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Our first fact is that Yorkshire Terriers actually started out as ratters. Back in the Industrial Revolution in England, there were lots of workers from Scotland who came to Yorkshire to work in coal mines, textile mills and other factories; they brought along their pups with them, like the Clysedale Terrier, which Yorkshire Terriers were bred from along with many other terriers. Due to the Yorkshire Terriers small size they were perfect for squeezing into tight spaces to catch the rodents in the mills and factories. Weavers, miners and many other business owners used Yorkies as their version of an exterminator in order to keep mice and rats out of their workspaces. Yorkshire Terriers are known for their confident and fierce personalities which made them especially perfect for the job as they fearlessly went after the rodents. Along with other terriers, they were used during hunting to flush out prey from their dens.  One Yorkie in particular, who is considered to be the father of the breed, Huddersfield Ben, was a ratting champion and incredibly successful in dog shows where he won over 70 awards!  Fact number two – The Yorkshire Terrier’s coat can grow up to two feet long. Although it may be pleasing to hear for pet owners that the Yorkshire Terrier barely sheds at all, it does mean that the dogs are completely reliant on their owner to keep their hair well groomed. Their hair will just keep on growing if left alone and, as I mentioned, can even get up to two feet long. Most Yorkshire Terriers that compete in shows tend to have longer hair, but most pet owners keep their dog’s hair well-trimmed to stop them from tripping over or from getting food stuck in it. This cut is generally called “The Puppy Cut”.  On the topic of their coats, puppies are born black and the blue and tan coat gradually develops as they grow older. Yorkshire Terriers tend to get lighter with their age and hormonal changes can also affect their colour. For example, females in heat will go lighter and then will darken after their season is over.  Our third fact today is to do with another famous pup. The first ever therapy dog was actually a little Yorkie named Smoky! These days you would expect most therapy and service dogs to be Labradors or Golden Retrievers, but the very first pup was in fact Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier. US soldier Bill Wynne found a little Yorkshire Terrier in a foxhole during the second World War and took her in as his own. He named her Smoky and the two started their journey together. They travelled across New Guinea and, Smoky, due to her amazing obedience and small size, began to help out with the war. She strung communication wires under a former Japanese air strip through pipes which meant the soldiers didn’t have to dig trenches and be exposed to enemy fire. After that, Smoky found herself being a therapy dog for wounded soldiers, touring hospitals through the Pacific and United States. After the war Wynne and Smoky went to Hollywood where she performed on lots of different TV shows. There is a monument dedicated to Smoky’s memory in Cleveland, Ohio. Fact number four – Yorkshire Terriers are known for being very small dogs, but they are actually really inconsistent in size. They should be around 8-9 inches at the shoulder and weigh no more than seven pounds. However, it is not out of the ordinary for one single litter to have one puppy who grows up to weigh less than four pounds, one 6 pounds, and another who grows to be 12 – 15 pounds. With this in mind, do be aware if you are offered a “tea cup” puppy from a breeder – these dogs tend to be at a much higher health risk than the standard dog size. For our last fact today, and definitely something to have a heads up about before getting your own Yorkie puppy, is that Yorkshire Terriers are prone to something called pharyngeal gag reflex which is also known as Reverse Sneezing… Instead of pushing air out of the nose, like you would in a normal sneeze, they gasp for air which causes them to make a goose-like honking sound. Although this may be quite alarming at first, you can be rest assured that the noise is harmless and swiftly passes as it’s usually triggered by dust or pollen like a normal sneeze. Just a warning for you if you’re ever concerned by some of the sounds that your Yorkie may make!

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