Developed in the early 19th century in Yorkshire and adjoining Lancashire, England; the Yorkshire Terrier, commonly called a ‘Yorkie’, of today is very different from the early Yorkshire Terriers of the North of England. Commonly cited as being somewhat of a mystery, the story of the breeds development and early history tends to vary from once source to the next. It has been suggested that a number of breeds such as English Black and Tan Toy Terriers, Skye Terriers, Maltese and even King Charles Spaniels were involved in the creation of the Yorkshire Terrier as we know it today. Adding further murk to the already cloudy waters surrounding the breeds that went into its construction, they (the antecedents of the Yorkie) were known under a variety of names throughout history and most are currently extinct. This would probably explain the reason that the majority of present day writers simply write “unknown”, to describe the breeds that went into its development and for those modern authors that do dare to have an opinion there inevitably seems to be another willing to refute it.
In beginning to delve into the true history and the breeds that went into the development of the Yorkshire Terrier, we (in modern times) have the advantage of being able to quote from various early writers. That may due to their living in the times of the breeds development have had the fortune acquiring first or second hand relevant information as to the true origin of the breed. That being said and before committing to any opinion concerning this important topic, it is desirable to read the accounts provided by these early authors based on their experience and investigations over a century ago. One of the first authors to put an opinion to paper was John Henry Walsh, who wrote under the pseudonym of “Stonehenge"; in his 1878 work “The dogs of the British Islands: being a series of articles on the points of their various breeds, and the treatment of the diseases to which they are subject” wrote of the Yorkshire Terrier:
"This terrier is a genuine product of the county from which he takes his name. Undoubtedly a manufactured article, and the most recent addition to our varieties, he may be described as the newest goods of this class from the Yorkshire looms; with the greater propriety that his distinctive character is in his coat—well carded, soft, and-long as it is, and beautifully tinted with "cunning Huddersfield dyes," and free from even a suspicion of "shoddy."
“Visitors to our dog shows who look out for the beautiful as well as the useful cannot fail to be attracted by this little exquisite, as he reclines on his cushion of silk or velvet, in the centre of his little palace of crystal and mahogany, or struts round his mansion with the consequential airs of the dandy that he is; yet, with all his self-assertion of dignity, his beard of approved cut and colour, faultless whiskers of Dundreary type, and coat of absolute perfection, without one hair awry, one cannot help feeling that he is but a dandy after all. . . .whilst, in striking contrast, those every-day drudges, the Irish terriers and the Scotch terriers, with their coarse, ragged, unkempt coats, will be exhibited as the " bog trotters " and " stock o' duds" sects of the doggy family.
“Although so very modern, it is difficult to trace satisfactorily the pedigree of this breed; indeed, pedigree he may be said at present to have none, and it is hard to say out of what materials he was manufactured; but the warp and woof of him appear to have been the common long-coated black and tan, and the lighter-coloured specimens of what is known as the Glasgow or Paisley Skye terrier, the former of no certain purity, and the latter an admitted mongrel; and from which I think the Yorkshire gets the softness and length of coat due to Maltese blood. In shape this dog is in the proportion of height to length between the Skye and English terrier—rather nearer to the latter. . . . coat and colour; the coat must be abundant over the whole body, head, legs, and tail, and artificial means are used to encourage its growth; length and straightness, freedom from curl and waviness, being sought for; the body colour should be clear, soft, silvery blue, of course varying in shade; with this is preferred a golden tan head, with darker tan about the ears, and rich tan legs. . . . When the pups are born they are black in colour, as are pepper Dandie Dinmonts and others.
“Of the oldest dogs of note of this breed were Walshaw's Sandy, Ramsden's Bounce, Inman's Don, Burgess's Batty, and the celebrated Huddersfield Ben. . . . and he, sharing the blood of three of the above, proved the best of his day, and there is now scarcely a dog exhibited that is not a descendant of Ben. . . . The classification of these dogs at shows and in the Kennel Club Stud Book is confusing and absurd, as shown by the fact that some of the above, all being of the same breed and blood, are classed as Yorkshire terriers; others as rough or broken-haired toy terriers. It would be much better to divide them by weight, and classify them as large and small Yorkshire terriers.”
Another famed 19th century authority on dogs was author Vero Shaw, who wrote in his 1881 book “The Illustrated Book of the Dog”, on the topic of Yorkshire Terriers that:
“The origin of the breed is most obscure, for its originators Yorkshire like were discreet enough to hold their own counsel, and kept their secrets to themselves. Whether this reticence on their part has had the effect of stifling the inquiries of curious persons, or whether the merits of the breed have hitherto been sufficiently unappreciated by the public, we can not pretend to say; but we are aware of no correspondence or particular interest having been taken on the subject of the Yorkshire Terrier's origin.
“In certain works on the dog, however, deductions have been drawn which no doubt are more or less worthy of respect. The Black and Tan Terrier, the Skye, and the Maltese are all credited with the paternity of the Yorkshire Terrier. That the breed in question resembles the Skye in certain details is evident, but in many important points the two varieties vary widely. For instance, the back of the Yorkshire Terrier must be short and the back of a Skye Terrier long; so as regards shape, at least, the Yorkshire man can not be accused of a great resemblance to his northern neighbor. In our eyes the breed much more closely resembles the Maltese dog, save in color; but there is no doubt that some of our more typical breeds of 'Terriers have been also drawn upon for his production. Many persons who are ignorant on "doggy" subjects persistently confuse the Yorkshire with what they term the "Scotch Terrier," thereby meaning the Skye, we presume. There is, however, no visible ground or reason ever given for their opinions, which are certainly based on error, and ignorance of the subject.
“Before leaving the subject of the Yorkshire Terrier's origin, it may be remarked that the puppies are born black in color, as are Dandy Dinmonts, and do not obtain their proper shade of coat until they are some months old. Searchers after the truth may here discover some connection, which we ourselves confess we do not, between the Yorkshire and Dandy Dininont Terriers, in consequence of this peculiarity in the young of both varieties.”
Mr. Hugh Dalziel, in his 1879 work "British dogs; their varieties, history, characteristics, breeding, management and exhibition," said of the breeds origin:
“This dog long went by the name of Rough or Scotch Terrier, and many dog-show committees in issuing their schedules still include them under that heading; but to call them Scotch is quite a misnomer, the true Scotch Terrier being a much rougher, shorter, and harder coated dog, of greater size and hardiness, and altogether a rough-and-tumble vermin dog. with no pretensions to the beauty and elegance of the little "Yorkshire swell," so that it is rather startling to find this petit exquisite still called a Scotch terrier in the catalogue of such an important and excellently managed show as that of Darlington. The Kennel Club, and others who have followed them, in making a class for these dogs, and naming it Yorkshire terriers, have yielded to the persistence of the " Country " in pointing out the absurdity of the misnomer in general use. ...That the Yorkshire Terrier should have been called Scotch by those who, although they may have the credit of producing this dog, probably did not know of the existence of the real Scotch Terrier as a breed, suggests that at least a Terrier of Scotland has had something to do with his manufacture.
