In the 19th century, migrating Scottish weavers and working men from the north of England, accompanied by their small dogs, made their way southwards to Manchester, Leeds and York during tough economic times. It was here that their Terriers bred with local dogs, resulting in the 'Yorkie,' or Yorkshire Terrier we recognise today. Originally utilised in vermin control around the home and farmstead, the Yorkshire Terrier was most effective in the mine shafts and clothing mills, protecting the areas from sabotage. Likewise, the breed's compact size made it well-suited to maneuvering into dens to flush out the quarry, and the Yorkshire Terrier was widely used in flushing badger and fox for the hunter to shoot or the hounds to track. Taken to the United States in 1872, the breed was officially recognised by their Kennel Club 13 years later.
Thought to be the product of crossing between the Skye, Manchester, Dandie Dinmont and Leeds Terriers, probably with contributing Maltese blood, the Yorkie reflects the countenance and personality of a typical Terrier. Originally bred much larger, the Yorkshire Terrier was miniaturized as a fashionability measure, progressively serving as a lap dog and companion to Victorian ladies. Boasting toy proportions, with short legs, a small head and muzzle, upright ears and a tail that is customarily docked, despite this being an illegal practice across Europe. The Yorkie's coat is generally silky and fine, common in colours of tan and steel-blue.
One of the smallest of the working Terriers, the breed is energetic and fun-loving, engaging well with children and being enthusiastic in exercise and play. An intelligent and curious breed, it is not uncommon for the Yorkshire Terrier to attempt an escape, often appearing stubborn and disobedient when left to its own devices. When shown firm leadership, consistent training and early socialisation, the Yorkshire Terrier is an affectionate, loyal and mannered breed, displaying a relaxed and contented temperament that makes for an ideal companion. On average, a healthy Yorkshire Terrier will weigh 3 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
The Yorkshire Terrier is prone to various health conditions and diseases, ranging in severity. From mild allergies, eye complaints and cases of hair loss, to more serious incidences of liver disease, bladder stones, and orthopedic issues. Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, a rare condition affecting the leg bone, is well documented in the breed. Dental problems and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are also prevalent.