History Of Yorkshire Terriers

If you like to wear pearls with your jeans, you're a little bit like a Yorkie. If you like dancing in your tuxedo, you might share the soul of a Yorkie. On the outside, Yorkies are all elegance. You'll frequently see them at dog shows, gliding to Best in Show, their red ribbons sparkling and their long coats trailing behind them. But underneath that refined exterior is a game little dog whose ancestors were blue-collar ratting dogs in industrial England. If you understand the history of your little dog, you'll understand much of what makes the Yorkshire Terrier a unique, charming, and entertaining pet. Thanks to that history, these small dogs are a little bit city and a little bit country, a little bit gritty and a little bit suave.

For hundreds of years, Scots working-class people were accompanied by their terriers. The wealthy elite owned almost all the land, and only people of prosperity and high social standing were allowed to own large hunting dogs. Because rich land owners were afraid that the working class would poach on their property, poor people in Scotland were only allowed to have small dogs. The game little dogs whom these people developed, hunted all kinds of creatures, including rats, rabbits, squirrels, otters, badgers, and foxes. Life wasn't easy for these impoverished humans or their dogs. It required grit just to survive. Pound for pound, no dogs on earth are as tough or as plucky as the terriers developed by the Scots working class. Imagine the courage it took to follow a 40-pound badger with punishing claws and teeth into a den, or to take on 100 rats!

Migrating to England
When the Industrial Revolution changed the face of the world, many Scots came to Yorkshire County in northern England in the 1800s to work in the mills and the mines. Yorkshire was a rough terrain, and the cities of the time were little better, with harsh working conditions. Many of the Scots came to the northern England city of Yorkshire to work weavers in the textile mills. They brought with them their little dogs, which hunted the rats in the factories and became house pets.

We'll never know the exact mix of dogs that created the early Yorkshire Terriers, because these hard-working, blue-collar dog lovers weren't keeping the meticulous breeding records that people keep today. The breeding knowledge of these early Yorkie fanciers came from surviving a hard life, not from books. In fact, they were not breeding necessarily for size, color, or a specific appearance; they were breeding for dogs that were good game ratters-tough little dogs that could keep the city vermin at bay. These ancestors of today's Yorkies certainly earned their keep.

Inevitably, cross breeding occurred between the dogs the Scots brought to Yorkshire and the local English dogs. The Waterside Terrier, a small, longish-coated, bluish-gray dog, is said to be an ancestor of the Yorkshire Terrier. The crossing of the old rough coated black-and-tan English Terrier and the Paisley and Clydesdale Terriers-long-bodied dogs with somewhat silky coats in turn formed the Waterside Terrier. Skye Terrier, English Black & Tan Terriers, which likely gave them the coat patterns we see today. Early Yorkshire Terriers were known as Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier. Quite a bit of speculation also suggests that, in the later part of the 1800s, Maltese were introduced to the line to make the Yorkshire terrier's coat silkier.

Whatever the exact intermingling may have been, by the mid-1800s, a breed that was unique to Yorkshire county emerged: a small, game terrier with long, relatively silky hair. These dogs lived with their families, followed them to work in the mills and mines, and on weekends, provided diversion. At the time, as awful as it may seem today, it was popular to bet on all kinds of animal fights, including fights between bears and dogs and bulls and dogs. Ratting competitions were held, in which terriers were thrown in with rats, and the dog that killed the most rats in a given time won. The Yorkshire Terrier's ancestors were among the best of the ratting dogs. In fact, when your little Yorkie pounces on his favorite toy and shakes it, he's mimicking the motion that helped his ancestors kill rats.

The Yorkshire Terriers of mid-nineteenth century England weren't quite the same as the Yorkies of today. Even though differences of opinion exist, it is generally thought the larger terriers weighing approximately 12 pounds (5.4 kg.). Their coats were silky compared to other terriers, but still were coarser than contemporary dogs.

Early yorkies lived with the working class man in the clothing mills of England; this playing a big part in their size was an advantage since the dogs ate less which meant less expensive to keep.