“Now, among Terriers recognized as Scotch, if not now peculiar to the country, we have the old hard, short coated Scotch Terrier par excellence ; the short-legged and mixed-coated Dandie; the Skyes, with long, weasel-like bodies, and long, hard coat ; and the perky little prick-eared, hard and short coated Aberdonian ; and, in addition, the Glasgow or Paisley Skye, a more toyish dog, shorter in back, and comparatively soft and silky in coat, which it probably inherits from a Maltese Terrier cross. My theory, then, respecting the origin of the Yorkshire Terriers (and I admit it is only a theory, for the most diligent and repeated inquiries on my part in all likely or promising quarters have failed in elucidating reliable facts, and none, certainly, contradictory to my views) is that the dog was what gardeners call "a sport " from some lucky combination of one of the Scotch Terriers either the genuine Skye or Paisley Toy and one of the old soft and longish coated black-and-tan English Terriers, at one time common enough, and probably a dash of Maltese blood in it.”
In his 1887 article for the magazine “English Stock-Keeper”, author G.H. Wilkinson provides a fairly detailed opinion as to what he believes the true origin of the breed to be:
“In commencing an article on the Yorkshire Terrier, it is necessary to trace back its origin as far as possible. With this object in view, I have been at some trouble in looking up several old fanciers, one of whom, John Richardson, of Halifax, is now in his sixty-seventh year. And very interesting it was to hear this aged man go back to the "good old days" of over half a century ago. I regret, however, that, although we can find men who have been in the fancy so long, the origin of the Yorkshire Terrier is somewhat obscure. Fifty years ago, there was in Halifax, and the immediate neighborhood, a type of dog called at that time (and even within these last twenty years) a " Waterside Terrier; " a little game dog, varying in weight from six to twenty pounds, mostly about ten pounds weight a dog resembling very much the present Welsh and Airedale Terrier on a small scale. At this period, these dogs were bred for the purpose of hunting and killing rats. They would go into the river and work with a ferret, and were just in their element when put into a rat-pit. An almost daily occurrence, at that time, was to back them to kill a given number of rats in a given time. It seems almost a pity that such a breed should have become extinct.
“Mr. Richardson himself owned a little bitch called Polly, who weighed six pounds, and she was frequently put into a rat-pit with a dozen rats, the whole of which she would speedily kill against time. She would also swim the river and hunt with the ferret. This little bitch, I am told, had four or five inches of coat on each side of her body, with a white or silver head. At that time, however, the average specimen was a shorter-coated dog, with grizzle-gray, hardish coat. It however seems to me, and is also the opinion of many old fanciers whom I have consulted, that they were the ancestors for the present breed. There is no doubt, also, that the blood of the Skye Terrier was introduced at some remote period, which may account for the longer coat and long body that existed some ten or fifteen years later. No care or definite object, however, seems to have been aimed at in breeding, at this time, beyond getting a dog thoroughly game. It seems that it was more by good luck than management that, about twenty or thirty years ago, a longer and softer coated dog became known. It must also be borne in mind that at this time their coats were not cultivated as they were later on. Dog shows were almost unknown in those days, and even later were scarce.
Author Rawdon B. Lee in his 1894 work “A history and description of the modern dogs of Great Britain and Ireland - The terriers” alludes to the possibility that based on information he obtained from one of the first Yorkie breeders that the breed originated in Scotland and was in fact the result of an accidental mating between a “silky-coated Skye terrier (the Clydesdale) and the black and tan terrier”:
“THE charming, aristocratic little dog we now know as the Yorkshire terrier has been identified as such for but a comparatively short period, the Kennel Club adopting this nomenclature in their Stud Book for 1886. Prior to this date the name had been hanging about him for some few years, because the names of rough, broken-haired, or Scotch terrier, under which he was first known, were most misleading. During the early days of dog shows the classes in which he competed included terriers of almost any variety, from the cross-bred mongrel to the Dandie Dinmont, the Skye terrier, and the Bedlington. Indeed, twenty years since it was no uncommon sight to see wire-haired fox terriers figuring with others of a silkier coat under the one common head of "rough or broken-haired terriers." As a fact, a broken-haired terrier should have been altogether a short-coated dog the Yorkshire is long-coated to a greater extent than any other variety of the terrier; nor was the title Scotch terrier, by which he was most frequently known, at all adaptable to him.
“How the name of Scotch terrier became attached to a dog which so thoroughly had its home in Yorkshire and Lancashire is somewhat difficult to determine, if it can be determined at all, but a very old breeder of the variety told me that the first of them originally came from Scotland, where they had been accidentally produced from a cross between the silky-coated Skye terrier (the Clydesdale) and the black and tan terrier. One could scarcely expect that a pretty dog, partaking in a degree after both its parents, could be produced from a first cross between a smooth-coated dog, and a long-coated bitch or vice versa. Maybe, two or three dogs so bred had been brought by some of the Paisley weavers into Yorkshire, and there, suitably admired, pains were taken to perpetuate the strain. There appears to be something feasible and practical in this story, and I am sorry that when the information was given me, nearly a quarter of a century since, by a Yorkshire weaver then sixty years old and since dead, I did not obtain more particulars about what was in his day called the Scotch terrier.”
After reading the differing accounts of these early 19th century writers, it is fairly easy to see why many modern authors feel that there is a great deal of uncertainty and mystery surrounding the origin of the Yorkshire Terrier. Especially when one considers the fact that these early authors, the breed historians of their time, who actually had the advantage of being able to communicate with and ask questions of original breeders and fanciers at dog shows of the time where unable themselves, to come to a decisive conclusion. Looking further into the subject using the advantages of modern technology and the ability to scan through volumes of historical documents in a short amount of time we do; however, find that there were lesser known dissenting authors that may have in fact gotten it right. As published in the Century Magazine of 1886, an article by Mr. James Watson is the first to actually provide factual information about the breeds origin based upon pedigree information:
“Some of our authorities have attempted to throw a great deal of mystery about the origin of the Yorkshire Terrier, where none really exists. If we consider that the mill operatives who originated the breed by careful selection of the best long-coated small Terriers they could find were nearly all ignorant men, unaccustomed to imparting information for public use, we may see some reason why reliable facts have not been easily attained. These early writers show but little knowledge of the possibilities of selection. Stonehenge, (referring to John Henry Walsh) for instance, in his early editions, speaks of its being impossible for a dog with a three-inch coat and seven-inch beard to be a descendant of the soft-coated Scotch Terrier, without a cross of some kind. The absurdity of this is seen when we remember that within a few years of the date of his history, Yorkshire Terriers were shown with twelve inches of coat.
“Then, again, he speaks of the King Charles Spaniel as being employed to give the blue and tan, than which a more ridiculous statement could not have been penned. To get a blue-and-tan, long, straight, silky coat, breeders were not likely to employ a black-and-tan dog with a wide chest, tucked-up loin, a round, bullet head, large, protruding eyes, and heavy Spaniel ears. The idea is too absurd to be entertained for a moment. As arrayed against all the conjectures of theorists, I have in my possession a letter from Mrs. M. A. Foster, of Bradford, England, who in writing of the dog Bradford Hero, the winner of ninety-seven first prizes, says: " The pedigree of Bradford Hero includes all the best dogs for thirty-five years back, and they were all originally bred from Scotch Terriers, and shown as such until a few years back. The name of Yorkshire Terrier was given to them on account of their being improved so much in Yorkshire."
