This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
The charming, aristocratic little dog we now know as the Yorkshire terrier has been identified as such for but a comparatively short period, the Kennel Club adopting this nomenclature in their Stud Book for 1886. Prior to this date the name had been hanging about him for some few years, because the names of rough, broken-haired, or Scotch terrier, under which he was first known, were most misleading. During the early days of dog shows the classes in which he competed included terriers of almost any variety, from the cross-bred mongrel to the Dandie Dinmont, the Skye terrier, and the Bedlington. Indeed, twenty years since it was no uncommon sight to see wire-haired fox terriers figuring with others of a silkier coat under the one common head of "rough or broken-haired terriers." As a fact, a broken-haired terrier should have been altogether a short-coated dog - the Yorkshire is long-coated to a greater extent than any other variety of the terrier; nor was the title Scotch terrier, by which he was most frequently known, at all adaptable to him.
How the name of Scotch terrier became attached to a 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 originally came from Scotland, where they had been accidentally produced from a cross between the silky-coated Skye terrier (the Clydesdale) and the black and tan terrier. One could scarcely expect that a pretty dog, partaking in a degree after both its parents, could be produced from a first cross between a smooth-coated dog, and a long-coated bitch or vice versa. Maybe, two or three dogs so bred had been brought by some of the Paisley weavers into Yorkshire, and there, suitably admired, pains were taken to perpetuate the strain. There appears to be something feasible and practical in this story, and I am sorry that when the information was given me, nearly a quarter of a century since, by a Yorkshire weaver then sixty years old and since dead, I did not obtain more particulars about what was in his day called the Scotch terrier.
However, this is the Yorkshire terrier now, and will no doubt remain so till the end of his time, and his place is usurped by other dogs which, certainly not handsomer, will be less difficult to keep in prime coat and in good condition. It has been said that the late Mr. Peter Eden, of Manchester, so noted in his day for pigs and bulldogs, had "invented" the Yorkshire terrier. This he had not done, although in its early day he owned some very excellent specimens, which for the most part he had purchased from the working men in Lancashire. It was they who bred them, and delighted to show them at the local exhibitions, of which that at Middleton, near Manchester, was the chief. Here, and at the Belle Vue shows, were always to be found the choicest specimens, which their owners treasured with great care, and had to be uncommonly "hard up" to be induced to sell their favourites. They would get £20 or £30 for a good specimen, more if it was "extra special," and this at a time when dogs did not run to so much money as they do now. We have on record that Mrs. Troughear, of Leeds, sold her little dog Conqueror to Mrs. Emmott, wife of an American actor, for £250. Still, since its first introduction the Yorkshire terrier has not progressed in public estimation; indeed the contrary may be said to be more the case, the reasons for which will be plainly enough told before the conclusion of this chapter.
Originally this terrier was a bigger dog than he is to-day, specimens from 10lb. weight to 141b. being not at all uncommon, so repeatedly classes had been provided for them in two sections - dogs over 81b. and dogs under that weight - whilst in addition there might be divisions for rough-haired toy terriers, the maximum allowed being 61b. At the time I write, Yorkshire terriers over 81b. weight are seldom seen at our canine gatherings, the prevailing and convenient weights being, I should say, from 41b. to 61b.; but the club scale still allows for two classes, their restrictions being to 12lb. maximum in the one and 51b. in the other.
The Yorkshire terrier at his best is a smart, handsome little dog, and some I have known were handy as rat killers, although as a rule they were kept as pets and for show purposes. If running outside on a wet or dirty day their beautiful, long, silky coat gets spoiled, indeed almost ruined; and even in the house extraordinary care and much skill are required to keep the coat of the Yorkshire terrier in order. Indeed, it has been said that the number of exhibitors in this country who thoroughly understand the treatment of this little pet dog can be counted on the fingers of the two hands. Whether this is so or not I will not commit myself by saying, but I do know that "Yorkshires" shown by one who "knows how" and by one who does not "know how," are terribly different in appearance. Indeed, the extraordinary growth of the coat to be found on a perfect specimen is in a certain degree due to artificial aid, for, when comparatively young the skin at the roots of the hair is dressed daily with an ointment or wash which acts in a wonderful manner in stimulating the growth of the hair.
The puppies when born are quite black, and those darkest in hue usually turn out to be the best in colour when fully coated and matured, which is not until they are about two years old. Not long ago I had a letter from some one who was about bringing an action against a well-known "fancier" because he had sold him a bitch in pup to a pure bred dog, and when the pups were born they were black with faint tan shadings on them. The purchaser destroyed the puppies; but before bringing the action he intended, and having the vendor before the Kennel Club, he wrote to the Fields when he was told how foolishly he had acted in the transaction. Rather curious are these great changes in the appearance and colour of some puppies, and it is well known that Dalmatians, spotted carriage dogs, are invariably produced from their dam quite free from black or brown markings.