History of Yorkshire Terrier
The history of Yorkshire terrier dogs actually begins with a different breed, known then as the Waterside Terrier. The Waterside Terrier weighed, on average, ten to twenty pounds and it was used to chase away rats and other pests. Later, they were crossed with other dogs and refined until they became the modern Airedale Terrier.
Before we can get back to the history of Yorkshire terriers, we must also discuss another breed, the Skye Terrier. Skye Terriers were supposedly developed after a shipwreck near the Island of Skye in Scotland brought a number of Maltese-like dogs to shore in the 1600's. These dogs were bred with a common type of terrier found on the island, and the Skye Terrier was a result of the pairings. As you may know, these dogs can weigh up to 25 pounds. Clearly, the history of Yorkshire terriers began with much larger breeds.
When Scottish merchants and tradespeople began moving to England during the Industrial Revolution, they brought with them their Skye Terriers, as well as another now-extinct breed known as the Paisley Terrier. Both of these types of terriers were bred with the Waterside Terrier. This combination started the true history of Yorkshire terriers.
Through selective breeding, the dog was made smaller which made it an ideal pet for working class individuals, particularly weavers, in England. Because of their Scottish roots, they were known as the Broken-Haired Scottish Terrier when they were shown for the first time in 1861. Just nine years later, their name was changed to Yorkshire Terriers in honor of the English county.
Of course, the history of Yorkshire terriers doesn't end there. Two years after the name change, the breed came to America. The first Yorkshire terrier born in the United States was named Jack, and he was probably larger than most of today's yorkies. Originally, yorkies could weigh as much as 12 pounds. In fact, the breed was divided into two weight classes, so the dogs were divided into those who were under and those who were over five pounds in weight. Eventually, the weight of the dogs became more standard so these different classifications were no longer necessary.
For most of the history of Yorkshire terriers in America, they were not a widely popular breed. In the 1960's, however, everything changed for the breed. Clubs and breeders began popping up, and yorkies started climbing the charts of most popular dog breeds. While their popularity has prevented the breed from following the path of the Paisley terrier, it has also led to overbreeding so buyers need to be careful when purchasing a puppy. Otherwise, they may get a poor quality yorkie.
Thankfully, responsible breeders and lovers of the breeds will help to continue the history of the Yorkshire terrier.