What Made the Yorkshire Terrier Popular?

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When you think of popular dog breeds in the terrier group, the Yorkshire terrier is likely one of the first that comes to mind. These little dogs have a cute silky coat, full of personality and are rated among the top breeds by the American Kennel club, which is why they’ve become so popular over the years.

But what makes them so special? Let’s take a closer look at the history of the yorkshire terrier breed and find out.

What Made the Yorkshire Terrier Popular?

There are several reasons why the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds globally. For starters, they have an incredibly cute silky coat that resembles human hair, and their small size means they can be easily accommodated in apartments.

In Yorkshire terrier history, Yorkies are known for being friendly and good with children, making them perfect for families.

A Yorkshire terrier with its tongue out

Unlike other dogs in the terrier group, Yorkies are also relatively easy to take care of and don’t require a lot of exercise, making them ideal for busy people. If you’re wondering about Yorkshire Terrier history, here are some things you should know.

History of the Yorkshire Terrier

According to the Kennel club, Yorkshire terriers were initially bred in the mid-1840s in the Northern England counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is popularly known that Scottish weavers crossbred several breeds with their small terriers to create the current Yorkshire terrier.

During the Industrial Revolution when flocks of rats infested many textile mills and mines, Yorkies were used to control the rodent population as their small size allowed them to squeeze in tight places. Before 1874, Yorkies were known to be a Broken Haired Scotch Terrier, and then they were named Toy terriers.

Although in the Yorkshire terrier history it is not precise of the breeds that were crossbred to create the yorkshire terrier dog breed, some think that yorkies are a mix of breeds such as the Paisley, Clydesdale, Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers. Some claim it is a mix of Waterside, Clydesdale and old English terriers.

How Did the Yorkshire Terrier Become Popular?

Yorkies are the cute and cuddly pets that most pet lovers dream of owning. The following are some of the size and temperament reasons that made Yorkies popular

Their Small Size

Standard Yorkshire terriers have a standing height of about seven to eight inches and a weight of about seven pounds. Their small size makes them a perfect option for people who are not in a position to take care of larger dogs. Yorkies do not require a lot of space to be comfortable, meaning they can fit into and live comfortably in an apartment. 

This was especially useful for urban dwellers that wanted pets but lacked a huge space. Yorkshire terriers’ small stature allows you to carry them to a wide range of places where other large dogs are not allowed. For instance, you can carry it on your flight and even sit with it in the cabin rather than in the cold and life-threatening cargo hold.

Friendly Nature

Although Yorkies were aggressive, as they were originally bred to dig and hunt moles and rats in mines and mills, they were devoted and loving companions. Yorkies’ popularity is attributed to the affection and loyalty that they show to their human owners.

They’re human-friendly and great with kids as long as they get proper training on how to interact with them at an early age. 

Hypoallergenic Nature

Usually, pets secrete proteins that end up in their dander urine and saliva, which makes owning them a challenge, especially if you are allergic to this protein. The fact that varying pets have different types of coats and shed different amounts of dander means owners can be more allergic to some breeds than others.

However, Yorkies are popular hypoallergenic breeds, making them suitable even for families with allergic people. They have fine hair resembling fine human hair rather than fur, producing fewer allergens than other breeds. Also, Yorkies shed a little as they do not have an undercoat, reducing dander.

Little girl holding a black and tan Yorkshire Terrier puppy

Typically, they are seasonal shedders that shed once or twice a year as the seasons change. Shedding makes their hair appear thinner as they lose older hair strands. The natural shedding cycle and their hypoallergenic nature increase Yorkshire Terrier’s popularity.

Excellent Therapy Dogs

Generally, people with mental health problems often depend on therapy dogs to reduce and cope with different symptoms such as social withdrawal or agitation. Keeping in mind that a Yorkie was initially bred as a working dog, it possesses above-average intelligence, making them easy to train.

As a result, a Yorkshire terrier dog fits as a member of service animals, making a member of therapy dogs that specialize in offering owners comfort. Their small stature allows them to accompany you to different places, such as restaurants or shopping malls which is a great advantage if you get disoriented due to mental illness.

For instance, Yorkies such as Smokey in the jungle of Papua New Guinea make excellent therapy dogs as they are affectionate, friendly, and manageable. 

Less Physical Activity Requirement

Typically, all dogs require some exercises to help them release their pent-up energy and maintain their overall physical health. However, different pets have different physical activity requirements, as some might need two hours a day while others require 30 minutes depending on age, body size, and breed.

Yorkies require around 30 to 40 minutes of exercise daily, making it a popular breed among owners who do not have an extended period of taking the pet for a long walk after spending many hours at work.


Although Scottish weavers initially bred Yorkies to control the rodent population in textile mills and mines, they quickly transitioned and adapted to living with humans. Yorkies are easy to potty train and do not require large living spaces, increasing their popularity among apartment dwellers.

Despite their adaptability to small living spaces, their unique portability is an amazing trait that owners who crave companionship love. 


