American Kennel Club decrees the Biewer terrier an official breed

It looks a little like a Yorkie, but its name sounds like “beaver.” And as a newly recognized American Kennel Club (AKC) breed, the Biewer terrier is likely to be making an appearance in your practice, if one hasn’t already—there are currently 1,424 registered with the AKC.

The Biewer terrier is the 197th breed to be recognized by the organization.

And while its designation as an official AKC breed may be new, its status as a breed isn’t—the longhaired toy dogs originated more or less by accident in Germany in 1984, the result of a recessive piebald gene shared by two Yorkshire terriers. The black and white dogs didn’t pass muster with officials when the original breeders tried to enter them at Yorkshire terrier competitions in the late eighties as a kind of greyscale Yorkie; nor, initially, were they accepted as a new breed.

That’s changed over time—eventually, the breeders found a German kennel club willing to make allowances—and this recent AKC recognition means the breed has now grown in sufficient number due to active ownership across the US as well as an established breed club.

It can be difficult for the casual observer to tell Yorkies and Biewers apart. The main difference is the color: Yorkies have two or three colors displayed in a combination of tan, gold, black, or blue, while Biewer terriers have three colors combined either as white, blue, and black, or black/white, gold, and tan. Another difference—and a controversial one—is that Yorkies bred for show often have docked tails, whereas Biewers, having originated in Europe where tail-docking is against the law, do not.

Like Yorkies, Biewers are low shedders and are considered hypoallergenic despite their long hair, which needs regular grooming to avoid becoming a tangle of matted fur. They’re considered good companion pets, with agreeable, friendly personalities, similar to their genetic brethren.

Their Yorkie heritage also means some of the same genetic disorders and health problems can turn up. Biewers are prone to tracheal collapse, bladder stones, patellar luxation, portosystemic shunt, hypoglycemia, and Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome. They also have a sensitive digestive system, and clients may need some help finding foods their Biewers can tolerate well.

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