History of the Yorkshire Terrier  

This page is just meant to give you a little bit of history about the Yorkshire Terrier. I have tried to supply a little bit about how the breed came to be, and when it came to the United States.

The Paisley Terrier is one of the breeds that was originally used in breeding what is known today as the Yorkshire Terrier.

This Clydsdale Terrier also had it's role in the Yorkshire Terrier.  Some authors believe them to be one in the same breed.  The Clydesdale's weight seldom exceeded 18 lbs

This early Scottish-bred Yorkshire looks more like the Clydesdale above than today's Yorkshire Terrier.


Today's Yorkshire Terrier is very different from the early Yorkshire Terriers of the North of England. There are varying accounts of the origins of this breed and its development. The Authenticated pedigrees of Yorkshire Terriers go back little further than the early 1860's, and it was not until the year 1862 that they were found a separate place in the stud book of the Kennel Club, and thereby became officially recognized as a pure breed.  Before 1750, most British people worked in agriculture. The onset of the Industrial Revolution brought great changes to family life. In Yorkshire, small communities grew up around coal mines, textile mills and factories. People were drawn to these areas to seek work from as far away as Scotland. They brought with them a breed known as the Clydesdale Terrier, or Paisley Terrier. These were primarily working dogs, much larger than today's Yorkies, and were used for catching rats and other small mammals. These terriers were inevitably crossed with other types of terrier, probably the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier, the Waterside Terrier, (varying in weight from 6 to 20 pounds), the Broken-Coated Terrier of a blue-sheen body colour, with tan legs and face and weighing approximately 7 to 10 pounds, and the Skye Terrier as described of fawn or silver gray and weighed 10 to 16 pounds; it is also thought that at some stage the Maltese Terrier was crossed with these breeds to help produce long coats. As the outline of the Maltese resembles that of many of today's Yorkies, this is very likely. Unfortunately, no records in the form of Pedigrees exist to confirm these crosses (possibly because of the poor level of literacy in these times), but a great deal is known about the type of people who bred them, and there can be no doubt that early breeders had a very clear idea of the type of dogs they were attempting to produce. We can see in today's Yorkies how strongly the terrier temperament has been retained.


Drawing of Huddersfield Ben

One of the most famous early Yorkies was  Huddersfield Ben, bred by a Mr. Eastwood, to Mr.Boscovitch's dog Lady and owned by Mr. M.A. Foster. Huddersfield Ben was born in 1865 and died in 1871, and  can be said to be the father of the modern Yorkie. It is recorded by Gordon Staples in "Our Friend the Dog" 1883, that Huddersfield Ben weighed 12 lbs.  In his day "Ben" was a very popular stud dog who won many prizes in the show ring, and had tremendous influence in setting breed type.


Champion Ted

This is a picture of Ted from a copy of Canine World, published August 15, 1890, in England.  First shown in July 1887, he had won 96 first prizes  up to the time of the article's publication.  Ted was born on July 20, 1885, and reached a mature weight of 4 pounds.


In "Stonehenge" (second edition dated 1872, England) the following paragraph appears:  

"The Yorkshire Blue Tan, silky-coated Terrier, is a modern breed altogether, having been almost unknown beyond the neighbourhood of Halifax until within the last few years.  Excepting in colour and coat this dog resembles the old English rough terrier, as well as the Scotch, but the silky texture of his coat and his rich blue tan are the result of careful selection and probably of crossing with the Maltese.  The ears are generally cropped, but if entire should be fine, thin, and moderately small.  The coat should be long, silky in texture, and well-parted down the back.  The beard is peculiarly long and falling, being often several inches in length, and of a rich holden tan colour.  The colour must be entirely blue on the back and down to the elbows and thighs, without any mixture of tan or fawn.  The legs and muzzle should be a rich golden tan; the ears being the same, but of a darker shade.  On the top of the skull it becomes lighter and almost fawn.  The weight varies from 10 lbs to 18 lbs.

 In 1874 the first Yorkies were registered in the British Kennel Club stud book. They were referred to as "Broken Haired Scottish Terriers" or "Scotch Terriers". It was not until 1886 that the Kennel Club, which itself had only been founded in 1873, acknowledged the breed as Yorkshire Terriers.   The first Yorkshire Terrier breed club was formed in 1898. During these early years, one who greatly influenced the breed was Lady Edith Wyndham-Dawson. Lady Edith was secretary of the Yorkshire Terrier Club for some time and did much early work for the improvement of the breed. Later, a Miss Palmer, who was Lady Edith's kennel maid, started her own Yorkie kennel under the "Winpal" prefix. When Lady Edith returned to Ireland at the start of World War I, Miss Palmer went to work for Mrs. Crookshank of the famous Johnstounburn prefix, a name with a long list of champions, which is now in the care of Daphne Hillman, who was entrusted with this prefix, and still uses it along with her own Yorkfold prefix. Many others have worked very hard since these early years to improve this breed, and to these breeders much is owed. Many of their early dogs became the foundation stock of kennels in North America and elsewhere.


