The background to the breed
Origins of the Yorkshire Terrier
The origin of the Yorkshire Terrier remains a mystery, it did not arrive from some far off country as do some breeds. It is completely man made. Many argue that the Skye, Clydesdale and Paisley Terriers who were all separate breeds had some responsibility for the coat and colour.
As the Industrial Revolution evolved, Yorkshire and Lancashire became important centres of the textile industry, new machinery was being introduced and trade was growing rapidly. With this growth of industry many of the mill workers from the Clydesdale area moved south to the more important mill centres of Yorkshire, bringing their terriers with them. These terriers were purebred Clydesdale or Paisley Terriers, a little like a Skye Terrier but smaller and having a harsher coat that was greyish in colour.
Since the railways had opened up new horizons, the Manchester Terrier would surely have been introduced, perhaps for it's black and tan marking. As to the final ingredients to produce our Yorkshire Terriers, only those canny old Yorkshire breeders really know. We must realise too, that these little dogs, even in their early days of development, were very sociable, living and working in close proximity with people. The weavers' dogs would have been crossed with local dogs introducing new traits and probably reducing the size, according to individual requirements - probably a ratter by night and a companion at work and play during the day. It would not have taken the Yorkshire breeders long to realise the potential of these glamorous little ratters as pets for Victorian Londoners. I am sure the breed's life as a ratter was very short: soon dogs with quality coats were being bred solely as domestic companions. Soon a crude prototype of the Yorkshire Terrier emerged, still known for the moment as the Scotch Terrier.
The early Yorkshire Terriers were not the toys of today, being around 141b on average. But the Victorians had a great desire for everything small. So within the space of several years, they were reducing the size. By the 1850's dogs were being exhibited at shows in various classes as Toy Terriers.
History of the Yorkshire Terrier
With the foundations of the breed being firmly set, we can now take a historical look at
In 1862 the Yorkshire Terrier got it's own headed entry into the Kennel Club Stud Book, and with this it became an officially recognised purebred dog.
We now come to the year 1865 when a dog was born who was not only going to put his stamp on the breed, but would for ever be known as The Father of the breed Huddersfield Ben. Ben managed to win seventy-four prizes being described as the most beautiful Prince of dogs, before his life was prematurely ended when he was run over in the street.
The names of the breed pioneers go on and on right up to the present day with names like Johnstournburn, Deebees, Chantmarles, Ozmillion, Blairsville, Candytops and others. Ch Ozmillion the Mystification the first Yorkshire Terrier and Toydog to win Best in Show at Crufts 1997. Ch Blairsville Most Royal won Crufts Reserve Best in Show 1974. Her Son Ch Blairsville Royal Seal went on to win a record 50 CC's and Reserve Best in Show at Crufts 1978.
Today we have 10 Yorkshire Terrier Clubs based in all areas of the UK. All this information adds up to one certain fact, the Yorkshire Terrier has evolved from a rat-catching little terrier into one of the most elegant, glamorous and eye-catching dogs to ever grace the show ring.