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Manchester Terrier – Breed History & Information

Manchester Terrier playing on the beach with a ball


The Manchester Terrier is one breed with two varieties; the Standard and the Toy. The Toy variety can weigh up to 12 pounds and has only naturally erect ears. The Standard variety weighs over 12 pounds and not exceeding 22 pounds. The Standard may have three ear types; naturally erect, cropped or button. In both varieties, the only allowable color is Black and Tan. The Manchester’s short, dense, glossy, black coat with rich mahogany tan markings accounts for the breed’s original name—the Black and Tan Terrier. Equally at home in the country or city, the Manchester’s keen intelligence is admired along with the breed’s cleanliness and versatility.

Manchester Terrier History

Overall, the Manchester Terrier is a hardy breed. They are very adaptable and make an excellent companion for most people. This adaptability has prompted breed fanciers to conclude that “As a sagacious,intelligent house pet and companion, no breed is superior to the well-bred Manchester Terrier.” (AKC’s Complete Dog Book)

Manchester Terrier History


History of the Manchester Terrier Dog Breed

Manchester Terriers are considered by most to be the oldest of all identifiable Terrier breeds, finding mention in works dating from as early as the 16th century. In 1570, Dr. Caius (Encyclopedia of Dogs) gives mention to the “Black and Tan Terrier,” though he referred to a rougher-coated, shorter-legged dog than we are now accustomed to.

By the early 1800s, a closer facsimile to the current Manchester Terrier had evolved. In The Dog in Health and Disease by J. A. Walsh, a full chapter was devoted to the Black and Tan, for the first time recognizing it as an established breed. The description Walsh set forth might, in fact, serve well today: Smooth-haired, long tapering nose, narrow flat skull, eyes small and bright, chest rather deep than wide, only true color Black and Tan.

Manchester Terrier History

Manchester Terrier History
England 1875. Mr. Howard Mapplebeck’s Toy Terrier ‘BELLE’ contrasted with Manchester Terrier (Std) ‘QUEEN III.’ This portrait emphasizes the consistency in type and appearance this breed has exhibited for nearly two centuries (at the very least).


The following is a brief overview of the Manchester Terrier breed’s history in both its native England and America.

Manchester Terrier Dogs in English History

The early 1800s saw times of poor sanitation in England. Rats soon became a health menace and rat killing became a popular sport. John Hulme, enthusiastic devotee to the sport of rat killing and rabbit coursing, crossed a Whippet to a cross-bred Terrier to produce a tenacious, streamlined animal, infinitely suited to the sport. (Perhaps the Whippet influence explains the unusual topline of the Manchester still required today.) This cross proved so successful that it was repeated, resulting in the establishment of a definite type; thus, the Manchester Terrier was born.

By 1827 the breed’s fighting spirit had made it equally handy along a hedgerow as in a rat-pit. The Manchester could tackle, with silent determination, an opponent twice its size. Ears were cropped to save risk of being torn in frequent scraps. (This also enhanced the sharp appearance of the expression.) When rat-killing became illegal in England, rat-pits were supplanted by dining halls or public inns, all of which were infested by rats. To combat the rodent problem, each inn kept kennels. When the taprooms closed, who do you think took command? The little Black and Tan rat killers proved their worth 100-fold to the innkeeper.

The year 1860 saw the Manchester district of England as the breed center for these “Rat Terriers,” and the name Manchester Terrier surfaced. Smaller specimens began to gain appeal. Unethical persons were known to introduce Chihuahuas in order to reduce size to as small as 2-1/2 pounds! This resulted in numerous problems, including apple heads, thinning coats, and poppy eyes. Inbreeding further diminished size, yet the smaller versions, though delicate and sickly, remained popular for some time.

How about riding to hounds? Not for Manchesters? Smaller Manchesters were carried in specially designed leather pouches suspended from the rider’s belt (earning the title of “Groom’s Pocket Piece”). With their smaller stature, these dogs obviously could not keep up with the hounds, but when the hounds ran the fox into dense thickets where they were not able to penetrate, the little Manchester Terrier was released. Nicknamed the “Gentleman’s Terrier,” this breed was never a “sissy.” His dauntless spirit commanded respect.


The Manchester Terrier Breed History in the Usa

As in its native country, the Manchester gained quick acceptance as a recognized breed. In 1886, just two years after the American Kennel Club was organized, the first Black and Tan Terrier was registered in the stud book. The following year, “Lever” (AKC #7585) became the first AKC recognized Manchester Terrier.

Manchester Terrier History

The 20th century is dotted by the recognition of breed clubs devoted to preserving and promoting this breed. In 1923, the “Manchester Terrier Club of America” was recognized. The year 1934 saw the Toy Black and Tan Terrier changed to Toy Manchester Terrier, and in 1938 the “American Toy Manchester Terrier Club” was recognized. By 1952, however, the “Manchester Terrier Club of America” (Standards) was without organized breed representation. To the credit of the “American Toy Manchester Terrier Club,” the two breeds were combined as one (with two varieties—Standard & Toy) with the formation of the “American Manchester Terrier Club” in 1958, an organization which still survives today.

To the credit of the “American Toy Manchester Terrier Club,” the two breeds were combined as one (with two varieties—Standard & Toy) with the formation of the “American Manchester Terrier Club” in 1958, an organization which still survives today.


Manchester Terrier Dog Breed Characteristics

Perhaps the most striking (and obvious) of the Manchester’s features are its markings, where clarity and depth of color are very desirable. The American Kennel Club’s standard currently calls for the following (paraphrased) regarding color and markings.

The coat color should be jet black and rich mahogany tan which should… abruptly form clear, well-defined lines of color. Specific markings called for include: small tan spots on both cheeks as well as over each eye, and tan spots called “rosettes” on each side of the chest above the front legs. On the head, the muzzle is tanned to the nose while the nose and nasal bone are jet black. There should be a black “thumb mark” patch on the front of each leg at the pastern as well as a distinct black pencil mark line running on the top of each toe. The remainder of the foreleg remains tan to the carpus joint.

Another definite breed characteristic is the arch over the loin, which falls to the tail set. Because the back joins the tail at the same height as the shoulder, the Manchester’s topline is one of its more unique traits. In other respects, however, the Manchester follows the general requirements of most Terrier breeds: dark, small eyes, good feet and teeth, a relatively short body, well-coupled, and a Terrier character—fearless and proud—exhibiting quality in every movement. Unlike most Terriers, however, the Manchester is not considered a sparring breed.



Are you looking for a Manchester Terrier puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.


Want to help rescue and re-home a Manchester Terrier dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.


Manchester Terrier Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the bright Manchester Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Manchester Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.


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