Complete Guide To The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier: Grooming, Feeding, Exercise and More

The namesake of America’s 26th President, the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is as bold and intriguing as the original rough rider. Devoted, adaptable and street smart, their delightful character and versatility make them perennial family favorites.

I’ve not yet met a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, but it can only be a matter of time in my veterinary practice. Terriers, in general, are very similar to each other, so I should be able to give you solid information about the breed below. This breed is bound to get more popular over the next decade, especially as it makes it way officially in the AKC.

How Big Do Teddy Roosevelt Terriers Get?

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers are longer than they are tall with thick-set, rectangular bodies. Weighing 8-25 pounds, they’re short-legged but powerful, boasting broad shoulders, muscular hindquarters and a confident carriage.

Pic Used With Permission Of Aspen Hill Farms

**Pics in this article are courtesy of Aspen Hill Farms

What Do Teddy Roosevelt Terriers Look Like?

Their short, dense coats are predominantly white with a wide array of complementing colors, including:


Their large ears are gently pointed and may be carried erect or semi-erect. Eye color ranges from light to dark and reflects the shade of the coat. Dogs may be shown with docked or natural tails.

Bred from a variety of stock, including a half dozen or more breeds, they share characteristics with other small dogs and are often confused with the Rat, Manchester and Miniature Bull Terriers.

What Is The Personality of a Teddy Roosevelt Terrier?

The best word to describe Teddy Roosevelt Terriers is sensible. They’re energetic but not demanding, inquisitive but not mischievous and brave but not foolhardy. Wanting little more than love and companionship, they’re a superb breed for seniors and families with children.

They need regular exercise but enjoy activities from simple to complex. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a high-octane Frisbee competition, they’re in as long as it’s with you — don’t leave them alone for long hours. Bred to hunt, they retain an instinct to chase, so keep a leash handy and give them a secure play area.

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers At Aspen Hill Farms

How Much Grooming Do Teddy Roosevelt Terriers Need?

Teddy Roosevelt Terriers have the ultimate low-maintenance coats. They shed year-round and seasonally, but their hair is so short that it’s barely noticeable.

Weekly brushing with a soft brush or curry mitt is enough to keep them shiny and clean. For seniors and families without the time for complicated grooming regimens, there’s no better breed.

Frequent bathing is unnecessary and even counterproductive. Harsh shampoos can dry their skin, resulting in a dull, lifeless coat. Two visits to the tub annually are plenty unless they get dirty — wipe them down with a warm, wet washcloth in between to freshen their skin.

How Much Exercise Does A Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Need?

As a Terrier breed, this dog needs far more exercise than most dogs. They could be apartment dogs as long as they get outside multiple times a day for vigorous exercise sessions.

Start with a daily vigorous 30 minute (minimum) walk. A vigorous walk isn’t a walk where your dog stops and sniffs every bush and tree that they pass. Walking is meant to be exercise so put your walking shoes on and treat it as such.

However, these dogs won’t need just a walk. They will demand more than that. A long session of fetching with a ball or toy or a fun, indoor play session with a toy will also be demanded by the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier daily. Couple that with the dog park, swimming, or long hikes a few times a week.

One point – I don’t like tug of war games with this particular breed. The kind of stress that puts on the neck can lead to neck issues later in life as the discs in the spine degenerate.

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Teddy Roosevelt Terriers?

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

How Long Do Teddy Roosevelt Terriers Live?

14-16 years

What Health Problems Do Teddy Roosevelt Terriers Have?

There’s not a great deal of info out there on the conditions that these dogs are prone to (which is great because hopefully they are staying very healthy), but the ones I would watch out for are:

  • Obesity as they get older
  • Luxating patella
  • IVDD/Back Pain

I base the Intervertebral Disc Disease pick on the build. Short legs, muscular body, long back? Recipe for potential back issues just like in Corgis and Dachshunds. Keep them at an optimal weight and cut down on the amount of times they leap off the bed or couch and that should help.

Where Can I Learn More About Teddy Roosevelt Terriers?

Start with the American Teddy Roosevelt Terrier Club

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Teddy Roosevelt Terrier?

List of Breeders From The American Teddy Roosevelt Club

AKC Puppy Page

Because the dog is not terribly common, finding a rescue may be difficult for this breed.

Interesting Facts About the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

If you’ve never heard about the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, don’t be surprised. Here are a few fascinating facts about this old and new breed.

Did you know?

They Were Once Rat Terriers

Rat Terriers evolved in two types — a short-legged, or Type B variety, and a long-legged, or Type A Rat Terrier. As the lines became more distinct, selective breeding techniques were used to separate them further, creating the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier.

Though not yet fully recognized, they were accepted into the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2016. They joined the Miscellaneous Class in 2019, the next step toward full AKC status.

• They’re Melting Pots

Most of today’s dogs have multiple ancestors. But when it comes to selective breeding, Rat Terriers are the blue-ribbon winners for genetic contributions. Breeders were determined to create the ideal pest hunter, combing at least seven breeds for their specific traits, including the Fox Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Old English White Terrier, Whippet, Greyhound, Beagle and more.

They’re Politically Connected

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is named after America’s 26th President. A dog lover, he had many terriers in the White House, though the specific breeds aren’t certain. No photographs exist, but it’s assumed by the description in his letters that at least one was a Manchester Terrier, and others, described as rat hunters, were likely Rat Terriers.

• They Do More Than Hunt Rats

Rat Terriers were bred to hunt vermin and more. While infestations were a common problem in the 19th Century, few farmers could afford to feed dogs that couldn’t earn their keep. Soon, they were repurposed as all-around farmhands with responsibilities from guarding the hen house to the kids.

Later, it was discovered they had a very special talent – locating black truffles. Found underground, it takes a powerful nose to detect them. The most expensive edible fungi on Earth, black truffles may be valued at more than $1000 per pound.

• Poisons Almost Killed the Breed

Rat Terriers were once the only solution to farm vermin. But in the 1940s, chemical pesticides were introduced, and the breed outlived its usefulness, dwindling in numbers through the 1960s. By 1970, Americans rediscovered the Rat Terrier as a family companion, and their population flourished.