Ratter Tales
The Rat Terrier and Decker Rat Terrier Breed History
Lil Ranchin Rat Terriers Ratter Tales
Rat Terrier dogs are a versatile, intelligent, and energetic breed known for their adept hunting skills and friendly disposition. Originally bred for farm work, hunting, and rodent control, they have evolved into excellent companion animals without losing their keen instincts. Here are some key aspects of Rat Terriers:

History and Origin

  • Origins in the United States: Rat Terriers were developed in the United States, with their lineage tracing back to the early 20th century. They are believed to have been bred from a mix of European terriers brought by immigrants, including the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, and later incorporating other breeds like the Whippet, the Beagle, and the Italian Greyhound for speed, hunting ability, and size variation.
  • Purpose: Initially, they were prized for their effectiveness in hunting and killing rats and other vermin on farms, which is how they got their name.


  • Size: They come in various sizes, typically categorized as miniature (10-13 inches at the shoulder), standard (13-18 inches), and sometimes larger for the "Decker" or "Giant" lines.
  • Appearance: Rat Terriers have a short, smooth coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Common colors include black, chocolate, red, apricot and blue, either mixed with white and/or tan markings, bi or tri. They have a compact, muscular build, with ears that can be erect or button-shaped.
  • Life Expectancy: They generally live between 12 to 18 years, reflecting their overall hardiness and health.


  • Personality: Rat Terriers are known for their intelligence, affection, and loyalty. They are energetic and playful, making excellent pets for active individuals or families.
  • Trainability: With their intelligence comes an eagerness to please, making them relatively easy to train. They excel in dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally.  Please keep in mind, with the addition of Basenji in the Decker lines, comes traits such as stubbornness, selective hearing, persistence, and diligence in training are essential to ensure a well-behaved and responsive companion.
  • Socialization: Early socialization is important for Rat Terriers, as they can be somewhat particular with new people, stubborn and have a strong prey drive due to their hunting heritage.


  • General Health: They are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. This can include pll, pra, dental issues, and most common, allergies.
  • Activity Needs: Rat Terriers require regular exercise and mental stimulation due to their high energy levels. They enjoy activities like walks, runs, and play sessions.


  • Grooming: Their grooming needs are minimal, with regular brushing to remove loose hair and bathing as needed.
  • Diet: A balanced diet suitable for their age, size, and activity level is important for their overall health.  we at lil ranchin do not encourage grain free, ingredients with corn or chicken as your protein.  our dogs do quite well on lamb and rice.


Rat Terriers make great pets for families, singles, and active seniors. They do well in various living situations, from apartments to large homes with yards, as long as they get enough exercise and attention.

Rosalie Rinear Fire Mountain Rat Terriers History

Rosalie Rinear is recognized for her contributions to the Rat Terrier breed, specifically the Decker Rat Terriers, through her Fire Mountain Kennels located in Buttonwillow, California. Her kennel has produced several notable dogs that have been foundational to the breed, contributing significantly to its development and recognition. Dogs from Fire Mountain Kennels, such as Fire Mountain's Tonka, Ringo Rules, J.K., Captain Hook, Desiree, Drummer Boy, and Kirby, have been acknowledged for their quality and have been part of the foundation stock of Rat Terriers, highlighting the kennel's impact on the breed​​.

Rinear, alongside other notable breeders, has played a crucial role in furthering the Decker Rat Terrier breed, which was initiated by Milton Decker in the 1970s. The lineage began with a dog named Henry, who Milton Decker found and whose qualities became the cornerstone of the Decker Rat Terriers. Over time, efforts were made by Decker and subsequent breeders like Rinear to preserve and enhance these qualities, focusing on size, hunting ability, temperament, and overall health.

Rosalie Rinear and her Fire Mountain Kennels have been integral in maintaining the Decker Rat Terrier's lineage, emphasizing the breed's original characteristics while ensuring genetic health and versatility. Her efforts, along with those of other breeders dedicated to the Decker Rat Terriers, have been vital in promoting ethical breeding practices to ensure future generations can enjoy these capable hunting companions and family pets.

Milton Decker

Decker Rat Terriers, also known as Decker Hunting Terriers or Decker Giants, are a distinct lineage within the Rat Terrier breed, known for their larger size, excellent hunting capabilities, and calm temperament. The lineage of Decker Rat Terriers began with a remarkable dog named Henry, discovered by Milton Decker in 1975 near Eugene, Oregon. Henry, a 32-pound male with a quiet disposition, exhibited exceptional hunting instincts, despite being initially gun-shy. He was a mix, with his dam being a registered smooth-haired Fox Terrier named Frosty Dew, and his sire, Jock, was a farm dog of mixed terrier heritage. Henry's abilities in hunting and his loyalty as a family pet led Milton Decker to embark on a mission to establish a new line of Rat Terriers that would retain Henry's traits.

Milton Decker and his wife Mary traveled across the United States, sourcing suitable mates for Henry to enhance specific qualities such as size, hunting ability, and temperament. They focused on breeding with rat terriers that could add size and had desirable traits, collaborating with breeders across various states to refine the characteristics of what would become known as Decker Rat Terriers. This endeavor resulted in the development of a line of larger dogs, typically weighing between 25 to 35 pounds, with a polished look characterized by upright ears—a distinctive feature introduced through the incorporation of a Basenji named Zach. Subsequently, another Basenji named Porter was added by Rosalie, further cementing this trait as a signature of the Decker lineage.

The Decker Rat Terrier has been recognized and tracked by the National Rat Terrier Association (NRTA) since 1995, highlighting the distinct lineage and contribution of the Decker line to the Rat Terrier breed. The NRTA has played a significant role in promoting and preserving the Decker Rat Terrier lineage, ensuring that the qualities Milton Decker sought to instill in the breed continue to be valued and bred for.

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