Dog Breed Review

English Toy Terrier




If you took one look at the English Toy Terrier, you may think, someone shrunk the Doberman Pinscher. Fortunately, there was no lab coat shrinking going on with this small breed, that belongs in the Toy group and was once a premiere rat chaser.

Instead, the English Toy Terrier is a smaller replica of the Manchester Terrier. Although there are similar breeds, like the Miniature Pinscher and Russkiy Toy, this breed deserves their own distinction.

So what’s the story behind this breed and where does it come from?

Here is what you need to know about the English Toy Terrier.


The English Toy Terrier can call the Manchester Terrier their bigger cousin. However, both breeds really come from the same ancestry. The E.T.T. is a cross between the old Black and Tan Terriers from England and the Whippet. Some believe that an Italian Greyhound may have been thrown into the equation as well.

Black and Tan Terriers are arguably the oldest of all terriers. That said, the belief being that their origins stretch as far back as the 15th century. In “The Hours of the Virgin,” a Black and Tan Terrier appears inside the manuscript.

Yet this breed’s history truly unravels in the 19th century. In England, during the 1800’s, there was a problem with rat infestations. To counter this problem with rats, factory managers and business owners would release these Black and Tan Terriers at night. They were an instant success.

Adding to their demand was the popularity behind a bloodsport, “Rat Baiting.” Rat Baiting was huge in England during the 1800’s. Wealthy elites would purchase rats from ratcatchers. Then, they would release these rats, as onlookers would place bets on how many rats the dog could kill and how quick. This form of gambling became illegal during the mid-1800’s, just as formation of the Kennel Club came into fruition. 

Perhaps the biggest beacon to where these rat killing terriers would reside was in Manchester. This is where the dog derives its name from. 

In the United States, the American Kennel Club and dog lovers were well aware of these same dogs. Instead, however, in 1886, the American Kennel Club would give recognition to the breed as Toy Black and Tan Terriers.

At the turn of the 20th century, a decrease in popularity hit the breed. It was a combination of a few things. The idea of certain Black and Tan Terriers acquiring rabies from their rat chasing job. Second,  it was the combination of the first World War and the decline of dog shows as well as taxes. This nearly brought the breed to extinction. However, a few fanciers would work diligently to assure the breed’s survival.

Until the 1920’s, the Black and Tan Terrier was only distinct by weight class. That would change when the bigger version took the Manchester Terrier name and the smaller one kept the Black and Tan Terrier name.

The Kennel Club in England, following a devastating drop in numbers, made the decision to rename the breed English Toy Terrier in the 1960’s. Since then, the Kennel Club lists the English Toy Terrier as a vulnerable breed. In fact, according to their numbers, the English Toy Terrier has a total of only 84 registrations in 2017. There was hope from the year prior as numbers went up to 102 from an all time low in 2015. To make the vulnerable list, a breed needs less than 300 registrations. 

Interestingly, the same problem was happening in the United States and in 1958 the AKC took note. After recognizing the breed separately in 1938 as the Toy Black and Tan Terrier, the AKC would rename and combine the toy with the Manchester Terrier. Today, there is the standard Manchester Terrier and the toy version. The real difference between the Manchester Toy and English Toy Terrier appears to be a difference of two pounds. According to the American Kennel Club’s popularity rankings, the Toy version ranks 133rd among 194 possible dogs.


According to the Kennel Club of England, the English Toy Terrier should stand between 10 to 12 inches. With regards to weight, the English Toy Terrier should range between 6 to 8 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

The English Toy Terrier has a lot of heart inside its small frame. Even so, their small frame is built with compact muscularity that isn’t afraid of a challenge. They have the stamina and heart to go up against foes twice their size. As you know from their history, the breed is more than capable of being resilient and courageous when working. 

This is an athletic dog that loves to please its master. The English Toy Terrier will pick up on anything you teach them with consistent positive reinforcement. Athletic in all respects, the Toy Terrier enjoys participating in agility, barn hunt, earthdog, lure coursing and much more canine sports. This is an active breed looking to exercise and show off their athleticism and speed.

Their intelligence allows them to perform jobs you throw at them with ease. This makes them easy to train but beware, you will need to remain consistent with this breed. That’s because they can be somewhat stubborn and independent. At times, the English Toy Terrier is a problem solver thinking most of its decisions with careful deliberation. That said, they do make wonderful watchdogs, who aren’t afraid to bark whenever its necessary. They are alert and responsive.

Even keel, elegant, sleek and always looking to love their master, the English Toy Terrier ultimately wants to be around their people. They get along better with female dogs, but with the right upbringing, they should do fine with other small pets.  Never expect this dog to back away from a challenge, and the Toy Terrier should never exude a nervous side to them. 


An English Toy Terrier for the most part is a healthy breed. When you an English Toy Terrier from a breeder, make sure you purchase from a reputable breeder, who can provide you with the proper clearances and documentation you need to assure a good bill of health. Additionally, you should schedule regular visits with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s living a long and fulfilling life. If you do both of those things, chances are good, that the English Toy Terrier can meet their 15 to 17 year life expectancy.

