Manchester, England in the early nineteenth century was a center for two sports popular among the poor: rat killing and rabbit coursing. A particular dark brown terrier mix was one of the more celebrated rat-killing dogs used in these contests. John Hulme, a devotee of the sport, sought to improve the breed by crossing it with the Whippet. This new breed was such a hit that others continued the process, and the Manchester Terrier was born.
Rat killing eventually became illegal, but these dogs proved their worth in another way. Public inns across England were infested with rats due to poor sanitary conditions. These inns kept kennels filled with these dogs, and the Manchester Terrier proved his worth time and time again.
The name of Manchester Terrier is a bit deceiving. This kind of dog was found throughout England. The breed spread from Manchester, throughout the British Isles and eventually to the shores of the United States. The name was officially designated as Manchester Terrier in 1923, and it has remained so ever since.