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Decker Rat Terrier | Breed Information, Pictures, Facts & FAQs

Decker Rat Terrier dog breed information and pictures

The doggo community comprises hundreds of intelligent and spunky breeds, but the Decker Rat Terrier is one to beat! 

Their agile physique and overall disposition make them a favorite of active pet owners. Hence, you’ll see them tagging along in hikes and other extreme activities.

Whether you are a Decker Terrier parent or a wannabe, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn all about the breed’s appearance, temperament, health, and more. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Decker Rat Terrier?

Decker Rat Terrier standing on a stone in a park
Image credit: karamel.macchiatoes / Instagram

The Decker Rat Terrier is a larger and calmer version of the Rat Terrier breed. This vigilant and highly active pooch makes the best companion on excursions or outdoor trips. They are also called Decker Hunting Terriers, Decker Giants, and Giant Rat Terriers.

The Decker Hunting Terrier is a relatively new breed. They got their name from the breeder who developed them in the 1970s — Milton Decker.

One ironic fact about this breed is that they are more domesticated than their other Rat Terrier counterparts despite their size. 

Their behavior is much more fitting for families, even though their stature and build make them look more menacing.

Decker Rat Terrier vs. Other Rat Terriers: What’s the Difference?

Decker Rat Terriers are not the average Rat Terriers in terms of physical appearance.

They have a larger build since they were intentionally developed to be bigger. They also have a much broader skull, wrinkled lips, and erect ears.

For reference, here is a regular Rat Terrier:

Regular Rat Terrier

Meanwhile, here’s a Decker Rat Terrier:

Decker Rat Terrier close up portrait
Image credit: goosethedecker / Instagram

Aside from physical attributes, Decker Hunting Terriers are known to be a bit calmer than most Rat Terriers. 

However, they still have a lot of energy, and they manifest the same hunting instincts, albeit toned down.

If you want a companion pet that is excellent at guarding, you are better off with a Decker than a regular Rat Terrier since they have a more domesticated disposition.

Watch this video to get a closer look at a Decker Rat Terrier in action:

How a Decker Rat Terrier Helped a Wildlife Company Find Rats in a very nice home!

Decker Rat Terrier Breed Origin and History

After several decades of being the unpopular breed, Rat Terriers had their comeback in the 1990s. The introduction of some breed variations, such as the Decker Rat Terrier, contributed to their fame. 

The Decker Hunting Terrier is an American dog breed. It is a product of experimenting with terrier variations like the Fox Terrier and Old English White Terrier. It is also believed that Basenji dogs were used in their development.

The first Decker Hunting Terrier was produced in the 1970s by a hunter named Milton Decker. 

Milton Decker had an unexpected encounter with a bunch of Rat Terriers at a plant nursery. He formed a bond with these dogs, so the owner let him pick one to take home. 

Among all the Rat Terriers, Decker chose a Smooth Fox and named him Henry. It was an exceptionally large and good-tempered Rat Terrier with great working and hunting abilities. 

In Decker’s desire to preserve the qualities of Henry, he bred it with other Rat Terriers that were unusually large.

As a result, Decker successfully produced a pedigree of his own: the Decker Rat Terrier. This working and hunting dog stood taller than other Rat Terriers and inherited Henry’s well-tempered personality. 

Later on, the Decker Rat Terrier assumed traditional Rat Terrier roles, and they also learned some unconventional skills, such as retrieving waterfowl. 

Decker Rat Terrier Appearance

Close up of a Decker Hunting Terrier looking at the side
Image credit: goosethedecker / Instagram

The Decker Rat Terrier is a compact and muscled dog distinguishable for its erect ears, broad skull, and full-length tail. 

As previously mentioned, they are larger than standard Rat Terriers even though they are only medium-sized dogs.

They can come with hazel or brown colored eyes that are usually oval-shaped. They also have smooth and shiny coats that have a naturally pied pattern. 

The Decker Hunting Terrier usually comes in tri-colored or bi-colored coats, which combine sable, chocolate, white, black, tan, red, blue, and apricot colors.

To help you visualize some of the color variations of Decker Terriers, check out some examples below:

Brown and White Decker Rat Terrier

Brown and white Decker Rat Terrier
Image credit: ollieandpiperthewonderdogs / Instagram

This brown and white Decker Terrier combines a rich brown tone and white markings on its coat. Currently, this is considered one of the most common colors of the breed.

Tri-Colored Decker Rat Terrier

Tri colored Decker Rat Terrier
Image credit: therealwhieldon / Instagram

As the name suggests, the tri-colored Decker Terrier exhibits not just two but three colors on its coat. 

Typical tri-color combination includes a base color which is usually white, some black patches distributed throughout the body, and brown accents on the face. 

Decker Rat Terrier Size and Weight

The Decker Rat Terrier usually grows between 16 and 19 inches in height and 22 and 40 pounds in weight. They are larger than a standard Rat Terrier, which only reaches 16 inches.

There is also a slight difference in the size of a male and a female Decker Rat Terrier. A male Decker typically reaches the 19 inches mark when it comes to height, while females only grow between 16 and 17 inches. 

Upon reaching their sixth month, the Decker Hunting Terrier’s growth starts to slow down. They stop growing at around 18 months old, revealing their full-grown size.

READ NEXT: Toy Rat Terrier: Are They Similar to Toy Fox Terriers?

Decker Rat Terrier Breed Recognition

Decker Rat Terrier with blurred background
Image credit: karamel.macchiatoes / Instagram

The American Kennel Club has yet to recognize the Decker Rat Terrier as a variation of the Rat Terrier breed. The organization’s standards only identify the miniature and smooth-coated as acceptable varieties. 

Nevertheless, the Decker Rat Terrier can be registered with the National Rat Terrier Association (NRTA). 

This is the mother organization for Rat Terriers in the United States. They established a chapter club for Deckers in 1998 when they saw the growing demand for this breed.

Decker Rat Terrier Temperament and Personality

Decker Hunting Terriers are ideal family dogs since they are trainable and affectionate!

They are a bit strong-willed due to their hunting instincts, but they can be trained to behave like companion pets through proper socialization. 

Decker Terriers are also very alert, making them one of the best guard dogs there is. You would see them look after your kids and play with them as if they were children themselves.

Another thing to note is that Decker Rat Terriers only do well with pets of the same size. They tend to chase smaller animals because of their high prey drive. 

Some say that they also become destructive and aggressive when triggered by little pooches and cats.

All in all, Decker Rat Terriers are not just meant for hunting. They can also be kept as pet companions for owners with active lifestyles. 

However, extensive training and socialization must be given to them as early as eight weeks old.

Decker Rat Terrier Lifespan and Health Issues

Large Decker Rat Terrier outside looking at the camera and smiles
Image credit: karamel.macchiatoes / Instagram

Decker Rat Terriers have an average lifespan of 15 to 18 years. This is on par with the toy Rat Terriers and Rat Terrier mixes, such as the Pit Rat Terrier mix.

Despite being tagged as healthy, there are still some specific health issues common to the Decker Terrier’s bloodline. Most of these health concerns are congenital or hereditary.

Listed below are some of the health conditions common to Decker Terriers:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Because of bone growth, Decker Rat Terriers are usually vulnerable to hip deformity. The ball and socket, which make up a dog’s hips, must grow at an equal phase. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia hinders this natural process and later on causes joint laxity or looseness. 
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is another hip problem that causes degeneration of the ball in the hip formation. Decker Rat Terriers are vulnerable to this condition, which is why they may experience canine arthritis later in life.
  • Patellar Luxation: This is an inherited disease where a dog’s patella medial experiences ectopic development. Patellar luxation eventually leads to multiple deformities in the femur, hip joint, hind limb, and tibia.
  • Cataracts: Decker Hunting Terriers are also prone to developing cataracts caused by protein formation in the eye and diabetes. This condition is hereditary and, if not treated early, can lead to total blindness.

Generally, the Decker Terrier’s overall health depends on its bloodline. To ensure that the Decker Terrier you’ll get is free from these inherited ailments or conditions, make sure to source it from reputable breeders.

How Much Does a Decker Rat Terrier Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

The average price of a Decker Rat Terrier ranges between $1,000 and $1,500. Decker Terrier litters are expensive due to the meticulous breeding process, breeder reputation, location, and breeding cost. 

If you are on a tight budget and would like to save a few bucks, adoption is always a great option. 

Adoption fees only range between $300 and $800. This will allow you to allot more of your budget for some essential items your Decker Rat Terrier needs, such as dog beds, toys, training treats, bowls, etc.

Here is a checklist you can utilize while shopping for your Decker Rat Terrier’s essentials:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$50 – $100
Food and Water Bowls$10 – $30
Bed$30 – $180
Crate$30 – $370
Leashes and Collars$15 – $50
Toys$20 – $40
Grooming Essentials$30 – $160
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$50 – $200
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $300
Initial Vaccine Shots$75 – $200
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Dog License$10 – $20
Microchip$40 – $60
Miscellaneous Supplies$15 – $30
Total Initial Cost$525 – $2,445

The estimated initial cost of all the items above would range from $525 to $2,445. Note that this can still be reduced if you purchase from a breeder who gives freebies or if you DIY some of the items.

Other than these essentials, you should also prepare for medical expenses such as vet bills and vaccinations. Getting pet insurance is also highly suggested if you want to cut unexpected emergency costs.

Places to Find Decker Rat Terrier Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Decker Rat Terrier puppy for sale and adoption
Image credit: goosethedecker / Instagram

Finding a breeder who specializes in producing Decker Rat Terrier litters is not that challenging. Moreover, there are also a number of rescues where you may find Decker Rat Terriers.

