LEARN – History of the Yorkshire Terrier

The name Yorkshire Terrier was not given to them right from the beginning. Primarily, this dog breed was called the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. It was in 1874 that the breed was officially named as the Yorkshire Terrier.
A Yorkshire Terrier dog
Yorkshire Terrier History

Yorkshire Terrier is one of the smaller dog breeds across the world. They are considered as one of the best companion dogs and a perfect pet for families. Despite their small size, these dogs are very courageous and are considered as one of the smartest dog breeds. They are incredibly energetic and seek attention, love, and adventure continuously.

These dogs are curious, and if you do not keep an eye on them, they can cause plenty of mischiefs. Even though the Yorkshire Terrier can be a bit stubborn and bold sometimes, they are, no doubt, a devoted companion and a perfect house dog.

This dog breed does not have a long history like some other famous breeds. They are developed in the 19th century in the Yorkshire region in England. Hence, the name of the place got attached to the dog breed.

Map of England with an arrow pointing to Yorkshire
Yorkshire, England

The maximum size of the Yorkshire Terriers should be around 7 pounds. The breeders took the help of this beautiful dog breed to create other popular breeds, like the Silky Terrier. This dog comes with a grey, black or tan coat, and is lovingly called Yorkie. Most people, who own Yorkshire Terriers, generally have two in their possessions. The Yorkshire Terriers suffer from separation anxiety and do not enjoy staying alone.

History

The history of the breed, even though it’s not that long, it’s extremely colourful. As we have already mentioned, the location of the origin of the Yorkshire Terriers also lends its name to the breed. The breeders created the Yorkshire Terriers by combining different smaller terrier breeds.

The name Yorkshire Terrier was not given to them right from the beginning Primarily, this dog breed was called the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. After that, these dogs were also known as the toy Terrier. It was in 1874 that the breed was officially named as the Yorkshire Terrier.

This dog breed started its journey as a hunter of the small vermins. From there to become one of the most popular dogs, the Yorkies have certainly come a long way. Let’s get to know this exciting history of the Yorkshire Terriers in a little bit more details.

Mid 1800s-1900

Yorkshire Terrier dog with text Mid 1800s-1900
A Yorkshire Terrier dog – Mid 1800s-1900

The creation of the Yorkshire Terrier breed is intricately linked with the socio-economical and political turmoil of Europe during this period. During the middle of the 19th century, England was at the top of the industrial revolution and wanted lots of workers for its mills and the mines. A group of workers came from Scotland to a Northern County of England known as Yorkshire to work on the mills.

These workers brought several types of small terriers with them. These workers, who mostly worked as the operators at the cotton and woollen mills, principally conducted the breeding of these terriers in the Lancashire as well as Yorkshire counties. The workers wanted to create a dog breed that solved their problems of rats. So, they bred Black and Tan terriers with the Clydesdale Terriers and Paisley Terriers. However, the accurate details of this breeding process are scarce.

One of the quotes that are found during this time was of Mrs A Foster. She said that the workers who worked in the mill created the Yorkshire Terrier breed were all uneducated men. They were not familiar to imparting any useful information about the breed for use by the public. She thought that is one of the reasons why there are so little details about the origin of these terrier dogs.

The little information that does exist indicates that the Yorkshire Terrier comes from three types of dogs. A male dog, called Old crab, a female dog was called Kitty, and yet another female dog whose name was not much known.

There is a smaller sort of the well-known Skye Terrier known as the Paisley Terriers. These dogs were generally mated for the long and silky coat. In the early days of the Yorkshire Terrier breed, these terriers were also figured into the pool. Some of the dog breeding authorities think that the Maltese were also used for creating the Yorkshire Terrier breed. All of these terriers were originally mate from the Scotch Terriers, the terriers that came from Scotland.

As these terriers loved to hunt the rats, they were used to taking to the fields and mines to do just that. So, the Yorkies started to show even more keen interest in hunting. So much so that some hunters used to take the Yorkshire Terriers in their coat pockets while going fox hunting. Another characteristic of the Yorkshire Terriers is their courage. They did not care when the animals got aggressive to protect their young. The terrier used to go right at its target without even showing the slightest care for the reaction of the animal they are hunting.

