What Were Yorkshire Terriers Used For?


Discover the captivating history of Yorkshire Terriers. From rat-catchers to royal pets, uncover the surprising roles these beloved dogs have played.

Have you ever wondered about the history and purpose behind Yorkshire Terriers? Well, in this article, we will explore the fascinating journey of this beloved breed and delve into what Yorkshire Terriers were originally used for. From their humble beginnings as rat-catchers in the textile mills of Yorkshire to becoming cherished companions and show dogs, these pint-sized pooches have certainly come a long way. So, join us as we uncover the hidden tales and surprising roles these adorable Yorkshire Terriers have played throughout history.

Hunting Rodents


Yorkshire Terriers were originally bred in England in the 19th century to serve as ratting dogs. Rats were a significant problem during that time, especially in urban areas and factories, where the rodents would infest buildings and spread diseases. Yorkshire Terriers were highly skilled hunters and were specifically bred for their agility, intelligence, and tenacity when it came to confronting and eliminating rodents. Their small size and wiry coat made them perfect for squeezing into tight spaces and hunting down rats.

Vermin Control

Apart from their prowess in ratting, Yorkshire Terriers were also effective in controlling other vermin. They excelled at catching mice, squirrels, rabbits, and even larger pests like foxes. Their relentless nature and quick reflexes made them adept at pursuing and catching these pests. Yorkshire Terriers were highly valued for their ability to keep homes, farms, and businesses free from the damage that rodents and vermin could cause.

Alerting Miners

In addition to their hunting skills, Yorkshire Terriers were also used as alert dogs in the mines of Yorkshire, England. The small size of these dogs made them ideal for navigating cramped spaces and detecting danger. They were known to bark and alert miners of gas leaks or collapses, saving numerous lives. The Yorkshire Terrier’s acute hearing and loud bark made them invaluable companions to the miners, as they could detect sounds and vibrations that humans often couldn’t.

Fashion Accessory

Royal Pets

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Yorkshire Terriers gained popularity as fashionable pets among the British elite. Queen Victoria herself played a significant role in popularizing the breed, as she owned several Yorkshire Terriers and even exhibited them in dog shows. The Queen’s affection for these small, elegant dogs set a trend among the upper class, and soon Yorkshire Terriers became a symbol of status and refinement.

Popularized by Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria’s influence extended far beyond the British elite. Her love for Yorkshire Terriers sparked an interest in the breed among the general public, leading to an increased demand for them as pets. Breeders started focusing on refining the characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier, ensuring that they maintained their elegant appearance and friendly temperament. The popularity of the breed continued to grow throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, making them one of the most beloved dog breeds worldwide.

Show Dogs and Competitions

Breed Standard

As the popularity of Yorkshire Terriers soared, dog shows and competitions became a significant part of their history. The breed standards, set by kennel clubs, provided guidelines on the ideal physical attributes and temperament of a Yorkshire Terrier. These standards ensured that the breed was consistently represented and maintained its unique characteristics. The silky, long, and straight hairs of the Yorkshire Terrier, along with its compact body and elegant carriage, made it a show-stopping presence in the ring.

Yorkshire Terrier Club Founded

The establishment of the Yorkshire Terrier Club in England in 1898 further solidified the breed’s reputation and popularity. The club brought together enthusiasts, breeders, and owners, who were dedicated to preserving and improving the breed. They organized breed-specific shows and events, sharing knowledge, and promoting responsible ownership. The Yorkshire Terrier Club played a crucial role in shaping the breed’s standard and ensuring that the dogs remained healthy and true to their origins.

Service Dogs

Therapy Dogs

Yorkshire Terriers’ small size and friendly disposition make them well-suited for therapy work. These dogs have been trained to provide emotional support to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. Their presence can help uplift spirits, reduce stress, and provide comfort to those in need. Yorkshire Terriers are known for their ability to bond with humans and offer unconditional love, making them excellent therapy dogs and bringing joy to many lives.

Emotional Support Animals

In recent years, the role of Yorkshire Terriers as emotional support animals has become more recognized and appreciated. These dogs can provide emotional stability and companionship to individuals suffering from mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Their small size and adaptability make them suitable for various living situations, including apartments or houses with limited space. Yorkshire Terriers have proven to be devoted and empathetic companions, providing a sense of security and comfort to their owners.

In conclusion, Yorkshire Terriers have had a diverse and fascinating history. From their origins as skilled rodent hunters to their rise as fashionable pets and show dogs, they have continually captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide. Their intelligence, agility, and loving nature have made them versatile working dogs in various roles, from alerting miners to providing therapy and emotional support. The Yorkshire Terrier’s journey is a testament to the breed’s adaptability, loyalty, and endless charm.