It may be, that renowned authors such as Shaw, Lee, Wilkenson, Dalziel and Walsh, were not trying to heighten the breeds mystique as implied by Watson but they were simply unable to reach the correct conclusion about the Yorkshire Terriers origin due to a lack of available information. About a year after Watson’s article in Century Magazine, his opinions were in part substantiated by Mr. Ed. Bootman, of Halifax, England in his article for the English Stock-Keeper which claimed to know not only the types of dogs used to create the Yorkie, but also their names:
“Swift's Old Crab, a cross-bred Scotch Terrier, Kershaw's Kitty, a Skye, and an old English Terrier bitch kept by J. Whittam, then residing in Hatter's Fold, Halifax, were the progenitors of the present race of Yorkshire Terriers.
“These dogs were in the zenith of their fame forty years ago. The owner of Old Crab was a native of Halifax, and a joiner by trade. He worked at Oldham for some time as a journeyman, and then removed to Manchester, where he kept a public house. Whether he got Crab at Oldham or Manchester I have not been able to ascertain. He had him when in Manchester, and from there sent him several times to Halifax on a visit to Kitty. The last visit would be about 1850.
“Crab was a dog of about eight or nine pounds weight, with a good Terrier head and eye, but with a long body, resembling the Scotch Terrier. The legs and muzzle only were tanned, and the hair on the body would be about three or four inches in length. He has stood for years in a case in a room of the Westgate Hotel, a public house which h]s owner kept when he returned to his native town, where, I believe, the dog may be seen to-day.
“Kitty was a bitch different in type from Crab. She was a drop-eared Skye, with plenty of coat of a blue shade, but destitute of tan on any part of the body. Like Crab, she had no pedigree. She was originally stolen from Manchester and sent to a man named Jackson, a saddler in Huddersfield, who, when it became known that a five-pound reward was offered in Manchester for her recovery, sent her to a person named Harrison, then a waiter at the White Swan Hotel, Halifax, to escape detection; and from Harrison she passed into the hands of Mr. J. Kershaw, of Beshop Blaise, a public house which once stood on the Old North Bridge, Halifax. Prior to 1851 Kitty had six litters, all of which, I believe, were by Crab. In these six litters she had thirty-six puppies, Twenty-eight of which were dogs, and served to stock the district with rising sires. After 1851, when she passed into the possession of Mr. F. Jaggar, she had forty-four puppies, making a total of eighty.
“Mr. Whittam's bitch, whose name I can not get to know, was an old English Terrier, with tanned head, ears, and legs, and a sort of grizzle back. She was built on the lines of speed. Like the others, she had no pedigree. She was sent when a puppy to the late Bernard Hartley, of Allen Gate, Halifax, by a friend residing in Scotland. When Mr. Hartley had got tired of her, he gave her to his coachman, Mason, who in turn gave her to his friend Whittam, and Whittam used her years for breeding purposes. Although this bitch came from Scotland, it is believed the parents were from this district."
This last account, which fully identifies the first three dogs, who owned them, their characteristics and history should leave but little doubt as to the true origin of the Yorkshire Terrier. That, however, is not the case and some modern authors still engage in the offering of dissenting opinions as to what breeds were involved in its creation. Of these, they most often offer up the Waterside Terrier, also called the Otter Terrier; a known antecedent of the modern Airedale Terrier as another possible progenitor to the breed. The common mentioning of the Waterside Terrier may be that it; although not a direct contributor, more than likely was used in the creation of the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier (a direct contributor to the Yorkie and whose name was for a while an alias of the Yorkshire Terrier) through crosses with the Clydesdale (Silky Coated Sky Terrier). The confusion could also be due in part to the fact that the Waterside Terrier as mentioned by Wilkinson and the three breeds cited by Bootman, are all themselves of origins for the most part unknown, went by a variety of different names in numerous locales during different periods of time and are all currently extinct.
Additionally the Yorkshire Terrier had a variety of aliases during the early years, when they were known as Broken Haired Scotch Terriers, Toy Rough Terriers, Blue and Fawn Terriers, and Broken Haired Toy Terriers, among others; not picking up the official breed name of today until 1870 after a show in Westmoreland, when Angus Sutherland a reporter for The Field magazine said that "they ought no longer be called Scotch Terriers, but Yorkshire Terriers for having been so improved there."
In responding to Bootmans article and his reveal of the three dogs he claimed responsible for the Yorkshire Terrier, author George O. Shields (1846-1925), says in his 1891 work, "The American book of the dog. The origin, development, special characteristics, utility, breeding, training, points of judging, diseases, and kennel management of all breeds of dogs":
“The development since that time judging from an examination of the pedigrees of the most prominent dogs of the breed has been the result of judicious selection from and breeding with dogs that most nearly approached what fanciers and breeders thought ought to be the type; and it is probable that so long as a dog of this breed was known to have some of the blood of the original Old Crab, Kershaw's Kitty, and Whittam's bitch the sole progenitors of the breed, former breeders did not inquire too curiously into the pedigree of all the dogs used. This seems to be a reasonable supposition, and should fully account, in the case of some prominent dogs, for the lack of a complete pedigree running back to the three dogs above named. It is a well-established fact that the principal strains have been most jealously guarded by the people in the north of England.
“In noting the development of the breed up to its present standard, it may be stated, to commence with, that it has been principally accomplished by the people mostly operatives in cotton and woolen mills in the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, England, where it originated. Unfortunately, at its first appearance at our shows, almost anything in the shape of a Terrier having a long coat, with some shade or effect of blue on the body, fawn or silver more frequently the latter colored head and legs, with tail docked and ears trimmed, was received and admired as a Yorkshire Terrier by most everyone except the few competent judges; and the breed, fashionable as it is, is still much neglected in this country, for the reason that its care is not so well understood as that of many other breeds, and a good specimen soon loses its fine show condition by reason of lack of that regular and well-directed care necessary to cultivate and keep the coat looking right.”
One thing that is apparently not disputed is the role that Huddersfield Ben (mentioned in the 1878 work of Walsh) played in creating the modern Yorkshire Terrier. The universally acknowledged foundation sire of the breed, he was, according to pedigree, a product of linebreeding (mother-son pairing) and a direct descendent (great-great-great-grandson) of Mr. J. Swift’s Old Crab. Born in 1865, Ben was successful in both the show ring and in ratting contests. Registered in the Kennel Stud Book as #3612, his debut in the ring was at Manchester, in 1869 where he won second price as a "Scotch Terrier". He would show again the following year at Manchester, this time taking first place. At the Crystal Palace dog shows in 1870 and 1871 Ben took first and second prizes (respectively). Throughout his show career Ben would win an impressive 74 prizes. His winning ways and reputation as one of the first to breed true to type Yorkshire Terriers made him an extremely popular stud dog. Although his lifespan was short (at the age of 6, Ben was run over by a carriage and killed) he is credited with siring most of the foundation stock for the Yorkshire Terrier.
