A relatively young breed, only being about 100 years old, the Yorkshire Terrier is believed to have originally been bred for work in the mines, where these tiny lion-hearted dogs could catch the hoards of rats which infested the mine shafts. Others speculate that this tiny toy was the result of selective breeding, in an attempts to create a ferocious little hunting dog that was able to slip down badger and fox holes, flushing the prey out. Originally, the Yorkshire Terrier was a larger individual than what is seen in the modern Yorkies but, through selective breeding the smallest and most delicate members with one another, the breed has been conveniently downsized into the dainty toy sweetheart that we all know and love.
It is believed that the Yorkshire Terrier developed through a mixture of various terrier dogs, brought along by Scotsmen who were seeking work at various woolen mills in Yorkshire. The Skye Terrier and the extinct Clydesdale may have played a major role in the development of the breed, then being crossed with local terriers, such as the long-haired Leeds. Black and Tan Manchesters, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, and the Maltese may have also played key rolls in creating the unique little Yorkshire but, whoever was involved, the end result was a little dog that would not only work as a splendid rat chaser, but would later go on to become the fashion doll of the dog world.
Itís no wonder that the Yorkie has captured hearts, worldwide; wide and expressive eyes stare out from a delicate face as perked, v-shaped ears give this little angel a continual playful or curious expression. The Yorkieís coat is incredibly long, when properly maintained, and is both fine and silky, bearing more resemblance to fine human hair than a dogís coat. Jokes about walking wigs and mops abound, but few can resist the charm of these black and tan beauties. The ideal Yorkshire Terrier stands no more than 6-7 inches at the shoulder and should weigh no more than 7 pounds.
Yorkies are terriers and they carry that spunky attitude that is trademark to these kinds of dogs. Often suspicious of those they donít know, the Yorkshire Terrier may only be bite sized, but sheís not afraid to be aggressive towards strange dogs and other small animals. While they do get along with children, it is advised that they not be brought into a home with small children because Yorkies are so tiny and fragile that bones can break and serious injury can occur if they are dropped or fallen upon. Additionally, problems such as paralysis in the hindquarters, due to herniated disks and spine abnormalities can be seen in the breed, bitches often have problems whelping, and the very tiny variety, or ìteacupî Yorkies, can also suffer from serious health and behavioral problems.
Yorkshire Terriers can tend to lean towards being a high maintenance pet; not only is there that long and silky coat to contend with, but they are often difficult to train (particularly housebreaking), prone to neurotic behaviors, and can lean towards a snappish tendency if they are teased or surprised. This breed is also prone to tooth decay and should be fed mainly dry kibble, to help keep his teeth strong and healthy. Nevertheless, previous and current owners are strong advocates of the breed; you canít know one and not love them. They know how to wiggle right into your heart, just as quickly as they will wiggle onto your lap.
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