The Manchester Terrier is one of the world’s oldest terrier breeds. These dogs were originally bred for both rat catching and hare coursing. And they were so popular that a smaller version was bred as a ladies’ lap dog!
But despite their popularity in the past, Manchester Terriers are a vulnerable native breed in the UK today.
In this article, we find out what’s in store for people who manage to track down one of these special dogs.
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 133rd out of 197 breeds recognized by the AKC
- Purpose: Pest control, companionship
- Weight: Standard: 12-22lbs, Toy: >12lbs
- Temperament: Quick, confident, and charming
Manchester Terrier Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Manchester Terrier
- Manchester Terrier appearance
- Manchester Terrier temperament
- Training and exercising your Manchester Terrier
- Manchester Terrier health and care
- Do Manchester Terrier make good pets?
- Rescuing a Manchester Terrier
- Finding a Manchester Terrier puppy
- Raising a Manchester Terrier puppy
History and Original Purpose of the Manchester Terrier
The Manchester Terrier started out in the 19th century as a hybrid of the now-extinct Black and Tan Terrier, and the Whippet.
Black and Tan Terriers were already widely used as rat catching dogs in factories in the industrial cities of North West England.
Breeders began crossing them with Whippets so that the offspring could be used for both rat catching and hare coursing – part of a long tradition in the region for creating multi-purpose lurchers.
The city of Manchester became particularly known for producing good examples of this new dog, and so the breed took on Manchester Terrier as its name.
Manchester Terriers were so popular for their personalities as well as their working ability that people began breeding smaller versions as lap dogs. Until eventually the breed consisted of two distinct types: standard-sized and toy-sized.
Fun Facts About Manchester Terrier
- A toy Manchester Terrier living in London in the 1840s called Tiny could kill over 200 rats an hour. Tiny was so small he wore a ladies’ bracelet instead of a collar.
- Manchesters were nicknamed the Gentleman’s Terrier, because they were regarded as being exceptionally dignified.
- Historians of the breed have speculated that Italian Greyhounds and Dachshunds may also have contributed to the foundation of the breed.
- Manchesters were also one of the early ancestors of the modern Australian Terrier breed.
Manchester Terrier Appearance
So, all Manchester Terriers have a short, smooth coat, which is always black with tan markings on the feet, muzzle and eyebrows.
Their short coat shows off a compact and muscular body, designed for action.
They have a somewhat wedge-shaped head, akin to a Whippet or Greyhound.
Their overall demeanor appears poised and alert – the breed standard specifically states that their eyes should be ‘bright and sparkling’!
How Big Are They?
Standard Manchester Terriers weigh 12 to 22 pounds, although dogs from pet lines (as opposed to show lines) may fall outside this range.
Toy Manchester Terriers weigh less than 12 pounds. Whilst this represents the upper limit on their size, it’s not uncommon for them to weigh as little as 5 – 7 pounds – similar to a Chihuahua.
Manchester Terrier Temperament
Owners of Manchester Terriers wax lyrical about their charms.
They are curious, affectionate, joyful, entertaining, clever and brave.
Since they have both Whippet and Terrier heritage, they are likely to have a very strong prey drive and chase instinct.
Off the leash, they will be quick to pursue anything that moves – from other animals, to cyclists and small children.
Training and Exercising Your Manchester Terrier
Manchester Terriers have lively minds and respond well to positive reinforcement training.
Since they have a strong prey drive, they may respond better to toys than treats as a reward in training games.
As a puppy, toy Manchester Terriers may take longer to toilet train than average, due to having an exceptionally small bladder capacity.
Socialization and Obedience
Manchester Terriers are not prone to being fearful around strange people or dogs, but it is still vital to socialize them from a young age.
Successful socialization training establishes a positive association with new experiences, which gives puppies confidence to enjoy the world without fear or anxiety when they’re older.
Structured obedience training throughout a Manchester Terriers life doesn’t just teach them how to be a good citizen, it also provides an important source of mental stimulation.
Dogs who get to use their brains for regular training games are also less likely to become destructive around the home.
For any breed with a high prey drive and chase instinct, a strong recall cue is vital for preventing them from getting into trouble.
Dogs with a strong chase instinct are prone to getting lost on walks, running into traffic, and disturbing livestock. (Bear in mind that in some regions, farmers can legally shoot dogs disturbing livestock.)
A strong recall response, plus a back up emergency recall cue, are important for keeping Manchesters safe whilst walking off leash.
But, bear in mind that many trainers are sceptical about whether a recall cue can ever completely override a strong prey drive though. So when in doubt, keep them on the leash.
Which means Manchester Terriers also need a safe enclosed space for exercising when off leash walks aren’t possible. For example a large backyard.
Manchester Terriers need at least an hour of exercise a day.
Toy dogs may not be able to manage as much walking as standard ones. But they still have lots of energy, and you’ll need to make up the difference playing games at home.
These are a great way for dogs with brains and a strong chase instinct to use both at once. Dogs with both sighthound and terrier ancestry frequently excel in them!
Manchester Terrier Health and Care
Manchester Terriers are generally a healthy breed, and relatively free from hereditary health problems.
That said, a slump in popularity during the 20th century caused something of a genetic bottleneck in the breed.
In other words, all of today’s dogs are descended from the small number of individuals left at the time, so the health problems of those individuals are amplified in the current population.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD) is a blood clotting disorder. Affected dogs are vulnerable to severe blood loss from wounds or surgery.
It’s estimated that between 24% and 37% Manchester Terriers carry one copy of the faulty gene which causes VWD.
