The English Toy Terrier (ETT) is a small terrier-type dog typically weighing 3.6kg and is classified under the Toy group by the Kennel Club. It is also known as the miniature Black and Tan Terrier and in the United States, it is called the Manchester Terrier. At first glance, the ETT seems to resemble a small Doberman Pinscher, but they are entirely different breeds. It was originally bred to hunt and kill rats from the 1760s up to the 1840s. This dog is often described as alert, always on the lookout for vermin. It has a long head (used to catch prey in burrows), long narrow flat skull and wedge-shaped with tightly held jaws and compressed lips typical of a rat-hunting breed. It has dark almond-shaped eyes, slightly pointed tip ears (“candle-flame”) set high on the head and facing forward made of thin leather. The head is supported by a long neck, finely boned forequarters, a compact body and well-balanced hindquarters. The tail of the is thick at the root and tapers to a point, set low but not reaching below the hock. The coat is thick, close and shiny and comes in black and tan colour, with the tan markings being on the legs, chest, and face The ideal weight of an English Toy Terrier is 2.7 – 3.6kgs while the ideal height is between 25 – 30cms at withers.
The English Toy Terrier has its origins traced back to the Industrial Revolution when rat-infested towns were a common sight in England. These black ratting terriers were also found on farms and sailing ships during those periods. During those times, these dogs were often pitted against each other in specially made “rat pits” in the taverns to see which dog can kill the most numbers of rats in the shortest time possible. The smaller the dog, the better and more favoured it is. The winners were recorded during those times, and one dog, named “Billy” was said to have killed 100 rats in only 5.5 minutes. In 1848, a black and tan terrier named “Tiny” (who only weighs 2.5kg) was recorded to have dispatched 300 rats in less than one hour. When this “gambling” sport was made illegal, the popularity of these dogs continued albeit in a different arena – the dog show arena, that is. During the first ever all-breeds dog show, Black and Tan Terriers were displayed according to their weight until the 1920s, when the breed was divided into two, namely the Manchester Terrier and the smaller Miniature Black and Tan Terrier. In 1962 the named English Toy Terrier (Black and Tan) was adopted. Today, the English Toy Terrier is on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native breeds because of low yearly registration numbers. A program is currently being undertaken to bring back the breed to a healthy population by allowing the North American Toy Manchester Terrier to be re-registered in the UK as English Toy Terrier (Black and Tan).
Most English Toy Terriers are affectionate, alert, cheerful, friendly, gentle, intelligent, outgoing, and social. This dog will alert its owner if a stranger is nearby which makes it a good watchdog. Although it is an alert canine, it is not known to bark unnecessarily unlike other breeds. It is also generally a non-aggressive dog. This breed is not prone to chewing, unlike any other adult canines. However, as a puppy, it may have a tendency to chew on objects particularly when it is teething, so make sure it as enough teething toys to chew on.
The English Toy Terrier is an intelligent breed and generally responds to training well. However, like most other breeds, different dogs have different level of intelligence and temperament. Some ETTs are fairly easy to train while others may have a bit of stubbornness in their attitude. Training should be firm, consistent but gentle as it can be quite independent but it is naturally inquisitive. Socialisation with other house pets and other children should start at an early age.
Grooming requirement is on the lighter side of the scale. The short dense coat requires minimum attention and is quite easy to groom using a grooming mitt and a polishing cloth. The English Toy Terrier is a low-maintenance, clean little dog, so an occasional bath using a mild dog shampoo is all that is necessary. The forward-facing ears should be inspected and cleaned of any foreign debris or wax when necessary.
The English Toy Terrier is generally a very healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 – 13 years. It is prone to a disease known as the von Willebrands disease, a hereditary blood-clotting disorder. It is recommended to submit the puppy for DNA tests to make sure that it does not carry the genes that cause this genetic disorder or ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents before buying one. It is also prone to patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap), deafness, demodectic mange (demodicosis) caused by mites, Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome (LCPS) which affects the hip, heat stress and certain eye diseases.
Exercise is on the minimal side. Daily walks are recommended for the English Toy Terrier. It is a very charming and adaptable breed. It is typically inactive indoors and will do perfectly well even in a small apartment setting in the city but it will do best in a home with a secured yard where it can run and play on a daily basis. The English Toy Terrier is an undemanding breed when it comes to feeding. It has no special dietary requirements and it generally has a very good appetite so make sure to give the dog its daily dose of exercise to prevent obesity.
It is generally good with children, especially those who knows how to handle a small breed properly. However, it may not be a suitable playmate with younger kids, particularly toddlers as this breed will not tolerate rough handling or treatment. Make sure to teach small children how to properly treat the dog or supervise them when they are with each other to avoid any unnecessary behaviour. Its natural prey drive towards rats means that it must be supervised when it is around other smaller animals particularly those that closely resembles the rat, including mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.