At a bench dog show in 1861, a reporter commented that the breed being shown as a Broken Haired Scotch Terrier (also known then as the Broken Haired Toy Terrier) should be known as the Yorkshire Terrier because of its place of origin, and because the breed had improved so much since their arrival in Yorkshire. It stuck. The operative word in all its names, however, is “terrier.” This was a breed well-regarded for being an effective ratter and exterminator of all things vermin, its diminutive size making the breed ideal for hunting rats in confined spaces, mills and mines. It was also very skilled at hunting down den and burrow animals, hunters carrying the Yorkie in their pockets as they headed out to hunt for fox, badgers and other small to medium sized wild animals.
Though today’s dog is smaller and is practically never used to kill vermin, Yorkies still have plenty of feistiness. In fact, their boldness and bravery suggests a dog that has no idea how small it is. There are several accounts of Yorkies challenging much bigger threats, such as “Joe,” a 6-pound dog who chased off a 100-pound bear that had wandered into his owner’s house. “Basically, the bear was heading for “Joe’s food dish bowl, and you don’t touch Joe’s food dish bowl,” his owner later explained.