Ratonero Murciano de Huerta
|Other names||Murcian Ratter|
|Origin||Region of Murcia (Spain)|
|Breed status||Not recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.|
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
Murcian Ratter (Ratonero murciano) or Huerta Ratter (Ratonero murciano de huerta) is a Spanish breed of dog originating from Region of Murcia.
A local ratter has existed in the region of Murcia since the 16th or 17th century. During that era it was known as Canis villaticus ("Farm dog") and Perro de huerta ("Huerta dog"). Huerta refers to the fertile cultivation area of the region. In the 18th century, the breed was called Perro de acequias ("Dog of irrigation ditches"), which referred to the fact it killed rats that were found in irrigation canals. It increased its popularity as a rat-catcher and a playmate of children. The local farmers used it both as a ratter and a companion, as well as a protector of the house. It caught rats and mice in stables, cellars and barns, but it was also used for rabbit and hare hunting.
The instincts of the Murcian Ratter had developed during the modern age both through crossing and inbreeding. As the result, there was a dog who had both rat-catching instinct and agility and the small size of the ancient dogs that were imported from far away. According to one theory, the breed descends from crosses between imported terriers and local dogs. Another theory states that its ancestors might have been Carthaginian, Roman or Egyptian dogs brought to the area by sailors. It might have been crossed with the Fox Terrier during the 18th and 20th century, but it is more likely that it has been crossed with the English Toy Terrier or Manchester Terrier. These kinds of dogs were also used on boats and it is likely that English trademen have influenced on its arrival to the region.
In the 18th century, the Murcian Ratter had developed into the form it is known today. In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was already very popular in the region. Breeding was very strict and breeders avoided crossing it with the German Pinscher and Chihuahua, as purity was much appreciated. As breeding was focused on certain families which were devoted to purity, this led to remarkable inbreeding. Due this, its characteristics became more homogenous. It became strong, agile and fast in its work.
In the late 18th century and mid 19th century, the majority of the population was concentrated in the county of Huerta de Murcia. However, they were also popular in Vega Alta del Segura (Cieza, Abarán), Alto Guadalentín, Bajo Guadalentín (Totana, Lorca, Alhama), Valle de Ricote (Archena, Villanueva del Río Segura, Ulea), Río Mula (Campos del Río, Mula, Albudeite), Noroeste (Calasparra, Caravaca de la Cruz, Cehegín), Campo de Cartagena (Cartagena, Fuente Álamo) and Comarca del Mar.
While the region and its economic activities developed, the numbers of the breed started to decrease. In the 20th century, it was already isolated to very small regions of Murcia. Its breeding was still continued in Bajo Guadalentín and Alto Guadalentín and the highest number of individuals was found in the municipality of Lorca. It was still appreciated in local factories and mills as an efficient ratter. In other municipalities of the region, it was used as a protector of rabbits.
In 1935, Don Pedro Manzanera Cano started to rescue Ratoneros in Rambilla de San Lazaro area of Lorca. He received his first pair of dogs from the mill of Don Juan de Dios Valdés and later he got one male and three females more from the same place. After receiving a male from La Rambla Mill, Manzanera started breeding program in the neighborhood of San Jose. His dogs spread also to the neighborhoods of San Juan, Santa María, San Pedro etc. Manzanera used his dogs also for hunting rabbits and although the size of the dogs varied from 28 cm to 40 cm, the smaller size was more practical in this task.
Today, the Murcian Ratter is more popular as a pet than a ratter or hunter. However, it is still nowadays used also as hunter and protector in several places in Murcia.
The Murcian Ratter resembles the Miniature Pinscher and English Toy Terrier. The height of males is 35.25 cm and the height of females 32.79 cm. The males weight 6.18 kg and females 5.53 kg. The most common colors are tricolor and black-and-tan. Other colors include black, black with white markings, cinnamon, and cinnamon with white markings. Ears are erect and eyes either round or oval-shaped. The color of the eyes is either black or brown. The tail is either naturally stumpy or docked.
A typical characteristic of the breed is its longevity. For example, a female named Estrella has achieved the age of 23 years. Usually the average life expectancy is 14 years or more.
- Asociación oficial del ratonero murciano. Estudio sobre el ratonero murciano. Asociación canina de la comunidad autónoma de Murcia. Researched July 15th 2015.