In Sam Jessop’s 1902 book “The Yorkshire Terrier”, the first book written specifically on the breed he says:
"Huddersfield Ben has been given the title of father of the Broken Haired Scotch and Yorkshire Terriers and pedigrees of his progeny prove this point. He was no flyer, but the result of the manufacturers of the breed. He was totally in-bred and he passed his best factors to his children. His merits as a show dog found him at great request as a stud, and luckily he possessed the rare trait of transmitting his virtues to his progeny. He was a great sire, one of those animals who make the history of the breed and whose influence is apparent generations after the progenitor has passed away".
Going a bit beyond the scope of this article, let’s take a brief look at the history of the breeds that are said to have shared responsibility for the creation of the Yorkshire Terrier. In covering this, it should become readily apparent as to why there is so much confusion. First, we find that even prior to the above authors writings that a parallel breeding program was underway in Australia that would eventually lead to the development of the Silky Coated Terrier; a breed that is very close in appearance to the modern Yorkshire Terrier and almost genetically identical. The Australian program is also believed to have been started from English stock; Specifically Broken coated Terriers that had emigrated into Tazmania, Australia sometime before 1820. According to the book “The Australian Terrier and The Australian Silky Terrier” by author W. A. Wheatland, published in 1964:
“Mr. Scott of Ross, Tasmania, whose family has resided in the district for over a hundred years, stated: "It is known that sometime prior to 1820, the free settlers of the midlands of Tasmania in the areas of Campbelltown and Ross successfully bred Broken Coated terrier Dogs of a blue-sheen body color, with tan legs and face and weighing approximately seven to ten pounds. In those days, marauding Aboriginals, bush-rangers and escaped convicts were prevalent in these districts. It was the unerring and uncanny instinct of these Blue and Tan terriers to detect the approach of strangers at great distances that made them a prized possession as watchdogs and safeguards around the home. They were extremely hard to come by, the individual strains being most jealously guarded." He goes on to state “These were terriers brought from England”
From here it gets even more confusing, as we are left to decipher why John Henry Walsh in the 1885 edition of his work stated that there was at the time a terrier from Australia in England that seemed to be a cross with a Yorkshire. The two most popular theories to explain the emergence of this new Australian Terrier are first that from 1820-1840, the aforementioned Australian Broken-Coated Terriers were exported back to England where they were mated with the Dandy Dinmont Terrier, to create a Yorkie like breed (possibly early Silky Coated Terriers). Or that sometime in the 1870’s the wife of a hospital superintendent acquired a pair of Broken-Coated Terriers in Australia, bred a litter there and brought the puppies back to England with her upon her return where she continued breeding them. Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence to prove either theory and we are simply left with Walsh having made mention of their existence. There is even a third lesser known theory that contends these early Aussie Terriers had nothing to do with the development of the Yorkshire Terrier in England and they along with the Australian Silky Terrier are all but descendants of Punch, a close relative of Huddersfield Ben, who became the first official Yorkshire Terrier recorded in Australia in 1872.
Could these early Australian Broken-Coated Terriers have been included into the breeding program of what would become the Yorkshire Terrier or did they play no part at all? Both are certainly possible and would depend upon when they actually reached England; the early or late 19th century.
Heading back to the three breeds mentioned by Bootman, let us first take a look at the Skye Terrier, known as such since the late 16th century. A breed supposedly developed after a shipwreck near the Island of Skye in Scotland brought a number of Maltese like dogs to shore in the 1500's. These dogs were then said to have bred with a common type of terrier found on the island, and the Skye Terrier was a result. It is well documented that this breed existed in two distinct forms, a long harsh haired variety and a long silky coated variety; with the coat color of both types being dark or light blue, gray, fawn or tan with black points. With the emergence of dog shows in the 1860’s, Skye Terriers being a relative unknown; both coat types were originally shown under the name Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. Fanciers were not exactly fond of this and lobbied for and eventually won the right to show them as Skye Terriers. Following this and not at all uncommon among breed fanciers conflict arose between the respective breeders of both coarse and silky coat types as to which was or should be considered correct for the Skye Terrier breed. The end result being that the breeders of the silky coated variety were disallowed, partly due to the fact that they continually took the prize over their harsh coated counterparts. Thus the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier or Sky Terrier continued on as a harsh haired variety.
Silky Coated Terrier breeders, having gotten the boot from the show ring as Broken Haired Scotch Terriers subsequently renamed their type based on color and began showing them as either a Clydesdale Terrier (blue and tan) or Paisley Terrier (all blue); creating two new breeds in the process. From these two types, the Clydesdale Terrier seems to have done the most in providing the foundation for the Yorkshire Terrier of today. They had the correct colors, proper coat texture and proper markings.
Entering the late 19th century the Paisley Terrier and Clydesdale Terrier would eventually merge again when a club was formed by fanciers of the Clydesdale strain, who resolved to have both silky coated types recognized under one name; the Clydesdale Terrier. By lobbying show judges and providing prizes at principal shows that agreed to only list the variety under the name Clydesdale, they managed to eradicate the Paisley Terrier listing from shows. Breeders of Paisley Terriers, no longer able to show them as Paisley Terriers were forced to enter them as Clydesdale Terriers if they wished to compete. Thus they were forced not only to adopt the name but also the standard Blue and Tan of the Clydesdale Terrier if they wanted to be successful; effectively ending the all blue silky Paisley as it was merged with and disappeared into the Clydesdale Terrier.
Looking at the other two breeds mentioned, the Scotch Terrier (which the Yorkshire Terrier was also shown under) and the Old English Terrier we find equally confusing histories that for the most part consist of breeds splitting apart, mixing and matching, reforming under new names only to repeat the process again until the original names disappear all together or the breeds become extinct. All of which were shown under numerous classes, under different names and at a variety of weights culminating in the emergence and recognition of this new breed starting in 1874. When the first members of would become the Yorkshire Terrier were registered in the British Kennel Club stud book as either "Broken Haired Scottish Terriers" or "Yorkshire Terriers". This either or listing of the breed would remain until 1886 when the Kennel Club (UK) recognized the Yorkshire Terrier as an individual breed and placed it in their newly formed toy group. George O. Shields says in his aforementioned work of 1891:
“The Yorkshire Terrier Mozart, bred and owned by Mr. James Alderson, of Leeds, England, won for the breed the name of Yorkshire Terrier in 1874 or 1875. He lived to the age of fourteen years and ten months, and won during his show career 164 prizes, including thirty-six cups, according to Mr. Bootman's history. Mozart was by Huddersfield Ben, out of Alderson' s Frisk, both of which run directly back to the original Old Crab, Kitty, and Whittam bitch.”
