The Yorkshire terrier is a breed of dog, often referred to as the Yorkie, which originated in Yorkshire, in Northern England, during the 19th century. A small dog with a black and tan coat, the Yorkie as become a popular family pet and companion dog.
In the mid 19th century, workers from Scotland came down to Yorkshire looking for work, bringing several different kinds of small terriers with them. Breeding of the Yorkshire terrier was principally achieved by the working class, mainly from the cotton and wool mills around Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The breed comes from three different dogs, a male named Old Crab, a female called Kitty and another female whose name is not known, the Paisley terrier a smaller version of the Skye terrier, known for it’s beautiful long silky coat, was also added to the earlier versions of the breed.
In the early days, almost any dog in the shape of a terrier with a long coat which had blue on the body, or tan and fawn coloured legs and head was received and admired as a Yorkshire terrier. That was until the 1860s, when a popular Paisley type Yorkshire terrier show dog named Huddersfield Ben, owned by Mary Ann Foster, was seen at dog shows throughout Great Britain, and defined the breed type for the Yorkshire terrier.
Huddersfield Ben was a famous dog, even having his portrait painted by George Earle, and in 1891 an influential authority on the breed wrote: Huddersfield Ben was the best stud dog of his breed during his lifetime, and one of the most remarkable of any pet breed that ever lived, most of the show specimens of present day have one or more crosses of his blood in their pedigree. A show winner, Huddersfield Ben suddenly became the type of dog everyone wanted and through his puppies as defined the breed as we know it today, he is still referred to as the father of the breed.
The Yorkshire terrier was introduced to America in 1872, and the first Yorkshire terrier was registered with the American Kennel club in 1885. The Yorkshire terrier soon became a popular pet in America as well as England. The breed’s popularity declined in the 1940s when the percentage of small dog breed’s registered fell to 18% of total registrations, an all time low. After becoming famous for it’s exploits during World War II, a Yorkshire terrier called Smokey is credited with renewing interest in the breed, the American Kennel club recently ranked the Yorkshire terrier the 6th most popular pure breed in the United States of America.
For adult Yorkshire terriers the coat colour, quality and texture are important, the hair should be fine, glossy, silky and straight, traditionally the coat is grown long and parted down the middle of the back, though this must not impede movement in any way. From the back of the neck to the base of the tail, the coat should be a dark grey to black colour, with the hair on the tail being a darker black, on the head, chest and legs the hair should be a rich tan, darker at the roots.
Health issues associated with the Yorkshire terrier include Bronchitis, Lymphangiectasia which is a dilation of Lymph vessels, and Cataracts. Yorkies do have a delicate digestive system, with vomiting and diarrhea resulting from consumption of foods outside of a regular diet. The lifespan of a healthy Yorkshire terrier is 13-20 years, under-size or over-size Yorkies will generally have a shorter lifespan.
A small loyal and loving dog, the Yorkshire terrier makes an ideal family pet, it’s a playful dog that does need regular exercise, care and attention.