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About Yorkshire Terrier - Breed Characteristics
Appearance
The Yorkshire Terrier (often called simply the Yorkie) is a breed of small dog in the terrier category. The long-haired terrier is known for its playful demeanor and distinctive blue and tan coat. Yorkies can be very small, usually weighing not more than 7 pounds (3.18 kg); the standard of this breed does not mention the minimum weight accepted nor does it specify a height. Based on registrations of the American Kennel Club, Yorkshire Terriers became the second most popular dog breed in the United States in 2006, trailing only the Labrador Retriever.
The Yorkshire Terrier breed standard specifies that the dog should have a compact, athletic build suitable for an active lifestyle; and hold itself in an upright, confident manner. The Yorkie has a free, jaunty gait, with both head and tail held high. For Yorkies, toy stature does not necessarily mean frail or fragile.
Coat and color
Yorkshire Terriers are a long-haired breed with no undercoat, which means that they do not shed as much as their short haired friends. Rather, their hair is like human hair in that it grows continuously and falls out rarely (only when brushed or broken). Additionally, since Yorkies carry less dander on their coat, they generally do not have the unpleasant "wet dog" odor when wet, and they may not affect as many people who suffer from dog-related allergies.
Yorkie puppies are born with a black and tan coat, and normally have black hairs mixed in with the tan until they are matured. The breed standard for adult Yorkies places prime importance on coat color, quality and texture. The hair must be glossy, fine and silky.
Build and proportions
The Yorkshire Terrier has a small head, which, according to the breed standard, should be rather flat and not too round. The teeth should have either a "scissors bite" or a "level bite" (no underbite or overbite). The Yorkie's dark eyes are not too prominent, but should be sparkling, with sharp intelligent expression, and placed to look directly forward. The small, V-shaped ears are set high on the head, not too far apart, and should be carried erect. In some kennel clubs, ears that do not stand up are cause for automatic disqualification.
The breed standard dictates that a Yorkshire Terrier must weigh no more than seven pounds. A Yorkishire Terrier of this weight is typically between 8 and 9 inches tall. There is no distinction made in the standard between Yorkies of various sizes (i.e. there is no "teacup" or "standard" within the breed standard). The compact body of a Yorkie is well proportioned with a level back that is the same height at the base of the neck than at the base of the tail. The tail is carried slightly higher than the level of the back. In a standing position, the Yorkie's front legs should be straight. The back legs should be straight when viewed from behind, but moderately bent when viewed from the side.
Traditionally, the Yorkie's tail is docked to a medium length. In America, almost all breeders dock the tails of puppies. However, since the 1990s there has been a growing movement to ban the practice of cosmetic docking. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals oppose tail docking. As of 2007, several nations have enacted prohibitions on docking, including Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland. A docked tail is part of the AKC, ANKC, CKC, NZKC and UKC breed standards for Yorkshire Terriers. The FCI and KC breed standards indicate the tail is customarily docked, but the KC standard gives specifications for an undocked tail ("as straight as possible; length to give a well balanced appearance").
Temperament
Though a toy breed, the Yorkie still retains much of its terrier ancestry in terms of personality. Individual dogs will differ, but they are generally intelligent, independent and courageous. Yorkshire Terriers are quick to determine where they fit in a household's "pack." Their behavior towards outsiders will vary - they often will be inclined to bark at strangers, but some Yorkies are outgoing and friendly towards new people while others are withdrawn and aloof. The differences in behavior in this regard are largely based on how the owner trains or conditions (and socializes) the Yorkie. A few individual Yorkshire Terriers may be timid or nervous, rather than bold, but the vast majority do seem to meet the breed standard for a confident, vigorous and self-important personality. The following distinctive qualities are likely to be present in a Yorkshire Terrier:
Boldness
Despite its Toy classification, the breed retains much lively terrier personalityIn a home, Yorkies will not assert themselves as the "alpha" dog. Yorkies typically get along well with other dogs and love to play together with them. Rather, bold character comes from the Yorkie's mix of great inquisitiveness, or an instinct to protect, and self-confidence. Some Yorkies are unaware of their small size and may even challenge larger, tougher dogs. In one case a 12-pound Yorkie pushed open a screen door (to investigate a commotion outside) and rushed to the aid of an elderly woman who was being attacked by an 80-pound Akita. When the Yorkie snapped and growled, the Akita turned his attention on the small dog long enough for the woman to escape. Unfortunately, this boldness can get Yorkies into trouble, as small dogs can be seriously injured. For similar reasons, Yorkies do not make suitable pets for very young children. Some people also find the dog's boldness to be a source of great nuisance, leading to the dog sometimes being regarded as "yappy". They make well rounded family pets.
