The history of the yorkshire terrier
Yorkshire Terriers, according to Yorkshire Terrier information sources, originally came from Scotland and bred with native terriers. The founding father was named Huddersfield Ben. Yorkshire Terriers were originally bred to kill mice and rats. There are very few records of dog breeding from this time. Yorkshire terriers were originally bred to kill rats, not to be a fashion accessory. They arrived in America as early as 1872 and have never looked back.
If you took a trip back in time to 1870, you probably would have a hard time recognizing a Yorkshire Terrier. In about one hundred thirty years, the breed has gone through tremendous changes in their looks and in their functions. But the Yorkshire Terrier has adapted to the great changes that the Industrial Revolution brought to the economy and to family life. Yorkies back then weighed about thirty pounds and came in more colors than just blue and tan.
Back in the 1870’s, word was getting around about the great pups from a sire named Huddersfield Ben, who was born in 1865. Huddersfield Ben was considered an ideal dog – a champion ratter as well as being friendly and handsome. Any dog that resembled Huddersfield Ben had to have been from Yorkshire, where Ben lived. Yorkshire dog breeders kept their breeding methods secret so they could be assured of buyers. His puppies eventually became known as Yorkshire Terriers.
Back in 1865 – the year of Huddersfield Ben’s birth – dogs were bred to exhibit useful qualities, not for their looks. There also was not much interest in keeping breeds pure. There are very few accurate records of dog breeding at this time. It is also thought that dog breeding was considered such a secret business that no records were kept for fear of the knowledge getting out to competitors. Yorkshire Terriers got their name because the breed was perfected in Yorkshire.
Yorkshire Terriers were bred to be specialists in killing rats. They were (and still are) thought to be more reliable at killing mice and rats than cats. They were also bred to bark when they found their prey and to let their masters know where they are. The mining industry thrived in Yorkshire at this time – and the mines were full of rats. They were until the Yorkshire Terriers got to work.
As time went on, the need for big working dogs decreased. People were living in smaller homes and needed smaller dogs they could physically control easily. The Yorkshire Terrier filled this niche admirably. They were a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Not only did they make great guard dogs, but were affectionate and did not need a lot of exercise. They were introduced to America in 1872.
Over the last century, Yorkshire Terriers have become ever smaller. The original Yorkies were about thirty pounds and came in several colors. Today’s show Yorkies are not to exceed seven pounds and must be steel blue and tan (and have those colors in specific proportions). The hot trend is top breed Yorkies that tip the scales at three pounds, which has lead to concerns about the health of breeding such small dogs. The Yorkshire Terrier, as of 2006, is the second most popular purebred dog in America.