Written by: JoAnn Emrick, Wilane Manchester Terriers. Copied with permission.
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.
Overall, the Manchester 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 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 fascimile 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.
The following is a brief overview of the breed's history in both its native England and America:
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 hedge row 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 who proved their worth 100 fold to the Inn keeper.
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 THE 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 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 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.
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, 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.