Breed in Brief: Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier, as its name implies, originated in Yorkshire, England. In the mid-19th century, at the peak of England’s industrial revolution, miners and mill workers from Scotland came to Yorkshire in search of work and brought with them several different varieties of small, long-coated terriers. The specific breeds that make up the Yorkshire Terrier’s ancestry aren’t known, but they are thought to include the Clydesdale, Paisley, Skye, and Waterside terriers, as well as the English Black-and-Tan Terrier. These breeds were all working dogs, used to keep vermin under control in the textile mills and coal mines.
The breed first appeared at an 1861 bench show in England as the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier (named for the dog’s Scottish ancestors); by 1874 it had been christened the Yorkshire Terrier.
The Yorkshire Terrier was introduced in the United States in 1872, and the first Yorkie was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878. During the late Victorian era, the Yorkshire Terrier quickly became a popular pet, but the breed’s popularity dipped in the 1940s. For several years the Yorkshire Terrier has occupied the No. 2 spot on the AKC’s annual list of the most popular breeds in America.
Little-known fact: The “Toto” of L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is believed to be a Yorkie. Although the book does not specifically state Toto’s breed, it describes him as “a little black dog with long silky hair.” Most people recognize Toto as a Cairn Terrier from the 1939 film version. The illustrations in Baum’s original book, however, have led many to conclude that Toto is a Yorkshire Terrier, as this breed was very popular at the time of publication.