An Ancient Breed You May Never Have Heard Of

This may be the smallest breed in the world by breed standard because of the maximum height of the dogs (unlike Chihuahuas who are measured by weight). Maybe some of you might guess their breed, but we’d be surprised because as ancient as it is, the breed rarely known outside its country of origin. This isn’t the case in the Czech and Slovak Republics where the breed came to symbolize the independence of Czech lands ( Bohemia) and sovereignty of the Czech nation.

Historically, these dogs graced royal banquets with their presence, and were so favored by royalty that they were veritable fixtures in Bohemian palaces. They were “living gifts” to visiting royalty which is probably how the breed spread to neighboring European countries. To wit: The Czech king Karel IV presented dogs to French king Charles V during his visit to France in the autumn of 1377. Later, as Charles V lay dying in 1380, he bequeathed two of the dogs to his twelve-year-old son, Charles VI.

“Big dog” ears top off the little body of a lively, gentle, affectionate –  and relatively quiet, dog!  The quiet part, we suspect, may simply be stealth because the breed is a superb ratter, and that accounts for its name: The Prague Ratter, or Prazsky Krysarik.

As so often happens, a breed often goes the way of the political fortunes of its country. Suffering defeat at a battle resulted in the decline of Czech political, cultural and social life for 300 years, and this lead to decline for the Prague Ratter. It survived among common folk long enough for canine experts to take a renewed interest in the dogs, but when one of those expert, Theodor Rotter, lost all his property in the 1950s (and this included paperwork relating to the Ratter), the wind was taken out of the sails that might have revived the breed. Happily, an attempt to revive the breed was repeated in the 1980s, and this time it succeeded. Still, this is a small breed in every sense of the word: There are only about 2,500 Prague Ratters registered.

The breed has an American presence, and also has breed clubs in Australia and Sweden, but it wasn’t recognized by FCI until 2019. It is also recognized by the American Rare Breed Association, but no idea if or when the AKC will consider the breed.

Image by Томасина – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


4 thoughts on “An Ancient Breed You May Never Have Heard Of”

  1. Pingback: The Prague Ratter
  2. Oh you know I love black and tan dogs. What a cute little dog!!

  3. Oh dear. Now I want one. I don’t think it would mix well with whippets though. They’re pretty good ratters too and it’s awfully small…

    • Aren’t they the coolest little dogs? Still, Sharyn, best to know that the Whippets prevail, grin

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