Is a Manchester Terrier the Right Breed for You?
Dogs are not all the same animal dressed up in differently sized fur coats. In fact, different breeds of dogs are dissimilar from one another in a lot more ways than just appearance. Manchesters are classified as part of the terrier group of dogs and in a much earlier historical period they specialized in hunting small predators, such as rats. This is not to suggest that one should ever consider adopting or buying a MT because of a rodent problem. Manchester Terriers are considered by most to be the oldest of all terrier breeds, dating back as early as the 16th century. The current MT we know today has evolved by the dedication of several kennels from the coarser 1800s version. True to their history as family pets from the 1800s onward, Manchester Terriers are house dogs. They are not psychologically or physically suited to being kept in a yard and they are not happy as kennel dogs. They certainly require and enjoy a daily outing in the yard or an hour or so spent stretched out in the sun, but you should not plan to leave your MT in the yard while you are gone all day. Because of the low percentage of body fat they carry, these dogs have very little natural insulation against the elements. They overheat easily and they suffer terribly from the cold. Depending on the climate, in the winter a doggie sweater or coat should be provided. If you don’t plan on keeping your dog in the house, you should choose a dog more suited to outdoor life.
MTs are very much people dogs and snugglers; they like being with their people all the time and if given the chance, will share your bed as well as the couch. In fact, if you are overly concerned about dogs on your furniture, you might want to reconsider getting a MT. A MT has very little natural padding and hard surfaces are distinctly uncomfortable. You’ll seldom see a MT willingly lying on a bare hardwood, concrete or tile floor. MTs love to be comfortable; the softest chair or pillow your MT can find probably will become its favorite spot. If you do use a crate, it is important to provide a soft mat. MTs are “velcro dogs” in the sense that you may have more company than you want in the bathroom, and if you go out to the mailbox, you’ll be greeted just as enthusiastically upon your return as you would be after a two-week absence. This is more togetherness than some people enjoy, and if you prefer an animal that is more independent, another breed or even a cat would be a better choice.
You’ll be wise to keep your MT near you, especially at first—MTs are clever, cute and mischievous. These are not puppies you want to leave loose in the living room while you run to the corner store. Crate training is a good idea; however, the desire to be around people also makes some Manchesters hard to crate successfully. Some howl and moan in their crates, even if they were properly crate-trained as puppies. Separation anxiety is discussed as a breed problem, but it may be too strong of a term. This being said, MTs who are unhappy with their living arrangements or the amount of attention they are getting tend to let you know about it.
Manchesters are playful but gentle dogs. Rough handling, even in play, is an absolute no-no! In addition, you’ll get the best training results with treats, positive reinforcement and praise. They respond very poorly to force-training. MTs are one of the most affectionate of breeds; once they get to know you, nearly all will return your kisses and affection with their own.
Size, Weight, and Coat:
MTs only come in only one color: Black & Tan. The coat is short and close to the skin, requiring little grooming. Toenails need to be trimmed at least once a month (every two weeks is better) or they tend to grow too long and become uncomfortable for the dog. Toy size ranges from as small as 6 lbs. up to 12 lbs. Standard size is from 12 lbs. up to 22 lbs.
Children and the Manchester Terrier:
Manchester Terriers are not nearly as delicate as they appear and are usually excellent with gentle children. As long as a child is old enough to know how to treat them and is taught how to play with dogs, a MT is a good choice for a child. A very young child should never be left alone with a dog of any breed and interaction between a child and a puppy must be closely supervised, for the protection of both.
As a rule, Manchester Terriers are friendly but discerning with strangers. They need to be introduced—let them sniff things out. They are good as watchdogs, alerting their owners to anything out of the ordinary. They are a vocal breed, and will bark to alert their family of just about anything. MT’s are too small to be at all useful for protection. If you need an guard dog, get a Doberman.
A Manchester Terrier are generally a very clean breed, but can take some time to be reliably house trained. Using a crate will make your job much easier. A new home can be stressful at first, so even a house trained adult can make mistakes early on and some males may ‘mark’ (lift a leg on) walls, furniture, etc., indoors. This usually happens only if there are other males in the household. Neutering helps most with unwanted male marking.
Manchester Terriers love to run and really enjoy getting out to stretch their legs. A large fenced yard is ideal. If you don’t have that, a smaller fenced yard will work if you can visit a neighborhood tennis court or other large fenced area three or more times a week. MTs are usually calm in the house but most have spells of running and leaping about in play a few times a day. These bursts of energy are rarely destructive; MTs are not given to damaging furniture or clearing the coffee table with a sweep of the tail. If your MT is more active than you like, she or he may not be getting adequate exercise. They do enjoy to accompany you on walks on a leash and will look forward to their walks, if properly trained.
A word of warning: Some dogs will stay around your home nearly all the time if you let them out, but NOT your Manchester Terrier. Something (a cat, a squirrel, a leaf…) will catch their eye and they’ll be gone more quickly than you could imagine. Other breeds that run off will usually come back in no more than a few hours if they don’t get hit by a car. Probably not your MT; they have a relatively poor sense of direction and once off your property can easily lose their way, get distracted and become frightened.
Manchester Terriers are one of the healthiest breeds. They require the same routine care as any dog: trimming toenails, cleaning of ears and teeth, occasional baths, and regular vet check-ups. Note that Manchester Terriers are very sensitive to anesthesia and other medications. Partly because of their low percentage of body fat, these dogs are extremely sensitive to some very common drugs; what may seem like a normal dose for a dog of his weight could easily kill a MT. This is certainly not to say that MT’s cannot be safely anesthetized or that they should not take prescribed medicines; just be sure that your vet is aware of special requirements and that she or he knows which anesthetics are safe.
What Does a Manchester Terrier Cost?
The price of a MT puppy or adult varies from region to region, but it’s in the range of $700–$1,200. Prices may be higher or lower depending on the MT's lineage and quality, and whether it is sold for show or companionship. At this price, the vast majority of breeders never make money on their puppies. With genetic testing, routine care for the mother, vet care for the puppies, and a dozen other expenses, breeders seldom so much as break even.
A Final Word:
The above notes about Manchester Terriers are intended to help you decide if the breed is right for you and/or to get you off to a good start with your new adoptee. As with any breed, there are negatives as well as positives and it’s important to go in with your eyes open when you acquire any dog.
Not everyone who owns MT’s will agree with all of the above—some may disagree with most of it. It is a summary of what some folks have personally observed about Manchesters as pets and members of the family over the years.