The acceptance of the breed by the Kennel Club (UK) was followed by the formation of the Yorkshire Terrier Club of England in 1898; the first club of its kind. It was during these early years of the club that Lady Edith Wyndham-Dawson (the clubs long reigning secretary) did much work to both improve the breed and educate the public. She was one of the first breeders to develop the Yorkshire Terrier into the breed as we know it today. Many of todays Yorkshire Terriers will trace back to the champion dogs that she and her associates produced during these early years.
During the course of the breeds initial development this posh little lap dog became quite popular and more and more breeders began trying to promote it. In fact it became so popular, the fashion of the day so to speak, that it was the most popular dog with ladies of the Victorian Era. There are numerous depictions both written and otherwise of pampered little Yorkies, accompanying their mistresses in their purses as they strolled about or riding atop satin pillows with ribbons in their hair in the carriage beside their owner. As with most everything deemed fashionable by the ladies of Europe, American women wanted to emulate it and within a short period of time this posh little breed found itself a regular guest aboard transatlantic steamers bound for the United States.
There were of course others that entered that United States prior to the breeds rise in popularity with the ladies, most likely with Scottish or North of England immigrants who brought their dogs with them. At this time they would have arrived as Broken-haired Scotch, or Rough Coated Toy Terriers or even as Silky Coated Skye Terriers (Clydesdale Terriers). This would also explain the prior existence of breeders and fanciers of silky coated little terriers in the United States before the official recognition of the Yorkshire Terrier as a breed in England.
The first officially documented birth of a Yorkshire Terrier in the United States was a dog named Jack, born in 1872. This and the fact that within a very short amount of time Yorkies were being bred in 22 states suggests that they were more than likely here years prior but remained under the radar by marauding under their above mentioned aliases. The year 1878, brought with it the first dog shows offering classes specifically for Yorkshire Terriers, divided into categories of under and over 5 pounds. That same year Yorkshire Terriers were first shown at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York with a total of thirty-three entries equally divided between the two weight classes. Although the breed now had its own show classes and was making great strides to separate itself as unique it was still commonly referred to by its previous aliases as evidenced by “The Practical Dog Book” of 1884 which stated:
“We now come to the breed that is preeminently the ladies pet, which by all persons ignorant of doggy lore is consistently being confounded with Scotch and Skye Terriers. The Yorkshire Terrier is the handsomest of all long haired terriers and makes a most bright, active and companionable indoor pet and is, besides, the most fashionable dog today in this country, not excepting the Pug.”
Official recognition of the breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and entry into their Toy Group wouldn’t come until 1885. These early Yorkies tended to range in size from about 3 to 13 pounds but over the next two decades the size became more uniformly petite. Prior to their official recognition as Yorkshire Terriers by the AKC and the formation of the AKC itself in 1884, records of the time show that members of the breed had previously been shown in other classes.
Some of the earliest exhibitors of the breed were Henry and Lena Kisteman of New York City, N.Y. who first began showing their two Yorkshire Terriers “Dandy” and “Lucy” at Westminster in 1877. That year Dandy was shown in the class for Skye Terriers and Lucy was entered in the class Toy Terriers not exceeding 5 lbs. The following year, with the introduction of Yorkshire Terrier classes, “Dandy” was shown as a Toy Terrier, while “Lucy” was entered in the class for Yorkshire Terriers not exceeding 5 lbs. Other early American Yorkshire Terrier breeders include Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Haines of New York City who showed a total of five Yorkshires at Westminster in 1878. Three in the class for Yorkshire Terriers under 5 lbs.; “Scraps” 15 months old, “Trip” 2 years old and “Snap” 21 months old and two in the class Yorkshire Terrier over 5 lbs.; “Bright” 2-1/2 years old and “Beauty” 3 years old. Over fifty percent of the early show dogs were imported from England and Scotland
In 1889, Ch. Bradford Henry became the first Yorkie to become an American Champion. He was the great-great-grandson of Huddersfield Ben, and was imported from England by P.H. Coombs of Bangor, Maine. In describing this dogs long list of accomplishments I will again borrow from the 1891 work George O. Shields who provided the following about him:
"Bradford Harry is at present (1890) the only champion of record of his breed in America. He was first exhibited here in 1888, and has appeared in Boston, New York, Troy, Lynn, Buffalo, and New Bedford, where he won nine first prizes in succession ; and, in addition, he has made the remarkable record of which few dogs of any breed can boast, viz., that of winning every special prize for which a Yorkshire Terrier was eligible to compete at the shows where he has appeared. In one show alone he won the specials for "best Yorkshire Terrier," "best rough-coated Terrier any breed," and "smallest dog in the show." His pedigree is as follows: Sire, Crawshaw's Bruce, dam, Beal's Lady; Bruce by Hodsdon's Sandy-Patterson's Minnie; Sandy by Bateman's Sand y- Venus ; Bateman's Sandy by Spring; Venus by Music; Spring by Huddersfield Ben; Beal' s Lady by Tyler-Lady ; Tyler by Huddersfield Ben-Bolton's Kitty; Kitty by Bolton's Wonder."
The coming of the 1900’s saw not only a new group of dedicated breeders devoted to promoting and preserving the breed but also the formation of the first of four attempts at an American based breed club, The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. The club, founded by Mr. George Peabody, owner of Douro Kennel in Newton, Massachusetts started in 1913 and lasted 6 years before dissolving sometime in 1919.
Shortly after the start of the first club, a second club, The Yorkshire Terrier Association of America was founded in 1915 by another breeder Mrs. William C. Thompson, of the Gatenby Kennel in New York City. Like its predecessor its existence would be a relatively short lived affair and lasting until about 1924.
The third attempt at a breed club was undertaken by another New York breeder, Mr. Sam Baxter; his club like the first was also named The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. Founded in 1937 it folded shortly thereafter with the onset of World War II.
The final attempt at a breed club and the one that has remained was initiated by Mrs. Kay Finch of Corona Del Mar, California and breeder of Crown Crest Yorkshire Terriers. She founded and was elected the first President of the present day Yorkshire Terrier Club of America (YTCA) in 1951.
Entering World War II, interest in the breed had begun to drop. That is until a tiny four pound war hero named Smoky placed the Yorkshire Terrier in the spotlight once again. Smoky standing just 7 inches tall, was found by an American soldier in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle in February of 1944. Her finder took her to a nearby prisoner-of-war where he then sold her to another soldier, Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, who named her Smoky. Over the next two years this resilient little dog would live the soldiers life accompanying Wynne on combat flights in the Pacific. Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars. She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea. Smoky even parachuted 30 feet out of a tree, using a special parachute made just for her. Wynne also credited Smoky with saving his life by providing advanced warning of incoming shells on an LST (transport ship), calling her an "angel from a foxhole." As the ship deck was booming and vibrating from anti-aircraft gunnery, Smoky guided Wynne to duck the fire that hit 8 men standing next to them. In 1944, Yank Down Under magazine even named Smoky the "Champion Mascot in the Southwest Pacific Area." Upon their return to the United States, Wynne and Smoky were featured on the front page of the Cleveland Press on December 7, 1945. Smoky became a national sensation and created renewed interest in the breed.
