By Susan Bailey
Today’s Yorkshire Terrier is a far different dog than when the breed appeared in 1865. In over just one hundred years, the size has been greatly reduced from an average weight of thirty pounds to a mere seven pounds today. And the trend is to have the Yorkie (as the breed is affectionately called) get even smaller, with adults tipping the scales at a mere three pounds. But who knows? Perhaps in the future, there will be a demand for the Yorkshire Terrier to grow back into a thirty-pound dog.
The History of Yorkshire Terriers
Like many breeds of dogs, the name does not reflect their point of origin. For example, German Shepherds were actually developed in France. And Australian Shepherds originated in America. The geographical difference isn’t nearly so big, but it is still significant. The main stock for today’s delicate, adorable and pampered Yorkshire Terrier came from the unforgiving landscape of Scotland.
The Yorkshire Terrier did not originate in the English country of Yorkshire, despite their name. The breed became famous when they were perfected in Yorkshire. Huddersfield Ben’s ancestors came from various tough little Scottish breeds of terriers, which are thought to have included the Scottish Terrier, the Clydesdale (or Clyde) Terrier and the Paisley Terrier. All of these breeds (except the Scottie) are no longer with us, but do live on in the form of Yorkshire Terriers.
Yorkies’ Scottish History
The Scottish breeds inevitably bred with the terrier breeds already in Yorkshire, which experienced a great wave of Scottish immigrants in the late 1800’s. The Scottish breeds were purposefully put to breeds that were known for killing rats. Yorkshire Terrier information sources guess that these breeds included the Maltese, the Skye and the now extinct breeds of Black and Tan English, Waterside and quite possibly the Manchester Terrier (which still survives, but is considered an extremely rare breed). The result was a rat-killing machine that was extremely friendly with people.
As time went on, the need for big working dogs decreased. People were living in smaller homes and needed smaller dogs they could physically control easily. The Yorkshire Terrier filled this niche admirably. They were a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Not only did they make great guard dogs, but were affectionate and did not need a lot of exercise. They were introduced to America in 1872.
From Working Dog to Pampered Puppy
Over the last century, Yorkshire Terriers have become ever smaller. The original Yorkies were about thirty pounds and came in several colors. Today’s show Yorkies are not to exceed seven pounds and must be steel blue and tan (and have those colors in specific proportions). The hot trend is top breed Yorkies that tip the scales at three pounds, which has lead to concerns about the health of breeding such small dogs. The Yorkshire Terrier, as of 2006, is the second most popular purebred dog in America.
About the Author:
Susan Bailey loves everything having to do with dogs, including Yorkshire Terrier history. The Yorkshire Terrier was a much larger breed in the beginning. This author is currently writing a series of articles on Ezine Articles containing Yorkshire Terrier information for interested readers.