Huddersfield Ben: Champion Show Dog

Huddersfield Ben became famous in history as a popular stud dog who won many prizes in the show ring, and is considered to be "the father of modern yorkies".

Portrait of Huddersfield Ben painted by the famous artist George Earl

Huddersfield Ben was bred by Mr. W. Eastwood in the town of Huddersfield, England and owned by Mary Ann Foster of Bradford in West Yorkshire England. Ben was born in 1865 and is credited with being the foundation sire for the Yorkshire terrier breed. He was the most sought after stud dog at the time. He weighed about 11 pounds, bigger than today's standard, but consistently produced litters of smaller sizes. In 1891, an authority on the breed wrote "Huddersfield Ben was the best stud dog of his breed during his lifetime, and one of the most remarkable dogs of any pet breed that ever lived."

Huddersfield Ben was obedient and had great poise. He was a champion show dog, having won 74 prizes throughout his career. He placed second in Manchester in 1869 and first in 1870. He also won first prize at the Crystal Palace in 1870 and second prize the year after.

Ben also achieved local celebrity status by winning rat-baiting competitions, a blood sport that involved placing rats in an enclosed area and then taking bets on how long it would take the dog to kill them or on how many the dog could kill within a given time frame. Terriers were bred to kill rats and other vermin and were used in the mills and mines to help control the rat population. They were also used as ratters during WWI in the trenches. Rat-baiting competitions (using rats for the purpose of entertainment) is now illegal in most countries.

Huddersfield Ben died in 1871 when he was run over by a carriage. Although his life was short, it is said to this day every Yorkshire terrier descends from him, mostly through ten of his sons and one daughter - the most prominent being Huddersfield Ben II, Mozart, Old Royal, Emperor, Hirst's Peter, Bismarc, Bruce and Old Alice. Ben's body was preserved and is on display somewhere in England.