheeks.


The muzzle is well filled-out under the eyes, well-chiseled, and tapers slightly from the stop to the nose without appearing snipey. Jaws are powerful and hinged well. Lips are dry and tight with no flews. Lip pigment matches nose pigment.


The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier has a complete set of good-sized, evenly spaced, white teeth. A scissors bite is strongly preferred. Broken/missing teeth resulting from field work are not to be penalized.
Serious Faults: Congenital missing teeth; Any bite other than scissor.


The nose is black or self-colored corresponding with the body color and is completely pigmented.


Eyes are oval, small, and set obliquely. Eye rims match nose pigment. Eye color ranges from light to dark corresponding with coat color.

Eliminating Fault: wall eye.


Ears are V-shaped with tips pointed and set at the outside edges of the skull. Ears are carried erect, semi-erect or button when at attention, without preference, but matching carriage is strongly preferred. When moving, ears may be carried back. Non-matching ear carriage should be penalized to the degree of the variation. Note: Ear carriage may not stabilize until a dog is mature. Dogs under one year of age should not be penalized for variations in ear carriage.

Serious Faults: Blunt or round ears.
Disqualifications: Hanging ears.; Cropped ears.


The neck is clean, moderately long, slightly arched, and tapers slightly from the shoulders to the head and is well set.


Shoulders are well muscled without heaviness. The shoulder blades are well laid back; elbows are close to the body being neither loose nor tied, falling beneath the highest point of the wither. Viewed from the front, the forearms curve slightly inward so that the distance between the wrists is slightly less than the distance between the elbows; toes point forward. Viewed from the side, pasterns are strong, short, and nearly vertical. Note: Slight divergence of toes until chest drops in immature dogs is acceptable.
Fault: Toes not forward in a mature dog.
Serious Faults: Fiddle front.; Straight forearms.


A properly proportioned Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is rectangularly shaped; longer (measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks) than tall (measured from the withers to the ground) with a ratio of 10:7. The length of the front leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) should be 40% wither height at maturity. The line of the back is strong and level. The loin is moderately short, slightly arched, and muscular, with moderate tuck-up. The croup is slightly sloping. The ribs extend well back and are well sprung out from the spine, forming a broad, strong back, then curving down and inward to form a deep body. The brisket extends below the elbow but does not exceed 2/3rds depth of overall height. Viewed from the front, the chest between the forelegs is well filled in on either side of the prominent sternum and of moderate width. Viewed from the side, the forechest extends well in front of the forelegs. Note: Chest depth and leg length will not stabilize until maturity.

Faults: Brisket exceeding 2/3rds depth of overall height; overall ratio not desired for breed type.
Serious Faults: Lack of prosternum; Leg length 50% or greater in a mature dog.


The hindquarters are strong and flexible, well-muscled without exaggeration. The length of the upper thigh somewhat longer than the lower thigh. The angulation and overall balance of the hindquarters should equal the forequarters. The stifles are well-bent, and the hocks are well let down. When the dog is standing, the short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground and, viewed from the rear, parallel to one another.


The feet are compact; oval, turning neither in nor out. Rear feet are compact, similar in shape and slightly smaller than the front. The two middle toes slightly longer than the other toes. Toes may not be flat or splayed. Front dewclaws may be removed. Rear dewclaws must be removed.


The tail is set on at the end of the slightly sloping croup. A docked is preferred, but a natural tail or natural bob tail are accepted. The natural tail is thick at the base and tapers toward the tip. Tail carriage is dependent on attitude from an upward curve to straight out behind.


The coat is short, dense, and medium-hard to smooth, with a sheen. Whiskers may not be trimmed or removed.

Eliminating Faults: Wire or broken coat; long coat.
Disqualifications: Hairlessness; Any suggestion of kink or curl in tail.


Any bi-color or tri-color without preference, but must always have some white, of any size and located anywhere on the dog. The white area may be ticked if white predominates.

Eliminating Fault: Absence of white.
Disqualifications: Merle

Height And Weight

A well-muscled, densely made working terrier that should exhibited in good physical working condition. Height is at least 8 and no more than 12 inches, measured at the withers. Weight will vary depending on the size of the individual dog.

Eliminating Fault: Height under 7 inches at maturity or over 13 inches.


A lively gait with a jaunty air; forelegs have moderate reach and extend without excessive lift and in unison with the strong driving power of the rear but do not single track. The forelegs do not move in exact parallel but incline slightly inward to compensate for the shortness of leg and depth of chest, reach should not be beyond the eye. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward center line of balance with a stronger convergence in the rear than the front. Note: Legs may move in a more parallel fashion in immature dogs.

Serious Faults: Hackney gait; rear kick out; single tracking in a mature dog.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Unilateral or bilateral deafness.
Hanging ears.
Cropped Ears.
Any suggestion of kink or curl in tail.

The docking of tails and cropping of ears in America is legal and remains a personal choice. However, as an international registry, the United Kennel Club, Inc. is aware that the practices of cropping and docking have been forbidden in some countries. In light of these developments, the United Kennel Club feels that no dog in any UKC event, including conformation, shall be penalized for a full tail or natural ears.

UKC Breed Standards: Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised January 2, 2023

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