The Decker Terrier is well-suited for a wide range of individuals with a wide range of circumstances. Having said that, it isn’t quite a breed in its own right. This is because most institutions consider it to be a kind of Rat Terrier, which would be the main breed that the Decker Terrier was bred from. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Decker Terrier:
1. Named For Milton Decker
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Decker Terrier is named for a man named Milton Decker. Said individual was the one who brought it into existence. However, it is important to note that the Decker Terrier has since been passed into the hands of other breeders.
2. Came Into Existence Because of a Coincidence
Amusingly, Decker Terriers came into existence because of a coincidence. As the story goes, Decker was shopping for plant stock when he was offered his pick from a group of both Terriers and Terrier mixes. Thanks to this, he became the owner of a larger-than-normal Terrier mix named Henry, who proved to be an excellent hunter. Unfortunately, Henry’s mother passed away just a short while after Decker acquired him, which is what convinced Decker to start breeding Henry to ensure that his good temperament as well as his good hunting instincts would live on.
3. Bred From Rat Terriers For the Most Part
As mentioned earlier, Decker Terriers were created using Rat Terriers for the most part. However, Decker used other breeds for his breeding project as well. For example, Henry himself was a mix between a Smooth Haired Fox Terrier and a farm dog. Similarly, a number of Basenji dogs also contributed to the breeding project, which was meant to improve the dogs’ size as well as hunting instincts.
4. Bred Using Larger-Than-Normal Rat Terriers For the Most Part
Speaking of which, Decker also went out of his way to use larger-than-normal Rat Terriers. Due to this, Decker Terriers are larger than their Rat Terrier counterparts, which remains one of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two kinds of dogs. Having said that, this doesn’t mean that Decker Terriers are big dogs. After all, terriers are still terriers, which makes sense considering their intended role.
5. Its Ancestors Were Used For Rat-Baiting
Nowadays, blood sports are seen in a very negative light throughout the western world. However, there was a time when this was not the case. This can be seen in how the ancestors of Rat Terriers and thus Decker Terriers were brought over to the United States by working-class immigrants for use in rat-baiting. For those who are curious, rat-baiting involved putting captured rats in a pit before seeing how long it would take terriers as well as other dogs to kill them. Sometimes, two dogs would compete in this task, which would see the winner rewarded. Said blood sport saw a serious decline in Victorian times, so much so that the last public competition happened in the early 20th century. Even so, the person who held the competition winded up being prosecuted, fined, and forced to promise that he would never do so ever again.
6. Its Ancestors Were Bred For Speed
Having said that, the ancestors of Rat Terriers and thus Decker Terriers were bred for speed for the most part. Something that made them very useful for hunting not just rats but also other small game such as hares and squirrels.
7. Its Ancestors Were Very Popular Until the Second Half of the 20th Century
As such, these dogs were very popular with farmers. After all, they were good for controlling vermin, which was a serious concern for farmers in the past, is a serious concern for farmers in the present, and will remain a serious concern for farmers in the future. This remained the case until the 1950s, which was when two trends started up. One, farmers started using more chemical pesticides. Two, farming became more and more dominated by commercial farms. Like a lot of other dogs, these dogs saw a major decline in their numbers because of the loss of their purpose, though they were preserved through the effort of breed loyalists. Without that, there might be no Rat Terriers and thus no Decker Terriers.
8. Comes From Healthier-Than-Most Stock
On a related note, it is worth mentioning that Rat Terriers as a breed are supposed to be healthier than most other pure breeds. This is because pure breeds are often bred from a very limited number of founding dogs with no new candidates permitted, which limits their gene pool for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, Rat Terriers come from a much wider gene pool, which has been further helped out by regular outcrosses over the course of their existence. Decker Terriers have benefited from this to some extent. Moreover, they have heritage from other breeds as well.
9. Smart Dogs
Hunting dogs tend to have a fair amount of intelligence. After all, they can’t do their job if they can’t learn very well. Decker Terriers are meant to be hunters, so much so that they are sometimes called Decker Hunting Terriers. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that they are curious creatures that can learn with respectable speed. Of course, this also means that Decker Terriers need both physical stimulation and mental stimulation. Without either, they can get bored, which in turn, means that they can get anxious, territorial, and even destructive. All of which are best-avoided.
10. Shouldn’t Be Confined Indoors
Naturally, this means that Decker Terriers shouldn’t be confined indoors. However, interested individuals need to be careful when they leave their Decker Terriers outdoors without adequate supervision. These dogs are quite good at digging, meaning that they have been known to escape fences by just going under them. Due to this, it is a good idea for interested individuals to keep a watchful eye out on their Decker Terriers when they let them out, which should ensure that the latter will remain well.