By Wag! Staff
Published: 01/26/2017, edited: 08/02/2023
Yorkshire Terriers, commonly referred to as “Yorkies,” are known for their small sizes and big attitudes. Yorkies are often big dogs trapped in little bodies, always on the lookout for adventure and maybe even a bit of trouble. Yorkshire Terriers are loyal and affectionate towards their family, but true to their Terrier heritage, they're sometimes suspicious of strangers and will bark at strange sounds and intruders.
While you may think Yorkies are just tiny dogs who love to yap, here are seven, fun facts that may surprise you about this tiny furball!
Much of the early development of the Yorkshire Terrier breed took place in Yorkshire, England. Because of that, the breed took on the name Yorkshire Terrier in 1870. Although Yorkies were first registered with the British Kennel Club in 1874, it was not until 1885 that they were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Sylvia, a Yorkshire Terrier, died in 1945 at only two years old. At the time, she was 2.5 inches tall at the shoulder and 3.5 inches from tip to tail, and weighed only four ounces, making her the smallest dog in recorded history. Other Yorkies have held the Guinness World Record for the smallest living dog. This includes Big Boss, who at 4.7 inches held the record from 1995 to 2002. Prior to that, another Yorkie, Thumbelina, had held the record at 5.5 inches tall and 8 inches long.
By comparison, Yorkshire Terriers are typically about 3-7 pounds, although a healthy Yorkie could weigh even slightly more than that. They are also generally about 6-9 inches tall.
Although Yorkies are now considered companion dogs, they were originally bred to catch rats in clothing mills. Because of the Yorkies’ close association with weavers working in mills, comments were sometimes jokingly made about how the Yorkies’ fine, silky coat was a product of the looms.
Yorkie puppies are born black and tan. As the dog matures into an adult, the black will change to blue, which is basically a diluted black or shiny silver color, and the tan will transition into gold, a richer tan color. The Yorkie has genes unique to the breed which cause this color change. The transition generally starts at about six months old and will usually be complete by the time the dog is about one or two, although it may take up to three years.
Smoky, a Yorkie, was found by an American soldier in the jungles of New Guinea in February 1944. Another American, Corporal William A. Wynne, then bought the dog. Smoky accompanied Wynne on missions, and at times saved the lives of the troops by warning them of the approaching enemy and other dangers before the troops could even hear anything coming. Because Smoky was not an official war dog, she did not qualify for rations or the medical care given to official military dogs. To compensate, Wynne would split his rations with Smoky.
This spritely pup is also quite possibly the first therapy dog. She would go on rounds with the nurses at a hospital in New Guinea to try and lift the spirits of the injured and dying soldiers, and even continued her work as a therapy dog after WWII.
Perhaps one of Smoky’s greatest accomplishments was running a telegraph wire through a 70-foot pipe that had only an 8-inch diameter. Wynne tied the wire to the dog’s collar, and she ran it through the pipe to the other side. What Smoky did in only a few minutes would have taken hundreds of men several days to accomplish the dangerous task. Because of Smoky’s accomplishments, there are several memorials erected in her honor, both in the United States and elsewhere.
Audrey Hepburn helped to introduce Yorkshire Terriers to the celebrity world when Mr. Famous, her first Yorkie, joined her in the spotlight. Her dog was on magazine covers and even in a scene in “Funny Face” with her. By bringing Mr. Famous into the spotlight, Hepburn really made Yorkies a popular four-legged companion, as well as a popular photography companion.
Yorkies are small, so they generally won't scare away intruders. However, their great sense of hearing helps them detect visitors long before people reach the door allowing them to alert their owners of potential intruders. Unfortunately, what the dog views as an intruder or unwelcome visitor could really be a friend or other welcomed guest. Because of this, a Yorkie's barking can get excessive. To prevent the dog’s barking from bothering your neighbors and to avoid getting annoyed with your dog yourself, if you have a Yorkshire Terrier, it should be trained when not to bark.
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