The History Of The Yorkshire Terrier - Where Do Yorkies Come From?

By Kathleen Chester

Yorkshire Terrier

A question many online dog breeders are asked is regarding the history of the Yorkie, short for Yorkshire Terrier. Many individuals want to know where a breed of dog comes from before purchasing one. They want to amass as much knowledge as possible about the breed in an effort to understand it better when it comes to the breed of dog's temperament, personality, and ability to train.

As the name of the Yorkie points out, the city known as Yorkshire, United Kingdom, as well as locations further north in the English countryside, is where the history of the Yorkie begins. Yorkies are said to have first been bred during the middle years of the nineteenth century. Yorkies were kept in mainly industrial areas and where trained to catch and kill rats in industrial buildings. During the nineteenth century, rats were a large problem throughout England and Yorkies provided a quick and beneficial solution to this daunting problem as they were excellent rat catchers. Because of their original purpose, which was primarily to hunt and to kill, many breeders say that this is the reason for the somewhat aggressive nature of Yorkies. Even though they are not primarily trained for hunting purposes, those genes still exist within them to be a bit aggressive at times.

Many believe, due to the large number of terrier breeds, that Yorkies are the result of consistent cross breeding between terriers and either other terriers or another type of dogs. In nineteenth century England, it would be normal to see Yorkies roaming freely along the streets because of their ability to capture and kill rats. It is highly possible that numerous breeds of other dogs we currently see were a direct effect of breeding in England to find the best possible dog to handle the rat infestation.

One thing many Yorkie owners are not aware of is that Yorkies, when first bred, were a lot larger then than they are today. When breeders began selectively breeding Yorkies, the outcome was a much smaller dog, known today by many as a "toy dog." Many do not believe the stories of Yorkies being rat catches because of their small size. However, the truth is, the first of the breed used to be at least two times the size that we know Yorkies to be today. Back in the nineteenth century, they were definitely not "toy dogs."

Records today cite that Yorkies were first recognized as pets in 1870. However, they were not officially registered until 1874 with the British Kennel Club. In the United States, they were registered in 1885 with the American Kennel Club. Americans embraced Yorkies due to the love at the time for the Victorian era, in which Yorkies were seen as a well-known pet. In the 1940s, the popularity of them went down, however, soon after World War II, interest in the breed was renewed. Since then, Yorkshire Terriers have been recognized worldwide as a very popular breed of small dog for owners everywhere.

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Yorkshire TerrierThe Yorkshire Terrier Handbook, by Caroline Coile. The author tells new and prospective owners, as well as experienced owners of Yorkies virtually everything they need to know about purchase, care, nutrition, behavior, training, and breeding of this delightful canine. She discusses selecting a healthy dog, coping with breed-specific concerns, specialized grooming, small-dog nutrition and training, competitions, health care, first aid, and much more. Barron's Pet Handbooks are extra-large versions of the well-known Pet Owner's Manual series, with more detailed information, more photos, and more advice... More