Above photo: From the article “Simple Talk On The Yorkshire Terrier Standard” by Kathleen B. Kolbert, Judge. ShowSight, September 2018 Issue.
We asked the following questions to our friends in the Yorkie community. Below is everyone’s responses, which are taken from the August 2019 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
- Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
- How many years in Yorkies? Showing? Judging? Breeding?
- What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program?
- Being #10 out of 192 AKC breeds is a pretty large accomplishment for a small dog. To what do you attribute this popularity?
- The only DQ in your Standard is for Color. How much trouble is it to attain, and keep, correct coat and coloration?
- Is the Yorkie’s popularity an advantage in the Toy group?
- What is your favorite dog show memory?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.
I live northeast of Dallas, Texas on an acreage. I work full time as a mortgage loan officer, and love to cook and bake. The Yorkies take up most of my free time.
I got my first Yorkie as a pet 37 years ago and he convinced me that I loved this amazing breed and wanted to be involved. When my youngest daughter hit junior high in 1991, I finally had free time to do something for me, and bought my first show Yorkie. Like many other newbies to our sport, the bitch I bought was not show quality, but I was fortunate enough to breed to an outstanding dog and my first litter of Yorkies produced my first champion. I was hooked! I did not breed much at that point, but I loved having puppies and the challenge of breeding what I hoped would be the ideal dog, and in 2004, we bought some land and built a house with a dog room and dog runs so I could do this right.
The secret to a successful breeding program? You have to be ruthlessly honest about the faults of your bitch and breed to the best possible sire who will correct those faults. If you can’t do this, then develop relationships with knowledgeable friends who will help you with decisions and listen to them. You can’t have one stud dog and assume he will produce the same with all of your bitches. As much as I love my Leo, I know he is not the best dog for one of my girls, but using one of his sons on that bitch produces outstanding puppies.
What do I attribute to the breed’s popularity? Yorkies are amazing companions, as they are incredibly intelligent, instinctive to the needs of their family, and full of love. Of course, it does not hurt that they are absolutely beautiful dogs.
The only DQ in your Standard is for Color. How much trouble is it to attain, and keep, correct coat and coloration? As someone who started out with very light dogs, I can tell you it’s extremely difficult to attain that dark blue silk we so desire. I have learned a lot about what to look for: blue skin on the sides of the dog and a purple/blue cast to the tongue are essential for a blue dog. Diet and coat conditioning are critical to maintain the color, as not all diets have sufficient copper and l-tyrosine for the pigment. It’s frustrating when you are showing a dog that is naturally dark to come across judges who are afraid to put it up since they think it’s too dark or might be dyed. Or you have the judges with cataracts that cannot see the coat is blue, as to them it looks black because they cannot see the shading. It’s tough to find a sire who is naturally dark, as so many dogs in the ring are colored. If we were to revise our standard to to allow any shade of blue, but give preference to the darker blue, it would certainly make a difference. When I started in dogs, the judges had alcohol on the table to test for color, but many judges just accept the added color. At times I feel judges place more emphasis on grooming than the quality of the dog under the coat.
Is the Yorkie’s popularity an advantage in the Toy group? I don’t feel the Yorkie’s popularity matters, as judges seem to have a clear preference for Pekes and they are not anywhere near as popular. In my opinion, Yorkies are doing better in group as the quality of our breed has improved with time.
My favorite dog show memory? My bitch Vixen, GCHS Rosemark’s Saint Or Sinner, winning best of breed at the AKC National Dog Show five years ago. She was one of the three bitch specials Tonia Holibaugh was handling that year and all three won best of breed that year: Vixen the Yorkie, Adele the Maltese and Roxy the Lhasa Apso.
I would love to see more meaningful DNA tests become available for health issues. At this point, the only thing we are really able to test for is blindness, which is not a huge issue with our breed. I want to see more work done on the diseases that have a bigger impact on health and longevity. And please, just because you’ve had the DNA testing done, it does not mean your dog has no health issues, as the test covers none of the really big issues, such as PLE, liver shunt, Leggs-Calves-Perthes, etc.
I live just north of Tampa, Florida in Trinity. I love to cook and also, given the opportunity, deep sea fish. I have been breeding and showing Yorkies since 2004.
The secret to being a successful breeder? To begin with, you must know and understand the standard. A dog breeder, in my honest opinion, should be able to recite the standard for your breed by heart. If ever asked a question, they should know the answer from the breed standard. As a breeder, it is also important to understand the standard for your breed.
