In This Issue

A Hog Hunter - Chronicles of a Hunter  - Decker Hunting Terrier Temperament
Deer Hunting with Deckers- Hunting with Henry - So You Wanna
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Decker Hunting Terrier Temperament

Today’s Decker Hunting Terrier started out as a strain of Rat Terrier through the efforts of Milton Decker and his family beginning in the 1970’s until 1993 when the decision was made to stop breeding and disperse the breeding stock to others who were interested in continuing with the breeding/developing of this line of these dogs.  Although there are a few other breeds in this mix such as Fox Terrier and Basenji, their makeup is still mostly Rat Terrier. 

The Decker Hunting Terrier, through selective breeding, was specifically developed to be an all-purpose dog that excels in any type of hunting and at the same time is also an exceptional companion animal as well. Proper temperament played a major role when selecting breeding stock, and that is the subject of this writing. 
Quote, Ellis Decker … “ Temperament definitely played a large role in the creation of these dogs. Almost more than hunting ability. Dad was careful to choose for many reasons, and temperament was at the top of the list. They are like people, all have different personalities.”

Since I have only personal experiences to draw upon or those related to me by others, some of this will be my own opinion, and that will of course vary with the next person asked. I’ve personally only had the pleasure of owning half a dozen of these wonderful dogs, but every one of them has shown interest in hunting and also wanted to be my best friend. To put into words any differences in the “regular Rat Terrier” and the “Decker Rat Terrier” is not as easy as one may think, but they are there. The most common observation I get from others when it comes to the persona they put forth is that they appear “regal” both in the way they carry themselves and the way they look. Sometimes the differences are subtle and varying because just like people, dogs have differing and unique personalities.

Terriers as a breed are generally known for their tenacious character, but also show affection and loyalty with their human families. They characteristically have a zest for life coupled with a sense of humor and they’re smart enough to make you question on occasion just what exactly can’t they do if given half a chance. Their multi-faceted character has allowed breeders to concentrate on differing areas of interest, and many are now in performance and show venues as well as companion dogs.  Obviously not all dogs are suited to being hunters, but in today’s society there are many that will end up in pet homes. Since they want to do whatever you’re doing, they will also be happy to go for a walk with you, play with your kids, and then settle in on the sofa with you when it’s time to relax. Another plus is their willingness to act as a guard dog, and I’ve heard numerous reports of them being protective when it comes to their families and what they consider their territory.
The working terrier’s drive when it comes to doing what it views as its job makes it a dog any hunter would be proud to own. They’re versatile and love to hunt just about anything that moves which makes them a great choice for many types of hunters, and the fact that they tend to stay close and come back to check on their people is just icing on the cake. Because of their tenacious attitude they are willing to take on prey that may be many times larger than they are, and often don’t display any regard for their own safety while doing so. Decker Hunting Terriers are hunted on Squirrel, raccoon, bobcat, deer, feral hogs, waterfowl, upland birds, and vermin. 

Working ability in Deckers verses Standard or Mini Rat Terriers has been a point of discussion, and again I’ve heard many differing opinions. Some say that the Deckers have more prey drive, but I’m personally of the opinion that it depends on the dog. I have several dogs, Mini & Standard that are excellent hunters. Pictured below is my 13 pound mini working right alongside one of my Deckers to rid a rock pile of rats, and the same Mini gets downright serious when it comes to treeing/vocalizing about squirrels. Also pictured a Decker female & a Standard Rat Terrier get the rat about the same time.

When there isn’t anything else going on with the rats or squirrels mine have resorted to catching grasshoppers or “treeing” a turtle, just an example of them wanting to hunt anything that moves.

There have been reports of aggression issues with the Deckers, and here are a few facts coupled with my own personal opinion on that subject.  Most any dog has the potential to behave in an aggressive manner given the right circumstances. Dogs that have not been properly exercised, are poorly socialized, or are confused because of conflicting input from their owners as to their role in the “pack” (and dogs consider you part of their pack) may not display what we consider appropriate behaviors. Dogs need structure, and acting out is their way of trying to figure where they fit in. An adequate amount of attention, exercise, and reinforcement of their role in the pack hierarchy is going to be what is required to have a good relationship with your dog. 
For more information on dog aggression: 

Elsie James-Killen

How Your Dog’s Breed Affects Behavior:

Breeder Selection and How it Affects Your Dog’s Behavior:

Temperament Testing Adult Dogs:

Temperament Testing Puppies: