The Yorkshire Terrier, also known as the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier, the Halifax Blue-and-Tan Terrier, the Yorkshire Blue-and-Tan Terrier and the Yorkie, became best known as a fashionable tiny accessory in the mid-1800s. However, its true origins lie with England's working class, particularly with miners and weavers who immigrated to England from Scotland in the mid-19th century, where it was a prized ratter. Today's Yorkie is exclusively a charming companion and a competitive show dog and is one of the world's most popular of all breeds. It has been described as being fearless, bossy, dynamic, intelligent and lively. When gaiting, a Yorkie gives the impression of being "mounted on wheels," because its feet typically are not visible under its extremely long, flowing coat. Too much coddling can lead to neurotic behaviors, such as barking and aggression, and Yorkies can be somewhat difficult to housetrain.
One particular account involving a Yorkshire Terrier helped to endear the breed to millions of people. During World War II, an American soldier named William Wynne reportedly found a tiny Yorkie bitch in a shell hole near the Japanese line in New Guinea. Wynne named her "Smokey." Smokey apparently rode in Wynne's backpack and accompanied him on 150 air raids and 12 air-sea rescue missions before the war ended. According to one author: "Yorkshire Terriers have occupied almost every environment with style and moxy, from the mine shafts of northern England to the trenches of World War II to the halls of the White House in the United States, where Richard Nixon's Yorkie, Pasha, was a regular visitor." The Yorkshire Terrier was admitted to the American Kennel Club's Toy Group in 1885.
The Yorkshire Terrier's original function was to hunt and kill rats and other rodents in the mines and cotton mills in county Yorkshire in northern England. It is thought to trace back to a small, fairly long-coated, bluish-gray dog that typically weighed about 10 pounds, called the Waterside Terrier. The Waterside Terrier was common in the Yorkshire region and was popular with miners in the West Riding area. In the middle of the 19th century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, Scottish weavers and other laborers migrated south to England in search of work. They brought with them their small Scottish terriers of non-descript heritage. In Yorkshire, these dogs were crossed with local terriers to create the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier, which became well-known as a superb ratter in local textile factories and coal mines. Over time, other crosses undoubtedly occurred. Although experts cannot agree on the Yorkie's precise ancestors, the following breeds have been suggested: the Maltese Terrier, the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Waterside Terrier, the old rough-coated Black-and-Tan English Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, the Paisley Terrier, the now-extinct long-haired Leeds Terrier and the Clydesdale Terrier. The end result of whatever crosses took place eventually was called the Yorkshire Terrier. It was larger than today's Yorkie and was tenacious enough to tackle even the largest and fiercest of rodents.
The Yorkie first appeared at a benched dog show in England in 1861, entered as a "Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier." In 1865, a dog named Huddersfeld Ben was born and eventually became known as the foundation sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed, which The Kennel Club (Kennel Club (England) recognized in 1886. In 1870, after the Westmoreland show, the breed officially became known as the Yorkshire Terrier, based on the following comment in an article written by Angus Sutherland, a reporter for The Field: "They ought no longer to be called Scotch Terriers, but Yorkshire Terriers for having been so improved there." For a time, the breed was shown as the Scotch Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier, without distinction.
Yorkies quickly became prized as fashionable companion dogs, particularly for high society ladies, as they were pretty, playful, personable and portable. Yorkies were selectively bred down in size, but their coat apparently did not shrink with their bodies. The result was the Yorkie we know today: a diminutive companion dog with a dramatic and abnormally long, metallic blue and rich golden coat. In the show ring, the Yorkie's coat usually flows (drags) along the ground and must be tied up in a number of "pony tails" to keep it tidy while waiting to enter the ring.
Yorkshire Terriers were in the United States by at least 1872, when the first Yorkie litter reportedly was born in this country. The American Kennel Club recognized the Yorkshire Terrier as a member of its Toy Group in 1885. Yorkies have been shown in America since 1878. Early classes were divided by weight: under and over five pounds. Eventually, one class for dogs 3 to 7 pounds became part of the breed standard. Puppies are born black with tan markings, but mature to a dark, almost metallic steel-blue from the top of the head to the base of the tail, with rich golden tan on the face, topknot, chest and lower legs. Tails typically are docked to a medium length.
Today's Yorkshire Terrier retains its terrier feistiness and can participate in virtually all of the activities enjoyed by larger terriers. Yorkies are bright, bold, brave and beautiful. While they are highly competitive in the conformation ring, their most common role is as a tiny, affectionate, frisky and enormously pampered pet.
The average life expectancy of the Yorkshire Terrier dog breed is between 12 and 15 years. This is on par with the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), but consistant with most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders more commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Yorkshire Terrier are as follows:
Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts.
