Small, peppy and arguably one of the most adorable dogs on the planet, it is not hard to believe that the Yorkshire Terrier has become one of the top ten most beloved dogs in the United States. Find out more facts about this endearing dog breed below.
Yorkshire Terriers were originally bred to be efficient rat hunters in the 1800’s. With the increase of factories during the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution, vermin would run rampant in the warm mills and factories. The terrier personality of this breed made them the perfect companion to chase the rats and away or kill them on sight. Because of their small stature, Yorkies could be kept around without getting in the way or inhibiting the workers’ production.
This breed is descended from several types of dogs, including the Black-and-Tan terrier (which is now sadly extinct) and the Clydesdale Terrier. The undisputed “grandfather” of this breed was a pup named Huddersfiled Ben, who was an award-winning dog with nearly 70 prizes to his name. This celebrated dog sired many of the modern-day Yorkies in his short life.
These dogs were called Broken Haired Scotch Terriers, or Toy Terriers all the way through the 1970’s, until Yorkshire was added as a tribute to the region in England where these feisty little pups first began winning the affection of human hearts.
Though the original Yorkshire Terriers were rather larger than those we see now, today’s Yorkies are well known for being petite companions and energetic lapdogs seldom used for “ratting.” The American Kennel Clubs rates the Yorkshire Terrier as the 6th most popular breed, according to a 2013 registration list.
In spite of their uncontested popularity, Yorkies have only won the “Best In Show” award one time at the prestigious Westminster dog show. In 1978, a Yorkshire Terrier dog named Cede Higgins won the coveted prize, and only 11 other toy dogs have ever received the same.
Yorkies are known for being brave, tenacious, talkative and social. They can get yappy, defensive and protective of their owners, but for the most part are a perfectly amiable pet. Though some trainers advise that they do not work well with children, as they can be snappy, these high-energy pups make great playmates if they are properly trained from an early age.
Yorkies have silky coats of fine hair that can be left to grow to long luxuriant locks, or clipped neatly for more active pups. They are tan with blueish or silvery saddles, and can have black, gray, gold, white, liver, and chocolate coloring.
There is a good reason these dogs are considered in the “toy” category; the smallest dog in the world was a Yorkshire Terrier named Sylvia who for 70 years has maintained the record for the tiniest canine in history. She was only 2.5 inches tall and only weighed 4 ounces!
Some celebrities have famously brought their pups into the spotlight with them. Audrey Hepburn so adored her Yorkie, that the dog even got a bit part on her movie “Funny Face” and appeared in many magazine editorials with the actress. President Nixon posed for family photos that included his Yorkshire Terriers Checkers and Pasha. Countless other celebrities have owned Yorkies including, Gisele Bundchen, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Emmy Rossum, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Vanessa Williams, to name a few.
One of the most famous Yorkies was a small pup named Smoky who became a Pacific war hero during WWII. First found in a foxhole, Smoky was smuggled as a secret companion to the soldiers, eventually performing tricks for them, and acting as a companion to wounded men. She became known as one of the first therapy dogs. Yorkies have benefitted humans in more ways than we could possibly list!