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General Appearance

According to the AKC standard of perfection, the Manchester Terrier is "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."

The above description encompasses the ideal composition of any Manchester, Toy or Standard variety, and points to specific areas which will be discussed in more detail in later tutorials.  For now it is sufficient to highlight the adjectives used in describing the breed which help us to more readily understand the general attributes breed fanciers value.  The breed should be sleek, sturdy, smooth, compact, muscular, agile, clean, and elegant -- these are the makings of a Manchester Terrier.

In the Canadian Kennel Club's standard of perfection the breed's general appearance is described only as:

"A terrier calculated to take his own part in the rat pit and not of the Whippet type."

While this description leaves much to be desired in specificity, it does serve to bring up two important points.  The Manchester Terrier, while elegant and lithe, is also an athletic animal.  His ability to perform his original purpose as a ratter requires dexterity and coordination along with speed.  Secondly, and because the Whippet figures so prominently in the breed's development, the Manchester Terrier should not be so fine, nor the top line so roached, that one is reminded of a Whippet-type animal. 

At this point it is important to address the presence of two varieties within the same breed and the CKC's current tools for evaluation.  In general terms the breed is divided by weight, those falling under 12 pounds classified as Toy Manchesters and those in the 12-22 pound range as Standard Manchester Terriers.  A dog exhibited as a Toy Manchester and weighing over 12 pounds is disqualifiable, however it should be remembered that the dog is only disqualified from competition as a Toy and may continue to be shown in its proper weight category (12-22 pounds).  In Canada a Standard Manchester Terrier weighing over 22 pounds is not disqualifiable, however those judging the breed in the United States should note that the AKC standard disqualifies exhibits weighing over 22 lbs from competition.  European standards, for both English Toy and Manchester Terriers, utilize height guidelines and suggested weights and there has been much discussion in recent years about modifying North American standards to reflect this method.  The fancy remains deeply divided on this issue however and it is unlikely, at least in the U.S., that these changes will be made in the foreseeable future.

Ear types between the two varieties are also different.  Toy Manchesters can be shown with naturally erect ears only while the Standard variety may have naturally erect, cropped erect ears or button ears.  A more detailed discussion of correct ear types and appearance can be found in the tutorial on head and neck structure.

At present the Canadian Kennel Club maintains two separate standards of perfection for the Toy and Standard Manchester Terriers.  As most readers will likely have reviewed these before beginning you will note that, while some small differences are apparent, the general content of the two standards is the same.  With this in mind it should be remembered that in all ways, with exception to size and ear type, there should be differences between the two varieties.

As a general statement, there are several reasons why the Toy and Standard MT may look slightly different.  The practice of ear cropping, generally more popular among Standard breeders than the cultivation of button ears, allows for both the shaping of the ear to match head types as well as the tightening of muscles in the head -- creating a cleaner look than is possible with natural ears.  As well it should be considered that Toy Manchesters can be as much as 1/2-1/3 of their Standard counterparts weight.  Given such large size gaps it is probably unreasonable to expect that the Toy be an exact replica of the Standard variety, however the standard of perfection should be the tool that is used for evaluation of dogs in both varieties -- not direct comparison.  Those who have observed the breed closely will note the huge improvements Toy breeders have accomplished over the 30 years and it is virtually unarguable that the Toy variety is now more than capable of holding its own in direct competition with Standard Manchesters (e.g. National Specialties).

Finally, it should also be noted that white on any part of the coat measuring more than 1/2 inch at its longest dimension is a disqualification.

Points to Remember:


sleek, sturdy, smooth, compact, muscular, agile, clean, elegant


Not of the Whippet-type


2 varieties divided by weight and ear types

Toy Manchester under 12 pounds - naturally erect ears only


Standard Manchester 12-22 pounds - naturally erect, cropped erect or button ears



Toy Manchester Terriers over 12 lb


White on any part of the coat measuring more than 1/2 inch at its longest dimension