Please scroll down to read a general description of the Manchester Terrier, learn the history of the breed, and also learn some helpful information about health issues with the breed.
Manchester Terrier Description
Weight: 12-22 lb (5-10 kg) for the standard variety; less than 12 lb (5 kg) for the toy variety.
Coat & Colour: The coat should be close and glossy. Colour must be black and tan and as distinct as possible. There should be a tan spot over each eye and on each cheek. Forelegs should be tanned to the knee with a black "thumbprint". There should be distinct black "pencil marks" running up each toe.
The Head: The head should be narrow, almost flat and wedge shaped. The nose should be perfectly black. Eyes should be small, oblong in shape and almost black in colour. Ears can be naturally erect, button or cropped to a point for the standard variety. Only naturally erect ears are acceptable for the Toy Manchester Terrier.
The Body: The body should be slightly longer than it is tall. Manchesters should be well muscled with powerful loins. The back should be slightly arched at the loin, falling to the joining of the tail to the same height at the shoulder. A Manchester Terrier should have neither a roached back nor a flat back.
The Feet: Manchester Terriers feet are rather unique. They should be very compact and cat-like. Nails should be solid black.
The Tail: The tail should be moderately short, gracefully tapering to a point. The tail should not be carried higher than the back.
Temperament: As it is a terrier, the Manchester should be lively and alert. However, the Manchester Terrier is also a non-sparring terrier and therefore should be amicable to both humans and other dogs. One of the characteristics of a Manchester Terrier is that they are often a bit wary of strangers, however extreme nervousness or aggression are not appropriate. Manchester Terriers have above average intelligence and perform well in obedience, agility, and other activities.
Black and Tan Terriers have existed in Great Britain for hundreds of years and are cited as one of the oldest of the terriers. A breeder from Manchester, John Hulme, is credited with crossing the rough Black and Tan Terrier with the Whippet in the 1800s to produce the sleek, agile and powerful Manchester Terrier we see today. Some have suggested that Italian Greyhounds and Dachshunds may have also played a role in the creation of the Manchester Terrier. The Manchester Terrier in turn is credited as a foundation dog used in the development of other dog breeds, including the Doberman Pinscher, the Australian Terrier, the German Hunting Terrier and the Lancaster Heeler.
Manchester Terriers were initially bred to be vermin hunters, a task they excelled at. In addition to being a companion animal, they were used to rid both homes and ships of rats and mice. Eventually a sport developed in England involving the killing of rats. Dogs were put into pits and bets were placed as to which dog could kill the greatest number of rats in a given period of time. A 5 pound Toy Manchester Terrier named "Tiny" was reported to have killed 300 rats in 54 minutes and 50 seconds. This "sport" eventually fell out of favour and is no longer practiced, although most Manchesters do retain their ratting instincts.
The Manchester Terrier reached the height of its popularity in the Victorian era. During this time it was prized both for its ratting ability and its good looks. The standard Manchester Terrier was thought to be a suitable companion for the discerning gentleman, hence its nickname "the gentleman's terrier". Victorian women, on the other hand, desired a smaller version of the Manchester and a toy was developed by repeatedly breeding the smallest of the standard Manchesters. Unfortunately this practice was carried to an extreme and the result was very small, very unhealthy animals. The modern day Toy Manchester Terrier is a much healthier, sounder and larger animal than its ancestors from this earlier period.
Now only one colour combination is acceptable for the Manchester Terrier, namely black and tan. However, in the mid-1800s there was some interest in different colour variations including whites, blues, and reds and these colour variants began appearing at competitions. The English White, in particular, often displayed a number of health problems. These colour variations eventually fell out of favour and are no longer bred for or acceptable.
In 1895 ear cropping was outlawed in England and this greatly decreased the Manchester Terrier's popularity in its native country. As the Manchester Terrier's ears had traditionally been cropped, it was largely unnecessary for breeders to consider ear type when selecting breeding stock. Once ear cropping was outlawed many did not like the look of the Manchester's uncropped ears. It took quite a while for English breeders to develop nice looking button ears, which are now required in the English standard. In North America the cropping of Manchester ears remains common and many North American Manchesters retain the same "look" as the breed originally had.
Although they are certainly not a common breed, Manchester Terriers are currently becoming more popular in Canada and other countries. The renewed interest will hopefully ensure that this noble breed will continue to develop and flourish.
Manchester Terrier Health
Overall, Manchester Terriers are a very healthy breed. As they are not overly popular they have not been indiscriminately bred just for profit. Most Manchester Terrier breeders are in it for their love of the breed and definitely not for making a profit.
