Manchester Terrier

Manchester TerrierManchester Terrier

Historically called the Old English Black and Tan Terrier, this breed (except for Toys which were recorded separately), was listed in 1874 in the First English Stud Book. The name was later changed to reflect the name of the city of Manchester where most breeders were to be found at the time the breed became popular[9]. Today the Manchester Terrier with its distinct jet black coat with rich mahogany tan markings is quite unique in the Terrier Group.

History of the English Black and Tan Terrier

Manchester Terrier and Mastiff c 1890Manchester Terrier and Mastiff c 1890

The English Black and Tan Terrier developed in the world's first industrial city whose damp climate made it suitable for cotton manufacture. With plenty of coal nearby supplying power, by the early 1800s the city had grown at an enormous rate. The cotton was exported from the adjacent sea port of Liverpool which provided access to a shipping canal. Additionally, one of Britain's earliest railways was built. By 1844 Manchester had grown to an estimated 400,000 inhabitants. But it had no sewerage which meant people lived in unimaginable squalor[1]. So, a tough, game smooth coated ratting dog became one of life's necessities.

Manchester TerrierManchester Terrier

Demonstrating prowess amid the squalor, it was common for sportsmen of the day to use the Black and Tan Terrier in rat pits. This involved exchanges of money for not only the dogs, but also for betting and watching the action. As the dogs became more admired, ladies of fashion adopted the smaller Black and Tan Terriers.

The Black and Tan Terrier then became split into 2 weight varieties viz, the larger Black and Tan Terrier which was later named the Manchester Terrier and the smaller Black and Tan terrier which became known as the English Toy Terrier (Black and Tan).

The Black and Tan Terrier becomes a Pure Breed

Black and Tan Terrier 1875Black and Tan Terrier 1875

As rat pitting became illegal, the dog show scene was evolving. Named the 'Black-Tan Terrier' in 1875, 'Belcher' (pictured) was considered to be the most perfect specimen of the breed in his time. This was when breeders concentrated on stabilising colour[8]. Stonehenge, a prominent English writer of that time said:

'First the black must be jet without admixture with the tan or a single white hair; secondly the tan must be rich mahogany, defined distinctly by a marked and clear line where it meets the black'.[2] 

Manchester TerriersManchester Terriers

Well known before the First World War, the breed was not called 'Manchester' until 1924. Then in 1937, the British Manchester Terrier Club was set up and was responsible for reviving the breed after World War Two.

Today the unique markings of both varieties are the Manchester's most defining characteristic. Its basic construction has remained unaltered for over two centuries. Instead, breeders have concentrated on precise black and tan colour markings rather than adopting the exaggerated conformation of other comparable long-legged terriers breeds.

History of Manchester Terriers in Australia

Eng & Aust Ch Keyline War Drummer (Imp UK) Eng & Aust Ch Keyline War Drummer (Imp UK)

Smooth Coated Terriers (Black and Tan) over 7 pounds were popular here from our first dog show in 1864 with 23 exhibited[5]. After that 17 more were recorded in Tyzack's Annual, Australia's first Stud Book as being imported, with the show records of another 14 appearing in the Stud Section[6].

Ch Keyline Guinevere (UK)Ch Keyline Guinevere (UK)

They then seemed to die out until the early 1970's when Saintrelec Kennels in Wodonga, Victoria revived them importing Ch Coombelane Furiso, Ch Clampitt Gwinny and Ch Icecenian Icarus, all from UK. They sold Manchesters across Australia. Then, in 1987 the breed was given a further boost by Jenny Hill who imported Eng Ch Keyline War Drummer (UK). He was an excellent example of the breed, and Jenny enthusiastically campaigned him. The bitch, Ch Keyline Guinevere (Imp UK) followed from the same famous English Kennel, reinforcing the quality of Manchester's right across Australia[7].

The Manchester Terrier Today

Manchester TerrierManchester Terrier

The Manchester Terrier has remained a keen alert but elegant sporting dog despite his colour being so ruthlessly selected for over two centuries.  It has a wedge shaped head, with a long flat skull, a normal scissors bite and tight lips. Because historically the ears were cut or cropped, today unlike its Toy counterpart its button ears are small and carried well above the line of the skull. In North American naturally pricked ears are also acceptable.

With the basic construction of the long legged terriers, he has a fairly short body, deep chest and straight front legs with small semi-hare feet. He has a slightly arched loin with the carriage of the tail continuing the line of the arch and not carried over the back. However, it is a short tail and, typical of a terrier it should be thick where it joins the body. The Manchester Terrier should stand 15 to 16 inches tall.

The Colour of the Manchester Terrier

Modern Manchester TerrierModern Manchester Terrier

As his colour description dominates the breed standards of both the Manchester Terrier and the English Toy Terrier Black and Tan (Toy Manchester) counterpart, it is also elaborated upon here in some detail.

The dog must jet black (ebony) and rich mahogany tan (likened to a rich chestnut). White hairs forming a patch anywhere is totally undesirable. The colours must not run or blend into each other, but must meet abruptly, forming clear and well defined lines of colour division.

Head and muzzle colour

Manchester Terrier pupsManchester Terrier pups

  • Black on head, nose, nasal bone and lips.
  • Small tan spot on each cheek and above each eye
  • Under-jaw and throat tanned with distinct tan V with the Toy having a black thumbmark under the chin.
  • Especially in the case of the Toy, the hair inside ears should be tan but tan behind ears is undesirable

Body colour

  • Body black except for a slight tan mark on each side of chest.
  • Under tail tanned, vent tanned by marking as narrow as possible so that it is covered by tail.

Forelegs and Hindlegs colour

Semi-hare foot showing thumbmark and pencillingSemi-hare foot showing thumbmark and pencilling

  • The forelegs should be tan on the inside of the front legs, from just below the elbows
  • From knee downwards the front of the forelegs should also be tan except the toes which are pencilled with a thin black line
  • There should be a distinct black mark (thumb mark) on the pastern of the front feet
  • There should be tan on the front and on the inside of the hind legs all the way up. From the stifle joint the outside of the hind legs should be black. Breaching or tan on the outside of the hind legs is undesirable.


We have now published a unique Terrier book 'Terriers Unveiled' Available at our sister site:

References and Further Reading

Jane Harvey, DVD "Terriers Then & Now" (Rangeaire Vision 2002, 2004) ISBN 978-0-9804296-4-0

[1] Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), pp. 45, 48-53.

[2] Stonehenge, "The Dog in Health and Disease" Third Edition, London: Longmans, Green, and Co 1859 Chapter 111, XVI.- The English Terrier Pages 113 - 114

[5] Catalogue of the First Exhibition of Sporting & Other Dogs, Thursday & Friday April 7 & 8, 1864 promoted by the Council of the Acclimatisation Society, printed in Melbourne by Mason & Firth, Printers, Flinders Lane West

[6] T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner "Tyzack's Annual" published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia P. 54 - 55 (Stud Book) and P.92 (Importations)

[7] Jenny Hill, 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997, The Manchester Terrier Page 222

[8] J.H.Walsh, under the name 'Stonehenge', 'The Dogs of the British Islands' (Fifth Edition) Published by 'The Field' Office, 346 Strand, W.C.London 1886. Book ll, 'Terriers (Other than Fox or Toy)', Chapter ll, Smooth Terriers (Other than Toys). The Black and Tan Terrier by Hugh Dalziel Page 261

[9] Dexter H Hockley, British Manchester Terrier Club Archivist UK, Senior Education Co-ordinator, Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme, Kennel Club UK.