|If this dog is very rare, the multiplicity of denominations with which it has been endowed in the course of its history is undoubtedly not foreign. He debuted in the world dog shows as variety of Manchester Terrier. It was later known as Black and Tan Toy, Miniature Black and Tan. Today, he is the English Black and Tan in Britain and the English Black and Fire Amenity Terrier in France and the countries that are part of the International Cynological Federation as federated members. In the United States, it is the Manchester-Terrier variety English Terrier of approval black and fire. The question of its name is therefore somewhat confusing. Yet its history is limpid and very old, although in general there is only too much tendency to make miniature breeds of "fantasies" recent.
Rats of very small size, they have existed for many centuries in many countries. It has been forgotten that this canine type played an inestimable part in the resistance to two of the great invasions which Western Europe had to undergo, and which, to be non-warlike, nevertheless had a strong impact, especially economic ones. We are talking here about the arrival in innumerable cohorts of black rats, from the eleventh century, then gray rats, or brown rats, even more formidable, because more gregarious and able to flourish in all environments, in the first part of the Eighteenth century. Without these rodents, the cat, long regarded as evil if not diabolical, could not have prospered in Europe. But the bad reputation of this feline, at first, and the invasion of the brown rat, which the cat is difficult to overcome, explain the frequent use of the canine species.
Thus, since the Middle Ages, dogs appeared most often short haired and of the smallest possible size, able to break into the most inaccessible recesses. Admittedly, their selection was only approximate, and the existence at that time of a race of ratiers well established, clearly characterized as to size and shape, can not be proved. Nevertheless, it can be considered that the dog ratier was well developed in Britain towards the end of the eighteenth century and that it appeared under types close to the current Manchester and Toy. The smaller ones, often born in normal-sized litters, were in great demand (some of them could be housed in a jacket pocket). Moreover, in 1570, in De Canibus Britannicis, famous enumeration of the British dogs of his time, the doctor Johannes Caius already evoked the rat, even specifying that it had the short hair, of black color and fire.
Ratier or Terrier? To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be remembered that the word "Terrier" should not be understood in a too restrictive sense. It evokes a type of character: thus, although the Manchester and the Toy did not usually serve to drive the fox or the badger underground, they are "true" and pure Terriers.
British ratiers are therefore found in the early nineteenth century in the large industrial cities of the central and northern counties of England. They are the favorite companions of modest people who fulfill their role as derators, they are also vigilant guardians and are not expensive to maintain. It was then that a singular "distraction" spread among their rude owners, underground miners, metalworkers, textile workers and ceramics workers: the ratiers' competitions, or ratkilling matches. This new sport was probably born in some wasteland, where two workers had to bet on the respective merits of their dogs. Soon, competitions were organized in specially designed rooms, with a pit with board walls, possibly surrounded by bleachers, especially for the comfort of a greater number of punters. The Manchester and Black English Terrier and fey (they had no name yet) were the undisputed champions of this discipline.
In 1990, we may have a bit of trouble imagining our charming and small Toy in a pit where a hundred rats are swarming! And yet, there are many chronicles that extol the exploits of these little dogs, hardly bigger - the fact is to be mentioned - than the current specimens, since their average weight was around 3 kilos.
The career of the Black and Fire English Burrow in shows and as a pleasure dog has been significantly less brilliant. Not that he has demeaned in any way. To make it presentable, moreover, it would have been enough to give a little more elegance and regularity to its lines, to revive its colors. But no doubt it was too simple.
Instead, they claimed to have been forced to resort to other breeds - King Charles Spaniel for color, Whippet or Italian Greyhound to refine his morphology and even Dachshund - all because it would have become very rare. On the verge of extinction, the English Black and Fire Amenity Terrier, while around 1850 it was still very popular? That is not likely. The reality is that we were probably embarrassed by his past ratier, modest dog par excellence, and wanted to hide it.
The breed was presented in exhibitions around 1880. Soon, smaller and smaller subjects were selected, and these fragile miniatures obtained some success around 1900. There followed certain criticisms, actually justified. It should be noted that this vogue was relatively short-lived in Toy's long history. As early as 1922, the Kennel Club gave him separate registers, and a standard amounted to a size and weight less extreme, which did not prevent to see still occasionally specimens of just 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). The ideal became a dog with a flat skull (and not an apple), with rather small eyes and almond (not globular and round), dense hair (and not rare), jaws without prognathism, regular teeth and well planted.
However, in 1922, there were no more than 36 registered subjects, the race becoming rare. Since then, she has never divested herself of a great discretion in her country. Before the Second World War, the record of inscriptions was only 135 (in 1935); after, the maximum was 185 (in 1950). To explain this rarity, we can invoke the name changes (the current date only 1962) and the draconian requirements of the standard about the dress: for no other dog (except for his cousin Manchester), the paragraph describing the color is only as long and thorough. Finally, the English Black and Fire English Terrier may lack only exoticism and extravagance!