Today the Yorkshire Terrier is the 3rd most popular breed in the United States behind the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd Dog, according the AKC registration statistics for 2010. One of the most popular toy breeds and along with the Chihuahua, one of the smallest, the Yorkshire Terrier flourishes throughout the world and the early breeders who were instrumental in producing this diminutive toy terrier would surely be astounded at the success of this delightful breed today.
In simplest form, the Yorkshire Terrier is a small long haired blue and tan toy terrier. More descriptively and ideally members of this breed should stand between 6 and 7½ inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 4-7 pounds (7 pounds being the limit according to the breed standard), with a long silky smooth flowing coat of steel blue and gold covering their well proportioned neat and compact body.
The small head of this toy breed, should be rather flat on top with an overall skull shape that is not to round. In most points of the Yorkshire Terriers head moderation is the key, the muzzle should not be to long nor to short, the teeth neither undershot nor overshot, the eyes (dark color preferred)- medium sized but not to prominent and small V-shaped erectly carried ears that are set neither to close nor to far apart. The overall carriage of the head should be high and confident to giving the dog the appearance of vigor and self-importance.
The Yorkshire Terrier also has a rather short back, that should be level from the shoulder to the rump. The forelegs are to be straight with elbows thrown neither in nor out, likewise the rear legs when viewed from behind should also be straight; however, with moderately bent stifles (when viewed from the side). The feet are small, round, and should have solidly black toenails with declaws generally removed. The tails are docked to a medium length and carriage should be just slightly higher than the level of the back.
The truly defining feature of the breed is its coat; the most emphasis being put on quantity, quality, and texture. The long and perfectly straight (not wavy) coat should be silky smooth, fine and glossy in texture. Many individuals choose to trim the coat to floor length for ease of movement and a neater appearance. The long hair of the head (the fall) may be kept out of the eyes by gathering and tying up with one bow in center of head or it may be parted in the middle and tied with a bow to each side. The hair on muzzle is likewise very long. For showing the tips of the ears should be trimmed short and the feet trimmed round to give them a neat appearance.
Of as much importance as the overall texture and quality of the coat is its color. The breed standard is explicit about coat color and has laid down the following guidelines. The blue coloration of the coat is to be a dark steel-blue, not a silver-blue and not mingled with fawn, bronzy or black hairs. Likewise the tan hair should all be 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. The only exception would be puppies which are born black and tan, normally darker in body color, showing an intermingling of black hair in the tan until they mature.
Patterning should be such that the blue extends over the entire body from back of neck to the root of the tail with the hair of the tail a darker blue. The head should be a rich golden tan, deeper in color at the sides, ear roots and on the muzzle graduating to a slightly lighter but equally rich tan on the ears themselves. The chest and legs are also to be a rich, bright tan, that does not extend above the elbow on the forelegs nor above the stifle on the hind legs (into what should be blue).
Beyond being one of the cutest and most popular Toy breeds in existence today, the Yorkshire Terrier is a courageous little Terrier breed that is apparently woefully ignorant of its diminutive stature. Tending to think and carry themselves in a way that is much bigger than they are, Yorkies, in typical Terrier fashion tend to be rather territorial by nature. As such they have no problem picking fights with much larger dogs and can behave aggressively towards strangers in the home; even though these foolishly brave little dogs stand no chance of victory in either case. Their potential to act aggressively towards other dogs also means that you should always keep your Yorkshire Terrier safely confined or leashed at all times because a larger dog can quite easily kill this pint sized dynamo.
The territorial nature of this little Terrier breed, their acute sense of hearing and desire to ward of intruders by any means available in spite of their tiny size means that they have no qualms about alerting their owner at the slightest sign of intruders (although their pint size makes them useless for anything beyond an early warning system). While this does make them a good watchdog, it has also lent to them the reputation of being considered a rather ‘yappy’ breed of dog. So some forethought should be given to the neighbors opinions regarding noise pollution if you are considering this breed as a pet. Also regarding barking, the definition of intruder for a Yorkie and human may be worlds apart, for the Yorkie this may be the mailman, someone walking down the street, a bird outside the window, a moth flying about the room or anything else that it may interpret as foreign to its environment. For over babied Yorkies barking can also be a way to get your attention, akin to a child throwing a temper tantrum or crying for no apparent reason. This need to bark and bark at anything (nuisance barking) has led many owners to dream of earplugs. In most cases early training can prevent this problem. One solution that tends to work very well is to purchase a cheap water gun, fill it with water, and squirt the dog in the face when he is barking at an unacceptable time. The water won't hurt the dog, but it will quickly learn that there are negative consequences to nuisance barking.
This is not to say that all Yorkies will act aggressive or territorial or even that those that do should be considered somehow faulty, it’s just the Terrier in them and up to the owner to steer the Yorkies energies in a positive direction through training and socialization. In the home Yorkies tend to make some of the most lovable, loyal and affection dogs you could ever hope to own. They are typically charming, delightful, and just mischievous enough to be considered cute. The breed bonds closely with a single individual in the home, as such they are ideally suited for single owners; owners looking for a pet to keep them company and provide emotional support. Over reliance on the animal as a sole source of emotional support, however, can lead to a type of codependency in which owners will humanize or baby the breed to such an extent that the dog becomes overly possessive of their owner, leading to the animal becoming snappy or aggressive toward anyone else. Much of which can be avoided by owners that properly socialize their dog and/or understand that although a Yorkshire Terrier may be as cute as a button and as smart as a whip; they are not furry little humans. What they are is cute little dogs that like all dogs are 99% wolf and need an established hierarchy within the home that includes a human leader willing to establish and enforce rules, boundaries and limitations.
For homes that have children in them, Yorkies are probably not the best choice. Not for fear of them being aggressive, although any dog has the ability to bite and cause damage but for the fact that aside from just being small they are a high energy breed that can be extremely squirmy when being held. It is not at all uncommon for a Yorkie to try and leap from your arms for no apparent reason and without warning. Even responsible adults have been known to drop them, after being warned of this possibility. Their tiny size, cuteness and generally playful nature seem to make them a very attractive object for children to pick up and carry about the home opening the possibility for dog to leap and injure itself. Additionally as a very small breed of dog, Yorkies are not only more fragile but also more susceptible to accidental injury than larger breeds by being stepped on, sat on, shut in doorways, crushed in recliner chairs, and more. Even the most well meaning, well informed, gentle and loving child can very easily kill or maim a Yorkie through carelessness or lack of understanding. Again I would highly suggest, that if you have small children in the home, that you strongly consider choosing a different breed.