The Yorkshire Terrier now flourishes throughout the world and the early breeders who were instrumental in producing the diminutive toy terrier of today would surely be astounded at the success of this delightful breed. In 1932 only 300 Yorkies were registered with the British Kennel Club, in 1957 the number was 2313, and in the 1970's Yorkies were the most popular breed in Britain. This trend continued until 1990 with a record of 25,665 Yorkies registered. However, this figure has now begun to drop, and in 1994 there were 12,343 registrations, with the Yorkie being recorded as the 7th most popular breed.

The most famous Yorkshire Terrier of modern times in the UK was CH Blairsville Royal Seal. He was by CH Beechrise Surprise and his dam was CH Blairsville Most Royale. "Tosha" to his friends (of whom he had many) was bred, owned and handled by Mr. Brian Lister and his wife, Rita. Tosha was definitely a 'King' among dogs and no one who saw him flowing around the ring could ever forget him. His prescence could be felt, even by a complete novice, and many say that just thinking of him brings a lump to the throat. During his show career Tosha won 50 CCs, all under different judges. He was 12 times Best In Show at all breed CH shows, and 16 times Reserve Best In Show. He took 33 Group wins, and went Reserve Best In Show at Cruft's in 1978, just as his dam had done before him. Tosha was Top Dog, all breeds, for two consecutive years. He became the sire of many prolific Champions and still features in the pedigree of many of today's Yorkies.



The first Yorkie to become an American Champion was Bradford Harry, who gained his title in 1889. He was the great-great-grandson of Huddersfield Ben, and was imported from England by P.H. Coombs of Bangor, Maine. Some of the most notable early American kennels are Janet Bennet and Joan Gordon (Wildweir) who imported many English Yorkies, including lines from Johnstounburn, Haringay and Buranthea. The Mayfield-Barban kennels owned by Anne Seranne and Barbara Wolferman have also done much to improve the breed. Whilst CH Blairsville Royal Seal dominated the British show scene, his American counterpart, CH Cede Higgens was making his mark in the USA. These two dogs were both shown during the same era, and were inevitably, constantly being compared. However, although they were both outstanding specimens of the breed, those who had seen them both, agreed that they were totally different in type. Bred by C.D. Lawrence, Cede Higgens was closely line-bred to the Clarkwyns and Wildweir lines, by CH. Wildweir Pomp 'N Circumstance. Another dog who had significant influence on the North American Yorkies was CH Finstal Royal Icing, bred by Sybil Pritchard in the UK and exported to the Jentre kennels after Sybil died. He is by CH Finstal Johnathan, who still has winning progeny in the UK today. Johnathan was looked after by Wendy White (Wenwytes) after Sybil's death, until he died in 1994 aged about 17. The Yorkshire Terrier is also very popular in North America today. In 1992, Yorkies were #14 on the AKC's list of most popular breeds with 39,904 registrations. In 1994 they were #11, although registrations had dropped to 38,626. It may seem strange that Yorkies have risen in popularity in North America while the number of registrations has dropped, but overall, AKC registration, is down (as is UK registration), with some popular breeds having dramatic reductions in the numbers now registered.

Yorkies Among the Yanks

The Yorkie came to America in the early 1870s in response to the American fascination with all things Victorian. The first Yorkie to be bred and recorded in America was a dog called Jack, bred by J Marriot and sired by Havelock Ex Jessie.  Jack was exhibited at a show held in New York in 1878, shown in the over 5 lbs class.  During the same year at the Westminster Kennel Club show, 33 Yorkshire Terriers were exhibited in two classes, over and under 5 lbs.  The breed was adopted by purebred dog lovers here and was admitted to the American Kennel Club (AKC) stud book in 1885, one year after the AKC had been established. Yorkies were a diverse lot at first, weighing anywhere from 3 to 13 pounds. By the 1930s the petite size and the modern-day Yorkie look were more universal, but the breed did not start to climb the AKC's hit parade until the 1950s. Indeed, 50 years ago the Yorkie ranked 57th among the 112 breeds registered by the AKC, with a mere 173 new registrations in 1949. During the Eisenhower regime, when many Americans were buying houses for the first time, a number of people were buying Yorkies for the first time too; and by 1960, when 1,181 new Yorkies were registered, the breed had leap-dogged 23 spaces on the AKC's popularity list. The beat went on during the following decade, and by 1970 annual Yorkie registrations had increased more than tenfold (to 13,484), which was good enough for 17th place on the AKC list. By 1980 the Yorkie was poised at number 11 with 24,665 new registrations. After vacillating between 11th and 14th on the AKC list for a decade and a half, the Yorkie made the top 10 in 1995, when its 36,881 new registrations placed it 10th among the 145 breeds registered by the AKC. Last year the Yorkie, with 42,900 new registrations, ranked 9th among the 146 AKC-recognized breeds.

In 1978 Ch Cede Higgins was the best in show winner at Westminster in New York.  He is the only Yorkshire Terrier to ever have won Best in Show there.

Pictures from "The New Complete Yorkshire Terrier" by Joan B Gordon, " A dog owner's guide to Yorkshire Terriers" by Jackie Ransom
Information derived from "The New Complete Yorkshire Terrier", by Joan B Gordon,
"Yorkshire Terriers", by Armin Kriechbaumer, "A dog owner's guide to Yorkshire Terriers" by Jackie Ransom, and "The Yorkshire Terrier, Origin, History and complete care" by Aileen Markley Martello.

Yorkie Traits

Yorkie Standard


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