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Breed History/Purpose

    The Manchester Terrier is one of the oldest breeds of Terriers currently recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club.  Dr. Caius' "Encyclopedia of Dogs," published in 1570, mentions the Black and Tan Terrier -- the forerunner to the modern day Manchester.  Though rougher in coat and shorter on leg than today's Manchester Terrier, the Black and Tan did possess a keen ratting ability which made it attractive to blood sport and rabbit coursing enthusiasts alike.  One fancier in particular, Mr. John Hulme, crossed a Whippet with a cross-bred terrier to combine both sports into one breed.  The cross was so successful that it was repeated, resulting in the establishment of a specific type.


    Originally bred as a "ratting machine" Manchester's made frequent and highly acclaimed appearances in the rat pits.  By the mid-1800's the breed was becoming more defined and in 1827 "Billy" (a dog generally believed to be of Manchester-type) was reported to have killed 100 rats in 12 minutes.  Not to be outdone, "Tiny the Wonder," a 5 1/2 pounder, killed 300 rats in 54 minutes, 53 seconds during a highly publicized contest at the Queen's Hotel in London in 1848.  As a result of their popularity in the rat pits the ears were generally cropped to guard against being torn by their feisty prey.  This also served to enhance the sharp appearance of the expression.

    By 1860 the name Manchester Terrier surfaced as the community of Manchester was now recognized as the center of development for the breed.  When blood sports became illegal in England the Manchester moved out of the limelight and into the taverns and farming communities of England where they continued to serve a much needed purpose. 

During the late 19th century the popularity of the breed fell with the outlawing of blood sports and the banning of ear cropping.  It was at this point that several devoted breeders began to reform the breed. By using a Whippet cross they were able to transform the breed from the rough coated, rugged terrier of the ratters to the sleek, elegant, gentleman's companion we now know.

Miniaturization gave rise to today's Toy variety, however it is easy to observe how drastically different their predecessors were from Modern day TMT's.

 About this time the popularity of smaller specimens began to grow and, true to Victorian fashion, tiny Manchester's became all of the rage.  It is generally thought that unethical persons introduced the Chihuahua in order to diminish size even further and astonishingly the Manchester Terrier was soon appearing in sizes as small as 2 1/2 pounds!!!  As a result of this careless breeding the smaller specimens became frail and sickly.

    In Canada the Manchester Terrier was first registered in 1888-89 when 6 Toy Manchester Terriers and 20 Manchester Terriers were registered in the stud books.  Over the ensuing years a variety of factors would shape the continued evolution of this breed.  By midway through the 20th century the Standard Manchester Terrier faced serious population depletions and turned to the Toy variety for help.  Intervariety (Toy X Standard) breeding soon became the norm in order to increase the population as well as to address difficulties Toy breeders faced due to the miniaturization of the breed.  

The Manchester now appears as two varieties in North America, distinguished primarily by weight: Toys up to, but not exceeding 12 lb., and Standards 12-22 lb.  Even today intervariety breeding is permitted in both Canada and the United States.  It is important to note, however, that European and Australian Manchester Terriers remain completely differentiated.  The Toy Manchester in these countries is known as the English Toy Terrier and differences between European & American examples are notable and varied.  Any person judging or observing in these countries should consult the breed standard specific to that country and not rely completely on knowledge of North American standards.

Points to Remember:


Manchester Terrier oldest of all identifiable terriers.


Bred as "ratters" and coursers of small game.


Whippet introduced to refine characteristics and add speed.


Two sizes differentiated and then reunited by mid-1900s.


Intervariety breeding permitted.


North America: One Breed with Two Varieties; Europe: Separate Breeds