10 Facts About Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers, commonly known as Yorkies, have a big personality packed into their small frames. Discover more about this energetic breed and its history.

Yorkies were originally rat hunters. These small dogs were bred from different terrier breeds, including the Waterside terrier, to hunt rats. Miners, weavers, and other workers in Scotland used these dogs to keep their workplaces free of rodents. Yorkies could navigate tight spaces and had the courage to tackle rodent prey. Like other terriers, they also assisted in hunts by flushing out prey from their dens.

Yorkies were introduced to England by weavers. When Scottish weavers moved to England for work in the mid-1800s, they brought their little dogs along. The breed quickly gained popularity and made its show debut in 1861.

The breed underwent a name change. Initially called broken-haired Scotch terriers when they arrived in England, the breed was renamed after Angus Sutherland argued in The Field magazine that the breed was improved and perfected in Yorkshire. By 1870, the name was officially changed to Yorkshire Terriers.

A notable Yorkie played a key role in the breed’s success. Huddersfield Ben is considered the father of the breed. A champion in ratting and dog shows, he won over 70 awards and left behind a legacy, as most show Yorkies today are descended from him.

A Yorkie became the first therapy dog. American soldier Bill Wynne found a Yorkie named Smoky in a foxhole during World War II. Smoky assisted with the war effort by running through pipes to string communication wires. She also toured hospitals as a therapy dog for wounded soldiers. After the war, Smoky performed in Hollywood, and a monument honors her in Cleveland, Ohio.

Yorkies have impressive hair growth. Yorkies do not shed, so their hair keeps growing like human hair and can reach up to two feet long. While show dogs often have long hair, many owners prefer a shorter “puppy cut” to prevent tripping and food tangling.

A unique Yorkie led to a new breed. In 1984, a Yorkie named Schneeflocken von Friedheck was born with unusual blue, white, and gold markings. Breeders Werner and Gertrud Biewer used him to establish the Biewer terrier breed, recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2021.

Yorkies make amusing sounds. Yorkies may experience reverse sneezing, causing them to make honking sounds while gasping for air. Although startling, the reflex is harmless and passes quickly, often triggered by irritants.

Yorkies were one of the first AKC-registered breeds. Despite being a newer breed, Yorkies were among the first breeds registered with the American Kennel Club in 1885, alongside established breeds like the beagle and basset hound.

Yorkies are fiercely protective. Yorkies may be small, averaging seven pounds, but they fearlessly defend their owners. In 2015, a Yorkie distracted a bear attacking its owner, allowing the injured man to escape and seek medical attention.

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