The Manchester Terrier is quite an old breed that was developed for the purpose of hunting and killing rats, rabbits and other rodents in urban Great Britain. Named after the city of Manchester in northwestern England, this breed has also been referred to as the English Gentleman's Terrier and the Gentleman's Terrier. The Manchester Terrier is a direct descendant and very close relative of the old Black and Tan Terrier and shares many of its physical and mental attributes, although the Black and Tan was a heavier, coarser dog with shorter legs. The Manchester is a leaner, more athletic animal, due to outcrosses with Whippets during the early development of the breed. The modern Manchester Terrier is found in two sizes: the Toy and the Standard. The American Kennel Club recognized the Toy Manchester Terrier in 1886 as a member of the Toy Group, and accepted the Standard Manchester Terrier for full registration in 1887 as a member of the Terrier Group. The two varieties are judged against the same standard and share the same ancestry and history, with the single exception of size.
History & Health
Unlike most other terrier breeds, Manchester Terriers were specifically developed to be city-dwellers rather than country companions. Starting back in the 1500s, Manchesters were bred to seek out the rats and other rodents that infested dilapidated city buildings and nearby areas of urban wasteland in England. Eventually, their specialized ratting skills caught the attention of fans of the bourgeoning sport of pit-ratting, at which Manchesters quickly became highly competitive. Ratting contests were staged in Great Britain as a pastime for the lower classes, reaching their peak popularity in the mid-1800s. During those contests, individual dogs were placed in a ring, or "pit," with a large number of rats. Observers placed bets on how many rats each dog could kill within a set period of time – usually, about 8½ minutes. This "sport" was especially popular in the Manchester district of England. During the 1850s and 1860s, a dog breeder from that area named John Hulme decided to try and develop an agile, dual-purpose dog that was proficient in hunting rodents and that also was adept at killing rats quickly and in great numbers in the ratting pit. Mr. Hulme crossed sturdy Black and Tan Terriers with lean, hard-bodied coursing Whippets. He bred the offspring of those crosses back to Black and Tan Terriers to fix breed type. Through this selective process, he created what we now know as the Manchester Terrier.
The Manchester quickly became immensely popular. It was extremely successful at its ratting tasks, both in rundown urban buildings and in the sports pit. In the late 1800s, a particularly renowned Manchester Terrier named "Billy" reportedly faced - and killed - 100 adult rats in a single pit contest. It took Billy just 6 minutes, 35 seconds, to accomplish this feat.
The Manchester Terrier's name was coined and first used in print in 1879. However, because this game little dog was well-known throughout Great Britain, many breed fanciers found the name to be inappropriately restrictive. The breed was referred to as the Gentleman's Terrier, and even the Black and Tan Terrier, for a number of years. However, by about the 1920s, the name "Manchester Terrier" finally stuck.
Originally, the Manchester Terrier's ears were cropped short and to a point, to emphasize its sleek body and forward, aggressive demeanor. Cropping the ears also reduced loose areas that could be grabbed and bitten by vicious rodents. Eventually, however, ratting contests declined in popularity and ultimately were outlawed. The Manchester Terrier's popularity likewise waned. In 1898, due largely to the efforts of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), ear-cropping also was outlawed in Great Britain. The Manchester's ears, which had always been surgically shortened, proved ungainly and unattractive when left in their natural state. It took years for dedicated breeders to consistently produce correctly-set natural ears. In that span of time, the popularity of the breed declined even further, to the point that the Manchester Terrier became rare even in its homeland. By the end of World War II, the breed was almost extinct. At one point, there were only 11 purebred Manchester Terriers registered in all of England.
Breed fanciers rallied and formed the Manchester Terrier Club. By the 1970s, the breed's numbers had increased substantially, both in Great Britain and in the United States. Fortunately, it has regained its popularity. Today's Manchester Terrier is prized as a companion and a competitive show dog, rather than as a working rodent hunter. However, it retains its natural hunting instincts.
Manchester Terriers have an average life span of about 15 years. Breed health concerns may include von Willebrand disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, pattern baldness (mainly in females), Ehler-Danlos syndrome (cutaneous asthenia), lens luxation, cataracts and generalized progressive retinal atrophy (GPRA). These short-haired dogs become easily chilled and should wear a sweater or coat when outside in icy weather for any length of time.
