Doggy DNA tests are all the rage these days, and it can be fun to find out what type of mix your mutt happens to be. But it turns out that breed analysis through DNA tests also has more practical applications and can actually help identify a new breed, which is how the Biewer terrier (a German name pronounced like "beaver") was named, creating a new and unique breed distinct from the Yorkshire terrier from which it descended. The American Kennel Club recognized the Biewer terrier in 2014.
What is a Biewer Yorkie?
A Biewer Yorkie, officially known as a Biewer terrier, and also called a Biewer Yorkshire terrier a la Pom Pon, or just a Biewer, is often mistaken for a Yorkshire terrier. The mix-up is understandable — after all, Biewers were originally bred from Yorkshire terriers by a German couple, Mr. and Mrs. Biewer. The Biewers bred Yorkies throughout the 1970s and '80s, but in 1984, one of their dogs gave birth to a black, white, and tan pup, and a second was born a few months later sporting the same colors.
This coloration was rare and due to a gene not normally found in Yorkshire terriers. A veterinarian friend of the couple recommended they name the dog after themselves. When Mr. Biewer became sick, the couple stopped focusing on breeding, and it was up to a small number of breeders in Germany and the United States to further the breed, and a few other breeds were mixed in as well.
Eventually, the Biewer Terrier Club of America became curious to know if the dogs were actually a Yorkshire terrier or a unique breed. They posed the question to Mars Veterinary, which found the Biewer terrier was, in fact, distinct enough from the Yorkie to be considered a unique breed. According to the AKC, this makes the Biewer dog breed the first to be proven to be a purebred through genetic testing rather than the lengthy traditional pedigree documentation most breeds go through.
Biewer terrier vs. Yorkshire terrier
People often ask what makes a dog a Biewer terrier vs. a Yorkshire terrier and there are only two obvious distinctions. Otherwise, the two breeds seem practically the same. The biggest difference is the coat color, which is what made the Biewers choose to breed the puppies in the first place. Yorkies have only two or three colors, which include some combination of tan, gold, black, or blue. On the other hand, Biewer terriers have three colors in either of two combinations: white, blue, and black, or white, gold, and tan, all falling on specific parts of the body, according to Pet Wave.
Aside from the fur color, Biewers do not have docked tails. While both breeds are born with full-length tails, Yorkshire terriers often have docked tails, which is part of the breed standard. But since Biewers are from Europe where tail docking is illegal, the breed standard developed for the Biewer puppies does not include docked tails.
Biewer terrier basics
Like Yorkshire terriers, Biewers have many benefits as pets. They are considered to be hypo-allergenic, they are light shedders, and they have a long lifespan, from 12 to 15 years on average, according to Yorkie Info Center. While Yorkies were originally bred to be hunters and the Biewer was bred to be a companion dog, they have very similar personalities, likely because the two diverted so recently.
Owners should be prepared to do a lot of grooming, since a Biewer terrier's long hair requires regular brushing or it will end up tangled and unmanageable. Also, the dog has a sensitive GI tract, so you may need to experiment with foods to develop an easily digestible diet for your Biewer.