The Biewer (pronounced “bee-vah”/“beaver”) terrier is a toy-sized terrier similar in many ways to the Yorkshire Terriers they were developed from.
This breed is also sometimes called the Biewer Yorkshire Terrier or Biewer a la Pom Pon.
But whilst their appeal is undeniable, their breed status has caused many a heated argument!
Where Does the Biewer Terrier Come From?
Yorkshire terriers are an old English breed kept first to control vermin and then increasingly as a companion. As such they combine the alertness and vigor or a working terrier with the amiable and friendly temperament of a toy dog.
Yorkies are dark grey and brown in color (referred to in show standards as ‘blue and tan’ or ‘blue and gold’).
In contrast, the Biewer Terrier is tricolor: white, black, and tan. The gene that causes the large white areas on the Biewer Terrier is also found in other dogs breeds such as the Havanese and German Short-Haired Pointer.
This sort of dog coat coloring is referred to in different ways including white spotting, piebald, parti-color, and tricolor. It is inherited as a recessive gene, meaning both parents need to carry it for the puppies to have the tricolor appearance.
Is A Biewer the same as a Yorkie?
Some breeders insist the Biewer Terriers are not a distinct breed but simply a Yorkshire Terrier with a color that disqualifies them from the show ring or is viewed as undesirable for the breed.
In fact, terrier enthusiasts have been known to have spirited arguments about what, if anything, distinguishes a Biewer Terrier from a parti-colored Yorkshire Terrier.
While not generally accepted in the show ring Yorkshire Terriers do come in color variants like parti-color, brown, chocolate, and gold.
A Breed Apart?
Breeders of conventional Yorkshire Terriers are often not willing to accept the Biewer as a distinct breed, rather than just what they see as an inferior sort of Yorkie.
But Biewer Terrier enthusiasts see these dogs as quite distinct from the parent stock and a rare breed that sells for a premium price.
The primary distinguishing feature of a Biewer Terrier is that is descends from dogs bred in Germany by Werner and Gertrude Biewer. Their goal was a true breeding terrier with the traits they preferred.
The Biewers developed the original breed standard, and a version of this is still in use.
This standard describes the desired body shape and pattern of coloration, including symmetrical face markings and white legs.
A puppy descended only from Biewer owned dogs, and matching the breed description, would be considered a Biewer Terrier.
Genetic testing done at the University of California, Davis shows that the moderate degree of difference between Yorkshire Terriers and Biewer Terriers. This makes their identity as a breed a matter of opinion.
For the purpose of this article we are discussing Biewer Terriers sold or rescued under the banner of being a distinct breed.
Fun Facts About the Biewer Terrier
The Biewer Terrier was immediately popular in their native Germany. This was was partly due to a celebrity owner. The singer Margot Eskens, who was a chart-topping German language singer in the 1950s and 1960’s, had a Biewer.
Shortly after the Biewer Terrier was developed there was suspicion that many dogs being breed and sold might not be purebred Biewers. It is still often claimed the original Biewer stock or the Biewer dogs in America are mixed breeds.
One reason given is that Yorkshire Terriers do not carry the color white, however the Yorkshire Terrier breed standard allows for small white spots.
Multiple breeders report having produced occasional parti-color puppies–so this seems unlikely.
Genetic testing suggests that the Biewer Terriers being sold by prominent breeders share a similar heritage. One that is likely to be the Biewer dogs, without any significant outbreeding.
The American Kennel Club currently does not recognize the Biewer Terrier. However, the AKC Foundation Stock Service® which assists the development of new breeds, has listed it.
Biewer Terrier Appearance
At this stage in the development of the breed, Biewer Terriers closely resemble Yorkshire terriers other than in their color. They are a very petite terrier with a coat that will sweep the ground unless clipped. The coat is largely white with various amounts of black and smaller areas of tan.
The Biewer Terrier in Germany often had a docked tail until 1998 when docking was no longer permitted in that country. Fortunately having a natural tail is now standard world-wide.
Biewer Terrier Temperament
Some describe Biewer Terriers as behaving more like a sedate toy breed. The Yorkshire Terrier on the other hand, retains more terrier pluck and boldness.
However, this has not been objectively assessed. Biewers will tend to be alert, amiable and ideal household pets.
Training Your Biewer Terrier
As with any dog, early socialization and positive training is required to promote good animal welfare.
As a terrier breed, Biewer Terriers have a moderate tendency towards barking and may require persistence with house-training.
Biewer Terrier Health
Biewer Terriers are robust for their size and have the typical long lifespan of toys breeds, of 10-16 years.
