Before they became adorable pets for modern families, Yorkshire Terriers had a very serious purpose: to hunt down and kill rats in clothing mills in the 1800’s. They were originally bred in the county of Yorkshire, England, thus the name. While very little is known about the origin of the breed, it is thought to have been bred from 3 other small terrier breeds with the specific purpose of catching rats that were causing damage and losses to cotton and other fabrics in clothing mills. They needed to be small in stature so that they could chase the mice into small crevices and cracks, but also show a strong predatory drive!
Yorkies were introduced stateside in the late 1800s, with the first Yorkie being registered with the American Kennel Club in 1885. During the Victorian Era, this breed was wildly popular in Great Britain. It should come as no surprise that the fad came across the pond as Americans adopted Victorian era styles. While the breeds popularity, and small dogs in general waned during the middle part of the 20th century, these days the Yorkshire Terrier ranks as the 6th most popular dog breed in the US!
Yorkies, like all dogs, are supposed to meet certain criteria in terms of appearance. Most notably with this breed is its silky, hypo-allergenic hair. The hair is traditionally grown long and parted down the middle of the back. Given the wiry nature of their long hair, regular grooming is required. If you’re not prone to taking this type of care for a dog, you may want to find a breed that requires less grooming!
It shouldn’t be surprising, given the nature of the work they were bred for, that Yorkies aren’t traditional lap dogs. They aren’t considered subservient dogs, and their natural tendencies are to work, be active, as well as be overprotective. Given their overprotective nature most reputable breeders won’t allow people to own one of their puppies if they have young children in the house.
On the training front, Yorkies are quite smart and can be easily trained. That said, they require a lot of attention and must have their brains stimulated for much of the day. A Yorkie that just sits inside without getting exercise or mental stimulation can bark a lot and be quite yappy.
One thing any potential dog owner should do is take an honest look at their lifestyle and compare that with the temperament of the dog they’re considering owning. Many people make a split second decision about a dog purely based on its appearance, while completing ignoring the fact that from a lifestyle perspective, it’s just not a good fit. That makes for unhappy owners and unhappy dogs. It also increases the likelihood the dog ends up in the pound or in a rescue shelter of some kind.