The Chilean Terrier Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

If you are looking for a small and lively dog breed, the Chilean Terrier might be the perfect fit for you. It was developed in Chile and is prized for its intelligence, agility, and loyalty.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the Chilean Terrier dog breed, from its history to its health and lifespan.

A Brief History of the Chilean Terrier

The Chilean Terrier is a relatively new breed that was developed in the late 19th century in Chile. It is also known as the Chilean Fox Terrier or Ratonero due to its primary use – to exterminate rats and vermin on farms. 

The exact origins of the breed are unclear, but it is believed to be a cross between the British Fox Terrier and the Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz brought to Chile by English immigrants and local Chilean dogs.

Origins of the Breed

The Fox Terrier was originally bred in England for hunting foxes and other small game. It is a small but energetic breed that is known for its ability to dig and chase. The Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz was a healthy dog able to deal with hot weather conditions. 

The Chilean Terrier was bred to be a versatile dog that could hunt a variety of small prey and vermin, such as rats and mice. Its small size and agility made it well-suited to navigating harsh terrains.

The Chilean Terrier’s Role in Chilean Culture

The Chilean Terrier quickly became a popular breed in Chile and is now considered to be a national treasure. It is one of the few dog breeds native to Chile and is even depicted on some Chilean postage stamps.

The Chilean Terrier is also known for its role in Chilean folklore. It is often portrayed as a brave and loyal companion in stories and poems and is said to have played a role in the country’s fight for independence.

Physical Characteristics of the Chilean Terrier

The Chilean Terrier is a small but muscular dog famous for its agility and athleticism. Here is a closer look at the breed’s physical traits. 

Size and Weight

The Chilean Terrier is a small breed, with males typically being slightly larger than females. Despite their small size, Chilean Terriers are incredibly strong and agile, making them great at chasing down small prey.

The average height of the female Chilean Terrier is around 11 to 14 inches, and the average weight is between 9 and 15 pounds. Males stand 13 to 15 inches tall and weigh 11 to 18 pounds. 

 As puppies, Chilean Terriers are tiny and fragile, but as they grow older, they develop into muscular and sturdy dogs.

Coat and Colors

The Chilean Terrier has a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming. Their coat is dense and water-resistant, which makes them great swimmers.

They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, and tan. Some Chilean Terriers also have brindle or spotted coats.

The coat is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also serves a practical purpose. The coat helps to regulate their body temperature, keeping them warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.

Distinctive Features

The Chilean Terrier has a well-proportioned body, with a broad chest and a short, straight back. Other hallmark features of the breed include large and floppy ears, short and stocky build, and sharp and intelligent eye expressions. 

Personality and Temperament

General Temperament

The Chilean Terrier is a friendly and outgoing breed that loves to play and be around people. The breed is known for its intelligence and problem-solving abilities, which can be both a blessing and a curse for owners.

On one hand, the breed is highly trainable and can learn a wide variety of tricks and commands. On the other hand, the breed can also be stubborn and independent, which can make training a challenge.

Despite its hunting instincts, the Chilean Terrier is a loyal and affectionate breed that loves to be around its family members. The breed is playful and has an energetic nature.

The breed is also highly adaptable and can do well in a variety of living situations, including apartments and houses with yards.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

The Chilean Terrier is generally good with children and other pets, although it is important to socialize the breed from a young age. Like all terriers, the Chilean Terrier has a strong prey drive.

The breed has a strong protective nature, and it may try to guard its family members from perceived threats. However, with proper training and socialization, the breed can learn to distinguish between real threats and harmless situations.

When it comes to children, the Chilean Terrier is known for its playful and affectionate nature. The breed loves to play and interact with kids, and it can make a great family pet for households with children.

However, it is important to teach children how to interact with the breed in a gentle and respectful manner, as the breed may become defensive if it feels threatened or mistreated.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Chilean Terrier is a highly energetic breed that requires plenty of physical and mental stimulation. It is important to provide the breed with regular exercise, including daily walks and playtime.

The Chilean Terrier also excels in activities such as agility and obedience training, which can provide mental stimulation and help burn off excess energy.

In addition to physical exercise, the Chilean Terrier also requires mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Providing the breed with plenty of mental stimulation can help to prevent destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging.

Health and Lifespan of the Chilean Terrier

Like all breeds of dog, the Chilean Terrier is prone to certain health issues. However, with proper care and attention, the breed can live a long and healthy life.

Common Health Issues

The Chilean Terrier is prone to certain health issues, including: 

  • Patellar Luxation: An orthopedic condition in which the knee cap pops out of its normal place, causing lameness and pain 
  • Eye Conditions: The breed is susceptible to eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts 

Lifespan and Aging

The Chilean Terrier has an average lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. With proper care and attention, many breed members live to an old age. 

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To help maintain good health in your Chilean Terrier, it is important to provide regular exercise and mental stimulation, as well as a healthy diet. Regular veterinary checkups and dental cleanings can also help to prevent health issues from developing.


Considered to be a national treasure of Chile, the Chilean Terrier is a truly remarkable breed. Despite the dog’s small height and weight, the Chilean Terrier is feisty, tenacious, and very hard-working. 

If interested in the breed, research the Chilean Terrier and ensure you find a reputable breeder. The breed is relatively rare outside of Chile, and it may take a while until you find a suitable pup. 

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