The 1860’s

In the beginning, any breed with a shape of terrier and had a long coat with blue on the body; it was considered the Yorkshire Terrier. However, in the 1860s, a popular Paisley type show dog was given the name Huddersfield Ben. It was seen at different dog shows throughout Great Britain as a Yorkshire Terrier. This appearance was what defined the breed type of Yorkshire Terriers.

1871

Huddersfield Ben became the foundation sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed. The dog was named after the town in the country of Yorkshire, where he was born. The dog became one of the well known Yorkshire Terriers of that time, and he won more than 70 dog show events and numerous ratter contests.
During that time, Ben became one of the most sought after stud dog. While he was rather large at 11 pounds, he was known for consistently producing litters that were under 5 pounds of weight and fit the breed standards of the time. Ben passed away in 1871 at the age of 6 years. The history of Yorkshire Terrier breed is incomplete without elaborating the impact Ben had had on it.

Throughout this time, the Yorkshire Terrier breed enjoyed massive popularity in England. In the Victorian Era, the Yorkshire Terriers were mostly bred for the upper-class society. The unique beauty of these terriers helped them to gain acceptance from the high-class people. As the popularity of Yorkshire Terriers soared in England, it’s news carried over into America as well. From 1872, the Yorkshire Terriers started to come to America. By 1878, the American Kennel Club recognised the breed.

1878

This breed was called Yorkshire Terrier as this breed was improved in this location. During this time, the Yorkshire Terriers were brought in the dog show categories as the Broken Haired Scotch, Rough and Broken Coated, and Yorkshire Terriers. In 1878, Hugh Dalziel wrote that the classifications of these dogs in the Kennel Club books and the stud shows are very confusing, as well as absurd.

The 1940s

Yorkshire Terrier dog with text The 1940s
A Yorkshire Terrier dog – Mid The 1940s

During this time, the popularity of the Yorkshire Terriers started to drop. However, it was a dog called smokey who helped to bring the breed back into favour.

Smokey was a famous dog from World War II. She served with the 5th Air force in the Pacific and was considered a hero of the war. An American Soldier William Wyne found Smokey in a shell hole near the Japanese lines in New Guinea. When she discovered, she did not understand any command given in either English or Japanese. However, Smokey quickly became an intricate part of the troop and went on more than 150 air raids and 12 sea missions with them. She even withstood a treacherous typhoon while serving in Okinawa.

During her service, she quickly learned some exciting tricks and used those to amuse the soldiers. Not only that, but she also helped the signal Corps by carrying telegraph wire through a 70-foot long pipe of 8 inches width. There is no doubt that more soldiers would have been killed if Smokey was not there to help them out.

Smokey’s lack of fear was exhibited when she jumped off a 30 feet tower with a parachute made especially for her. Once the war was over, Smokey visited the veterans in different hospitals along with her owner.

1984

In 1984, the Yorkshire Terrier got the credit of forming another new dog breed, known as the Biewer Terrier. This breed was first called the Biewer Yorkshire Terrier. This breed was born to two Yorkies with a very rare coloured coat. This is the reason why it took American Kennel Club 30 years to accept the Biewer Terriers.

A Biewer Terrier dog
A Biewer Terrier dog

2012-2013

Yorkshire Terrier dog with text 2012-2013 Ranked 6TH
A Yorkshire Terrier dog – Ranked 6TH between 2012-2013

Yorkshire terriers were ranked as the 6th most popular purebred dog in the United States By the American Kennel Club.

The Yorkshire Terriers that we know today are a slightly smaller version of their original breed. Although the Yorkshire Terriers started its journey as ratters, they are now considered as the most popular companion dogs in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Conclusion

Along with its beauty, energy, the intelligence of the toy-sized breed helped it to win the hearts of the thousands of people for centuries. These dogs are very vocal, which makes them excellent guard dogs as well. All in all, the silky coats, the loving nature, and the courage of the little dogs make it one of the most straightforward companions. As these dogs suffer from separation anxiety, they are good with families, and older kids and other pets. So, if you want to get a companion to your home who would love and adore you beyond all boundaries, the Yorkshire Terriers will be your best choice.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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