Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

The glamorous appearance of the Yorkshire Terrier belies the fact that this little dog with his long, silky coat was originally developed for ratting. Today, it is primarily a pet dog. Historically important here, it played a major part in the development of our iconic Australian Silky Terrier.

History of the Yorkshire Terrier

In the early 1880's there at least two other terrier breeds with long, straight, silky body coats without undercoat, which were also steel blue in colour.

Yorkshire Terrier 1905Yorkshire Terrier 1905

These also had bright rich colouring on their heads, feet and legs, free from dark hairs. Now extinct, these were called Clydesdale (or Paisley) Terriers. Their demise was their terrier-like attitude plus a coat that was too difficult to maintain. It was also stated that the Clydesdale or Paisley Terrier was:

Essentially a ladies' companion and pet, the Anglo-Saxon does not look for or appreciate anything effeminate coming from the land of the hardy Celts![6] 

The Yorkshire Terrier becomes a Pure Breed

Yorkshire Terrier with Italian Greyhound 1879Yorkshire Terrier with Italian Greyhound 1879

The Yorkshire Terrier was first separately identified in the English Stud Book in 1886 as being longer-coated than any other terrier. Weighing up to 14 pounds, classes were provided in two sections, those over and those under 8 pounds. As their popularity as a showdog increased, the larger dogs became increasing unpopular for the same reasons as the Clydesdale and Paisley Terrier. Meanwhile, the smaller Yorkshire Terriers with their beautiful long silky coats began to command large prices as pets[1]. Hence we have the Yorkshire Terrier we know today.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

History of Yorkshire Terriers in Australia

The Yorkshire Terrier was one of the few Toy Breeds to become popular[4c]. From 1890 to 1911, some 58 importations arrived from England and were listed in Tyzacks Annual.[4] Another 50 were listed in Tyzack's Stud Book[4a]. In 1908 the Silky and Yorkshire Terrier Club was founded.

In the early 1900s Miss Fanny Alice Mason was particularly prolific. Fanny was also famous for her beautiful paintings of sporting and other various breeds of dogs on china. These were given as trophies at some of the early Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club Shows[3]. After her death in 1919 her sister, Miss Ellen Eugenie Mason, carried on breeding and showing the dogs under the 'Kalimna' prefix until she died 1932.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

It is beyond the scope of this website to mention all those involved in this period. However, it is important to remember that all these little dogs survived the 4 month journey here by ship and then endured some 6 months quarantine. Of particular note, Mrs Molly Hole ("Stragar") who migrated here in the early 1970's, was accompanied by 8 bitches and 2 stud dogs. She encouraged so many others in this breed[5].

However, the most prolific winning Yorkshire Terrier in Australia from 1982 to 1991 was Bill Zaal's home bred Ch Glen Petite Sweet Joany (pictured). As well as all-breed Best Exhibit in Show and Group wins, at breed level she won 9 consecutive 'Royal Melbourne Show' Best of Breeds, and most of the Victorian Yorkshire Terrier Shows during that period as well.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire and Australian Silky Terrier Comparison

The Yorkie is a neat compact spirited Toy Terrier, and although he conveys an important air, his straight silky distinctive coat is his most defining characteristic. In comparison, the Australian Silky Terrier should definitely display Terrier characteristics, embodying keen alertness, activity and soundness, appearing capable of killing vermin such as rats and mice.

Yorkshire Terrier Australian Silky Terrier
Country of Origin England Australia
Size Weight up to 7 pounds (3.2 kilos) with no specified height. Dogs - Height 23 to 26 cms (9 to 10 ins) at the withers, bitches slightly less, weight proportionate.
Colour The body coat from occiput to root of tail is dark steel blue (not silver blue), and should never be intermingled with fawn, bronze or dark hairs. The rich golden tan hair of the head is called a 'fall' because of its length about the ear roots and muzzle. Any shade of blue and tan with a silver blue or fawn top-knot desirable. The blue body colour should be free from tan or bronzing while the tan markings must be free from smuttiness
Coat The hair on the body is moderately long, glossy, perfectly straight, with a fine silky texture but never wavy or woolly. The length of coat should be shorter than that of the Yorkie, allowing daylight to be seen underneath the dog.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

Australian SilkyAustralian Silky
Head The head is rather small with a flat skull, small erect ears and medium dark eyes that look straight ahead. The strong head of the Silky is of moderate length in contrast to the rather smaller head of the Yorkie.
Ears Small, V-shaped and erect, covered with short hair Small V-shaped and erect but entirely free from hair
Mouth Normal scissors bite Normal scissors bite
Forequarters Legs straight, well covered with hair of rich golden tan a few shades lighter at ends than at roots. The straight forelegs have refined, round bone and are set well under the body with no weakness in the pasterns.
Feet Round with black nails Small and cat-like with black or very dark toenails
Body Compact with level topline Longer than its height at withers, with a level topline

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier
Hindquarters The legs should be straight when viewed from behind with a  moderate turn of stifle. They should be well covered with rich golden tan hair, a few shades lighter at ends than at roots. The well developed thighs and well bent stifles should accompany well let down hocks that are parallel with each other.
Tail Carried a little higher than the level of the back. The tail should be free of feathering, set on high and carried erect but not over-gay.
Gait Free with a straight action fore and aft Free with drive from behind, retaining a level topline.

References and Further Reading

[1] Rawdon B. Lee, "Modern Dogs (Terriers)" published by London: Horace Cox, "Field" Office, Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, E.C 1903.  Pages 382 - 384

[2] W.A.(Fred) Wheatland, "The Australian Terrier and The Australian Silky Terrier", Published by The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne January 1964, Chapter 8 Pages 30 - 31.

[3] 'The Argus' newspaper 11 July 1908

[4] "Tyzack's Annual" Compiled by T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia. Yorkshire Terrier Importations P. 99 - 101

[4a] ibid., "Tyzack's Annual" Silky Terriers Stud Book Page P.75, Yorkshire Terriers Stud Book P. 75

[4c] ibid., "Tyzack's Annual" 'The Book of Chronicles' P 135

[5] 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 , Yorkshire Terrier by Bill Zaal Page 309

[6] Theo Marples FZS 'Show Dogs' Published by 'Our Dogs' Publishing Co., Manchester 1903. Chapter L.1 Page 238