OLD DOMINION, DECKER, OR RAT TERRIER? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
The Old Dominion Terrier is an American breed that has been in development by hunters and farmers
since the last 1800’s. When English immigrants came to the United States, they brought these terrier
crosses with them. They trace back to the original cross of Fox Terrier, Whippets, Beagles and most
The larger sized Rat Terriers were first developed by Milton Decker became Known as Decker Terriers.
UKC recognized Decker Rat Terriers by formal registration. Mr. Decker left his work with the breed and
requested UKC to remove his family name from these special dogs. Instead of UKC just changing their
name, they just removed the Decker Rat Terrier designation and simply listed them as Rat Terriers by
All of our Decker foundation stock traces back to an original 54 dogs. A small group of dedicated
breeders have worked to maintain this linage of these original Decker Terriers. This has taken careful
management since they share the formal UKC and AKC and Rat Terrier registries with the smaller and
Standard Rat Terriers.
We have come to a point in the development of our breed where the Decker lines are being absorbed by
the smaller Rat Terriers. The Standard Rat Terrier, as we have known it, is also being changed forever.
It has become necessary to split these two distinct breeds again, as they always should have been.
We are moving our Decker Terriers into their own breed, known as Old Dominion Terriers.
The Old Dominion Terrier Club of America, a registered non-profit Corporation, is maintaining a
Registration of our remaining Decker Terrier Dogs. Care is being taken to preserve the original bloodlines
of the foundation stock of the 54 remaining dogs that started it all. It is the goal of the Old Dominion Terrier Kennel Club to have our dogs recognized by UKC/AKC as the separate breed they have always
Due to the Standard Rat Terrier lines being introduced into the gene pool of our dogs they are becoming
harder to maintain their type. Decker/ Old Dominion Terriers are genetically bottlenecking. It is
becoming increasing difficult to find suitable breeding lines to maintain the dogs we all love.
It has become necessary to fortify our foundation stock with fresh bloodlines from the heritage breeds
making up the Decker Terriers. Genetic testing and our Kennel stud book records clearly show that
Basenji’s have made a significant contribution to the Decker Terrier. It is also recognized that American
Staffordshire Terriers were a foundation breed of the American Giant Rat Terriers.
Both of these breeds are being used as outcrosses to maintain the Decker Terrier bloodlines as Old
Dominion Terriers. This will assure that our beloved breed can be maintained as it is for generations to
come. These out crosses will keep our dogs genetically viable, maintaining what we have always
enjoyed. These dogs are known as Old Dominion Terriers.
All of the out crosses are AKC and/or UKC registered and approved by the board at ODTCA.
The emphasis on maintaining the highest percentage of the original 54 Decker Terriers will always be
our goal. Quality Dogs that consistently produce Old Dominion Terrier classic type is the ultimate goal.
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