Jahbe. Our AKC Parti Yorkshire Terrier Mommie and her puppies. Note the little puppy that is mostly white, stretching upward, in the middle of this photo. We kept that puppy, named her Bessie, and she is our Bessie.
Jahbe, a little shaggy-looking but on full alert outside!
How Parti Yorkies Developed
By: Sue White. Used by Permission (edited)
The gorgeous dogs known as "Parti Yorkies" are purebred Yorkshire Terriers whose head is the usual gold or tan color, but whose body is mostly white with some black patches. Many skeptical Yorkie owners and breeders absolutely refuse to believe that the Parti (abbreviated from "partially" colored) Yorkie is anything other than a "behind the kennel bred" mutt. They say: "There is NO white gene in our Purebred Yorkies" or "There is NO record of any Yorkie ever breeding to a white or parti colored dog" or "No show breeder who's been breeding and showing for 30 or 40 years, has ever produced a parti colored Yorkie." This article will attempt to educate people on color genetics, recessive genes and how the Parti gene remained hidden in the Yorkshire Terrier breed for years.
Early records were not kept on the Yorkshire Terrier foundation breeding stock. It is doubtful that, back in the days where spaying and neutering was rare, that the farmers and working class families didn't have the occasional unplanned canine pregnancy. If anything, it happened more then than it does today. History also notes that the white Maltese was bred to the Yorkshire terrier to enhance the texture and length of the Yorkshire terrier coat, since most of the early dogs thought to have started the breed were "broken haired" dogs (with shorter, coarser coats). It is documented in some of the earliest records that the foundation stock of our breed were cross-bred dogs and dogs without pedigrees (whose heritage is unknown). Even if these dogs didn't look parti-colored they could very well have harbored the recessive Parti gene in their DNA makeup. Whether their mother/father, grandmother/grandfather or great grandmother/great grandfather was Parti colored, no one would really know, since record keeping at that time in history was "little to none".
The Parti gene can only be expressed if a parti gene carrier is bred to another parti gene carrier. A carrier will look like a traditional colored Yorkie but is born with maybe some white on its chin, chest and/or feet. If a parti carrier is bred to another parti carrier, 25% of the offspring may be traditional Yorkies (not carrying the gene), 50% may be traditional colored Yorkies who do carry the recessive parti gene and 25% of the offspring may be actual Parti colored dogs. AKC has allowed Parti-colored Yorkies to be eligible for registration since 2000. Prior to that time, parti-colored offspring were normally given away without papers or culled (meaning killed).
Two dedicated breeders in California fought to get parti colored Yorkshite Terriers registered by AKC. This "Nikko" line of Parti carriers and Parti colored Yorkies comes from California. The legal battle was fierce to win the AKC's approval for registration of Parti Yorkies: Forty-two litters and generations of dogs from a particular breeder (a well known show breeder who has been breeding and showing for over 40 years) were DNA'd to prove that, while the present puppies were mostly white Parti Yorkies, that their ancestors were all AKC registered Yorkshire Terriers.
The Yorkshire Terriers breed standards have changed over the years. The "AKC Standard" color is blue and tan with any other color considered to be "Off Standard." Until the new color disqualification rule went into effect, off standard colored, black and tan, and black and gold yorkies have entered the show ring and won their champion status. Standards have changed and not only do we now have smaller sized dogs than in the late 1800's, but some of our "off standard" dogs have been allowed into the show ring.
Hopefully these types of changes along with a better understanding of color genetics, will open the door for the continued growing acceptance of the Parti-colored Yorkie. Parti Yorkies ARE RARE: they are hard to find and as supply and demand goes, they do cost more than the traditional colored Yorkie (the breeder spents proportionately more for his Parti females and their breeding/stud fee). Parti-colored Yorkies are healthy animals and they are not a genetic freak of nature as some people, groups or websites suggest. They are simply a genetic rarity to be celebrated. The Parti gene has been in some of our Yorkie bloodlines for years and years and years ... and if you think it's not possible, don't be surprised if one day, your own purebred Yorkie produces a pup of a different color!