Although there might be variations in look depending on genetics, most Yorkies have the following appearance attributes: 

  • Yorkies have a mix of colors, such as black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, and blue and tan
  • The chest, head, and legs have a contrastingly bright tan color. 
  • Yorkies have unique eyes with large, dark, and beardy designs, v-shaped ears, and short noses.
  • Although their full-length tails measure up to 5 inches, the tail is normally docked to a medium length of about 2- 4 inches for enhanced aesthetics and to comply with the show dog competition rules.
  • They have aesthetically appealing short and straight limbs
  • The legs have black toenails and a long, thick silky coat that you can create teddy bear cuts, evoking the overflowing beauty of the pet.

Good Relations With Other Pets

Unlike other large breeds, if trained properly, a Yorkie can live happily and peacefully with other pets, making it ideal for households with more than one pet. However, considering that Yorkies were bred as rodent hunters, they might not mix well with a hamster or guinea pig.

Yorkshire terrier with long white hair

Factors That Helped Spread the Yorkshire Terrier Popularity

Dog Shows

Prestigious shows have given Yorkies a platform to showcase their beautiful silky coat and friendly nature to millions of viewers globally. Yorkies have wowed the crowds with their unique, attractive coats and the ease of teaching them skills leaving many desiring to own one of this breed when they leave the show.

Symbol of Wealth

During the Victorian era, Yorkies transitioned from working dogs that excelled in rodent control and owning a Yorkshire Terrier was seen as a symbol of high status and wealth. Although the Kennel club in Northern England recognized yorkies as a unique breed, they quickly gained popularity among upper class ladies.

Although other small dogs were popular, Yorkie’s pleasing appearance made them fit their new role as lapdog and companion dogs in wealthy households. This influenced other people to get Yorkies, too, since it was the new wealth trend.

Celebrity Influence

It’s no secret that social influencers and celebrities have significantly impacted society over the last few decades about yorkshire terrier history. When their fans see them as small dogs such as these, they desire to copy the stars, and this has led to the Yorkshire Terrier becoming even more popular.

Movie and Film Industry

Many films have used a Yorkie breed as part of the cast because of its gentle, friendly nature, and ease of learning. The presence of them in the movies has further popularized the small dog.

Early Travelers

Although people began breeding Yorkies in America in the 1870s. The American Kennel Club officially recognized Yorkshire Terriers in 1885. Yorkies were easy to travel with, and so when people moved from place to place, they often carried their pups along. 

This led to the breed spreading worldwide. Right now, Yorkies are common in many parts of the world, including the US, Australia, the UK, Italy, and parts of South Africa.Pe

Yorkshire Terrier as a Member of the Terrier Group

Generally, terriers are the most commonly known dog types for their playful, cheerful, and energetic nature. Although they can become aggressive and stubborn, they can be one of the best pets with proper training.

Even if Yorkshire terrier history might not be extensive, they share several appealing traits with other dogs of the terrier group due to their common original purpose of hunting.

Popular Yorkshire Terriers

A Yorkie has significant physical, mental, and emotional benefits to humans. Their keen sense of hearing and protective nature makes them good watchdogs. The following are some famous Yorkies who have proven to be amazing companions.

Huddersfield Ben

Huddersfield Ben show dog is the most popular Yorkshire terrier that won more than seventy dog show events in its lifespan of six years. The Huddersfield Ben was owned by Mary Foster, who was the first woman to judge show dogs in England and an early supporter of the breed.

A yorkshire terrier in a pony tail

Of the eleven offspring that Huddersfield Ben bred, he is the largest of the Yorkshire breed standard as the litters produced had a body weight of fewer than 5 pounds.


The history of the Yorkshire terrier breed was almost dying in the 1940s until the story of Smokey in the jungle of Papua New Guinea started. The dog was adopted by William Wynne and later helped the 5th air force in various missions, such as surviving the typhoon.

Besides entertaining the Air force unit with tricks and having a parachute that the dog used to jump from a 30 feet tower, Smokey pulled a telegraph wire through a 60-foot-long drainage pipe, saving many lives. The dog also visited soldiers in various hospitals, which made it a famous therapy dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Yorkshire Terrier Breed Standard Smart?

Yes, the broken-haired scotch terrier is a smart dog. Unlike human IQs, canine IQs cannot be measured numerically; instead, they are compared and ranked against each other.

In a study, Yorkies were compared to 138 different breeds intelligence-wise, and the Yorkies ranked 34th. For instance using a telegraph wire the Smokey Yorkie saved many lives.

Can You Train a Yorkie breed?

It’s not always easy to find a dog breed that is smart enough to learn tricks or commands but also gentle and calm. Yorkies are both highly intelligent dogs who can pick up new things quickly, as well as being one of the most even-tempered breeds.

You’ll never have to worry about your small dog becoming aggressive or too hyperactive.

Can a Yorkshire Terrier Breed Be Used for Security?

Yes, Yorkshire Terriers can be used for security. They are small enough to be discreet, but they are fearless dogs that will not back down from a fight despite their tiny size. These small terriers will bark loudly to alert homeowners, making them great for protecting your home or property.


The Yorkie breed has evolved from a status symbol to a common household pet, and its popularity continues to grow. I hope this article has helped you better understand the history of the Yorkshire terrier and how they became so popular.