The Weight History According to the Old Books of the Yorkshire Terrier

No where in the Yorkshire Terrier’s History does it say that they once were, or were bred down from a 30-35 pound dog! Other than the fact that ALL dogs originally came from the same stock, and so they carry the same factors to an extent. With this in mind how could the Yorkshire Terrier have been developed in a few short years? In her first book “The Complete Yorkshire Terrier” Joan Gordon and her sister take us back through the history as it developed in the breeds homeland of Great Britain.with a dog that has the basic factors required by the early breeder of the Yorkshire Terrier.

In the early years of dogs in Great Britain almost all hunting dogs and all hunting land was denied to the serfs. To keep them from poaching with hunting dogs, laws were written that date back to the 11th century. The serfs were allowed to keep “little dogs” because there was no danger in them.

These insignificant little Toy dogs were not of any Spaniel breed, because Spaniels could not be kept in the forest without a special grant. The determinant as to whether a dog could be kept or not was its size. The foresters were given a fixed gauge, a hoop, and only the little dogs that could pass through the seven-inch diameter of the hoop could be owned by the serfs.

These little dogs worked side by side with their owners as they mowed the fields and killed the rats, the rabbit’s in the vegetable patch, in general kept the poor man’s home safe from rats and other varmints, as well as supplying small game for their farmers table.

By 1765-1835 the Waterside Terrier, a small, longish-coated dog, occasionally grizzly (bluish-grey) in color, was common in Yorkshire. G.H.Wilkinson reported in “The English Stockkeeper” in 1887: “I was having some trouble looking up several old fanciers, one of whom is Mr. John Richardson of Halifax who is now in his 67th year, and very interesting it was to hear this aged man go back to “the good old days” of over half a century ago. Fifty years ago, there was in Halifax, and the immediate neighborhood, a type of dog called at that time (and even within these last twenty years) a “Waterside Terrier”, a game little dog, varying in weight from six to twenty pounds. mostly about ten pounds weight-a dog resembling the present Welsh and Airedale Terrier on a small scale. At this period, these dogs were bred for the purpose of hunting and killing rats. They would go into the river with a ferret, and were just in their element when put into a rat pit. An almost daily occurrence at that time was to back them to kill a given number of rats in a given time.

It seems a pity that such a breed should have become extinct. Mr. Richardson himself owned a little bitch “Polly”, who weighted six pounds and she was frequently put into a rat pit with a dozen rats, the whole of which she would speedily kill against time. She would also swim the river and hunt with a ferret. This little bitch, I am told, had four or five inches of coat on each side of her body, with a white or silver head.” The Waterside Terrier had a 6 to 9 pound weight limit.

Rawdon B. Lee, speaking of Yorkshire Terrier in “Modern Dogs (Terriers) says: “How the name of Scotch Terrier became attached to dog which so thoroughly had its home in Yorkshire and Lancashire is somewhat difficult to determine, if it can be determined at all, but a very old breeder of the variety told me that the first of them came from Scotland, where they had been accidentally produced from a cross between the silk-coated Skye (the Clydesdale) and the black and tan Terrier. One could scarcely expect that a pretty dog, partaking in a degree of both its parents, could be produced from a smooth-coated dog, a long-coated bitch or vice-versa. Maybe, two or three animals so bred had been brought by some of the Paisley weavers in Yorkshire and there, suitably admired, pains were taken to perpetuate the strain.”

The Clydesdale was a long coated, silky haired with a glossy sheen and had a weight limit of 12 pounds. The Paisley Terrier was a smaller dog and Blue and Tan in color and weighed 6 pounds.

In 1866 Broken Haired Scotch Terriers were registered as not exceeding 5 pounds. These were later registered as Yorkshire Terriers.

