The History Of The Yorkshire Terrier

In "The American Book of the Dog" written in 1891 by P.H.Coombs, an American pioneer of the breed, he wrote: "No doubt much difficulty has been experienced in obtaining information relating to its early history; and one opinion expressed by Shaw, seems to be that substantially the history was known, but that it was kept a secret. It would be manifestly unjust to deprive the Yorkshire Terrier of the title to a pedigree running back to the progenitors of the breed.

In an interesting article of this breed, published in the Century Magazine in 1886 and written by Mr. James Watson of Philadelphia, is given about the first public information tending to positively identify its origin--to a certain extent at least. The writer says: "Some of our authorities have attempted to throw a great deal of mystery about the origin of the Yorkshire Terrier, where none really exists. If we consider that the mill operatives (workers), who originated the breed by careful selection of the best long-coated small Terriers they could find, were all ignorant men, unaccustomed to imparting information for public use, we may see some reason why reliable facts have not been easily attained. these early writers show but a little knowledge of the possibilities of selection.

Stonehenge, for instance, in his early editions, speaks of it being impossible for a dog with a three-inch coat and seven-inch beard to be a descendant of the soft-coated Scotch Terrier, without a cross of some kind. the absurdity of this is seen when we remember that within a few years of the date of his history, Yorkshire Terriers were shown with twelve inches of coat. Then, again, he speaks of the King Charles Spaniel as being employed to give the blue and tan, a more rediculous statement than which could not have been penned.To get a blue and tan, long straight, silky coat, breeders were not likely to employ a black and tan dog with a wide chest, tuck-up loin, a round bullet head, large protruding eyes, and heavy Spaniel ears. The idea is too absurd to be entertained for a moment.

As arrayed against all the conjectures of theorists, I have in my possession a letter from Mrs. M.A. Foster, of Bradford, England who, in writing of the dog Bradford Hero, the winner of ninety-seven first prizes, says; "The pedigree of Bradford Hero, includes all the best dogs for thirty-five years back, and they were all Scotch Terriers, the name Yorkshire given them on account of their being improved so much in that region."

Following this, and about a year later, Mr. Ed. Bootman of Halifax, England furnished an article on the origin of the breed, for publication in the "English Shopkeeper", which that journal, "feeling the importance of all facts relating to the origin of the breed", published as follows: "Swift's Old Crab, a cross-bred Scotch Terrier, Kershaw's Kitty, a Skye, and an Old English Terrier bitch kept by J. Whittam, then residing in Hatter's Fold, Halifax, were in the zenith of their fame forty years ago. The owner of Old Crab was a native of Halifax, and a joiner by trade,(joiner-a carpenter). He worked at Oldham for some time as a journeyman (hired by the day), and them removed to Manchester, where he kept a public house. Whether he got Crab at Oldham or Manchester I have not been able to ascertain. He had him when in Manchester, and from there sent him several times to Halifax on a visit to Kitty. The last would be about 1850. "Crab was a dog of about eight or nine lbs. weight with a good Terrier head and eye, but with a long body, resembling the Scotch Terrier. The legs and muzzle only were tanned, and the hair on the body would be about three or four inches in length. He has stood for years in a case in a room at the Westgate Hotel, a public house which his owner kept when he returned to his native town, where, I believe, the dog may be seen today.

"Kitty was a bitch different in type from Crab. She was a drop-eared Skye, with plenty of coat of a blue shade, but destitute of tan on any part of the body. Like Crab, she had no pedigree, She was originally stolen from Manchester and sent to a man names Jackson, a saddler in Huddersfield, who, when it became known that a five pound reward was offered in Manchester for her recovery, sent her to a person names Harrison, then a waiter at the White Swan Hotel, Halifax, to escape detection, and from Harrison she passed into the hand of Mr. J. Kershaw of Beshop Blaise, a public house which once stood on the Old North Bridge, Halifax. Prior to 1851 Kitty had six litters, all of which were by Crab. In these six litters she had thirty-six puppies, twenty-eight of which were dogs, and served to stock the district with rising sires.

After 1851, when she passed into the possession of Mr. F. Jagger, she had forty-four puppies, making a total of eighty. "Mr.Whittam's bitch, whose name I cannot get to know, was an Old English Terrier, with tanned head, ears and legs, and a sort of grizzle back. She was built on the lines of speed. Like the others, she had no pedigree. She was sent to the late Bernard Hartley of Allen Gate, Halifax by a friend residing in Scotland. When Mr. Hartley had got tired of her, he gave her to his coachman, Mason, who, in turn, gave her to his friend Whittam, and Whittam used her years for breeding purposes. Although this bitch came from Scotland, it is believed the parents were from this district."

The last_named writer has so fully identified the three dogs first employed to manufacture the breed, together with their names, ownership, characteristics, and other facts concerning them, that there can be no doubt as to the authenticity of the history of the origin of the breed. His history, published in "The Stockkeeper" in 1887, has never been publicly contradicted, and it is evident that there can now be no grounds for following the reasoning of writers who claim that the origin is a mystery."


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