Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

History and Development

Although the history of the Yorkshire Terrier is somewhat obscure, the breed is not of any great antiquity. In spite of its undoubted relationship to the old Scottish breeds such as the Clydesdale and the old Black and Tan, the Yorkshire Terrier, as its name implies, was developed in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Undoubtedly other breeds were introduced, for instance the Maltese and the Dandic Dinmont have been mentioned, but this cannot be authenticated.

The prototype Yorkies varied considerably in size, most being much larger than the present dog and weighing up to 14 or 15 lbs. Of a lighter color and having drop or semi-crect ears which were very often cropped, they were nevertheless identifiable with the modern Yorkie. A show in Leeds in 1861 seems to be the first of which there is record of these dogs being shown. All the exhibits in the class tor “Scotch Terriers”, a term used loosely in those days, were Yorkshire Terriers of a crude pattern. It was not until 1886 that the breed was recognized as Yorkshire Terrier by the Kennel Club in England. These early Yorkies were used mainly for ratting and it took many years and the considerable skill of the breeders to reduce the size to that of a to) <\o<£. some specimens ranging from 2½ to 5½ lbs. Specimens introduced into the United States around 1880 caused some contusion because of the considerable variation in size which still existed, but by the beginning of this century the characteristics had become fixed, the toy breed firmly established and breeding true to type. Today the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular breeds of toy dogs, and in Britain the registrations now reach the four thousand mark. It is, however, one of the most difficult dogs to breed for show purposes. Conformation and color being of paramount importance and the production of the long, straight coat with the true coloring, demanding great thought and care in breeding.

Yorkshire Terrier: Color

Originally the color was lighter than it is today and was described as bright blue. The present Standard lays down a dark steel blue (not a silver blue) with the hair on the chest a rich bright tan.

The tall (hair) on the head to be long and of a rich golden-shaded tan, deeper in color at the roots and muzzle, where the hair should be very long, these are called face furnishings. On no account must the tan on the hc.id extend below the occiput, nor must there be any sooty or dark hair intermingled with any of the tan.

The hair on the legs should be of a very rich golden tan, a few shades lighter at the ends than at the roots, the tan not extending higher than the elbow on the forelegs or the stifle on the hind legs. The tail hair should be of a darker blue than the rest of the body, especially at the end. Puppies are born black with tan markings on the feet and muzzle. Gradually the color clears and shows itself, remaining dark in the early stages. The tan on the head next appears and then the break in body color starts. It commences at the neck and gradually works down the tail and down each side of the body, the steel blue emerging.

Yorkshire Terrier: Care

The care of the Yorkshire Terrier bred for showing presents a number of problems. Firstly, the care of the coat. Frequently this is parted from the center-back downwards and divided into six or eight parts, each of which is wrapped carefully in tissue paper or muslin, folded over and tied. This is done to protect the long, beautiful hair from damage. Very dry or brittle hair is gently stroked with fine quality vegetable oil to condition it. Indeed, great care and attention is paid to its care and cultivation. Another problem is temperature. The Yorkie, with its long coat, needs an air-conditioned environment when in hot climates. In cold areas warmth is needed, for ideally the dog needs a temperate climate in which to thrive. If it is being kept only as a pet the coat can be cut to any desired length and, of course, this reduces the amount of time which has to be spent on coat maintenance.

The Yorkie is one of the- few dogs which does not shed its coat and it is therefore necessary to brush well each day to remove any loose hair. It can get all the exercise it needs by running about the house or garden, but it enjoys the company of its owner.

It likes the best meat, but in small quantities. Sugar confectionery and candy should not be given, but a good, hard bone will help to strengthen and clean its teeth.

A bitch chosen for breeding must be of a suitable size, about 5 lbs. or more, fully grown.

Yorkshire Terrier: Character

Yorkies arc hardy, game and protective. They are versatile and easily trained, and make tough as well as decorative pets.

But this courageous little dog is not just a pet; he is a worker as well. An example of this, where its small size and gameness combined to useful effect, was the Yorkie which was used during the last war to carry communication lines through narrow pipes. And another, a bitch called Tidy Tiddler, weighing 4 lbs who, in between her maternal duties of six litters, went rabbitting with her master, an eighty-one years old poacher, who carried her in his pocket. Shi: would mark to ground, and on one occasion had to be dug out! She is reported to have bolted 129 rabbits in less than three months.


The general appearance of the Yorkshire Terrier should be that of a long-coated toy terrier. The coat hanging quite straight and evenly down each side of the body, a parting extending from the nose to the end of the tail. The animal should be very compact and neat, and the carriage should be very upright, conveying an “important air. The general outline should convey the impression of vigor and good proportions. The head should be rather small and flat, not too prominent or round in the skull, nor too long in the muzzle, and with a perfectly black nose. The jaws should be even, without crooked or misplaced teeth. On the Continent the scissor bite is essential. The eyes, placed so as to look directly forward, should be medium, dark and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression. They should not be prominent. The edge of the eyelids should be of a dark color.

Ears should be small and V-shaped, and carried erect or semi-erect, not far apart. They should be covered with a very rich tan, short hair. The hair on the body should be moderately long and perfectly straight (not wavy), glossy like silk and of a fine silky texture.

The legs should be quite straight and well covered with hair, and the feet should be round with black toe nails. The tail is cut to a medium length and covered with plenty of hair, carried a little higher than the level of the back – a tail which is too gay is a fault.

The body should be very compact with a good loin and short, level topline.

The Yorkie should weigh up to 7 lbs.

Selections from the book: “The World encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)