Today's Yorkshire Terrier is very different from the early Yorkshire Terriers of the North of England. There
are varying accounts of the origins of this breed and its development. This is the most accurate, and most widely agreed upon
history of the Yorkshire Terrier assembled from books and publications written be reliable and experienced fanciers of the
breed in the UK.
Before 1750, most British people worked in agriculture. The onset of the Industrial Revolution brought great
changes to family life. In Yorkshire, small communities grew up around coal mines, textile mills and factories. People were
drawn to these areas to seek work from as far away as Scotland. They brought with them a breed known as the Clydesdale Terrier,
or Paisley Terrier. These were primarily working dogs, much larger than today's Yorkies, and were used for catching rats and
other small mammals.
These terriers were inevitably crossed with other types of terrier, probably the English Black and Tan Toy
Terrier, and the Skye Terrier; it is also thought that at some stage the Maltese Terrier was crossed with these breeds to
help produce long coats. As the outline of the Maltese resembles that of many of today's Yorkies, this is very likely. Unfortunately,
no records in the form of Pedigrees exist to confirm these crosses (possibly because of the poor level of literacy in these
times), but a great deal is known about the type of people who bred them, and there can be no doubt that early breeders had
a very clear idea of the type of dogs they were attempting to produce. We can see in today's Yorkies how strongly the terrier
temperament has been retained.
Early Yorkies and their Breeders
One of the most famous early Yorkies was Huddersfield Ben, K.C. stud number No.3612 bred by Mr Eastwood
and owned by Mr. M.A. Foster. Huddersfield Ben was born in 1865 and died in 1871, and can be said to be the father of the
modern Yorkie. In his day "Ben" was a very popular stud dog who won many prizes in the show ring, and had tremendous influence
in setting breed type. His son Mozart was the first to be known as a Yorkshire Terrier.
B. 1865 stud book No:3612
In 1874 the first Yorkies were registered in the British Kennel Club stud book. They were referred to as
"Broken Haired Scottish Terriers" or "Yorkshire Terriers", until 1886, when the Kennel Club recognised the Yorkshire Terrier
as an individual breed. The first Yorkshire Terrier breed club was formed in 1898. During these early years, one who greatly
influenced the breed was Lady Edith Wyndham-Dawson. Lady Edith was secretary of the Yorkshire Terrier Club for some time and
did much early work for the improvement of the breed. Later, a Miss Palmer, who was Lady Edith's kennel maid, started her
own Yorkie kennel under the "Winpal" prefix. When Lady Edith returned to Ireland at the start of World War I, Miss Palmer
went to work for Mrs. Crookshank of the famous Johnstounburn prefix, a name with a long list of champions, which is now in
the care of Daphne Hillman, who was entrusted with this prefix, and still uses it along with her own Yorkfold prefix.
Many others have worked very hard since these early years to improve this breed, and to these breeders much
is owed. Many of their early dogs became the foundation stock of kennels in North America and elsewhere.
The Yorkshire Terrier now flourishes throughout the world and the early breeders who were instrumental in
producing the diminutive toy terrier of today would surely be astounded at the success of this delightful breed. In 1932 only
300 Yorkies were registered with the British Kennel Club, in 1957 the number was 2313, and in the 1970's Yorkies were the
most popular breed in Britain. This trend continued until 1990 with a record of 25,665 Yorkies registered. However, this figure
has now begun to drop, and in 1994 there were 12343 registrations, with the Yorkie being recorded as the 7th most popular
The most famous Yorkshire Terrier of modern times in the UK was CH Blairsville Royal Seal. He was by CH
Beechrise Surprise and his dam was CH Blairsville Most Royale. "Tosha" to his friends (of whom he had many) was bred, owned
and handled by Mr. Brian Lister and his wife, Rita. Tosha was definitely a 'King' among dogs and no one who saw him flowing
around the ring could ever forget him. His presence could be felt, even by a complete novice, and many say that just thinking
of him brings a lump to the throat. During his show career Tosha won 50 CCs, all under different judges. He was 12 times Best
In Show at all breed CH shows, and 16 times Reserve Best In Show. He took 33 Group wins, and went Reserve Best In Show at
Cruft's in 1978, just as his dam had done before him. Tosha was Top Dog, all breeds, for two consecutive years. He became
the sire of many prolific Champions and still features in the pedigree of many of today's Yorkies.
Ironically, when Royal Seal died, aged 15, in 1988, that year his breed record for the highest number of
CCs in the breed was broken by Osman Sameja's CH Ozmilion Dedication "Jamie", who finished his show career with 52 CCs, although
a few of these were duplicated under the same judges. Jamie also has two all breed CH show wins, and his many Toy group wins
helped him to win the Top Dog title in 1987. The Ozmilion kennel is the top Yorkshire Terrier kennel of all time, and holds
the record for the number of Champions produced
|Osman Sameja's CH. Ozmillion Mystification
Following on from this, Jamie's grandson, Ch. Ozmilion Mystification broke another record in 1997 by being
the first Yorkie ever to win the coveted Best In Show award at the most prestigious dog show, Cruft's. "Justin" was retired
after this event, having to his credit a total 51 CCs, 48 with Best of Breed, 22 Group wins, 9 Club BIS, and at All Breed
Shows, 7 RBIS and 3 BIS awards. He was Top Yorkie from 1994-1997, Top Dog All Breeds 1996, Crufts Supreme Champion 1997, and
Pedigree Chum Champion overall Stakes winner 1997
Some record of achievement! In this same year, the great "Jamie" died.
Whilst CH Blairsville Royal Seal
dominated the British show scene, his American counterpart, CH Cede Higgens was making his mark in the USA. These two dogs
were both shown during the same era, and were inevitably, constantly being compared. However, although they were both outstanding
specimens of the breed, those who had seen them both, agreed that they were totally different in type. Bred by C.D. Lawrence,
Cede Higgens was closely line-bred to the Clarkwyns and Wildweir lines, by CH. Wildweir Pomp 'N Circumstance
dog who had significant influence on the North American Yorkies was CH Finstal Royal Icing, bred by Sybil Pritchard in the
UK and exported to the Jentre kennels after Sybil died. He is by CH Finstal Johnathan, who still has winning progeny in the
UK today. Johnathan was looked after by Wendy White (Wenwytes) after Sybil's death, until he died in 1994 aged about 17.
Yorkshire Terrier is also very popular in North America today. In 1992, Yorkies were 14th on the AKC's list of most popular
breeds with 39,904 registrations. In 1994 they were 11th, although registrations had dropped to 38,626.
It may seem
strange that Yorkies have risen in popularity in North America while the number of registrations has dropped, but overall,
AKC registration, is down (as is UK registration), with some popular breeds having dramatic reductions in the numbers now