The original classes were divided by weight — dogs that weighed less than five pounds belonged to one category, and those equal to or more than five pounds made up the other. But breeders soon made the dogs consistently smaller, and they quickly averaged between three and seven pounds. The standard was rewritten to make seven pounds the absolute maximum weight. Additionally, more details were added about coat and color, solidifying the Yorkshire terrier's physical look.
Coat Texture and Color
The Yorkshire terrier's coat has also changed over the years. At first, as the original name “broken-haired Scotch terrier” would indicate, the coat was harsher — only slightly silkier than other terriers. But that changed quickly. The Yorkie's coat was soon described as “long, straight, and silky.” Waves or harshness in the coat were considered serious faults.
The color pattern standardized more gradually; old photos of early show winners depicted dogs with darker faces or little color differentiation. Early reports described coloring as blue-gray, tan, or black and tan. But by the end of the nineteenth century, a body color of silver blue and a head and legs of rich tan were being called for. Only a few years later, the recommendation for “blue” changed to a dark steel-blue.
Photograph by Cheryl A. Ertelt
An adorable Yorkie
As is common with most changes in dog-breed standards, this color modification brought with it some undesirable characteristics. The selection for “blue” in a coat appears to be genetically linked with some detrimental skin and coat conditions, the most common being color dilution alopecia (described in Chapter 12). Still, people were insistent when it came to the color of the dog.
The correct way to refer to your Yorkie's coloring is “blue and tan.” You may think black, gray, or silver and gold is closer to reality, but blue-and-tan is the approved color description.
Through all these changes, the terrier temperament remained true. The Yorkshire terrier was and is a highly personable, spunky little canine that is impossible to ignore. Today, it is the most popular toy dog in Britain, and third in overall British popularity ranking. The typical Yorkshire terrier is a bright, lively individual, always interested in finding something to do. The Yorkie keeps a close eye on the family and on the world outside, often climbing to the top of a sofa to gain a window view. If you find that your Yorkie comments a bit too frequently on what's happening outside, you may need to block the view in one way or another to avoid complaints from neighbors. Still, this constant interest and tendency to alert humans to what's happening makes the Yorkie a fine watchdog.
What does “Ch.” signify?
The title of conformation champion is designated with the abbreviation “Ch.” To qualify for this title, a dog must earn a specified number of points from different judges. Some of the wins must be majors, which signifies that victory in that class was over a certain number of dogs.
Many Yorkies bond more strongly to one person, usually their main caretaker. To avoid having the dog decide to “protect” the caretaker from other family members, everyone in the house should take part in some facet of the Yorkie's day-to-day life. There are plenty of opportunities to go around, from feeding and grooming to exercising and training.
One advantage of the Yorkie is that almost anyone can handle exercising the dog. While many Yorkies may pull on the leash, they simply can't generate the same power as larger dogs and drag the walker down the street. The Yorkie can even get a large portion of exercise indoors, practicing different commands, playing fetch, and chasing toys on ropes.
Training should be an important part of your Yorkie's life. Bright and inquisitive, they appreciate learning new skills and showing them off for you. However, the terrier temperament quickly allows them to become bullies if they are allowed to think themselves in charge. Training should start early and be ongoing throughout life. Find a good basic-manners class to start, and then you can go on to teach your Yorkie whatever you like — any of the many dog sports, a variety of tricks, and helpful behaviors like carrying the leash and putting away toys.