The Manchester Terrier is the world’s oldest existing terrier breed. The breed comes in two sizes, called varieties: toy (weighing less than 12 lbs) and standard (weighing 12-22 lbs). The breed was developed to control rat populations in England before modern sanitation systems existed. They were kept by families, farmers, commercial establishments (like pubs and warehouses) and even on ships.
People who own Manchesters are no stranger to the frequent comments about their resemblance to Doberman Pinschers or Miniature Pinschers (Min Pins) or Miniature Dobermans (this is not a breed of dog and I think people are referring to Min Pins). In fact, the Manchester Terrier was used to develop these other breeds. They are the original black and tan terrier and as such, they are behind the breeds that have this unique color pattern, either directly (like with the Doberman) or indirectly. This was an extremely popular breed in the United States in the 1940s and 50s and even though most people today cannot identify the breed, I am frequently stopped by seniors who recount to me their happy memories of growing up with a Manchester Terrier.
What is the difference between a Manchester and a Min Pin?
For starters, the Manchester is a terrier and the Min Pin is a toy breed. Terriers were bred to hunt and destroy vermin, while toy breeds were primarily developed to be companions: these unique purposes give way to unique temperaments. They also have differences in structure due to their different purposes. The Manchester Terrier has a thicker, more sturdy build, smooth gait (Min Pins are known for their high-stepping hackney gait) and Manchesters are only black and tan in color (Min Pins can be red or blue and tan). Manchesters never have their tails cropped. The Toy Manchester never has his ears cropped, though the Standard has the option for cropped ears or natural ears (either upright or folded over in what is called a button ear).
Terrier Prey Drive
As terriers, the Manchester will hunt animals that are perceived as prey and can be difficult to recall if they are following a scent or giving chase . However, a good recall is possible with solid training and consistent positive reinforcement. No farmer or hunter could have a dog work beside them if the dog was not trained to recall on command. Prey drive is a poor excuse for lack of training.
Fur and Allergies
They are sturdy, rugged and do not injure themselves easily. However, owners must understand that they have thin skin and thin fur, two things that don’t preclude them from hunting rats but do mean they should be prevented from tangling with larger prey. Their thin coat also makes them susceptible to cold but provides them some relief in the heat. They lack a true undercoat which means they are not as efficient at regulating their body heat and need to wear coats outdoors in cold weather. However, this causes them to produce less dander, a great thing for allergy sufferers. Their unique coat also means they don’t shed much, and they don’t carry the oil or odor that many breeds are prone to – another plus for allergy sufferers – and it contributes to their overall cleanliness.
Great for individuals or families
Manchesters are intensely loyal to their owners. They are great family companions and do well with children, cats and other dogs when they are raised with them in the household. However, they tend to select one person in the family as their favorite (usually their primary caretaker) and seek them out for snuggle time. They are suited well to living in apartments or homes. Standards, as a larger dog, do require more exercise than the Toys, however as a breed, Manchesters adapt well to the energy level or their household – happy to spend a day hiking, or relaxing on the couch as their owner desires.
Socialization is critical
It is very important for Manchesters to be socialized outside their home with as many positive experiences with strangers and new places as possible. Without critical socialization for the first year, Manchesters are prone to fear based behavioral problems such as attacking strangers or strange dogs, fear of house guests, anxiety when outside the home, constant alarm barking at noises and more. A properly socialized adult Manchester should love meeting strangers, enjoy traveling with their owners, visiting new places and eagerly greet guests to the home. Manchesters are generally not barkers, but they will develop the behavior if not properly stimulated (boredom or lack of training), not properly socialized, or taught the behavior by another dog in the home.
Training is key
I highly encourage all first time Manchester Terrier owners to enroll in a training class with an instructor that understands terrier breeds and temperaments. I am happy to assist owners in locating a qualified dog trainer. If you seek out a training class, please avoid pet store training classes. As a dog trainer who has worked in pet stores and witnessed both the quality of their classes and the instruction provided to the pet store trainers themselves, I can tell you that pet store training programs are not taught by knowledgeable individuals. They approach dog training with a one-size-fits-all approach that does not work well with the Manchester Terrier, and are poor substitutes for a proper dog trainer with knowledge of canine behavior.
Manchesters are prone to separation anxiety when not given sufficient alone time to learn how to occupy themselves. It’s important to avoid carrying your Manchester around the home and excessively babying him or her because these behaviors will teach your dog to rely on you for all happiness and the dog will be extremely anxious when left alone – leading to disruptive barking and destruction to the home. Crate training is a great way to avoid this problem. Dogs who start crate training as puppies will learn how to be calm when left alone and are prevented from picking up destructive behaviors. Manchesters who are crate trained through puppyhood will grow into adults that can be trusted loose in the home even when their owner is away – and use their crate as a comfortable retreat when they need some time away from the family. As puppies, they can be difficult to potty train but crate training helps with this greatly, and done properly, there is little difficulty.