Next, as a breeder, you should endeavor to produce as close to the standard as you possibly can. Your dogs should be genetically tested for all things inherent to your breed so you are producing healthy animals. It is also important to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. Once is a mistake, the second time is a decision.
Being number ten in the AKC list, really doesn’t mean a lot to me. It just means that many Yorkies are being bred and registered. It does not speak to quality of the dogs at all. Yorkies are popular because first of all they are beautiful. They are also very smart and adaptable and can be easily trained to do just about anything.
The color DQ is subject to individual interpretation. My dark steel blue may not be your dark steel blue. When I started in 2004, the dogs were much lighter, and no one seemed to care. Now you see many dogs that are nearly black in the ring. When breeding, it is important to know the pedigree and what is back there in color to try to achieve the right color. Then do not dilute it with lighter dogs.
Is the breed’s popularity an advantage in the Toy Group? Currently we have several amazing Specials out that are consistently winning in group. I do not attribute this to the breed popularity. I attribute it to the quality of the dogs in competition.
My favorite dog show memory was several years at our Central Florida Yorkshire Terrier Specialty. Jonathan Chamberlin was our judge. He had just lined up his placements in the breed ring and one of the handlers, who had cancer, and has since passed, feinted in the ring. She was fine, just light headed. Jonathan took the microphone and said, “listen, we are all going to die and some of us might die in the show right, but NOT IN MY SHOW RING and on my watch. It brought a lot of laughter and levity to the crowd.
I am very passionate about the Yorkie breed, its health and preservation and producing the best I can. Lately I have become passionate about mentoring newbies. We need more exhibitors. When you sell a show dog to a newbie, please sell them the best you have. Then please take them under your wing, help them gain confidence and become successful. Teach them what they need to know and encourage them. Remember, we were all new once.
I breed and show Yorkshire Terriers under the prefix JaLa, along with my mom, Laura Vance. Together for over 10 years we have dedicated our lives to this breed that we both cherish so much. I couldn’t have done any of this without her. Together we strive to preserve the breed and produce Yorkshire Terriers that will help the breed for many generations to come.
I live in Northern Indiana and work full time as a small animal veterinarian. Most of my free time is spent with my dogs in some capacity, or with my family.
I attended my first show as an exhibitor in 2005 and had my first litter a year later. I took a break for several years during vet school, but am so happy to be back out in the ring.
The secret to a successful breeding program? Two key rules. 1. Being honest with yourself. If you dismiss faults or health issues in your own dogs, you are only fooling yourself. I always try to be more critical of our own dogs than I am of those owned by others. 2. Don’t compromise good structure and movement for a pretty face or coat. We were told years ago when we started to get the ‘cake’ (structure) right first and then work on the frosting (coat/head). This advice has served us well.
What do I attribute the breed’s popularity? They are smart, loyal and tenacious little toy terriers with hearts of gold and mischief. Their personalities are second to none, and two is always better than one. They make wonderful companions and are very portable, which is good because they love to be with their people.
How much trouble is it to attain, and keep, correct coat and coloration? It can be very difficult to attain and keep, especially when first starting out. Mostly because it can be difficult to understand what correct coat and coloration actually are. I have found that if you focus on the correct shading of the tan, the correct blue color will follow, and therefore so will the texture. Correct color and texture go hand in hand in this breed.
Is the Yorkie’s popularity an advantage in the Toy group? I don’t believe a breed’s popularity helps it to place in the group ring. There are other factors that are able to provide an advantage though.
My favorite dog show memory? My mom and I were at the Cleveland Crown Classic in 2011, with our first bred by champion, GCH JaLa’s Rile Me Up. It was our last show together, and he was up against the #1 Yorkshire Terrier All Systems the entire cluster. On the last day he was awarded Best of Breed under respected judge Mr. Fred Basset. Riley and I went on to win a Group 4 among a very large toy entry. We floated home, and that night his precious silk coat was cut off, in preparation for me to leave for vet school.
Learning to show and breed Yorkshire Terriers is very challenging, but that also means that the rewards are so great. My hope for the breed is to see and assist new exhibitors in any way I can. If you are interested in learning about the breed, grooming or showing and you see me at a show, come on over. I love sharing this passion and can talk Yorkie all day.
