Unsurprisingly the Manchester Terrier dog breed owes its roots to the city of Manchester located in north western England. The Manchester Terrier, which at first glance looks like a miniature Doberman Pinscher, once held the rather lofty title of “English Gentleman’s Terrier” and for a while was known as such or more simply as the Gentleman’s Terrier. Considering its refined and sleek appearance as compared to most of the other terrier dog breeds it doesn’t require too much imagination to see why this particular terrier was dubbed the Gentleman’s Terrier.
As industrialization blossomed across 19th century England so too did the twin sports of dog racing and rat-pit contests. Greyhound ownership was largely confined to the aristocracy and nobility but that wasn’t going to deter the common man from indulging in the mightily entertaining sport of dog racing. The Whippet, dubbed the poor man’s Greyhound was the solution to dog racing for the man on the street and it was inevitable that the two popular public sports of rat-baiting and dog racing would invariably cross paths on a canine level. The Black and Tan Terrier was perhaps the most distinguished of the rat-slaying dogs of the time and it wasn’t long before someone in the personage of one John Hulme decided to cross it with the Whippet to extend its functionality as a rabitter as well.
Although the Manchester Terrier exhibited many of the characteristics native to terrier progenitor, the Black and Tan Terrier, this new terrier dog breed had many distinctly different features. First of all crossbreeding it with Whippets resulted in a more refined and svelte look which can perhaps be best described as streamlined and athletic. Unlike many of the other terrier dog breeds the Manchester Terrier was a creature bred for urban existence not countryside dwelling.
Although ostensibly developed as a dual-purpose terrier intended to perform as both rabbiter and ratter, the Manchester Terrier really found its niche as a rat killer extraordinaire. Around the 1860s rat-pit contests were all the rage, a period which unsurprisingly coincided with the height of popularity of the Manchester Terrier breed; everyone, after all, wanted to own the most efficient rat slayer! And that most efficient of rat killers was the Manchester Terrier. Actually if we are going to be accurate and faithful to history, the distinction of rat killer extraordinaire doesn’t belong to the Manchester Terrier but actually belongs to its predecessor, the Black and Tan Terrier.
Although the Manchester Terrier dog breed is sometimes referred to as the Black and Tan Terrier this is not strictly correct because the Black and Tan Terrier was one of the dog breeds from which the Manchester Terrier was developed; the other as mentioned before being the Whippet. The most extraordinary canine rat slayer ever on record was a Black and Terrier dog called Billy. Referred to as “The Phenomenon of The Canine Race” by those humbled and awed by his particular gift, Billy was credited with killing as many as 4000 rats in one day! And as if that record was not impressive enough, Billy is said to have dispassionately and efficiently dispatched 100 rats in a mind-blowing 6 minutes and 35 seconds! A record he later trimmed to 6 minutes and 13 seconds (I dare you to say that practice doesn’t make perfect).
Alas for Billy and his canine ilk the Black and Tan Terrier became extinct when it was crossbred with the Whippet during the development of the Manchester Terrier dog. What did take a little bit longer to disappear with the mists of time however was the name Black and Tan Terrier. Although the Manchester Terrier dog breed was officially recognized under that name in 1860 it never really gained traction or much favor and slowly but surely the new breed was referred to by the name of its progenitor, the Black and Tan Terrier.
However in 1923…TO BE CONTINUED
Article on Manchester Terrier written by Kayye Nynne