Although they are susceptible to a few genetic problems, these problems are quite rare. Specifically, Manchester Terriers have been associated with von Willebrand's Disorder (a bleeding disorder), thyroid disease, and legges calves perthes (a bone disorder). Descriptions of each of these problems are listed below.
VWD: Von Willebrand's disease is a bleeding disorder common in a number of breeds, including Manchester Terriers (both standards and toys), Doberman Pinschers, Scottish Terriers, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Severely affected dogs can bleed to death from relatively minor injuries because their blood does not clot properly as a result of a deficiency or dysfunction of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a plasma protein. The prevalence and severity of the disorder depends on the breed of dog. Little information is available that deals specifically with Manchester Terriers, but thankfully they do not appear to be as severely affected as some other breeds and it is highly unlikely that even affected Manchester Terriers would die from "bleeding out" from minor injuries. Information provided by VetGen (a company that provides tests for vWD) indicates that approximately 59% of the Manchester Terriers genetically tested to date are clear of vWD, 35% are carriers and 6% are affected with the disorder. VWD is a genetic disorder and the gene responsible has recently been identified. The genetic test, available from VetGen, conclusively tells you if your dog is affected (has the disorder), a carrier (does not have the disorder but does carry the gene and could create affected puppies if breed with another carrier) or clear (does not have the disorder or carry the gene responsible for the disorder). For most people, whether an animal is clear or carrier is irrelevant as neither will ever suffer from the disorder. Both clears and carriers produce normal levels of clotting factor and neither is at risk for excessive bleeding episodes. It is only when animals will be used in a breeding program that being clear or carrier matters, as it may affect who the animal should be mated with. Prior to the discovery of the genetic basis of vWD and the genetic test, vets used to offer blood tests to diagnose the disorder. The blood test (which is still available) is cheaper, but the results can be affected by a number of factors (e.g. hormonal cycles) and generally the genetic test is preferred.
Legges Calves Perthes: Legges-Calves-Perthes is known by a number of names including legges perthes, and aseptic necrosis. It is a condition that results in degeneration of the femur (leg bone). This condition is common to many small breeds and it has been suggested that Legges Perthes is the small dog's hip dysplasia. In Manchester Terriers, Legges Perthes is more common in toys than in standards. Legges Perthes results from a lack of blood to the femur head. As the femur head does not receive an adequate supply of nourishment the bone begins to die. The condition generally appears between the ages of 6 and 9 months. Often, but not always, an injury occurs just before symptoms appear. Generally, the first symptoms are licking the rear leg, the dog becoming peevish (as a result of being in pain) and obvious pain while walking. If any symptoms are evident animals should be brought to their veterinarian for diagnosis. An x-ray will reveal whether or not the condition is present. In most cases only one joint is affected, although in approximately 10-15% of cases the damage is bilateral. Surgery is the treatment of choice for animals afflicted with the condition. The femur head and all affected bone matter is surgically removed. This generally halts the progression of the necrosis. Once treated, dogs can continue to lead relatively normal lives. There is some suggestion of a genetic basis for Legges Perthes, although inheritance of the disorder is likely complex and is not well understood, and therefore affected dogs should not be used for breeding purposes.
Thyroid & other conditions: Manchester Terriers are also prone to thyroid problems, as are many other breeds. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that help regulate body functions including weight and hair growth. A simple blood test can be performed to determine if a dog's thyroid is producing adequate (neither too much nor too little) thyroid levels. Breeders should test breeding stock regularly to ensure thyroid conditions are not being passed on to offspring. Manchester Terriers frequently have sparse amounts of neck hair and there is some suggestion that thyroid problems may be involved in some cases.
Manchester Terriers have also been reported to occasionally display wool allergies. Therefore, owners would be wise to ensure that all bedding is free of wool fibers.
Some have suggested that Manchester Terriers have relatively weak immune systems, although this claim has not been widely documented. Therefore, Manchester Terrier owners should be sure to keep their animals in peak condition by providing good quality food, sufficient levels of exercise and appropriate veterinary attention. In addition, a heart conditions (juvenile cardiomyopathy) has been associated with Toy Manchester Terriers. For more information on this conditions, please follow the link listed below:
A comprehensive health survey was conducted by the Canadian Manchester Terrier Club and the American Manchester Terrier Club in 2002. Those interested in reviewing the findings can follow the link listed below to learn more:
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