The History of the Yorkie
The Yorkshire Terrier has been around for a very, very long time and didn't always look and behave the way we experience them today. For centuries, small terrier dogs of various kinds have been common in the British Isles. Larger dog breeds, like hunting dogs, could only be kept by people who owned their land. Workers and "serfs" were only allowed to have smaller dogs. The landowners were worried that if they allowed their staff to have larger hunting and working dogs, they'd use them to hunt game on their property—which is obviously not something they wanted. As a result, workers used to have smaller terrier dogs that helped them keep pests like rats and mice under control.
Then, the Industrial Revolution happened and people—especially of families who worked the lands for generations—flocked to the factories and mills in the hope that they could inprove their life situations. Families coming from other Isles like Scotland, brought along their own breeds of small dogs like the Clydesdale Terrier and the Paisley Terrier. The Clydesdale terriers had silky coats and weighed around 5kg (12 lbs) while the Paisley terriers had Blue and Tan coats and weighed around 3kg (6 lbs).
It is believed that these two breeds were used to produce a silky-coated, smaller terrier that was extremely capable of catching rats, mice and other small pests. Since this was so long ago, pedigrees were'nt really kept as owners didn't know how to read or were illiterate. Through history, passed down by word of mouth, it is believed that they even crossed breeds with English Black and Tan Terriers, Maltese Terriers, Toy Terriers and some other unknown or mixed breeds.
Over time the breed started to standardise, with a more consistent size, coat type and colour. It initially was know as the Broken Haired Scottish Terrier around the mid-1880's and then was formally recognized as the Yorkshire Terrier in 1886 by the British Kennel Club.
The "Father" of the Yorkshire Terrier
Hudderfield Ben has been called the 'sire' of the Yorkshire Terrier we know and love today. He would compete often in conformation dog shows and Rat-killing contests where he would win often.
A Terrier's Personality
Since small terriers were bred to control small vermin and pests, they had to adopt a personality that was clearly bigger than themselves. Half the dog, twice the heart—definitely a good way to describe these little terriers! In those times, it couldhappen often that a family was low on food and the little Yorkshire Terrier was usually left to fend for themselves—something they were extremely good at from years of perfected breeding.
Once the breed was recognised by the British Kennel Club, the popularity of the Yorkshire Terrier started to climb. Ladies from wealthier families kept Yorkies as both companions and rat catchers in their rooms. In the early 1930's, there were less than 500 registered Yorkshire Terriers. Jump 25 years later and that number increased to over 2000 registered. And by the 1970's the Yorkshire Terrier became the most popular dog in England—and it's not difficult to understand why!
Today's Yorkshire Terrier
It's evident that the Yorkie's popularity hasn't fizzled away, and is still popular today as it's ever been. People love the appealing, attractive appearance of Yorkshire Terriers—and coupled with their amazing personalities and small size, they seem to be the perfect dog for many people around the world.