Manchester Terrier: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

manchester terrier on the beach


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The Manchester terrier is a toy to small-sized dog breed named for the city in England. With its jet black short coat, chestnut markings, and almond eyes, it looks like a small Doberman pinscher. The breed comes in two size varieties—standard (22 pounds and under) and toy (12 pounds and under). No matter its size, the athletic and intelligent Manchester terrier is a sleek, graceful dog that blends the sharp instincts and courage of a terrier with the speed and agility of a racing hound.

GROUP: Toy/Terrier

HEIGHT: Toy: 10 to 12 inches; standard: 15 to 16 inches

WEIGHT: Toy: under 12 pounds; standard: 12 to 22 pounds

COAT: Short

COAT COLORS: Black and tan, mahogany markings

LIFE SPAN: 15 to 17 years

TEMPERAMENT: Active, alert, keen, devoted, discerning


ORIGIN: England

Characteristics of the Manchester Terrier

The Manchester terrier has often been described as "cat-like" because it's an impeccably clean breed. Independent and reserved with strangers, these dogs are sensitive and affectionate with their owners.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Manchester Terrier

Before Manchester became associated with soccer, it was actually the epicenter of England's textile trade. In the mid-1800s, local mill workers had two favorite pastimes—teaming up with small hounds to hunt rabbits, and rat killing, which involved sending a terrier into a rat pit and then betting on the results. As such, breeders of the time wanted to create a dog that would excel at both “sports” by crossing a "ratter" dog known as the black and tan terrier with whippets. That’s when the distinctive Manchester terrier was born.

The black and tan terrier was one of the most popular and accomplished terriers in England, and there are records of these dogs as far back as the 16th century. The breed was known to be a skilled dispatcher of rats. Industrialization brought about the advent of sport within the working class, such as rat-catching with black and tans and dog racing with whippets high on the list of popular activities. The crossing of the two breeds resulted in a refined terrier breed with a slightly arched back, and in 1860, the breed was formally called the Manchester terrier.

It ended up that there were two Manchester breeds that developed over time—the standard Manchester terrier and toy Manchester terrier were registered as separate breeds until the end of the 1950s. The development of the toy breed from the larger standard breed occurred first as a matter of chance, and then later as a result of selective breeding. Since that time, the two breeds have blended to form one breed known as the Manchester terrier, although they are still considered to be two varieties (and the American Kennel Club has grouped them separately). The standard Manchester is a member of the terrier group and the toy Manchester is considered a toy breed.

Manchester Terrier Care

Manchester terriers are very responsive and cooperative, and they make for playful and well-mannered pets that are devoted to their families. They should be properly socialized and ideally introduced to other family pets as puppies, as they are not only wary of strangers but also not always particularly friendly with other dogs. But watch these natural hunters around other small animals in the household, such as rabbits or smaller furry pets.


The Manchester is a moderately active and highly athletic breed requiring a significant amount of daily exercise in the form of leashed walks as well as playtime in a fenced-in backyard. Plan on giving your dog at least a full hour a day of physical activity. Potential Manchester owners should know that this is a "busy" breed, and it will always be looking around for games and entertainment. Since it's a terrier, it will also have a penchant for digging.


The Manchester terrier is considered a low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. This dog will only require an occasional bath and possibly a weekly wipe down with a damp towel or glove to keep its short, tight coat clean and shiny. As with all breeds, regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing are also a necessity to keep the Manchester terrier looking and feeling its best.


This breed is considered to be highly intelligent, and they appear to be able to think and plan their way through various situations. They are people-pleasers, love a challenge, and can be easily trained with the help of positive reinforcement and reward-based techniques.

The Manchester terrier will not respond well to harsh corrections, and training sessions should be kept fun and full of praise. Not surprisingly, this breed performs well in an array of dog sports, including agility, obedience training, tracking, flyball, and scent work.

Common Health Problems

The Manchester terrier is generally a healthy dog, but all purebred dogs may be susceptible to genetic conditions. Along with one breed-specific health problem (Juvenile Cardiomyopathy), here are other health concerns that may affect the Manchester terrier:

  • Juvenile Cardiomyopathy: The Manchester terrier is particularly prone to a disease that is potentially fatal. The dog will not show any signs of a heart problem but may then suddenly experience cardiac death as a puppy. It is believed to be a recessive mutation during the dog's heart development.
  • Patellar luxation: This breed is prone to a condition that’s referred to as “loose knees.”
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: Manchester owners should also be aware that these dogs can negatively react to anesthesia in the same way as their greyhound ancestors.

Diet and Nutrition

The Manchester terrier should perform well with a high-quality commercially or home-prepared (under veterinary supervision) dog food. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. As with all breeds, treats should be given in moderation and the dog's diet should be controlled in order to avoid weight gain or obesity-related issues.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Manchester Terrier

Manchester terriers are considered a rare breed, so it may be difficult to find one to adopt or buy from a breeder. Be sure to check your local animal shelters and rescue groups for Manchester terriers that are in need of a forever home. National rescue organizations such as the American Manchester Terrier Club can be a helpful source of information to help you find your new best friend. You can also check in with the AKC Marketplace to see if any breeders have available puppies. If you choose to work with a breeder, expect to pay between $1,200 to $1,500 for a puppy.

Manchester Terrier Overview

  • Requires minimal grooming

  • Great with families

  • People-pleaser and easy to train

  • Can be reserved with strangers

  • High-energy and needs ample exercise

  • Rare breed

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do your homework when choosing a dog breed. Talk to other Manchester terrier owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about this particular breed and its care.

If you’re interested in learning more about similar dogs, consider these other breeds:

There's a variety of dog breeds, and with a little research, you can be sure you'll find the right dog to bring home.

  • What are the differences between the toy and standard Manchester terrier?

    Despite their differences in size, all Manchesters share a similar temperament, sleek, sturdy body type, exceptional athletic ability, and signature tight coat in mahogany tan and jet black. The only difference between the two variations of the breed is ear shape. In fact, frustrations over difficulties in shaping the breed's ears actually caused many breeders to eventually cease breeding these dogs entirely, but there were a few breeders who were devoted to keeping the Manchester alive.

  • Is the Manchester terrier a good choice for a first-time dog owner?

    If you can locate a Manchester terrier, and you are willing to exercise it enough, it may be a great choice for a first dog. That's because this well-mannered breed is not known to be aggressive along with all the other characteristics that make it a pretty easy-going dog to own.

  • Why are there physical similarities between the Manchester terrier and a Doberman pinscher?

    The Manchester is not the only dog breed resembling a Doberman pinscher. However, it's believed that the Manchester terrier was used to breed the Doberman breed. In fact, many people confuse a Manchester terrier with the miniature pinscher.

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Manchester Terrier Dog Breed Information. American Kennel Club.

  2. American Manchester Terrier Club Newsletter. American Manchester Terrier Club. 2021. 

  3. Manchester Terrier Dog Breed Information. American Kennel Club.