Yorkshire Terriers, commonly referred to as “Yorkies,” have been one of the most popular breeds registered by the AKC for many years, often ranking in the top ten. Although they are now regarded as companion dogs, Yorkies are terriers that started off as exterminators. Their small body paired with their tenacious yet loving attitude, it’s easy to see why they became the dog of choice for many socialites, celebrities and everyday people alike!
History of Yorkies
Yorkshire Terriers have been around for decade, perhaps even centuries. They have a rich history that started in the streets, but quickly gained popularity, fame, and even royalty.
Yorkies were named after Yorkshire, England. It was in this area that breeders first developed the small, feisty breed to catch rats in the small, narrow spaces of textile mills. their bravery and vigor also came in handy when running the prey of hunters, like foxes and badgers, into their dens.
The Trio of Terriers That Created the Yorkie
They were derived from breeding of three different breeds: The Clydesdale Terrier, the Waterside Terrier and the Old English Terrier. All three of these breeds are now extinct, but the Clydesdale terrier was the closest resemblance. Before they adopted the named Yorkshire Terrier, the breed was often called Broken Haired Scotch Terrier or Toy Terrier (Broken Haired and Rough), with both these breeds being shown as far back as 1861. Broken haired simply means the dog has a wiry coat.
The Woman Behind the Breed
The woman accredited with bringing the breed to prominence is Mrs. Mary Foster. She was the first woman to judge dogs in England, and at the Crystal Palace Show in 1871, her dogs took the top three in the Broken Haired Scotch class, as well as first and third in the Broken Haired Toy Terrier class. Huddersfield Ben was her star stud. He took second place, but every other placement Mrs. Foster got was Ben’s offspring. In fact, Huddersfield Ben is considered to be the foundation sire of Yorkshire Terriers.
In today’s world, Yorkies are mostly bred for companionship, which they are amazing at! They are small, averaging about 7 pounds and 8 inches tall, landing them in the toy group. Their size can be misleading, because these terriers are tenacious, feisty and energetic! They started out as blue-collar working dogs. They were bred small enough to fit in the small nooks and crannies of textile mills and coal mines to catch rodents. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1885. From there it was adopted as a companion lapdog for Victoria Era ladies. With this varied history, it’s not surprise that Yorkies are not only great companion pets, but also excel in sports like agility.
A Smooth and Silky Coat
A Yorkie’s coat is surprisingly similar to human hair, making it hypoallergenic and low shedding. This coat tangles very easily, however, and require daily brushing if kept long. Most pet owners tend to keep their Yorkies in a short cut to keep tangles to a minimum in this active breed.
Training a Yorkie
With above average intelligence, they are easy to train and are courageous. This also means they require a fair amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise to remain happy, balanced dogs. Ensuring regular exercise and attention also helps reduce the barking tendencies Yorkies have.
Famous Yorkshire Terriers
Smoky the War Hero
In WW2, a Yorkshire Terrier was found a New Guinea jungle. The dog was adopted by Corporal William A. Wynne and went on quite an adventure with her new dad for the next two year throughout the war. Wynne named the dog Smoky, and she participated in 12 combat missions and was awarded eight battle stars! She had saved not only her owner’s life, but had aided in the Allies’ war effort by dragging a communication wire through a 70 foot long, 8-inch-wide pipe to allow a crucial airstrip to be built. After the war, Smoky toured the world performing tricks for Tv shows and at veterans’ hospitals. Smoky passed at the age of 14 in 1957. There are seven memorials honoring Smoky.
Audrey Hepburn was one of the first Hollywood stars that started bringing her dogs anywhere that she could. She had many Yorkshire terriers throughout her life, but Mr. Famous was by for the most well-known of her pooches. He traveled to many film sets, and even had a cameo in her movie “Funny Face!”
Are Yorkies Right for You?
If you’re looking for a small dog that not short on personality, a Yorkie will fit into your life well! They are perfect for those that want a dog that is easy to travel with, since they are small enough to fit in stylish pet carriers like our Country Club bag.