Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire terriers can trace their history back to the mid-19th Century. They first came to the county along with and an influx of Scottish workers to the textile mills and mines, in the region. They brought their native dogs with them, such as Waterside and Skye terriers from North of the border. These dogs were bred with the native dogs and became known as “Yorkshire Terriers” or “Yorkies” for short. The main purpose for these dogs was to hunt rodents in the mines, factories and mills of the industrial North. Although they were a bigger breed than what they are today, these dogs were useful for their active and bold personalities, which made them ideal for hunting, digging and chasing rodents.

One of the earliest recorded terriers was called “Huddersfield Ben,” who achieved local celebrity status by winning local dog shows and ratting contests. Throughout his career this dog won 74 prizes at shows across the country, including one of the first “Crufts” shows in 1870.  Despite his name, Ben actually lived in Bradford, but was bred in the Holme valley mill town. Tragically in 1871 he was run over by a carriage and killed. His body was preserved and put on display. His fame meant that the Yorkshire terrier breed was born and changed its name from the “Broken haired Scottish Terrier.” It is also believed that all Yorkshire terriers descend from Huddersfield Ben.

Huddersfield ben
He’s the daddy of them all.. “Huddersfield Ben”

In more recent times this breed of dog has lost its original purpose, due to a decline in British industry (although not because of any shortage of rodents!) It has become a show dog and is now part of the “toy dog” family, which makes it an ideal, but lively pet or fashion accessory. They have also become smaller than their Victorian ancestors, but have still retained their characteristics of a long, thick coat, active personality and hunting skills.

Personality and Characteristics

The Yorkshire terrier is small in size, weighing between 5-7 pounds and is known for its lovely thick fur, which has made it over the years, a toy dog. They will still use their natural instincts to dig, chase and lead an active life, while also enjoying home comforts too. Despite their ancestry in Scotland and being bred in Yorkshire they dislike the cold and rain. These types of terriers make good watchdogs as they love to bark, especially if the sense danger. They can be over exuberant and make noise at the slightest movement. Yorkies are lively creatures, who have bags of energy, which needs constant attention especially if there are small children around. They are accepting of them and can make a good family pet, but due to their size are prone to injury or even death if squashed or jumping from a relatively small height. Like many dogs they hate cats, but will kill any rodent pets, such as hamsters, gerbils or mice because it is till their natural instinct to hunt and kill rodents.

Teacup Yorkies and puppies

teacup yorkie
Source: pixabay

These are miniature Yorkshire terriers, which weigh less than three pounds as adults. They make ideal pets, but due to their small size, require careful attention as they can easily injure themselves and have a shorter life span of between 3-7 years. This is a controversial type of dog and is not officially recognised as a type of Yorkshire terrier, due to unscrupulous methods used by some breeders. If considering buying one it is worth checking the breeder’s reputation before purchasing.


Biewer Terriers

Rare the Biewer terrier Source: Author: Detleif Breiting Wikipedia (Creative commons)

In 1984 a Yorkshire terrier puppy, which was born in Germany developed unique white coloured patterning


throughout its coat. It was found to be carrying a unique “piebald” gene. The owners, Mr and Mrs Biewer were dog breeders and used this gene to create more Yorkshire terriers which were white, blue and gold in colour. This breed finally gained enough recognition to be classed as a type of dog, named after its owners in 1988. The Biewer family stopped breeding dogs in 1997 and so is now considered to be an increasingly rare breed.

Personality and Characteristics

This rare blue, white and gold breed is bred for its looks, which makes it an ideal toy dog. They weigh between 4-8 pounds and have long, silky fur which extends to its face and legs. This means they need constant brushing and bathing. Despite their appearance these dogs also display some of the Yorkshire terrier’s feisty side and are not afraid to stand up to larger, uglier dogs. They are great companions for children and the elderly, although will react if provoked or startled. They hate cats.

Airedale Terrier

Airedale terrier
An Airedale Terrier: Brave, tenacious and a good pet. Source: Wikipedia (Creative Commons) Author: Zuni1520

This is the largest type of Yorkshire terrier, which originates from the Aire Valley, in places such as Bradford, Bingley and Skipton. These are the largest of its family and often referred to as the “King of Terriers.” Like its cousins this breed was originally trained to catch otters and rats along the river Aire and so possesses athletic and hunting instincts. During the Great War, Airedale Terriers were used on the battlefields to carry messages, medical equipment and transport mail to soldiers behind enemy lines. One time a battalion became cut off from the rest of the army, fast becoming surrounded by mines, barbed wire and a swamp. An SOS message was attached to an Airedale terrier called “Jack,” who bravely ran through the swamp to the army HQ. The dog was shot at throughout his epic journey. After receiving a shattered jaw, paw and back he finally reached his destination with the message still intact. Jack’s bravery had saved a whole battalion from certain death.

Stories such as these made Airedale terriers become popular in the 20th Century and were used by the police before the German Shepherd became the dog of choice of the force.

Personality and Characteristics

As the largest of the Yorkshire terriers, these dogs are both tenacious and versatile. Used during the war and by the police, their hunting instincts are still very much intact. It is an intelligent dog, who can think independently, but does not always listen to commands. Therefore it requires stringent obedience training and you have to earn its respect as an owner as Airedales will hold a grudge against those who mistreat them. As a hunter they can be aggressive to other dogs and animals. They make a great family pet, as they make excellent watchdogs and are good with children, where they will often display a softer, more playful side to. As an active dog they need 1-2 walks per day in which to unleash its boundless energy.

More types of Yorkie…


Over time, Yorkshire Terriers have been bred in different colours.. here’s a selection..

Golden Yorkies – Ones which miss the blue and black colour. They can be bought as puppies in a rich golden colour

Chocolate Yorkies – Dogs which have black fur removed to leave an all brown chocolatey body

Parti Yorkies – Black or blue white and tan are the colours of a Parti Yorkie. These can be mixed with Biewer terriers to create a tri-coloured dog.

Black Yorkshire Terrier – Terrier pups are born with black fur and over time colour replacement can make sure this stays into adulthood.

Red Yorkshire Terrier – The tan brown is reddened to create a more vibrant colour

Silver Yorkshire Terrier– The steel blue colour is tinted silver to create a shimmering effect.

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Featured image source: Wikipedia, Creative commons: Author: Christian Glockner