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The History

Drawing of a Yorkie from 1913
Yorkie in 1913
The true origin of the beautiful, fearless, diminutive dog that we know as the Yorkshire Terrier is not really known.

Unlike the pampered dog we know today, the Yorkshire Terrier's origins were quite humble. A man-made breed, it was created to chase rats and vermin in the coal mines and textile mills in the Yorkshire section of England.

There is some controversy on the Yorkshire's ancestory. Most believe that Yorkshire Terrier is a descendant of the Waterside Terrier, a small English breed with a somewhat long, bluish gray coat. Weighing an average of 10 pounds, Waterside Terriers were common in Yorkshire since early times. These were primarily working dogs, much larger than today's Yorkies, and were used for catching rats and other small mammals and to keep the vermin under control in the textile mills and coal mines. The weavers of Scotland brought their families and dogs with them to Yorkshire when they left their homeland Scotland in the mid-19th century because the Industrial Revolution had forced them out of work. The dogs that accompanied these families were for the most part the sturdy Waterside Terrier.

What bloodlines were used to establish the Yorkshire Terrier is subject to much speculation, due to the fact that the breeders of these dogs did not write down who was bred to whom. If they liked the spirit and looks of the dogs, they mated them.

Drawing of Skye Terriers from 1890
Skye Terriers in 1890
It is guessed that the Yorkshire county miners crossed Waterside Terriers with other types of terrier, probably the Paisley and Clydesdale Terrier, the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier, and the Skye Terrier; it is also thought that at some stage the Maltese was crossed with these breeds to help produce long coats. As the outline of the Maltese resembles that of many of today's Yorkies, this is very likely.

Unfortunately, no records in the form of Pedigrees exist to confirm these crosses (possibly because of the poor level of literacy in these times), but a great deal is known about the type of people who bred them, and there can be no doubt that early breeders had a very clear idea of the type of dogs they were attempting to produce. We can see in today's Yorkies how strongly the terrier temperament has been retained.

Huddersfield Ben
Huddersfield Ben
One of the most famous early Yorkies was Huddersfield Ben, bred by a Mr. Eastwood and owned by Mr. M.A. Foster. Huddersfield Ben was born in 1865 and died in 1871, and can be said to be the father of the modern Yorkie. In his day "Ben" was a very popular stud dog who won many prizes in the show ring, and had tremendous influence in setting breed type.

In 1874 the first Yorkies were registered in the British Kennel Club stud book. They were referred to as "Broken Haired Scottish Terriers" or "Yorkshire Terriers", until 1886, when the Kennel Club recognised the Yorkshire Terrier as an individual breed. The first Yorkshire Terrier breed club was formed in 1898.

Since the foundation of the breed, the popularity of the Yorkshire Terrier has increased at an enormous rate all over the world, making him one of the most sort after dogs in previous and this century.

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