Bodega* Mice, and the Breed that “Loves” them

When it comes to ratters, Spain has an embarrassment of riches. There are no fewer than five native rat-hunting breeds originating in the country: The Valencian Ratter, Andalusian Ratter, Majorca Ratter, Murcian Ratter, and Basque Ratter. They have in a common a similar appearance and purpose which suggests to many experts that the breeds have the same distant relatives behind them. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be covering these special little dogs, and with this post, we start with the Andalusian Ratter.

The Mediterranean climate and mild average temperature of Andalusia make it ideal for viticulture and winemaking. Indeed, Spain’s Andalusia wine region is home to the world famous fortified wine – sherry. Of the five breeds, the Andalusian Ratter is the one used most often to control rats and mice in vineyards.

The breed is also known as the Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz: Anadaluz refers to Andalusia in Spain, “Bodeguero” is Spanish for wine cellar, and “ratonero” means rat hunting. In essence, the breed’s name means Wine Cellar Pest Control Dog from Andalusia. Because some people think the breed has a strong resemblance to the Jack Russell Terrier, it has also been called by the nickname, the Spanish Jack Russell.

These dogs are bold, brave, and wicked fast. The only thing that makes them more deadly to vermin is their determination to catch every. single. last. one of them, and their little cousins, too.

Far from being a new creation, the Andalusian has been around since the 1700s when English wine merchants settled in Marco de Jerez having arrived with ancestors of Smooth Fox Terriers. These terriers bred with local dogs, particularly Raterillo Andaluz, another terrier type dog found near the vineyards of Jerez de La Frontera. In the 1900s, the Toy Terrier was crossed into the breed, and this cross served to keep the breed’s size small enough to maneuver between wine barrels to catch their prey, while retaining a strong prey drive.

A breed club, the Club Nacional del Perro Andaluz Ratonero Bodeguero, was established in 1993, the same year a standard was written. Seven years later, the breed was recognized by the Royal Canine Society of Spain, and the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture which declared it to be a native Spanish breed.  The breed is acknowledge by several smaller registries (i.e., the Nordic Kennel Club),  but the FCI, CKC, UKC or AKC have yet to follow suit.

No matter. The little dogs are still used quite a bit by Spanish wineries, but they are being discovered to be fine pets, too, as long as no other small animal lives in the house.

There is a Facebook page that appears to be active, a good place to visit for more photographs and information.

*A bodega is a warehouse for the storage of wine.

Image of Andalusian Ratter by ©Duranphotography/Dreamstime Stock Photo

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