Yorkies are also very smart dogs, according the Stanley Coren's book "The Intelligence of Dogs", Yorkies are of above average intelligence, tied with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Puli; ranking 27th out of the more than 100 breeds surveyed. He noted that they are able to understand new commands in 25 repetitions or less and tend to obey the first command 70% of the time or more. This natural intelligence and their aforementioned high energy mean that Yorkies need to be kept entertained and exercised to stave off boredom. It is important that owners not only provide enough physical exercise but also enough mental stimulation to keep this breed happy and healthy. It is recommended that all Yorkie owners enroll their dog in basic obedience training. This will not only provide a constructive outlet for both their physical and mental energies but will also serve to establish the owner dog, alpha beta relationship while at the same time providing valuable socialization with dogs and humans alike. Additionally with training in most cases it helps the owner to view their dog as a dog which prevents them from overly coddling the dog in the future. The Yorkie temperament also includes a stubborn streak. This breed, while perfectly intelligent enough to learn and follow commands may simply refuse to do so based on mood. This stubbornness may also contribute to the breeds infamous problems with housebreaking; with some Yorkies never becoming fully housebroken.
Yorkies, as previously mentioned can be foolishly brave, which can lead to problems when there is another dog in the house, especially if the dog is considerably larger. This combination can have fatal consequences for the Yorkie. With smaller dogs or dogs of a similar size the problems seem to be less severe. As always socialization is the key to creating a well balanced dog that is not prone to overreacting to the sight of another dog. Yorkies that are raised with other dogs tend to do much better and there are rarely problems. With other animals such as cats, birds, rabbits etc. care should be taken, as they are terriers and may attempt to chase or injure them. With cat's for instance, a species that is generally larger than most Yorkies it is possible for the dog to nuisance them into an aggressive swipe of the paw, a painful bite or a defensive display that could be disastrous for the Yorky. As it is with other dogs, Yorkies that have been socialized or raised in households with cats or other small animals tend to show tolerance and restraint that makes problems such as these a rarity.
Like and breed, Yorkshire Terriers have both plusses and minuses. They are more prone to injury due to their small size and they can be a bit yappy and territorial, but they are also wonderfully sweet and loyal little dogs that love to interact with their family. They are playful and amusing but also calm enough to sit on your lap at night and be stroked and loved. Many Yorkie owners fall in love with the breed and compare them to potato chips by saying "you can't have just one". It is up to the human to properly educate themselves about the breed before bringing it into the home.
While beautiful, complimented by their long, silky, distinctive coat, Yorkshire Terriers are not a breed for those interested in a low maintenance dog. Their soft, fine coat is prone to tangles; as such the coat typically requires daily brushing to prevent matting. In light of this demand many owners choose to have the coat clipped short into what is called a “puppy cut” to reduce maintenance. For those not interested in showing or willing to commit to providing daily coat maintenance this is usually the best option, as there is no practical need to keep the hair long.
To alleviate some confusion as to exactly what a Puppy Cut entails, some explanation is warranted. Generally (from the perspective of a professional groomer) a puppy cut has become a rather ambiguous term used by new or inexperienced owners to describe any number of specific short cuts. From the perspective of a groomer, a Puppy Cut is just that; a cut of uniform length over the entire body; much like a puppy is prior to its coat fully growing in. This is usually accomplished by running either a #7 (1/8 inch) or a #5 (1/4 inch) clipper blade over the body, legs and tail. The head, jaw line, muzzle and ears are generally more specifically tailored based on customer request. More often than not the outside of the ear leathers are shaved with a #10 (1/16th inch) or #15 (3/64 inch); in short, the higher the number shorter the cut.
Additionally, as standard practice for this type of grooming, the hair inside the pads is trimmed out, the belly and sanitary areas cut close and the hair inside the ears pulled or plucked out. This is not to be confused with a shave down; a popular cut in the south where temperatures are higher: where the common last resort for a very matted dog would consist of a #10 or higher (#15, #30) run over the entire body making the hair very short (not unlike a Marine in Boot Camp). It is also possible to use longer blades such as a #4 (3/8 inch) or #3 (1/2 inch) for puppy cuts; the silky texture of the typical Yorkshire Terriers coat, though, typically makes these longer cuts appear choppy or unkempt.
In discussing the infamous Puppy Cut and its ambiguous usage, in many cases new or unknowledgeable owners are actually looking for one of the following and calling it a Puppy Cut:
The key to ensuring your dog receives the grooming you desire (particularly if you are unfamiliar with the lexicon if the dog grooming world) is to simply be as descriptive as possible and explain to the best or your abilities what you are looking for in an overall look and length of cut. Also be understanding that just because your neighbors Yorkshire Terrier looks good in a specific cut, yours may not due to differences in coat density, texture, shading and any number of other variables.
Moving beyond professional grooming and on to do-it-yourselfers; it would be exceptionally difficult to adequately put to words how to properly trim a Yorkshire Terrier at home. That being said, the remainder of this article is designed to provide information for home groomers interested in keeping a good looking longer coated dog.
The most important aspect to accomplishing this is regular combing of the hair. The term combing, not brushing is used for a reason; as the two are often used interchangeably when they should not be. A comb is a long skinny item, with long skinny teeth, while a brush generally presents a flat surface with ‘bristles’ on one side made of nylon, steel etc. The fine texture of a Yorkies long coat requires a comb; that can penetrate beyond the outer coat and closer to the root of the hair. Thereby straightening it out and removing matts and tangles from the root to the tip as the hair runs through the teeth. Brushes on the other hand (especially when dealing with longer coated dogs), tend to only interact with the outermost hairs, skimming over the top while failing to thoroughly penetrate to the base of the coat.
More often than one can imagine, grooming customers, who swears up one side and down the other that they brushed their dog become upset when they are told that they are going to be charged an additional amount on top of their regular grooming for dematting of the coat or even worse there is no alternative left but to shave. While in many cases there is little doubt that they ‘brushed’ their dog out, as the outside of the coat will appear fine, but as soon as the hair is parted the first ¼ inch extending from the body will look like a tangled mess of spider webs. Note to owners if you can run a comb into your dogs hair and then use it to pick them up off the ground, your dog is matted; regardless of whether or not a brush skims smoothly across the surface.
Second in importance to regularly combing, is that when a bath is performed, use not only conditioner and a coat detangler but also completely dry the dog whilst gently brushing (wire bristles) and combing it out post bath using a fan, blow dryer etc. Yorkies are not a bathe and forget it type of dog, nor can a Yorkie fresh out of the bath be roughed up with a towel; thereby thoroughly tangling the coat beyond repair. Additionally great care should be taken when combing out a wet dog, as wet hair not only loses roughly 30% of its tensile strength, but also has higher combing friction than dry hair.Thus it is more likely to stretch to its breaking point and haphazard combing will result in even mildly tangled hairs tightening and knotting together as the comb moves towards the end of the strand. Note that the word ‘brushing’ was used, as a wet coat will typically allow a brush to penetrate sufficiently well to detangle and straighten from the root without the risk of breaking or tangling the coat. If mats or tangles are encountered, use the comb to gently work into and separate the hairs, then grasp the hair below the tangle and brush it out toward the end.