These were first shown under 5 pound class:
Tiny won 1st place registration number 4023
Punch won 2nd place registration number 4012
Shrimp won 3rd place registration number 4018

In 1867 not exceeding 5 pounds
Minnie won 1st place
Natty won 2nd place
Wasp won 3rd place

In 1869 June 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Islington, Broken Haired Toy Terriers under 5 pounds

Little Kate, born 1867 daughter of Huddersfield Ben won 1st place. Reg # 4001
Pink (male) won 2nd place Reg#4010
Peter won 3rd Reg #4008 his sire was Huddersfield Ben Reg #3612 1865-1871.

Ben was run over by a carriage in the prime of his life but is responsible for producing most of the foundation stock of the Yorkshire Terrier. He was shown in Manchester in 1869 and won 2nd place. Again in 1870 in Manchester he won 1st place. At the Crystal Palace in 1870 and 1871 he won 1st and 2nd. He was the winner of 74 prizes in his show career.

There were two Class Registrations for Toy Terriers, Rough and Broken Haired. The Broken Haired Scotch later became registered as the Yorkshire Terrier in 1874.

In 1883, Ted who was a grandson of Huddersfield Ben weighed 4 1/2 pounds, measured 9 inches from the shoulder to the floor, 17 inches from the tip of his nose to the set on tail. The length of his coat across the shoulders was 18 inches and at the loin was 17 inches.

Dr Gordon Staples, who was Veterinarian to Mr. and Mrs. Foster, owners of Huddersfield Ben in “Ladies Dogs As Companions” 1871 “Now, of all the Yorkshire Terrier ever I saw, I think Huddersfield Ben was the best. Many of my readers doubtless remember this most beautiful prince of dogs, although it is now some few years since he was run over on the street and killed, he being then only in his prime. But he did not die before he had made his mark. Dog shows were not then quite so numerous as they are now, but nevertheless Ben managed to win seventy-four prizes ere his grand career was shortened on that unlucky 23rd of September (1871). “Pedigrees, few ladies I believe care to remember, so I shall not give Ben’s in full, but be content with stating that he was bred by Mr. W Eastwood, Huddersfield, and had the blood of Old Bounce in his veins, and his mother Lady, was a daughter of Old Ben, a granddaughter of Old Sandy, (6 lbs.) and great-granddaughter of Mr. W.J. Haigh’s Teddy, and a great-great-granddaughter of Mr. J.Swift’s Old Crab. I am the very worst genealogist in the world, so I cannot go back any further for fear of running on shore somewhere. Perhaps, though, Old Crab came over with the Conqueror--from Scotland you know.”

The American Kennel Club Registry from the early years (1872) had them in two classes Over 5 pounds and Not Exceeding 5 pounds.

1877 Classes for Toy Terriers was Not exceeding 5 pounds and Over 5 pounds. 1878 They were registered as the Yorkshire Terrier over 5 pounds and Not exceeding 5 pounds 1879 Yorkshire Terrier Blue and Tan Class 85: Over 5 pounds, Class 86 Blue and Tan NOT exceeding 5 pounds.

The first year Yorkshire Terriers were shown at Westminster was 1878, that year they were divided by weight, Over 5 pounds and Under 5 pounds. There were 33 Yorkshire Terriers entered in that Show and they were divided into the two Classes by weight. Eighteen were shown in over 5 lbs., and fifteen were entered in under 5 lbs. We cannot help but comment that as things stand in the breed at present this class for under 5 lbs. would be a cinch to win, as only few of the present day Yorkies could make the weight limit. We can only hope that those concerned will recognize the fact that our present standard says “Must not to exceed 7 lbs.” Every description in everything ever written about the breed refers to Yorkies as being one of the smallest of all Toy dogs. Ever since the breed’s conception, small size has been highly prized. There is also a note in this passage that says the dog could be claimed for one thousand dollars so their value as well as their weight has remained fairly consistent over the years.

My thanks to Joan Gordon for her help with this information and for allowing me once again to use passages from her book “The Complete Yorkshire Terrier” for this article.
March 28, 2001
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