Intelligence
Yorkshire Terriers as a breed, are intelligent dogs. According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert on animal intelligence, the Yorkshire Terrier is an above average working dog, ranking 27th (32nd including ties) out of the 132 breeds tested. His research found that an average Yorkshire Terrier could understand a new command after approximately 15 repetitions and would obey a command the first time it was given 70% of the time or better. This capacity as working dogs enables Yorkies to excel in sports like obedience and agility, which require the dog to understand communication from the handler and carry out a complex series of commands. Additionally, Yorkies learn to recognize numerous words and can be taught to distinguish and fetch separate toys in a box by their names.
Independence
The well bred and well handled Yorkshire Terrier is content to be near its owner without being on a lap or underfoot. Yorkies are energetic, but also need much rest and will often prefer to spend downtime in privacy, such as in a kennel or out-of-the-way corner. If you use a crate, consider using a wood dog crate for your Yorkie. The Yorkie's independent nature makes it of importance to be aware of where he or she is at all times. A wood dog crate can be used as a piece of furniture so your Yorkie can be in the same room with you while everyone is enjoying their down time. Early terriers were expected to hunt in the company of handlers and other dogs, but also to have the self-confidence to go out on their own after prey. Very pampered and indulged Yorkies are more likely to be clingy and demanding, and lack the true terrier self-confidence. Yorkshire Terriers tend to be more difficult to train than some breeds, due to their characteristic independent nature. The independent mindedness of Yorkies leads some trainers to consider them to be among the hardest to house-break.
History
The Yorkie was bred as a ratter, used to kill mice and rats in small places. There is some evidence that they may have been used for hunting as well. Like most terriers developed in the early 19th Century, it was common for Yorkies to demonstrate their prowess as vermin killers in what were known as "rat pits." The terrier who killed the most rats in the least amount of time was considered the winner.
As a hunting group, terriers specialize in pursuing animals (usually vermin) that live in dens or burrows. Animals that are cornered and defending their young will fight ferociously. Therefore, any dog that would willingly pursue them must have an extraordinary degree of courage; terriers are bred for that quality.
As the name implies, the Yorkshire Terrier originated in Yorkshire (and the adjoining Lancashire), a rugged region in northern England. In the mid-nineteenth 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, generally known as Broken Haired Scotch terriers (not Scotties).
The specific breeds that make up the Yorkshire Terrier's ancestry are not known, since the breeders at that time did not keep records of the bloodlines. Certain breeds, however, are commonly thought to be the main forebears. The likely source of the Yorkie's small stature, long-haired coat and blue color are the Clydesdale, Paisley, Skye and Waterside terriers, all Scottish terriers transported to England at various times. The English Black and Tan Terrier bloodline probably gave the Yorkie its signature color pattern. These breeds were all working dogs, used to keep vermin under control in the textile mills and coal mines. Many have suggested that the Maltese, an ancient breed (likely originating in Asia), may be in the Yorkshire Terrier's background as well.
The breed first appeared at an 1861 bench show in England as the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier, named for the dog's Scottish terrier ancestors. Early Yorkies were also known simply as Toy Terriers, in both rough and broken haired varieties. Yorkshire Terriers were given their breed name by 1874.
Huddersfield Ben
A dog known as Huddersfield Ben is universally acknowledged to be the foundation sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed. He was born in 1865 in the town of Huddersfield, county of Yorkshire. The very public life of this dog, owned by M.A. Foster, did much to popularize the breed in England. Ben died in an accident at the age of six, but in his short life he won more than 70 prizes at dog shows and also demonstrated exceptional skill in ratting contests. Ben was a highly sought after stud dog because he was one of the first to consistently sire Yorkies true to type and under 5 pounds.
In America
The Yorkshire Terrier was introduced in the United States in 1872. The first Yorkie was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878, making it one of the first twenty-five breeds to be approved for registration by the AKC. During the late Victorian era, the Yorkshire Terrier quickly became a popular pet, and as Americans embraced Victorian customs, so too did they embrace the Yorkshire Terrier. The breed's popularity dipped in the 1940's, when the percentage of small breed dogs registered fell to an all-time low of 18% of total registrations. Smoky, a Yorkie and famous war dog from World War II, is credited with beginning a renewal of interest in the then obscure Yorkshire Terrier breed.
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