The Manchester terrier is perhaps the sleekest and raciest of all terriers, with a smooth, compact, muscular body, slightly longer than tall and a slightly arched topline. The combination of power and agility enables the breed to course and kill small game and vermin. Its gait is free and effortless, not hackney. Its expression is keen and alert, and its coat is smooth and glossy.

The Manchester terrier has been described as “catlike,” being impeccably clean, independent, reserved with strangers, yet sensitive. It is more responsive than many terriers and is generally a well-mannered house dog. It is devoted to its family, and enjoys napping at its special person’s side. Otherwise, it is busy, ever nosing around for adventure or a game. Some tend to dig.

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One of the most popular and accomplished terriers of early England was the black and tan terrier, mentioned as early as the 16th century. The black and tan was a skilled dispatcher of rats, either along the watercourses or in the pits.

With the advent of industrialization, sport of the working class in England’s towns centered around rat killing with black and tans and dog racing with whippets. It was only a matter of time before the two breeds were crossed, and this was done by John Hulme of Manchester, with the goal of creating a dog that could excel in both arenas.

The result was a refined black and tan terrier with a slightly arched back. Similar crosses had almost certainly been made in other regions because other dogs resembling this new strain were not uncommon, but the breed’s popularity centered around Manchester. In 1860, the breed was formally dubbed the Manchester terrier. The name did not catch on, however, and it was dropped in favor of black and tan terrier, only to be revived in 1923.

The breed has always had a large size range, and until 1959 standard and toy Manchesters were shown as two separate breeds, although interbreeding was allowed. In 1959, they were reclassified as one breed with two varieties, legitimizing the practice of interbreeding. Besides size, the only difference in the two varieties is in whether cropping is allowed (it is allowed in the standard variety only).

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This alert and active breed can have its exercise needs met with a moderate walk on leash, good romp in the yard or an off-lead foray in a safe area. This is not a breed that should live outdoors, although it appreciates access to a yard during the day. It likes a warm, soft bed. Coat care is minimal.

  • Major concerns: lens luxation
  • Minor concerns: none
  • Occasionally seen: epilepsy, skin fragility
  • Suggested tests: eye
  • Life span: 15-16 years


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