But, since it is a recessive condition, only puppies which inherit two copies (one from each parent) will be affected by the disease.
Genetic testing is available to make sure no two carriers are mated together.
Manchester Terriers are also somewhat affected by joint conditions including
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Patella luxation
All sires and dams should have a clean bill of health, and dogs with symptoms of these problems should not be used for breeding.
Toy Manchester Terriers in particular are at risk of over crowded teeth. (Despite their size, they still have the same number of gnashers as a wolf!)
This can result in:
- Lost teeth
- Gum infections
- Bad breath
As of 2013, a rapid onset form of the heart disease dilated cardiomyopathy has been reported in some toy Manchester Terrier breeding lines.
Affected puppies usually die suddenly before their first birthday, without any prior symptoms.
The condition is likely to have an inherited component, but at the moment there isn’t a DNA test for the genes responsible.
So whilst affected puppies are likely to die before they can pass on the condition, unaffected siblings from the same litter may still carry the faulty gene, and should also be excluded from breeding.
Good breeders will keep detailed records of their dogs’ family trees, for exactly this purpose.
Manchester Terriers live for 14 to 15 years on average. But dogs living to 17 have been recorded.
This is significantly longer than the all-dog average, and it’s partly down to their overall genetic health, and partly down to their size. The smaller the dog breed, the longer they tend to live.
Unfortunately at the time of writing, standard and toy Manchesters have been counted together in longevity surveys, so we don’t know if the toy size lives consistently longer than the standard size.
Grooming your Manchester Terrier
The Manchester’s short coat is low shedding and low maintenance.
They don’t need brushing, but they may benefit from occasional baths to keep them smelling fresh. (Their parent breed the Whippet for example, has a remarkable ability to hit their own front legs every time they pee.)
Do Manchester Terriers Make Good Pets?
Manchester Terriers are superlative pets in the right home.
Due to their high prey drive, they may not be suited to homes with smaller pets, such as cats or rabbits.
They love companionship, so they fit well in homes with other dogs, and homes where someone is home for all or most of the day.
The standard variety is a good walking companion for people who like hiking, but the toy variety needs an owner who can intersperse short walks with games at home.
Manchester Terriers enjoy having somewhere safe to exercise and explore off leash. This satisfies their curiosity, and need for action. For lots of owners, a large, enclosed yard does the job.
Rescuing a Manchester Terrier
There are lots of good reasons to rehome an older dog, rather than purchase a puppy.
Since the Manchester Terrier population is small, the number of homeless dogs looking for new families is also small.
But, it may still be quicker to find a rescue dog than to join the waiting list for a puppy.
We’ve included a list of rescue societies dedicated to the Manchester Terrier at the bottom of this article.
Finding a Manchester Terrier Puppy
Manchester Terriers may be a vulnerable breed, but happily there are many fans of this dog dedicated to keeping them going.
Our Puppy Search Guide has invaluable information to help you find a puppy.
The American Manchester Terrier Club also maintains a directory of affiliated breeders.
Since this is a relatively rare breed, you may need to be prepared to join a waiting list for a litter.
Raising a Manchester Terrier Puppy
Puppies of all breeds are a big responsibility.
These articles elsewhere on the site can help you prepare for your new arrival, and navigate those first weeks and months.
- What Do I Need For A Puppy? A Guide For New Puppy Parents
- Crate Training A Puppy – The Ultimate Expert Guide
- Puppy Potty Training Schedule And Finishing Touches
- 11 Top Tips for a Great Puppy Recall
- Puppy Crying At Night – Helping Your Pup Settle Into His New Home
- Puppy Training Stages
You might also enjoy the Puppy Parenting course on our Dogsnet site.
Pros And Cons of Getting A Manchester Terrier
There’s a lot to consider before getting a Manchester Terrier. Here’s a summary of their pros and cons:
- High prey drive, so may not be suitable for home with smaller pets
- Toy variety can be hard to toilet train
- Somewhat rare
- Winning personality
- Low grooming needs
- Reasonably healthy
If you decide that ultimately a Manchester Terrier is not for you, you might find that one of these breeds ticks all your boxes instead:
- Jack Russell Terrier – The Little Dog With The Big Attitude
- Parson Russell Terrier
- The Australian Terrier – Small But Mighty!
- Westie Dog Breed Information Centre For The West Highland White Terrier
- Italian Greyhound – A Speedy Little Dog Breed
Manchester Terrier Breed Rescues
In the USA, Maximal Manchester Terriers in New Jersey foster and rehome Manchesters down on their luck.
In Canada, the Canadian Manchester Terrier Club may be able to help.
And in the UK, the British Manchester Terrier Club coordinates a breed welfare and rehoming service.
Do you know of a Manchester Terrier Rescue center we haven’t included?
Tell us about them in the comments box down below!
References And Resources
- Adams et al. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.
- American Manchester Kennel Club.
- Cavanagh & Bell. Veterinary Medical Guide to Dog and Cat Breeds. CRC Press. 2012.
- Howell & Bennett. Preventing predatory behaviour in greyhounds retired from the racing industry: Expert opinions collected using a survey and interviews. Applied Animal Behavior Science. 2020.
- Legge et al. Histological Characterization of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the Juvenile Toy Manchester Terrier. Veterinary Pathology. 2013.
- Official Standard of the Manchester Terrier. American Kennel Club. 1991.
- Orthopedic Foundation For Animals.
- Thorpe. Small wonder: tiny Victorian dog that killed 200 rats an hour. The Observer. 2019.