Yorkshire Terrier

The History and Origins of the Yorkshire Terrier Breed

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By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | June 29, 2023
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Have you ever wondered about the history and origins of the beloved Yorkshire Terrier breed? This popular toy breed is known for its adorable looks and feisty personality, but where did it all begin? In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history and origins of the Yorkshire Terrier breed, from its humble beginnings as a rat-catcher to its status as a beloved companion dog.

The Yorkshire Terrier breed originated in England in the 19th century, where it was originally bred for catching rats in textile mills and mines. Over time, the breed’s popularity grew, and it soon became a beloved companion dog. Today, the Yorkshire Terrier is known for its long, silky coat and spunky personality, and it remains one of the most popular toy breeds in the world.

The Early History of the Yorkshire Terrier Breed

The Yorkshire Terrier breed originated in the county of Yorkshire in northern England in the mid-19th century. At the time, the breed was known as the “Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier,” It was used primarily as a rat-catcher in textile mills and mines. The breed was small and agile, perfect for squeezing into tight spaces to catch rats and other vermin.

As the Yorkshire Terrier breed became more popular, breeders began to selectively breed for smaller sizes and long hair. The breed was crossed with other terriers, such as the Skye Terrier and the Paisley Terrier, to achieve the desired traits. Eventually, the breed’s name was changed to the “Yorkshire Terrier,” in honor of its place of origin.

The Yorkshire Terrier in America

The Yorkshire Terrier was first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s, and it quickly gained popularity as a pet. In 1885, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, which was classified as a toy breed. Today, the Yorkshire Terrier is among the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

The Yorkshire Terrier’s Appearance

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small breed, typically weighing between 4 and 7 pounds. It has a long, silky coat, traditionally blue and tan, although breed standards now recognize other colors. The breed has a distinctive “topknot” of hair on its head, often tied back in a bow or a ponytail. Its ears are erect and triangular, and its tail is traditionally docked to a medium length.

The Yorkshire Terrier’s Personality

Despite its small size, the Yorkshire Terrier has a big personality. It is known for being energetic, spunky, and feisty, and it is often described as “self-assured” and “determined.” The breed is also known for being fiercely loyal to its owner and has a reputation for being an excellent watchdog.

Yorkshire Terrier Health Issues

Like all breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier is prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health problems in the breed include dental issues, such as tooth decay and gum disease, and luxating patellas, which occur when the kneecap moves out of place. Additionally, the breed is prone to hypoglycemia, which can be a serious condition if left untreated.

Yorkshire Terrier Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are important for keeping your Yorkshire Terrier healthy and happy. Regular grooming is essential for maintaining the breed’s long, silky coat, and it’s important to keep up with dental care to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, the breed requires regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Famous Yorkshire Terrier Owners

The Yorkshire Terrier has been a beloved breed among many famous owners throughout history. Among them are Audrey Hepburn, who famously carried her Yorkie in a purse, and Paris Hilton, who has owned several Yorkies over the years. Other famous owners include Britney Spears, Joan Rivers, and Martha Stewart.

Yorkshire Terrier Breeding Standards

The Yorkshire Terrier is a purebred dog breed, and several major kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, recognize it. Breed standards dictate that the breed should be no taller than 9 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 4 and 7 pounds. Additionally, the breed’s coat should be long, straight, and silky, and it should be blue and tan.

The Yorkshire Terrier in Pop Culture

The Yorkshire Terrier has appeared in many popular films and television shows. The most famous Yorkshire Terrier in pop culture is Toto from the Wizard of Oz, played by a Cairn Terrier but inspired by the look of a Yorkshire Terrier. Other popular Yorkshire Terrier characters include Bruiser from Legally Blonde and Max from The Secret Life of Pets.

Yorkshire Terrier Training Tips

Training a Yorkshire Terrier can be challenging due to the breed’s feisty and independence. However, with patience and consistency, it is possible to train a Yorkie to be a well-behaved and obedient companion. Positive reinforcement methods, such as clicker training and treat rewards, are often the most effective with this breed.

Yorkshire Terrier Competitions

The Yorkshire Terrier is popular in dog competitions, such as obedience trials and conformation shows. The breed’s small size and spunky personality make it a natural show dog, and many Yorkies have gone on to win top honors in their respective competitions.

Yorkshire Terrier Varieties

While the traditional blue and tan coloration is the most well-known variety of Yorkshire Terrier, the breed also comes in several other color variations. These include black and tan, particolored, and chocolate and tan.


The Yorkshire Terrier may be small, but it has a big personality and a fascinating history. From its origins as a rat-catcher to its status as a beloved companion dog, the Yorkshire Terrier has captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Whether you’re a long-time Yorkie owner or simply a fan of this adorable breed, there’s no denying the charm and appeal of the Yorkshire Terrier.