Since larger dogs where used to develop the breed, today you are still seeing the larger Yorkies being born. Yorkies can range from 2 to 12 lbs, a few varying smaller and larger. A Yorkie, Big Boss, in 2002, Guinness world record holder as being the smallest living dog at 12 cm (5in.) tall, and Sylvia, Yorkie from England was the smallest dog in history recorded at 2.5 inches tall, weighing a simple 4 ounces. Although some people have the larger sizes, show dogs must not exceed over 7 lbs.

Temperament: The Yorkshire Terrier is tolerant of older children, provided they respect its personal space. Due to its small size and bold temperament (which arises from its working origins) the Yorkshire Terrier is not recommended for young children unless carefully supervised for they are fragile and can be easily injured. If You just have to have a Yorkie and you have small kids, then you should go with a larger Yorkie and not the tiny ones, As the larger Yorkies are more kid friendly.

Yorkies due to their small size require little exercise which makes them suitable for living in a condo or apartment and also makes them ideal for the elderly and the homebound person.

The Yorkshire Terrier is a beautiful companion, they always like to be near you whether in your lap, beside you, sleeping with you at night or in your bedroom in their own bed they‘re fine either way. The smaller ones are still capable of jumping into your lap and bed if they want to, so be aware of this as jumping up & off of high places can injure them, such as breaking a leg or causing injury to their joints.

Character: Yorkshire Terriers become attached to their families, but most maintain some measure of independence. They have a boisterous Terrier personality that far exceeds their small size. Yorkies are lively, bold, and intelligent (scoring in the top third in dog intelligence tests) they easily adapt to change and learn quickly. They bark when they sense danger. Due to their strong ‘alpha-dog’ personality, the Yorkshire Terrier, thinks that they are a big dog and WILL chase big dogs, thinking they are tough stuff, so you need to remember this when purchasing one.

Yorkies love to travel and they’re easily taken along!

Colors: Now if this dogs and maybe others were used to made-up the Yorkshire Terrier that we see today. Then it stands to reason that we can see all the different colors and textures of coats were used to develop the Yorkie breed. The many coat colors and textures may account for the differences in coat types and colors that we see in today’s breed. Color in coats can range from light silver, blue, dark steel blue, black, fawn, bronzy, tan, and gold.

Yorkies are a non-shedding dog this makes them hypoallergenic. A person with allergies or asthma can usually keep Yorkies for they have hair like people, not fur. They don’t have an undercoat like most other dogs do to keep them warm and because of this they need a pet coat for the cold weather.

They don’t have that “doggy odor” like most other dogs and are easy to keep clean. They’re gorgeous in their long coat. If you don’t have time to keep it long or are unable to, you can keep them cute in a puppy cut, Westie cut, a modified schnauzer cut, Asian Fusion cuts and so many other hair cuts now, so please be sure to ask your groomer if they know how to do those cuts for you.

Yorkies are grouped as a toy however they retain their terrier temperament and personalities. They are self-confident and not intimidated by anyone or anything, this frequently gets them into trouble. They think they are a big dog and this can be dangerous if they decide to scrap with the wrong dog. However if socialized right for the most part will get along with compatible dogs. Yorkies usually get along with other Yorkies and play very well with one another. It can be fun to watch them play and sleep together. Yorkies love to play and are very friendly to people if socialized correctly. They need to have lots of interaction with people on a daily bases, this is crucial as part of their socialization.

Written by: Deborth Wood
Most of this content above was written by Deborah Wood and some by me.

I have read and talked to some show breeders that have told me this about coat types.

Yorkie will never have is the blue merle gene and blue eyes. Yorkies do not have this gene and if someone is trying to sell you one that say it is purebred is not telling you the truth or they where told that when they bought it and didn’t do any research, also AKC will not register these colors. If you have any questions about Yorkshire Terriers you can always contact AKC.

Most vets do not know the types, colors and sizes of dogs for they do not study each breed, just the medicines and bones and insides of the dogs, most vets will learn from breeders.

Resources: Here are a few books about Yorkies:

Deborah Wood:

Howell Book House:

Dog Fancy Magazine: