The Manchester Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

The Manchester Terrier is a unique-looking and smooth-coated terrier type of breed developed in the 19th century and tasked with vermin control 

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the Manchester Terrier, including its history, physical traits, personality, and health.

A Brief History of the Manchester Terrier

Origins of the Breed

The Manchester Terrier originated in the English city of Manchester, hence its name. The breed was born in the 19th century with the purpose of catching rats and helping with vermin control. 

The Manchester Terrier was created by crossing the Black and Tan Terrier with the Whippet. Later on, it is believed that Italian Greyhounds and Dachshunds were also introduced into the mix. 

The Manchester Terrier’s Roles

The primary role of the Manchester Terrier was ratting – catching rats on the streets of rat-infested English cities. Breed members were sleek and agile, hence small and quick enough to catch pesky rodents. 

Manchester Terriers were so efficient as rat killers that they were used in rat-baiting – a gruesome “blood sport” in which the dog was placed in a pit filled with rats, and people bet on how long it would take the dog to kill the pests. 

Recognition and Popularity 

Despite the association with rat-baiting, Manchester Terriers were also popular as companion dogs. They were often seen accompanying their owners and were even depicted in paintings by famous artists such as George Stubbs and Sir Edwin Landseer.

The breed’s popularity continued to grow, and Manchester Terriers were soon exported to other countries, including the United States. In 1887, the AKC (American Kennel Club) recognized the Manchester Terrier as a separate dog breed.

Physical Characteristics of the Manchester Terrier

Size and Weight

The Manchester Terrier is a relatively small breed, weighing between 12 and 22 pounds. Breed members typically stand around 15 to 16 inches tall at the shoulders.

Despite the small size, Manchester Terriers are sturdy and agile. They are also fast and can successfully navigate tight spaces. Male members of the breed are generally larger than females. 

Coat and Colors

The Manchester Terriers has a short, smooth, and glossy coat that comes in a standardized black and tan coloration. The black is described as jet black, and the tan is said to be a rich mahogany. 

The Manchester Terrier’s coat is very simple to maintain and only requires weekly brushing. The breed sheds moderately through the year and profusely twice a year during shedding seasons. 

Distinctive Features

The Manchester Terrier has a sleek, muscular body and a long, wedge-shaped head with almond eyes. Breed members can have button ears or erect ears that stand straight up and are triangular in shape.

The hallmark of the Manchester Terrier is its watchful eye expression, which is accented by the tan spot markings above each eye. The dog’s tail is strong, relatively long, and tapering. 

Personality and Temperament

The Manchester Terrier is a highly intelligent and energetic breed that has a lot to offer to the right family. It is known for its sharp wit, quick reflexes, and unwavering loyalty to its owners. 

General Temperament

Manchester Terriers are generally loyal and affectionate with their families but can be aloof with strangers. They are described as very vocal and will bark to alert the presence of perceived threats.

This makes them excellent watchdogs, but it can also be a nuisance if they are not properly trained. Despite the small size, breed members are fearless and will not hesitate to defend their families. 

Manchester Terriers are energetic and require plenty of exercise. They are also incredibly intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tasks, hence quite popular in the world of dog sports.

Intelligence and Trainability

Manchester Terriers are intelligent and quick learners, but they can also be stubborn. It is important to start training and socialization early to establish boundaries and prevent problem behaviors.

Positive reinforcement training ensures success with this breed. Manchester Terriers thrive on mental stimulation, are always up for a challenge, and excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports. 

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

Manchester Terriers are good with children but may be too energetic for very young kids. They may also need some time to warm up to new kids or visitors. 

They have a strong prey drive and may be inclined to chase small animals like squirrels or rabbits. With proper socialization, they can get along well with other dogs and even cats.

Health and Lifespan of Manchester Terriers

Common Health Issues

Manchester Terriers are generally a healthy breed, but like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues, such as:

  • Patellar Luxation: An orthopedic condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position, resulting in pain and lameness 
  • Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, causing weight gain, lethargy, and skin issues
  • Cataracts: Breed members are at risk of clouding of the eye’s lens, which impairs vision and can lead to blindness unless treated  
  • Arthritis: Inflamed joints are common in older dogs and manifest with pain, limping, stiffness, and difficulty getting up or down

Average Lifespan and Aging

The Manchester Terrier is a long-lived breed with an average lifespan of between 15 and 17 years. With proper care and good genetic background, many members of the breed reach their golden years. 

Keep in mind that older Manchester Terriers may have lower energy levels and require less exercise, but it is still important to keep them active to maintain their muscle mass and joint health.

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To keep your Manchester Terrier healthy, it is important to provide them with regular exercise and mental stimulation. This can include walks, play sessions, and interactive toys. 

A healthy diet that is rich in protein and nutrients is also important for the breed. Talk to your vet about the best diet for your dog’s age, activity level, and health needs.

Finally, regular vet care, including routine check-ups and preventative treatments, helps keep your Manchester Terrier healthy. Stay up to date on vaccines and parasite control. 


The Manchester Terrier is a wonderful breed of dog with a proud history and unique characteristics. With proper care and attention, this breed can provide many years of love and companionship.

Whether you are looking for a loyal companion, a spirited playmate, or a clever and trainable pet, the Manchester Terrier is sure to fit the bill. Just ensure that you find a trustworthy dog breeder. 

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