With their long flowing silky coats, and graceful gait, head and tail proudly held high, the Yorkshire Terrier is probably the most glamorous of the Toy and Terrier breeds. The legacy of the Yorkshire Terrier originated from Yorkshire, a northern region of England. Originally bred for hunting vermin, they were used to control rats in coal mines and cotton mills of Yorkshire, England. It is said that there is some evidence that they were used to hunt other small game as well. The development of the Yorkshire Terrier started as settlers came from Scotland to Yorkshire in the 1800’s to work in the textile mills and mines, bringing with them their little dogs that hunted rats and served as their companions living with them in their homes. It will never be known for sure, due to the lack of any record keeping what exact breeds these where, as they are now extinct,evolving into other breeds, but there is no doubt they were bred for their ratting ability.
Breeding these dogs from Scotland with the dogs already in England, made up some of the original ancestors of today’s Yorkshire Terrier. Some of these breeds are thought to have been the Clydesdale Terrier (Paisleys), the Waterside Terrier and the Old English Terrier (also known as Toy Terrier, Rough and Broken Haired) and the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. It is thought that the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier was a descendent of the crossing of the Clydesdale and the Waterside Terrier.
Yorkshire Terriers were given their breed name by 1874, although it had been around since 1870, being known then as Broken Haired Scotch Terriers or Toy Terrier, Rough and Broken Haired.
One noted fancier of the breed in England that was instrumental in its development was Mrs. Jonas Foster. She was acknowledged as having brought the breed to its prominence in England, as well as being the first woman to judge at dogs shows there.
One of her dogs that she showed, along with his descendants, was her Broken Haired Scotch Terrier named Huddersfield Ben. He lived from 1865 to 1871.In 1870 and 1871 at the Crystal Palace in London, Huddersfield Ben won first and second prizes (respectively). Throughout his show career Ben won 74 prizes in all. Although between 9-12 lbs himself, he regularly sired stock that competed in the less than 7 lb limit. Ben died September 23, 1871.In spite of his short life span, living until 6 years of age due to being ran over by a horse drawn carriage, he was responsible for producing most of the foundation stock of the Yorkshire Terrier at that time. After Ben's death, his body was preserved and kept under glass, which allowed many to see this famous dog well after his untimely passing. This is a picture of Ben along with his pedigree.
The Yorkshire Terrier became its own separate recognized breed around 1870, with more and more fanciers promoting them. They became a desired pet by many women in the Victorian Era. And as with many trends from the Victorian Era, they became desired in the United States as well.
The Yorkshire Terrier was first brought to the United States around 1872. Classes for the breed have been offered at shows since 1878. Early shows divided classes by weight under 5 lbs. and 5 lbs. and over. In later shows due to the size settling in at 3 to 7 lbs. it went down to one class being offered. The Yorkshire Terrier breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. One of the first noted American Champion was in 1889 named Bradford Harry. He was the great-great-grandson of Hudderfield Ben.
During the Eisenhower regime, when many Americans were becoming first time home owners, a number of people were buying this breed of dog for the first time too. By 1960, with 1,181 new registrations, the breed had leaped 23 spaces on the American Kennel Club’s popularity list.
Today in the United State the Yorkshire Terrier is still very popular. They still hold the number 6 spot for popularity according to the American Kennel Club registry for 2013. But this is not surprising to me at least, just take a look at the well bred Yorkshire Terriers of today and it will become totally clear why they are as popular as they are !!
Here is a picture of a mondern day Yorkshire Terrier. They have come a long way from the foundation dogs in the past, but their popularity has always seemed to remain the same.