The Decker Rat Terrier and NRTA
How to keep them in existence

Decker Rat Terrier Chapter Club

 The NRTA  created a chapter club for the Decker Rat Terrier in 1998 because many individuals were searching for this type of Rat. Since then we have been gathering information that has taken many years.


The following is a list of people who are actively trying to build up the Decker Rat Terrier stock or are avid enthusiasts. Please send all your decker dog photos and stories or anything else pertaining to the Decker Rat Terrier to the NRTA . Thanx.

Dereth Wyllie - CO  -Bear Tuff Rat Terriers  
Jackie Hagberg - CA - Madera Rat Terriers 
Ellis Decker - OR - Decker Rat Terriers
Beth Dorton - PA - Hollow Hills 
Stephen du Buis - FL - Spitfire Deckers
David Wood - TX - Red River
Amy Bell - GA - Southern Bells Kennel
Robert & Kara Salazar - OR - Deckers of the Gorge
Tammy Hayes - CO- Rat Race Terriers
Tommy Hutcherson
Raul Estrada
Edwind D Avila

Decker Advisory Board:

Milton Decker -
Ellis Decker -
Jackie Hagberg -
George Palmer -
Eli Brown -
Tim Brown -
Guy Chatterton -

     The Decker Rat Terrier is worthy and significant enough to take a  hard look at. Milton Decker, the founder and developer of this strain of Rat Terrier had accomplished a wondrous feat.

     The NRTA's search for Decker dogs has been successful. We have found a number of breeders who either have some pure deckers or still have the decker lines. From what we have seen they have held true to the strain that Mr. Decker had produced. The NRTR database now includes decker dogs from the beginning to the present time. The strong foundation that we have established will enable the NRTA to trace the history back to all deckers that are now being produced across the USA. We have complete records on all original dogs that came out of the Deckers Kennel. The Decker Rat Terrier is being registered along with the percentage of Decker blood that is actually carried.

     The Decker is at a point that makes them in grave danger of being lost forever. In order to build back up the hard work that was done by Milton Decker, the strain must carefully be looked at by the most experienced of breeders that have a very broad knowledge of the breed.

How to Build up the Gene Pool
The basics of an outcross program

       No doubt the Standard size Rat Terrier has and will have to be bred into the Decker  to increase the population but if selection is confined to one narrowly defined type, the result will almost inevitably be the accidental selection of various undesirable characteristics. Standards for building should include selection in regards to health, hunting ability, behavior, vigor and fertility as well as body form. The Decker has long surpassed being bred for a show dog and that alone. To take the dog on size and look alone would be the destruction of the purpose that Milton Decker had in mind. Of course this thought also reflects on the Rat Terrier in general.

     The Decker is not simply a big Rat Terrier.  Using the Decker lines and bred to a Standard size Rat without looking at the subtle differences as stated above that every Decker owner is quite aware of would make them a standard/giant size Rat Terrier and that alone. The subtle qualities of the Decker must remain in the strain for it to continue as it is today and what is was originally developed for.

     When choosing a Rat Terrier to breed with a Decker line dog the Rat must have a like head structure that is some what broader with erect ears. Decker paid close attention to his ears and had set it in with good stability. There is no body Type B in the strain and should be carefully guarded against. His conformation must be scrutinized and the background carefully checked for continuity in the lines. He must also have pure colors of only the Black Tri, Black and White, Black and Tan,Tan and white or Sable and white. The Rat of choice must have exquisite hunting ability and an unshakable temperament. These are all the traits that Decker had carefully worked on and successfully accomplished. To breed carelessly would be a shame for the breed.

      The NRTA will continue to include the Decker as a Rat Terrier and will continue to support the growth of the breed. In order to register a Decker with the NRTR it must show a complete pedigree and verifiable Decker blood coming down in the pedigree on at least on one side and be traceable to the original Decker lines.

Any dog that contains 25% or more Decker blood will be accepted in as long as they meet the criteria. Also dogs that contain 0-25% Decker blood must be submitted for approval to the Decker Advisory Board and be pre registered with the NRTR.

As far as Fact or Myth about Mr Deckers dogs being mostly between 22-30 pounds, it is Fact.
As Tim Brown would say “Milton liked dogs between 22 to 35 lbs. for hunting and so do I. I liked the smaller
dogs for hunting squirrel and the heavier ones for hunting coon and the larger varmints, my old dog Nick
weigh in at 35 lbs. and he could handle a 20 lbs. coon all by himself but he was a little over kill on

Of the original 52 dogs that Decker bred most of his offspring out of, only about 6 were larger than 30 pounds.

And now for the Myth buster about the Decker Giant.
The name Decker Giant came from some breeders who had dogs that were around 28+ pounds. Because they were of considerable size, the name giant seemed appropriate. Well it stuck and even if the dog was not of considerable size and was only 22 pounds or so, it was still called a Decker Giant.

The Decker that Milton Decker bred and all of their offspring and so down the line is a Rat Terrier that has traits and characteristics locked into them from inbreeding and line breeding for a number of years. The Decker is a “Line” of dogs.

Any one of use can produce our own “Lines”. By continuously breeding dogs of the same “look” and traits, we can all come up with our own “Line”. In other words, so and so’s dogs seem to look different from another so and so breeder. They are all Rat Terriers but why do they look different or better or something? Because that breeder consistently used dogs that had the same characteristics and so produce consistent looking dogs. That is the essence of the Decker Line Rat Terrier, breeding to have consistency.

The traits are now so locked in that when you breed one of those “Line” type dogs with an outcross, you see dominant traits from the “Line” dog. This means that the “Line” dog is pre-potent.

Would it be fair to break the Decker line into two size categories? Maybe yes, maybe no. Is it easier to keep ALL the Deckerline dogs as one class from 22-35 pounds? Or raise the weight up? Or just try to keep breeding for the size range that the decker dog was originally intended to be. These are some things that we all need to ponder……………………………

So Decker people……think about what sizes you have been breeding consistently and what you think looks best and feels best. Let us know.

Some Interesting statistics gathered from the NRTA database on the Decker dogs:
  •   Total decker dogs registered in the NRTA database is 1193 dogs.
  •   Those that are 100% total 141
  •   Those Over 50% not including the 100% equal 361dogs
  •   There are 84 Under 50%