Databases of canine congenital disease rarely have these dogs listed due to their rarity. Information relating to the Yorkshire Terrier is likely to apply.
Case reports have been published of Biewer Terriers suffering from necrotizing encephalitis. However, there is no evidence that this breed is at increased risk of the disorder.
The Biewer Terrier has a narrower genetic base than the Yorkshire Terrier. Any purebred Biewer Terrier descends from only a handful of animals.
For this reason, breeders should be able to demonstrate a plan to avoid inbreeding. In addition, they should not employ excessive line-breeding (mating closely related dogs).
The Biewer Terrier has a long silky coat that reaches the floor. Long hair grows from the head requiring a “ponytail” to allow the animal to see and avoid eye irritation.
Regular grooming is essential. Some owners prefer to keep the hair clipped short in what groomers call a “puppy cut”.
Do Biewer Terriers Make Good Family Dogs?
A Biewer Terrier is a great family dog.
Due to their small size care should be taken bringing them into a house with young, boisterous children.
They are better suited to exercise than many toy breeds. That said, you should take care to ensure proper conditioning before extensive walks or hikes.
Rescuing a Biewer Terrier
You are not likely to find a Biewer in shelters or rescues.
The only rescue where you are likely to find them is one associated with a breed club.
You might also contact a breeder who may have had a dog returned to them or otherwise in need of a good home.
Finding a Biewer Terrier Puppy
Depending on where you are in the world, Biewer Terriers are either rare or potentially unavailable.
As such you need to show caution in accepting claims from a seller that a puppy is a Biewer Terrier.
If you wish to ensure your puppy is from the Biewer breed, check that that both parents and the litter are on the list of a reputable registry.
When buying from a breeder ask to see parents, ask about testing for congenital disorders.
They should be familiar with risks for disorders including congenital blindness (progressive retinal atrophy) and dislocated kneecaps (patellar luxation).
Check for evidence of inbreeding such as the same animal appearing multiple times in a heritage chart.
Raising A Biewer Terrier Puppy
Follow our puppy raising guidelines for a toy-sized dog.
Accustom your puppy to any activities you will want them to be comfortable with as an adult dog. These activities may include: handling, tooth brushing, and travelling in a carrier.
Biewer Terrier Products and Accessories
Ensure that you feed a diet appropriate for a small breed.
This may include a Yorkshire Terrier species diet such as this one by Royal Canin.
You should groom your Biewer regularly. You can do this on a dry coat using a slicker brush designed for small dogs. An example of such a brush is the Lil Pal’s Slicker.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Biewer Terrier
A Biewer Terrier is a particularly attractive toy dog with a lively personality.
Their health issues are in line with other toy breeds and they tend to have long lives.
The Biewer’s small size may limit their suitability for some households.
Also, their rarity can make them difficult to find. This may mean they are more expensive than other breeds with similar characteristics.
Similar Biewer Terriers and Breeds
While Biewer Terriers fans are likely to disagree with me, I would argue that the distinction between a Biewer and Yorkshire Terrier is small.
The Yorkie, standard or parti-color, would be another obvious alternative choice. You might consider a pedigree or mix-breed dog of these breeds in addition to other small terrier or toy dog breeds. These will likely be more readily available in rescue.
Biewer Terrier Rescues
We have listed some Biewer rescue groups below. Please let us know in the comments section if you are aware of any others.
Is a Biewer Terrier Right for Me?
If you are seeking an uncommon breed that combines many of the benefits of a plucky terrier with the affability of toy breed, the Biewer Terrier is a great choice.
Owners of this breed praise them highly, and their adorable appearance is undeniable.
Some people still dispute their status as a newly developed breed. Also, they may be unavailable or expensive in some areas.
You could consider other small terriers (e.g. Silky, Norfolk, Australian) if Biewer terriers are unavailable.
Have you got your heart set on a Biewer? Let us know in the comments!
References and Resources
Kavin, K. (2016). The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers. Pegasus Books.
Schmutz, S. M., & Melekhovets, Y. (2012). Coat color DNA testing in dogs: theory meets practice. Molecular and cellular probes
Sponenberg, D. P., & Rothschild, M. F. (2001). Genetics of coat colour and hair texture. The genetics of the dog
Von Praun, F., Matiasek, K., Grevel, V., Alef, M., & Flegel, T. (2006). Magnetic resonance imaging and pathologic findings associated with necrotizing encephalitis in two Yorkshire terriers. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound.
University of California Davis. Genetic Diversity Testing for Biewer Accessed April 18, 2019.