Much like the Pomeranian, Australian Terrier, Chinook, Cocker Spaniel and Eurasier, the English Toy Terrier is prone to Patellar Luxation. This condition is when the patella dislocates or moves out of place from its original position. This can lead to injuries with the ACL as well as lameness. Pain and discomfort are other consequences.

Demodex, a skin infection typically resulting from mites, which will lead to red and itchy skin can also be a problem for this breed. This may result in issues with the immune system, hair loss, and agitation. Medication and a special shampoo can often treat this as necessary.

Cataracts are sometimes found with this breed. Cloudiness of the crystalline lens can lead to visual problems and impair the breed’s long term abilities to see. The Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, small breeds and toys generally have issues with this condition.

Otitis Media, which is an inflammation of the middle ear is found with the breed. This can occur when a foreign object penetrate or enters the eardrum or from an infection. Symptoms include head shaking, rubbing of the head, or laboring a particular side where the location of the infection resides. Hearing loss is possible, but antibiotic treatment is necessary to help with this complication.

The English Toy Terrier may also have issues with their anal gland either from impaction or blockage, inflammatory bowel disease, blood disorders such as von Willebrand or Legg Calves Perthes.


Don’t let their small frame and height kid you, this is a dog that can jump. Some English Toy Terrier owners have to learn the hard way. That is, by tracking their dog down from a block or two away. You may have to put up adequate fencing to keep this dog within your property. A leash may also be vital for them if they have wanderlust issues. You may need to keep an eye out for smaller pet as well. This is a breed infamously with reputation for hunting rats. Birds, cats and pet mice may be at risk.

Smaller children may need supervision around this breed. This is a breed that may exude a bit of feisty behavior or aggression during play. Early socialization and training is necessary for a friendly and playful dog. With their family, this is a dog that is loyal, but with strangers, they are suspicious and aloof. It may take time for them to open up to people they don’t know.

You should give your English Toy Terrier a daily stroll. Regular exercise for mental and physical stimulation is necessary to keep them from boredom. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior.

This is a breed that wants to be a part of the family. They should be close with their master. The English Toy Terrier shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. Also, you should avoid keeping your dog out in colder weather, as their short and glossy coats aren’t custom to those temperatures.

All in all, a great family dog, that loves to be active and enjoys showing off what it learns. With a bit of positive reinforcement, this is a breed that will never stop trying to earn your love and attention.


Just how much your English Toy Terrier eats will depend on their activity rate, metabolism and age. In any case, your dog should have a formula that represents their breed size. A top quality, meat as the first ingredient small size formula should suffice this breed. This by far isn’t a picky eater, but may find themselves snacking throughout the day. 

Most English Toy Terrier owners suggest feeding 1/4 to 1 cup of dry food per day. In addition, you’ll want to break that up into two small meals per day. This helps reduce the chances of bloat, but also allows your dog to get on your schedule for feeding times. 

Of course, you should always provide your English Toy Terrier with fresh drinking water.


Regardless if you want to call them the Manchester Toy Terrier or the English Toy Terrier, this is a breed with a short, smooth and dense coat. It should run tight to their body. While the coat should shine or look glossy, it shouldn’t be soft in texture. 

Some occasional grooming entails this breed, as you’ll want to stay ahead of the game as far as shedding concerns. At least once a week will help promote better coat health and keep dead hairs at bay.

There is one color to this breed’s standard and that is, of course, black and tan.

Fun English Toy Terrier Facts

  • Breeder would crop this breed’s ears back in the 1800’s to protect them from their bouts with mice. Also, aside from killing and chasing off rats, the breed was also solid at hunting rabbit.
  • Fame physician, Dr Caius, claims that there were small Black and Tan Terriers around the Queen Elizabeth era.
  • Many people were fond of the English Toy Terrier including writer John Henry Walsh a.k.a Stonehenge, who thought the breed had just a good of a right as any breed to represent the old English Terrier. 
  • Historians believe that breeders in the 1800’s would use Chihuahuas for the breed’s smaller size. This would lead to many health issues until breeder put a halt on crossing with that breed.
  • For those keeping track: Once upon a time, this breed was the Black and Tan Terrier. Then, it was the Toy Black and Tan Terrier. In the United Kingdom,  they would give the breed the name, English Toy Terrier and the U.S. would stick with the Manchester Terrier Toy.

Closing Words

The English Toy Terrier is a resilient breed. From near extinction to their dwindling registration numbers, one thing is for sure, this breed was always be up for a fight.

Whether that be in the disgraceful rat pit, the show ring, or for survival, the English Toy Terrier is a fighter. Aside from the fight, however, this breed is warm, loving and affectionate. Fortunately, there are enough people who realize this and will keep fighting and promoting this great breed until they are no longer on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable watch list.


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