The Yorkshire Terrier gives the impression of being a very modern, even fashionable dog. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that this dog is more than a century old. But if you look at the Yorkshire terrier’s history, it has been around for a long time. If one compares him to the average Terrier, who is supposed to follow the game underground, the question is whether the Yorkshire Terrier really belongs in this group. However, that is indeed the case. This long-haired ‘playboy’ among the Terriers turns out to be a bourgeois counterpart and descendant of the Terriers who made a living as vermin or predator. His ancestors followed the game underground or tracked down the rats on the farmyard. The Yorkshire Terrier hides many of these qualities under its beautiful appearance. How he ended up as a guide on the hunt and a scratcher on the farmyard in the dignified salons of world cities, has everything to do with the history of this breed.
The Yorkshire Terrier owes its origins to the move of textile workers from Glasgow and surrounding areas to the county of Yorkshire in North East England. That happened in the early 19th century. These were generally very poor Scots who were obsessed with hunting, or rather poaching of all kinds. Because of the often degrading conditions under which these people had to live, their passion came in handy. That way they managed to get some protein-rich food. Lithe and courageous dogs are required for both hunting and poaching. It is believed that the predominant type of poaching dog from those days must have been very similar to the Skye Terrier. The dogs of the textile workers from Glasgow only often had a long, straight and soft coat instead of the long, straight and wiry coat of the Skye Terrier. These dogs were fairly common in the Glasgow area and were referred to as the Clydesdale Terrier, Paisley Terrier or also called Silky Skye Terrier. The Skye Terrier breeders sometimes found such soft-haired dogs in the nests of their breed, but they did not like that. They believed that these dogs, which also had no undercoat, should be killed. Still, there were enthusiasts for the Clydesdale Terrier, especially near the valley of the Clyde (hence the name). This Terrier not only had a different coat structure, but also a different coat color. The coat was steel-blue from the occiput to the tail root, without brown, light or dark hairs. The head,
The Clydesdale Terrier was very noble, but much tougher and more robust in construction than the later Yorkshire Terrier . In 1884 a breed club for the Clydesdale Terrier was even founded in Glasgow, but it soon became defunct. Four years later, the Paisley Terrier Club was founded under the wing of the Kennel Club. These dogs also belonged mainly to weavers, just like those of the emigrants in Yorkshire. When people’s hand weaving machines were replaced at home by mechanical weaving machines in factories, the weavers’ bond with these dogs was also broken and the breed disappeared. Some Paisley’s are also known to have been huge rat catchers.
The textile workers from Glasgow took their ClydesdaIe Terriers to Yorkshire. These small but fairly long and heavy dogs were crossed there with local Terrier varieties. These included the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Manchester Terrier (not yet divided into a normal and a toy variety, the later English Toy Terrier) and small variants of the famous Old English Broken Haired (Black and Tan) Terrier. The result was a much smaller, but long-legged and lightly built Terrier, the direct predecessor of the Yorkshire Terrier. This extremely alert dog was quickly underground and fierce in the wild. An additional advantage was that it was so small that it could easily be hidden in a pocket if the poacher was caught red-handed.
The only thing missing from this new creation was an excessively long coat. Now British sailors brought all kinds of sights, including Maltese, from their travels to the Mediterranean Sea. The Yorkshire Terrier is believed to have originated from crosses between the Little Poacher Terrier and the Maltese. This small, courageous, calm and loyal dog did not last long in the hands of the weavers. Apparently he exerted so much attraction that the wealthy bourgeoisie also seized him. The original breeders did such good business that they set up special breeding lines for the breed. This gave it its modern, homogeneous form. The Yorkshire Terrier then also made an appearance at dog exhibitions. That first happened in the category of unrecognized terrier breeds, but from 1886 in its own classes. In that year, the Yorkshire Terrier was officially recognized by the Kennel Club. The creation of a Yorkshire Terrier Club soon followed, but it was not until 1898 that an official standard was established. However, this relatively long phase without a pedigree did not harm the breed, as it had been very homogeneous for a long time and the traits were well established. As in the later standard, the emphasis was not only on character and type, but also on coat quality and coat color (the fact that the Clydesdale was also bred by color should not have been strange about that). In addition, breeding was favored by the fact that Mr. Franck Pearse from Kent has been breeding a pedigree for this breed since 1874. The Yorkshire reached the American continent before 1880, while it was imported to Belgium and the Netherlands at the beginning of this century. Thus, the breed quickly achieved success and underwent a corresponding expansion.
As a result, the Yorkshire Terrier became a fashion dog. Numerous farms threw themselves into breeding the breed without keeping in mind the objectives required for healthy and responsible breeding. Puppies of questionable origin, with forged papers and often not even weaned, were also traded as Yorkshire Terriers. Therefore, a Yorkshire Terrier must always be purchased through the breed club. The address can be found through the umbrella organization in the canine field. This ensures that the puppies are in any case entered in the studbook, vaccinated and tattooed, and come from parents who meet certain conditions (eg have obtained a minimum number of qualifications at exhibitions).