Temperament & Personality
Manchester Terriers are lively, spirited, sharp-witted dogs. Although they look like small Dobermans, Manchesters are true terriers, through and through. They are extremely smart, somewhat independent and devoted to the people in their close circle. This is neither a cuddly nor a clingy breed. In fact, Manchester Terriers can be stubborn and, like most other terriers, they have a tendency to test boundaries. Manchesters can become destructive and noisy if left unattended for long periods of time. They typically get along well with children, as long as they are well-socialized with kids from an early age. Manchester Terriers are not particularly suspicious of strangers, although they can be a bit aloof and stand-offish. All in all, this is an alert, attentive breed that makes an ideal companion for city-dwellers.
Manchester Terriers are active, athletic dogs, but unlike some little breeds they typically are not neurotic or excessively busy. A healthy dose of moderate exercise should suffice to keep them happy, healthy and fit. Manchesters love to accompany their human family members on all sorts of outings, from a simple stroll around the neighborhood to a trip to the grocery store. They absolutely adore playing fetch.
Manchester Terriers are, after all, terriers. They have a pronounced stubborn streak and require a firm, kind, consistent hand in their training. They will push the limits that are set for them, which makes consistency and repetition in their training all the more important. Positive, motivational training methods get the best results with this breed, as with many others. Manchesters should be socialized from early puppyhood to ensure that they become as adaptable as possible. Training and socialization should continue throughout their lives.
Manchester Terriers are not particularly high-strung or nervous dogs. They do make good watchdogs and will surely sound an alarm when alerted to something strange or unexpected in their immediate environment. Because they are low-maintenance and easy keepers, Manchesters are ideal companions for people living in the city. They are great apartment dogs. The breed enjoys the company of children and makes a good family pet, as long as it is well-socialized from a young age. If left alone for long periods of time, Manchester Terriers can become noisy and potentially destructive. This breed retains its ratting instincts and will chase, pounce on and play with almost anything that moves. Manchesters have good appetites and tend to put on weight easily. Their diet should be monitored to prevent them from becoming obese.
A small, black, short-coated dog with distinctive rich mahogany markings and a taper style tail. In structure the Manchester presents a sleek, sturdy, yet elegant look, and has a wedge-shaped, long and clean head with a keen, bright, alert expression. The smooth, compact, muscular body expresses great power and agility, enabling the Manchester to kill vermin and course small game.
Except for size and ear options, there are no differences between the Standard and Toy varieties of the Manchester Terrier. The Toy is a diminutive version of the Standard variety.
Manchester Terrier (Toy)
Size, Proportion, Substance
The Toy variety shall not exceed 12 pounds. It is suggested that clubs consider dividing the American-bred and Open classes by weight as follows: 7 pounds and under, over 7 pounds and not exceeding 12 pounds.
The Standard variety shall be over 12 pounds and not exceeding 22 pounds. Dogs weighing over 22 pounds shall be disqualified. It is suggested that clubs consider dividing the American-bred and Open classes by weight as follows: over 12 pounds and not exceeding 16 pounds, over 16 pounds and not exceeding 22 pounds.
The Manchester Terrier, overall, is slightly longer than tall. The height, measured vertically from the ground to the highest point of the withers, is slightly less than the length, measured horizontally from the point of the shoulders to the rear projection of the upper thigh. The bone and muscle of the Manchester Terrier is of sufficient mass to ensure agility and endurance.
The Manchester Terrier has a keen and alert expression. The nearly black, almond shaped eyes are small, bright, and sparkling. They are set moderately close together, slanting upwards on the outside. The eyes neither protrude nor sink in the skull. Pigmentation must be black.
Correct ears for the Standard variety are either the naturally erect ear, the cropped ear, or the button ear. No preference is given to any of the ear types. The naturally erect ear, and the button ear, should be wider at the base tapering to pointed tips, and carried well up on the skull. Wide, flaring, blunt tipped, or "bell" ears are a serious fault. Cropped ears should be long, pointed and carried erect.