I live in Grand Prairie, Texas. I have been a high school math teacher for nine years. I also have a dog show bow business called Winning Topknots and often spend my evenings working on bow orders while catching up on my favorite TV shows. My bows have been worn by many Yorkies in the show ring, including several top Yorkies over the past few years. Besides showing, my dogs also recently started modeling for Chewy.com. They have modeled apparel, diapers and belly bands, and first aid and recovery products for Chewy’s website.
I got my first pet Yorkshire Terrier in 2004 and attended my first dog show as a spectator in 2007. I started going to dog shows occasionally over the next three years where I was able to watch and learn what was involved with showing Yorkies. In April 2010 I decided I wanted to start showing and began looking for a show puppy. By the end of that year, I got my first show Yorkie, and our first dog show together was in March 2011. I have now been showing and breeding Yorkies for 8 ½ years and have finished 13 Champions (12 Yorkies, one Long Coat Chihuahua) and five Grand Champions. I also have two Yorkies that have earned their Silver Grand Championships, won multiple group placements, and have been top ranked in breed and all-breed points.
The secret to a successful breeding program? Breeding healthy, sound dogs should always be the first goal in any breeding program. I utilize the current health testing that is available and use those results to help guide some of my breeding decisions. After health and soundness, my first rule for breeding is to breed for the type I want to produce without sacrificing structure and movement. It is important to have a picture in your mind for what your ideal Yorkie would look like. How I interpret the standard and the look I like may not be what another Yorkie breeder likes, but the important thing is to know what YOU like and to always keep this picture in mind when selecting sires and evaluating puppies. You also have to know which faults you absolutely cannot accept and which faults you can live with, as there is no perfect puppy. Finally, never just breed to the convenient sire; breed to a sire that you feel could produce the best possible puppies with your bitch. I am still fairly new to breeding Yorkies and only produce one or two litters a year on average, but those are the rules I use to guide my breeding decisions.
What do I attribute to the breed’s popularity? Yorkies are an intelligent, loving, energetic dog in a cute, little package. I think the first thing that attracted me to this small breed was its beauty! I loved the beautiful long, silky blue and tan coat and the topknot with a little red bow. Even when kept in a shorter hair trim, the Yorkshire Terrier is still adorable. As I became more familiar with Yorkies, I fell in love with their energetic and playful personalities. I think Yorkie owners love the small size and look of the Yorkie, as well as the larger-than-life personality of the breed.
How much trouble is it to attain, and keep, correct coat and coloration? Half of our breed standard focuses on coat texture, color and color pattern. The color should be a dark steel blue (not jet black or silver) and a rich, shaded tan. The coat should be glossy, fine, and silky in texture. Obtaining correct color and texture is very difficult. The gold in a mature adult should be a rich, shaded tan. It should not be cream-colored, sooty with dark hairs, or red-brown. Many dark coats I see are either soft or coarse in texture instead of the correct silk, but I have seen several Yorkies with beautiful correct silky, dark blue coats so it is possible! You also have to keep in mind, especially with bitches each heat cycle, that most Yorkies will get lighter each year as they age. I would not completely eliminate a nice Yorkie in my breeding program just because the color may be lighter that I’d prefer, but breeding toward getting consistent correct color and texture is a goal to work toward. I do want to say that as much emphasis as our standard puts on coat color and texture, I hope that judges and Yorkie exhibitors remember that our breed should not only be a coat hanger. The Yorkshire Terrier is a toy terrier and should have breed type, high head carriage, attitude, and sound structure underneath that coat!
Is the Yorkie’s popularity an advantage in the Toy group? I’m not sure that it is necessarily an advantage as I see other breeds place in the group more frequently, but in the past few years I have seen Yorkies placing in the group more consistently. When you have a Yorkie in specials coat, beautifully groomed and presented well, with good structure and movement, it is hard not to take notice in the group ring.
One of my favorite memories was when I won Best in Specialty show at the 2015 Bluebonnet Yorkshire Terrier Specialty with BISS GCHS CH Magic Country Fast and Fuogin (Phil). My second favorite memory was when Phil and I won Select Dog at the 2016 Westminster Dog Show among a fabulous entry of about 27 male specials.
If you are interested in showing Yorkies, know that the Yorkshire Terrier is a breed that requires patience! It takes a lot of time and dedication to grow and maintain a show coat. Some grow coat quickly and others may take years to grow a fully mature coat. Yorkies are such wonderful little dogs, but they can be quite stubborn at times so, again, patience is a must. Once you get started, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the breed just as I have!