What they lack in size, Yorkshire Terriers make up for in personality and friendliness — big time! But if you’re reading this, I’m betting that you already knew that.
That being said, there’s still plenty you probably have yet to learn about these wonderful dogs. Yorkies have a very interesting story about how the breed came to be and how they served an important role in world history. Read on to learn about those facts and more!
1. They were bred to hunt rats
You probably know Yorkies now for their small size, being low maintenance, and their friendliness towards all. But their original purpose was a much tougher assignment: hunting rats!
The pint-sized breed comes from an assortment of other Terriers and was created by miners and weavers in Scotland during the 19th century. Business owners were desperate for a dog that was fearless yet small enough to get into tight, confined places.
2. Yorkies served in World War II
The fierceness of the Yorkshire Terrier isn’t just restricted to clothing mills! During World War II, a Yorkie named Smoky was found by American soldiers in a foxhole in the New Guinea jungle in February 1944, and she would soon serve a crucial role.
During construction of a crucial Allied airbase at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, the Signal Corps desperately needed to run wire through a 70-foot long pipe that had become filled nearly to the brim with silt. The only alternative required digging a new trench, putting 250 men at risk of enemy bombings.
But thanks to the bravery of the dog they had found left in a war zone, the wire was run safely by Smoky in a matter of minutes. Her work not only kept the men of the airbase safe but also allowed 40 U.S. fighters and reconnaissance planes to operate normally, rather than being grounded for 3 days.
She would later go on to tour hospitals for wounded soldiers throughout the Pacific and United States. Once her therapy service concluded, she was a popular guest on television programs. A monument in Cleveland, Ohio is one of many worldwide dedicated to her memory.
Learn about more of Smoky’s war exploits and life after in this short film from Great Big Story:
3. They’re loyal as can be!
Yorkshire Terriers make terrific family pets not only because they are friendly to strangers and small children, but also because they’re incredibly loyal. Unlike many breeds who might crave independence, Yorkies are very loving and content to be at your side on the couch.
But like with any breed, proper training and socialization are important. Some Yorkies that are particularly attached will become very anxious and have problems when left alone at home. Check out our article on separation anxiety in dogs if you’re having problems!
4. Their original name was not so cute
We all know this lovable little breed today as Yorkshire Terriers, or “Yorkies,” for short. But they haven’t always had a name that rolls off the tongue that easily.
Despite being bred in Scotland, Yorkies were given their original name by the English in 1861, which was “broken-haired Scotch Terrier.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, now does it?
Not surprisingly, the name would not last long. A reporter in 1870 stated, “they ought no longer to be called Scotch Terriers, but Yorkshire Terriers, for having been so improved here.” The name stuck although it obscured their true origin.
5. They were one of the first registered breeds
We just talked about the fact that Yorkies haven’t been around long, but that didn’t stop them from being one of the first breeds to be recognized by the organization we now look to for breed information.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) made Yorkshire Terriers one of their first registered breeds in 1885, along with Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Bull Terriers. Looks like their big personalities made a big impression right away!
Hope you found out something new and interesting about these small dogs with large personalities! Oh, Yorkies are also a breed that is hypoallergenic, so if you’ve got a friend with allergies that loves dogs, you now know what breed to recommend! 🙂