The only correct ear for the Toy variety is the naturally erect ear. They should be wider at the base tapering to pointed tips, and carried well up on the skull. Wide, flaring, blunt tipped, or "bell" ears are a serious fault. Cropped, or cut ears are a disqualification in the Toy variety.
The head is long, narrow, tight skinned, and almost flat with a slight indentation up the forehead. It resembles a blunted wedge in frontal and profile views. There is a visual effect of a slight stop as viewed in profile.
The muzzle and skull are equal in length. The muzzle is well filled under the eyes with no visible cheek muscles. The underjaw is full and well defined and the nose is black.
Tight black lips lie close to the jaw. The jaws should be full and powerful with full and proper dentition. The teeth are white and strongly developed with a true scissors bite. Level bite is acceptable.
Neck, Topline, Body
The slightly arched neck should be slim and graceful, and of moderate length. It gradually becomes larger as it approaches, and blends smoothly with the sloping shoulders. Throatiness is undesirable. The topline shows a slight arch over the robust loins falling slightly to the tail set. A flat back or roached back is to be severely penalized. The chest is narrow between the legs and deep in the brisket. The forechest is moderately defined. The ribs are well sprung, but flattened in the lower end to permit clearance of the forelegs. The abdomen should be tucked up extending in an arched line from the deep brisket. The taper style tail is moderately short reaching no further than the hock joint. It is set on at the end of the croup. Being thicker where it joins the body, the tail tapers to a point. The tail is carried in a slight upward curve, but never over the back.
The shoulder blades and the upper arm should be relatively the same length. The distance from the elbow to the withers should be approximately the same as the distance from the elbow to the ground. The elbows should lie close to the brisket. The shoulders are well laid back. The forelegs are straight, of proportionate length, and placed well under the brisket. The pasterns should be almost perpendicular. The front feet are compact and well arched. The two middle toes should be slightly longer than the others. The pads should be thick and the toenails should be jet black.
The thigh should be muscular with the length of the upper and lower thighs being approximately equal. The stifle is well turned. The well let down hocks should not turn in nor out as viewed from the rear. The hind legs are carried well back. The hind feet are shaped like those of a cat with thick pads and jet black nails.
The coat should be smooth, short, dense, tight, and glossy; not soft.
Color The coat color should be jet black and rich mahogany tan, which should not run or blend into each other, but abruptly form clear, well defined lines of color. There shall be a very small tan spot over each eye, and a very small tan spot on each cheek. On the head, the muzzle is tanned to the nose. The nose and nasal bone are jet black. The tan extends under the throat, ending in the shape of the letter V. The inside of the ears are partly tan. There shall be tan spots, called "rosettes," on each side of the chest above the front legs. These are more pronounced in puppies than in adults. There should be a black ""thumbprint" patch on the front of each foreleg at the pastern. The remainder of the foreleg shall be tan to the carpus joint. There should be a distinct black "pencil mark" line running lengthwise on the top of each toe on all four feet. Tan on the hind leg should continue from the pencilling on the toes up the inside of the legs to a little below the stifle joint. The outside of the hind legs should be black. There should be tan under the tail, and on the vent, but only of such size as to be covered by the tail.
White on any part of the coat is a serious fault, and shall disqualify whenever the white shall form a patch or stripe measuring as much as one half inch at its longest dimension.
Any color other than black and tan shall be disqualified.
Color and/or markings should never take precedence over soundness and type.
The gait should be free and effortless with good reach of the forequarters, showing no indication of hackney gait. Rear quarters should have strong, driving power to match the front reach. Hocks should fully extend. Each rear leg should move in line with the foreleg of the same side, neither thrown in nor out. When moving at a trot, the legs tend to converge towards the center of gravity line beneath the dog.
The Manchester Terrier is neither aggressive nor shy. He is keenly observant, devoted, but discerning. Not being a sparring breed, the Manchester is generally friendly with other dogs. Excessive shyness or aggressiveness should be considered a serious fault.
Standard variety-Weight over 22 pounds.
Toy variety-Cropped or cut ears.
Both varieties--White on any part of the coat whenever the white shall form a patch or stripe measuring as much as one half inch at its longest dimension.
Any color other than black and tan.
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Sources: American Kennel Club