The American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the 197th entry into the ranks of its accepted canine breeds in Jan. 2021. Called the Biewer (pronounced like "beaver") terrier, the newest member of the pack is a descendant of the Yorkshire terrier, and it's now recognized by the world's leading purebred dog registry and able to compete in the Toy Group in AKC-sanctioned events.
So, what exactly is a Biewer terrier? The dog originated in 1984 when a German family named Biewer produced a piebald Yorkshire terrier puppy by breeding two Yorkshire terriers.
"The puppy carried a recessive gene for piebald coloration, and the breeders started a selective breeding process to produce similar piebald puppies," says Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet expert with Rover.com, in an email interview. "They didn't meet AKC standards for being a Yorkshire terrier due to the different coloring, but were eventually accepted into AKC as a new breed. The Biewer terrier is very similar in appearance to the Yorkshire terrier breed, except it has a piebald coloration. It has three colors versus the Yorkshire terrier that is composed of two colors."
Typical Yorkshire terriers are black and brown, with little to no white coloring, according to Steffi Trott, owner and head trainer for SpiritDog Training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "The rare piebald gene produces large white areas on the dog's body," says Trott in an email interview. "You can think of the Biewer terrier as a Yorkie with a lot of white.The AKC occasionally allows consistently bred types of dogs to join their registry. The applying breeds have to fulfill a number of requirements. The Biewer terrier is the latest breed to be accepted. A lot of breeds and crossbreeds are currently not accepted — for example, any kind of doodles or Scottish collies."
Finding One Might Be the Biggest Problem
The only drawback to this new dog with the unusual piebald gene? "Their breeding history is shorter than many breeds, so they are not easy to find," says Ellis. "They are growing in popularity in Germany and Europe, but are sought-after in America and growing here. With their unique coloring and playful happy personality, it's no wonder they are quickly growing in popularity."
Unusual and rare colorings and coat types are quickly coveted in any kind of dog breed, as is the case with lemon-colored Dalmatians, red merle, blue-eyed Australian shepherds and the Biewer terrier, says Trott. "Many dog owners are drawn to the Yorkshire terrier for his friendly temperament and small size, but choose to get the Biewer terrier for his remarkable coloring," she adds. "I suspect that now, with the addition to the AKC registry, there will be an increased interest in breeding, showing and selling Biewer terriers, so they might become more prevalent in the next few years."
Here is a little more about this wonderful new breed.
Do They Really Make Good Pets?
According to the AKC, the Biewer terrier is a happy-go-lucky dog with a childlike, whimsical attitude. Their sole purpose: to love and be loved, making them loyal companions. "If you are looking for a lazy lap dog, this won't be a fit for you," says Ellis. "But if you want a small active playful dog, a Biewer may be a great fit."
It's a very small and fragile dog, though — they stand at about 7 to 11 inches (18 to 28 centimeters) at the withers, and only weigh between 4 to 8 pounds (around 2 to 4 kilograms) — so owners will want to be sure and avoid stepping on them by mistake. "Being a small dog, you want to ensure your family members won't accidentally get them underfoot," says Ellis, "which can happen easily with clumsy people and small children."
They are a great choice for beginning dog owners, adds Trott. "They don't require a lot of exercise, and don't show aggression or reactivity," she says. "Like many small dogs they can be barky. This should be considered if you are planning to have a Biewer terrier in an apartment. Biewer terriers get along well with other small dogs. They should not be allowed to rough-house with much larger dogs to prevent injuries."
Are They Easy to Train?
"While they respond well to training, they are high-energy and intelligent, and love to play and stay busy," says Ellis. "The Biewer terrier is an intelligent little dog that generally wants to please and responds well to firm and consistent training. Starting early and socializing the Biewer can help avoid Small Dog Syndrome and lead to a well-behaved, fun companion."
What About Exercise?
"Biewer terriers make for excellent house companions, but they do require daily walks and exercise," says Ellis. "They pack a lot of personality into a small frame, and regular play time can ensure your Biewer is a happy, well-behaved family member. They are known to have spunky, playful personalities with a surprising amount of energy."
How Do You Care for a Biewer Terrier?
Their long and silky coat absolutely requires daily brushing to keep it free of mats. "This is not a dog for someone who does not enjoy investing time into brushing and bathing," says Trott. "They do not shed very much.The breed standard states that the Biewer terrier is to carry a 'ponytail on top of the head.'"
A good, carefully planned diet is important to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) that many toy breeds are prone to, as well as other issues. "Especially with a small dog, you don't want extra weight on their joints," says Ellis. "Being a smaller breed, the things to look out for are dislocated knee caps and bladder stones. Serious health problems are uncommon for this breed, and being a smaller dog they tend to live a long life. The life span of Biewer terriers is usually between 12 and 15 years, and they are usually healthy through their later years as well."
It's also key that the Biewer terrier live in families that spend a lot of time with them. "They cannot be left alone for 12 hours a day," says Trott. "A lonely Biewer terrier might show separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.They are very easy-going and can be taken to many places — cafes, patios, to the park. A Biewer terrier does not care where he is as long as he is with his family!"
Where Can You Find a Biewer Terrier?
As with all pure-bred dogs, the best way to find a puppy is to check out the AKC website, which includes a puppy finder tool that you can use to browse breeders. "Due to the low volume of Biewer terriers currently living in the U.S., chances are that you cannot immediately buy a puppy but need to be put on a waitlist," says Trott. "The wait is worth it though!"
Keep mind, however, that a well-bred Biewer terrier can be very expensive. "Small-breed dogs tend to be more expensive due to small litter sizes," says Trott. "The more unusual a breed is, the higher the price will be on top of that.You won't be able to find a Biewer terrier for under $1,500, but might have to budget much more than that. Some Biewer terriers of top show lines may sell for as much as $7,000. Because the breed is so rare and sought-after, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to find a rescue Biewer terrier. If you are looking to acquire a puppy, finding a breeder is your best bet."