The dog is small… the delicate small body is thinly covered with skin; the smooth black and tan coat is very glossy. The dog’s very erect rounded tipped ears seem to be too large for the fragile head. The round protruding eyes give the dog an alert and intelligent demeanor. The dog can’t be a Toy Pincher as the breed is already extinct. It closely resembles a Miniature Pincher but it is a little shorter in height. Actually, the dog is a Prague Ratter, the smallest dog in the world!
The Prague Ratter or the Prazsky Krysarik is a breed developed in the Slovack and Czech Republics. This is a very ancient breed, it has existed for centuries but it is relatively unknown outside its country of origin. This breed has a noble and regal stately history. Did you know that this very small breed used to grace royal banquets with its presence? These small dogs were favored by royalty so much so that they seem to be fixtures in Bohemian palaces. These dogs were also given as gifts to visiting royalty thus the breed has spread in the neighboring European countries. This dog has all qualities of an outstanding companion. It is no wonder why the dog was loved by the royalty. However, there is another reason why the dog is highly valued. A Prague Ratter is noted for its excellent sense of smell. This agile dog’s rat killing ability has been honed for centuries. The small size and the briskness are valuable assets that make the dog an excellent rat killer. The name “krysarik” was given to this ancient breed because of its rat killing prowess.
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The Prague Ratter is a very lively small dog with a compact body. The dog closely resembles Miniature Pincher although it is about 2 cm shorter in height. A Prague Ratter stands from 7 to 9 inches and weighs between 2 to 6 pounds. The dog has a pear shaped head. No folds form on the rounded skull as it is tightly covered with skin. The stop is prominent. Well developed cheeks are slightly protruding. This breed has a narrow fox-like muzzle. The nose is generally black although its color can complement the color of the coat. Firm, close fitting lips are pigmented with color that fits the color of the coat. Straight crowded teeth have a regular scissor bite. This breed has prominently bulging eyes that are set wide apart. Eyes are medium sized, dark and have tight fitting dark pigmented lids. The ear is one of the most notable features of this breed. Ears are rather large compared to the size of the head. Triangular and rounded tipped ears are set firmly at the back of the skull. Ears are very erect and carried vertically and slightly angled to the sides.
Sufficiently long neck supports the delicate head. Gracefully curved neck has no folds. This breed’s lean and delicate body is thickly covered with skin. The dog has an almost quadratic body structure. The short and straight body has a straight and firm topline. The chest is not too deep- about 45 to 50% of the height measured at the withers. Abdomen is slightly tucked up. Tail is set level with the back. Tails that are not docked can reach the level of the hocks. On the move, the tail is curled in a semicircle and carried over the back.
A Prague Ratter has a tough elastic skin. Short and glossy coat lies close to the body. Hair on the head is usually thinner and shorter than the hair that covers the body. Coat colors range from yellow, black and tan and brown. Individuals with brown or black and tan coats can have deep yellow markings on the cheeks and above the eyes, on the chest, under the neck or on the lower part of the legs and around the anal area.
The Prague Ratter is a miniature breed but it is very active, alert and lively. Most small breeds of dogs are yappers… but not a Prague Ratter. The dog has a noble and intelligent personality. The dog though is wary of strangers. In spite of the small size, the dog will do everything it can to protect the family from perceived danger. The dog is truly a wonderful companion as it is gentle and affectionate and playful with the children. However, because of the small size, the dog is not recommended for families with very boisterous small children. This breed’s small and fragile legs can be easily broken in rough play with the kids. The living quarters will not be a problem for this breed as the dog would do well in apartments or in homes in the country. The Prague Ratters is very affectionate. The dog enjoys being cuddled. The owner may be tempted to carry the dog around but it must be realized that the dog would still have exercise needs. The dog plays indoors but its primal instinct to walk must also be provided. A well fenced yard would provide the dog with adequate and safe area to romp.
The dog needs very little grooming. A Prague Ratter is an average shedder. The good condition of the short smooth and glossy coat can be maintained with occasional brushing. Rubbing the coat with damp cloth or chamois cloth will bring out the sheen. This dog though cannot tolerate very cold weather. Provide your dog with sweater if the pet will be taken for a walk on colder days.
The Prague Ratter is a very ancient breed that is popularly known as Prazsky Krisarik. This breed calls the Czech and Slovak Republics home although this small dog has really originated from Bohemia. The dogs are constantly seen adorning courts of Bohemia’s kings and princesses. This breed is highly valued so that even royal banquets are graced by the dog’s “royal” presence. The Prague Ratter has gained immense popularity in the middle ages. During that time, dogs are considered to be one of the most valuable gifts given to royalty. This “living gift” was given to European rulers and has quickly spread to other lands.
Being a very ancient breed, tracing the precise origin of the breed proved to be a daunting task. Fortunately some ancient writings about this breed exist. Cynological journals and periodicals of well known cynologists were studied. From the articles and writings of Theodor Rotter, Otto Karlik, Frantisek Dvoracek it was verified that the breed has indeed existed during the time of Bohemian Prince Vladislav 11. Gala Anonym, a Polish author has written that the Polish king Boleslav 11 the Brave has owned two Prague Ratters. Because the dogs were highly valued it was assumed that they were royal gifts from Prince Vratislav 11. Jules Michelet, a French historian mentioned in his “Histoire de France” that French king Charles V was presented with 3 Prague Ratters by Karel 1V when the Czech king visited France in 1377. Bohemia’s King Vaclav 1V, the wastrel and drunkard son of King Karel 1V always takes his favorite ratter to the pub he secretly visits. In Professor Weiss’ writings he described how Emperor Rudolf 11 was cheered and comforted by his hounds and ratters. Through the emperor’s excellent breeding efforts he managed to increase his ratters from the original 2 to 18. These writings have proven that the Prague Ratters was indeed a favorite of the ruling class.
After the Czech was defeated in the battle on the White Mountain, the political and social life of these people started to decline. The Prague Castle which has been the home and base of the Czech ruling family has lost its significance. This historical period of the Czech’s downfall has also meant the end of the Prague Ratter’s glory. The dogs left the castle walls to live in strife with the commoners. In the 19th century, breed popularity tremendously declined when the Miniature Pinscher became the favorite dog of the era. Being too small, the breed was disqualified from dog shows.
Theodor Rotter and Otakar Karlik attempted to restore the breed. Documents were gathered and a breeding program was set up. Unfortunately, the program failed because chosen dogs were not six generation pedigreed which is a requirement for registration. Moreover, when Adolf Hitler invaded the Czechoslovak Republic, Rotter’s properties were lost including the documents pertaining to the restoration of the ratter. Breed revival was again started in the 1980s and this time the attempt was successful. Czechs and Slovaks are breeding the Prague Ratter again. The dog has again won the hearts of dog lovers. The smallest dog in the world is here to stay!