To fast-track your goal of becoming a Decker Hunting Terrier parent, here are some reputable breeders you can check out:

  • Lil Ranchin Rat Terriers – This small breeder specializes in breeding Decker, Diamond Valley, and Fire Mountain line terriers. They also prioritize pedigree in breeding; thus, they offer litters bred for hunting, show, or family companionship. 
  • BriarBey Decker Terriers – BriarBey takes pride in breeding from the original Decker Terrier lines. They make sure that they produce quality litters that have exceptional temperament and appearance. 
  • Johnson Performance Horses – Even though they specialize in training horses and riders, they also house a lot of Decker Terrier puppies. They ensure that they have chosen healthy parent breeds and raise Decker Rat Terriers in the best environment.

If you are more interested in adoption, you’re in luck, as there are many rescues where you can find a Decker Rat Terrier. But before that, make sure to read our dog adoption guide.

Once you are done reading the guide, check out these rescue organizations where you can adopt a Decker Terrier:

  • New Rattitude – This is a nationwide non-profit organization that rescues Rat Terriers across the United States. They aim to rehabilitate and rehome stray or abandoned terriers, including Deckers. They ensure that all their adoptable dogs have received vaccinations and are spayed or neutered before rehoming.
  • Rat Terrier ResQ – This is a volunteer-driven group that rescues Rat Terriers. Their objective is to provide a second chance for abandoned Rat Terriers by rehabilitating and eventually rehoming them. You can try looking for a Decker Hunting Terrier from them. 
  • Rescue Me! – This advertising website made solely for pet adoptions can help you connect with Rat Terrier shelters and rescue organizations all over the United States. Your search would be effortless since they have all sorts of filters to help you out.

If you haven’t found your luck in these rescues and advertising sites, join pet groups on Facebook and other social media platforms. There you can find and ask Decker Rat Terrier owners where they purchased their dogs. 

You can also reach out to your local veterinarians. More often than not, they have contacts with various breeders, including those who specialize in Decker Hunting Terriers.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Decker Rat Terrier

While the Decker Rat Terrier is an excellent dog breed, it is far from perfect. As with any other breed, the Decker Rat Terrier also has its pros and cons.

For starters, here are some of the pros of owning a Decker Rat Terrier:

  • Low maintenance: Decker Rat Terriers don’t need much when it comes to grooming and diet. This dog can get by with minimal grooming and occasional baths. Likewise, Deckers are also not picky when it comes to food.
  • Robustness and endurance: Decker Rat Terriers are highly robust dogs with excellent endurance. Their health is above average, albeit prone to a few health issues. Thanks to their health and excellent build, they can endure tedious outdoor activities, making them perfect for active owners.
  • Trainability: The Decker Rat Terrier is a dog that is pretty easy to train. This pooch is a people-pleaser and is highly motivated by treats. As long as you put in the effort in training your Decker, you won’t have a problem with it.

Meanwhile, here are the cons of owning a Decker Rat Terrier:

  • Demanding exercise needs: If you are not an active person, the Decker Rat Terrier might not be the best pet for you. As a working dog, this pooch needs plenty of physical activities throughout the day. Going on walks, playing fetch, and doing other kinds of exercises are non-negotiable for this breed.
  • Hefty price tag: While they are not the most expensive dogs out there, Decker Rat Terriers are a bit pricey. This is especially true compared to other kinds of Rat Terriers and Rat Terrier mixes.
  • High prey drive: As working dogs, Decker Rat Terriers have an extremely high prey drive. Because of this, these dogs have an innate tendency to chase smaller pets or moving objects. Their high prey drive also makes them needy for work and play.

Without a doubt, the Decker Rat Terrier is a dog worth having. However, this doesn’t mean that they fit all kinds of families and lifestyles. 

Hopefully, this section has helped you make a decision about whether this pooch is suitable for you or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

Decker Rat Terrier puppy lying on grass
Image credit: therealwhieldon / Instagram

Do Decker Rat Terriers Bark?

Decker Rat Terriers may be highly energetic, but they are the less yappy versions of the Rat Terrier. They do bark out of excitement but not too much because of their calmer temperament. 

Are Decker Rat Terriers High-Maintenance Dogs?

In terms of activity requirements, Decker Rat Terriers are high-maintenance. Due to their high energy levels, they naturally require daily physical and mental exercises. 

If not maintained, they often manifest destructive or aggressive behavior to exhaust their energy.

On the other hand, in terms of grooming and cleaning, a Decker Terrier does not require much maintenance. Their short coats do not need daily brushing, nor do they need bathing frequently.

Do Decker Hunting Terriers Shed a Lot?

Decker Rat Terriers are not heavy shedders. Their single-layered coat only sheds moderately throughout the year, and it’s very manageable. However, they are still not the best option for people with allergies. 

Final Thoughts: Is a Decker Rat Terrier the Right Dog for You?

If you want an athletic and agile dog as a companion during your outdoor activities, the Decker Rat Terrier is the right dog for you. Their activeness and feistiness can perfectly match people with active lifestyles.

Decker Terriers live longer and are much healthier than most dog breeds. They can even be your workout partners! 

They also do not require much maintenance except for providing them food, love, attention, and of course, exercise. Apart from being fun and energetic woofers, they also tend to show their soft spots.

So, are you getting one soon? Let us know what you think about the Decker Rat Terrier in the comments below!