Diet, is another key element of Yorkie grooming. Feeding low quality foods, such as those typically found in the pet food section of a supercenter or grocery store, will have a noticeably detrimental effect on a dogs coat. It is important that all owners do themselves a favor and take the time to read the ingredients without becoming beguiled by the pretty packaging that may feature items that are most likely not even in the food (chunks of meat, slabs of rib etc.). Or even worse packaging that takes items notoriously bad for dogs, known to cause allergies and of no nutritional benefit such as “wheat” and makes it look good (think “Healthful, Flavorful, Horeful.”). Again read the ingredients, ideally a named meat product should be the first ingredient. Additionally a good food will contain ingredients that possess usable quality protein, and that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Lower grade foods on the other hand will contain items like: by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soybean, wheat flower, brewers rice, sugar, food coloring, shoe leather, or long chemical names that sound like they were produced by the scientists at Three Mile island.
The difficulty in discussing the health of Yorkshire Terriers lies not in figuring out what conditions to list, but rather figuring out how to list the causes and where to place the blame. A prime cause may be what is best known about the breed: the fact that Yorkies are cute, popular and there is more than likely one for sale in your local newspaper or pet store. That, perhaps, is the problem: their popularity. Sometimes (especially in the dog breed world) it is better in the long run to be less rather than more popular, as with increasing popularity comes increasing demand and with demand comes increased salability. Salability brings a most unfavorable side effect; unscrupulous breeders with the single goal of changing popularity into profitability.
The self-serving contributions of money mongering imbeciles such as these account for many, if not the majority, of debilitating health problems found in the modern Yorkie. When properly bred by a knowledgeable and ethical breeder that researches lines and performs genetic screening of breeding pairs to include Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) eye testing and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) X-rays of both the knees and elbows, Yorkies tend to be a relatively healthy breed with a lifespan of 12-15 years. On the other hand, non-ethical breeders that choose to mix, match and stack dogs like Lego’s in order to churn them out as quickly as possible and make a fast buck tend to produce dogs of vastly inferior overall health; dog’s that will end up experiencing a lower quality life as a result.
A good example of this can be found in breeders that tend to take advantage of the AKC’s currently less than informative breed standard, which provides no minimum for weight or height, by producing increasingly smaller versions of the Yorkshire Terrier. In reality this is the parent clubs fault (YTCA) for producing such an ambiguous document; registries such as the AKC simply publish and enforce the standard provided and agreed to by the clubs members at its events. These tiny Yorkies, generally in the two to four pound range are then advertised under a variety of names such as Teacup Yorkie, Tiny Teacup Yorkie, Mini Yorki or even Teacup Toy; basically anything to make them sound cuter, smaller, more appealing; and in turn a quicker sell.
The truly sad part is that has been done with such frequency and has become such common occurrence over the last decade that the unsuspecting public has come to believe that these are actually legitimate breeds. There also seems to be some widespread psychosis or shared dysmorphic disorder amongst the general population that views smaller as cuter and therefore better. This is evident by the widespread popularity received by dogs such as “Tiny Pinocchio”; a pint sized, one pound Yorkshire Terrier, only as tall as a soda can. That lived to an unbelievable 2 years and 3 months of age. During the dogs short reign as the world’s smallest it appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, the CNN Sunday Morning News, the Wayne Brady Show, the Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of Time Magazine. It also appeared in an uncountable number of smaller shows and publications.
The owner also reportedly did quite well financially not only by booking appearances on talk shows but also by selling postcards, coffee mugs, T-shirts and other flea market style goods that featured the dogs image from her website. As a dog lover, this author believes that there is something convoluted about excessively promoting, publicizing and profiting from what is in truth a genetically unhealthy little dog. While it is agreed that Pinocchio’s size was unique; enter it in the record books and leave it at that, don’t commercialize it and in so doing encourage others to also want teeny tiny little unhealthy Yorkies.
Factually, even normally sized Yorkies are delicate by nature; ones bred specifically to be exceptionally small or teacup sized even more so. It is not uncommon for Yorkshire Terriers to have issues relating to their bones and spines, leg bones can break even from a small fall or jump; herniated disks are another common result that can leave the dog paralyzed. The breeders of these tiny dogs, in their never ending quest to create smaller and smaller dogs that though less healthy are highly marketable will breed 2 1/2 pound dogs with 3 pounders; even though history shows that one should never breed a female of any breed that is less than 5 pounds, as there is a risk not only to the dog but also to the development of the puppies. In some cases these miniature Yorkshire Terriers are in fact underdeveloped prematurely born puppies.
The vast majority of cases breeders will breed a female dog during the ninth to fifteenth day of her heat cycle (estrous). Eggs can be fertilized for up to 72 hours after any of these breedings. This is the reason why it is possible for a female dog to give birth to puppies from two different sires, with two different conception dates in the same litter. To make this concept easier to understand imagine a female that was bred on the ninth day, the eggs were released, the sperm was deposited and fertilization of a portion of them takes place. These now fertilized eggs move along and attach themselves to the uterine walls, while any remaining deposited sperm that failed for whatever reason to reach the egg dies off in 48 hours. Unfertilized eggs, however, will remain viable and available for additional mating. On day fourteen she is bred again and the process repeats. The end result is eggs that have attached themselves to the uterine walls and started development 5 days apart. Therefore, it is possible to have puppies conceived up to a week or so younger than the puppies first conceived in a litter. Sixty three days later (the normal length of a canine pregnancy), when the first puppies conceived are mature and ready to be born, labor starts and all the puppies will be born, regardless of when they were fertilized. Some quick math; 5 days of developmental loss on a 63 day gestation cycle equals 8% or a puppy that is 92% complete; 6 days would be 90.5%.
The problems faced by these underdeveloped dogs may include malformed lungs, heart, or other internal organs, malformed or fragile bones, portosystemic shunts, and a host of other problems. Additionally congenital problems known to be found within the breed regardless of size may be exacerbated. Problems such as respiratory problems can remain or worsen throughout their lives and many of these dogs are so fragile that they fail to live more than a few years. Given that some of these so called "Teacups" can fetch $1000 or more, there is only one explanation to the lunacy of this process: greed at the expense of the animal’s health.
Before leaving the issue of bad breeders and Teacup, Miniature, Toy or whatever the latest fad name is for these undersized Yorkies behind two things should be said; first off: THERE IS NO SUCH ANIMAL AS A TEACUP, MINIATURE, TOY, DWARF OR WHATEVER YORKSHIRE TERRIER; there is only a Yorkshire Terrier. Secondly: If in searching to own a member of this breed a breeder advertising that they specialize in "Teacups”, “Miniatures”, “Teacup Toys” etc. is found; RUN, RUN, FAR, FAR, away!
On a broader level, Yorkies in general, experience a number of health issues, some of which are hereditary.. While there is no specific data on the exact percentage of dogs affected by these ailments, it is not suggested that all Yorkshire Terriers will suffer from them or that any particular dog will have any of them. Puppy buyers are advised to carefully research lines and find a competent, ethical breeder that performs tests on breeding stock for these diseases. Some illnesses that do seem to appear with some frequency include bronchitis, lymphangiectasia, portosystemic shunt, cataracts, and keratitis sicca. Additionally, injection reactions (inflammation or hair loss at the site of an injection) can occur. There also seems to be a propensity toward skin allergies and like many small breeds; severe dental disease.
Other problems that have been reported in the breed include: