One of the most popular and diminutive breeds of terrier, the Yorkshire (or "Yorkie") Terrier's history began in the mid-18th century. As Great Britian's economy and society shifted from agrarian to industrial, people begain moving from farms to mining towns and communities that had sprung up around factories. They brought with them their beloved Clydesdale terriers, which were used at the time for hunting small mammals, mostly rodents or other vermin. As denoted by the name, these terriers were quite a bit larger than today's Yorkies. As time wore on, people began to cross-breed the Clydesdale with smaller and/or longer-haired terrier breeds such as the Skye or Maltese, which led to the tiny, luxuriously long-haired Yorkie of today. The first appearance of what we would consider a "modern" Yorkshire Terrier was in 1861, called at the time a "broken-haired Scotch Terrier". Yorkshire Terrier became the breed's official name in 1866.
Yorkies attained popularity both in the UK and later in the USA as the customs and tastes of the Victorian Era traveled through Britain and on across the Atlantic. Owing to the breed's mild temperament and devoted nature, the dog's popularity continued to soar, and in fact from the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Yorkie was the most popular breed of dog in Britain.
Like all terriers, Yorkies are active and highly intelligent dogs. They love to play, to dig, and usually devote themselves to just one master. They get along well with children, but due to their smaller-than-normal size, can be easily injured by a young child. Yorkies are also extremely territorial and will announce any intruders with a sharp and repeated bark. Unlike most terriers, Yorkies do not have an undercoat and the outer coat doesn't easily shed, making Yorkies a good choice for those with allergies to pet dander. Their long, silky hair, very similar to human hair, can make for grooming nightmares, as the fur needs to be regularly trimmed to floor length unless you want a canine Cousin Itt running around your home.
Yorkies get along well with other household pets, and even though they can be quite possessive of their masters, they usually will learn to tolerate another dog or cat fairly quickly. Care must be taken to avoid fights, because like most terriers, a Yorkie will always finish a fight if it gets into one.
Yorkshire Terriers weigh between 3 and 7 pounds, and their lifespan can be as long as 15 years, with remarkably few health problems on the way. Their coats are long and silky whose colors run from black to bluish-tan.
Information for this writeup adapted from the American Kennel Club's entry for the breed located at www.akc.org