Hypoplasia of the Dens
The personalities of individual Yorkshire Terriers depends a lot upon how they are raised. Some are more spirited and plucky like a terrier, while others are delicate divas who require the royal treatment at all times. Yorkies are what usually comes to mind when someone says, "Purse Dog," as well-to-do ladies have enjoyed carrying their Yorkie friends around in their handbags or under their arms for hundreds of years. These little dogs soak up attention and do not like to be left without companionship – even if your are only traveling to the kitchen. Owners say their Yorkies follow them from room to room like little shadows. They are excellent companions for the elderly who have the time to focus all of their energy on their dog, but can be just as happy in families of all sizes.
Yorkies do not require a lot of vigorous activity in order to remain healthy and happy. A daily stroll around the neighborhood an d some time to play every day will meet their requirements for exercise. Yorkies should always be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard when outdoors. They are scrappy little dogs who won't hesitate to pick fights with other dogs – no matter how large the dog may be – and they have a tendency to chase things.
The size of a Yorkie is very appealing to people who live in apartments and condos, and these dogs will do just fine in any sized home. All they require to thrive in life is food, water, moderate exercise and all the attention you can shower ton them.
Yorkies are moderately easy to train. They are terriers, and that means they have a stubborn, independent streak. Begin training early when your puppy is amenable to the process, and always conduct sessions with lots of praise and treats. Keep the sessions short, as Yorkies bore easily and try to vary the activity as much as possible.
House training a Yorkie ranges from easy to difficult, depending on the individual dog. Some Yorkies do not like the rain and will refuse to step outside when it is wet. Some just don't like to be told what to do, and others pick up on it in a matter of weeks. Puppy pads and canine litter boxes can help keep your carpet clean throughout the process. Some owners never get rid of the pads or boxes, because their Yorkies never fully give in to house breaking.
Socialization is important in the healthy development of a Yorkie. They are naturally suspicious of new people and will bark incessantly, and in some extreme cases, will snap. Over-sheltered Yorkies tend to be neurotic, so while it may be tempting to constantly shield your dog from the outside world, they need to exercise some independence in order to be mentally sound.
Yorkies are yappy little dogs who can set your nerves on edge. They will bark at every little sight and sound, and are often difficult to live with in an apartment building where people are constantly coming and going. It is imperative that a Yokie learn to obey commands to stop barking.
Separation Anxiety is common in Yorkshire Terriers. They get attached to the people they love and as companion dogs, believe they are fulfilling their life's duty to be in the company of people. Leaving a Yorkie alone for extended periods of time is unfair to the dog. They are better suited for retirees or families with stay at home parents than they are with people who work long hours away from home.
That of a long-haired toy terrier whose blue and tan coat is parted on the face and from the base of the skull to the end of the tail and hangs evenly and quite straight down each side of body. The body is neat, compact and well proportioned. The dog's high head carriage and confident manner should give the appearance of vigor and self-importance.
Small and rather flat on top, the skull not too prominent or round, the muzzle not too long, with the bite neither undershot nor overshot and teeth sound. Either scissors bite or level bite is acceptable. The nose is black. Eyes are medium in size and not too prominent; dark in color and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression. Eye rims are dark. Ears are small, V-shaped, carried erect and set not too far apart.
Well proportioned and very compact. The back is rather short, the back line level, with height at shoulder the same as at the rump.
Legs and Feet
Forelegs should be straight, elbows neither in nor out. Hind legs straight when viewed from behind, but stifles are moderately bent when viewed from the sides. Feet are round with black toenails. Dewclaws, if any, are generally removed from the hind legs. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed.
Docked to a medium length and carried slightly higher than the level of the back.
Quality, texture and quantity of coat are of prime importance. Hair is glossy, fine and silky in texture. Coat on the body is moderately long and perfectly straight (not wavy). It may be trimmed to floor length to give ease of movement and a neater appearance, if desired. The fall on the head is long, tied with one bow in center of head or parted in the middle and tied with two bows. Hair on muzzle is very long. Hair should be trimmed short on tips of ears and may be trimmed on feet to give them a neat appearance.
Puppies are born black and tan and are normally darker in body color, showing an intermingling of black hair in the tan until they are matured. Color of hair on body and richness of tan on head and legs are of prime importance in adult dogs, to which the following color requirements apply: Blue: Is a dark steel-blue, not a silver-blue and not mingled with fawn, bronzy or black hairs. Tan: All tan hair is darker at the roots than in the middle, shading to still lighter tan at the tips. There should be no sooty or black hair intermingled with any of the tan.
Color on Body
The blue extends over the body from back of neck to root of tail. Hair on tail is a darker blue, especially at end of tail.
A rich golden tan, deeper in color at sides of head, at ear roots and on the muzzle, with ears a deep rich tan. Tan color should not extend down on back of neck.
Chest and Legs
A bright, rich tan, not extending above the elbow on the forelegs nor above the stifle on the hind legs.
Must not exceed seven pounds.
Any solid color or combination of colors other than blue and tan as described above. Any white markings other than a small white spot on the forechest that does not exceed 1 inch at its longest dimension.
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Sources: American Kennel Club