The Yorkshire Terrier can look back on a unique career in its native Great Britain. He rose from the rat-biter of poor people to the pampered luxury dog of the upper class. Today the pretty companion dogs are popular all over the world.
What is certain is that the forerunners of the later Yorkshire Terriers originally came from Scotland. There they lived with weavers, spinners, miners or factory workers as working dogs that were used to hunt mice and rats. Since the dogs were much larger than today’s Yorkshire Terriers, they even brought home a rabbit from time to time, to the delight of the common people. Up to now, the appearance has been inconsistent and their ears have been cropped.
At the time of industrialization in Britain, many workers from the north moved to Yorkshire and Lancashire to find work in the large factories that put an end to their previous lives of poverty. The dogs took them with them and records show the beginning of controlled breeding in the middle of the 19th century. According to tradition, Scotch Terriers, Clydesdale Terriers, Waterside Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers and the Paisley Terriers, a line of the Skye Terriers, were crossed. The long, silky hair is said to come from the Maltese who British sailors brought with them from their trips to the Mediterranean. The standing ears were also bred during this period. The new breed was named after its new home, the county of Yorkshire, in 1886.
The pure breeding of the Yorkshire Terriers from the various terrier species resulted in a reduction in size. In the early days, these dogs were shown at exhibitions under different names, e.g. Halifax terriers. The new breed received official recognition from the Kennel Club around 1860, the name being named after its new home, the county of Yorkshire. The pretty little “Yorkies” soon enjoyed great popularity among the wealthy upper class, who discovered the little dogs as a status symbol. They were taken along as lap dogs at every opportunity and kept as living decorations in local salons – a trend that has persisted to this day. The popularity of the Yorkshire terriers in the USA began around 1930 and continental Europe also conquered the small breed in a stroke.
Stud books have been kept in Germany since 1912, but the first boom peaked in the early 1970s. At that time this breed was still relatively unknown, in 1960 250 puppies were registered. The number of the VDH amounted to 606 births in 2011 with a total population of 36,000 registered animals in Germany. Many future owners who see such a cute little dog are often overproduced that a Yorkshire Terrier, due to its size, has fewer demands than a large dog and is easier to care for. This is only the case with regard to the amount of food, otherwise there are no differences: If the dog is constantly under-challenged and has no contact with other dogs, he often discharges his frustration with constant barking or snaps at lightning speed with his needle-sharp teeth what is in his blood from his past as a hunting dog . Also when it comes to taking care of the fur, the effort should not be underestimated.
A worrying trend is towards smaller and smaller dogs, also among other dwarf breeds than the Yorkshire Terrier. Businessmen, who often pretend to be breeders, are currently earning quick money with “minis”. The puppies, which are mostly imported cheaply from Eastern European or British dog factories, are often separated from their mother after six or seven weeks in order to be sold as expensive minis as soon as possible, before the onset of growth makes the puppies financially unattractive. The customers do not learn anything about the origin of the baby dogs, diseases caused by breeding are kept secret. The jaws can be too small for teeth to grow back and expensive dental treatment is required or the animals suffer continuously because the brain is too big for the small-grown skull, not to mention respiratory, eye and skeletal diseases. In addition to immense costs, everything also entails a lot of suffering for the owner if the puppy can no longer be helped despite treatments at the vet. With reputable breeders, however, potential buyers can get an idea of the keeping and condition of the puppies.
The head is relatively small and not particularly rounded. The ears, which are relatively close together, are covered with short hair and are carried upright in a slightly V-shape. The medium-sized eyes have dark eyelid rims and the nose and jaw area is not drawn too long. The physique appears compact but elegant with a narrow neck, moderately arched chest and straight back. The straight legs lead to round paws with black nails. The tail, which is lavishly feathered with long hair, is carried halfway up. The colors of the Yorkie are Blue & Tan according to the breed standard. Dark steel-blue hair extends from the nape of the neck to the end of the croup, the tail is a shade darker hairy. This area should not be interspersed with lighter or darker strands. Long, radiant golden brown hairs grow on the head, muzzle and chest, which are slightly darker in color at the roots than at the tips. The purpose of the hair clip is to prevent eye irritation. The paws are also tan in color. Yorkshire Terriers are born with black fur, the color of which changes in the subsequent weeks of life. A continuous parting divides the medium-length, fine and silky hair on the body. Since there is no hair change, the Yorkie sheds relatively little hair and is therefore a suitable breed for many dog hair allergy sufferers. Since there are hardly any loose skin flakes in the fur, the typical dog odor is largely avoided when it is wet.
As an apartment dog, he announces every visit unmistakably and with the slightest noise at the front door, his qualities as a watchdog come into their own, just typical terrier. The Yorkie is not a lap dog, but a spirited hunter with a certain tendency to be stubborn, so a sensitive but consistent education is required from the start. He is not shy when it comes to contact with other dogs, but appears very self-confidently even towards larger dogs. In his family he is friendly and adaptable, he meets strangers with initial distrust. He gets along well with older children, but adults should always keep an eye on being with younger ones, as a Yorkie is very fragile. He loves his daily walks and shows persistence in running. Diverse sports such as agility or obedience put the lively Yorkie to good use in terms of stamina and mental work, so that he becomes an affectionate companion with a balanced nature.
Some breed-specific diseases are known in Yorkshire Terriers. The digestion is sensitive, so only high-quality food should be given and if it is well tolerated, it should not be changed if possible (even if the Yorkie is a picky eater). Proper nutrition, including delicacies such as dog biscuits or dried meat products, can prevent kidney dysplasia and bladder stones later on. In addition, incompatible food components can trigger skin allergies. The eyes can develop age-related cataracts, progressive retina atrophy (PRA), furthermore keratoconjunctivitis sicca, a “dry eye” can occur. A tracheal collapse, the collapse of the windpipe, can occur, especially in the middle of life. The causes for this can be genetic and triggered by allergies or infections. The softening of the cartilaginous suspension of the windpipe is also favored by constant pulling on the leash, so a harness is recommended instead of a collar.
The Yorkshire Terrier at a glance
Origin: Great Britain FCI Breed Standard 86, Group 3, Section 4: Dwarf TerrierSize: smallWeight: approx. 20 cmWeight: 2.5 – 3 kgFur color: Back dark steel blue, breast light brown Self-confident Health risks: bladder stones, sensitive digestion, eye diseases Life expectancy: approx. 10 – 15 years
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