It has been a decade since the arrival of the Biewer Terrier to South Africa.

The past decade was not without turmoil and sadness.  So much so, that the Biewer Terrier was referred to as the “cursed breed”.  Three years after the Biewer Terrier arrived in South Africa, breeders were breeding “Parti Yorkies” and the tricolour yorkies exploded.  Breeders pretending to be loving pet owners bought Biewer Terriers to mate with their yorkies. Later on, not only the Biewer Terrier but other breeds were also introduced to achieve even more colours.  Nowadays the Parti Yorkie or exotic yorkies, as they are also referred to, are bred by the hundreds, with breeders trying to outsmart one another when it comes to coat colour.

Having said that, I do want to mention that I was disappointed when the first Biewers arrived in South Africa in 2007. I initially thought that I was importing white Yorkshire Terriers.  These white gold and black/blue dogs were not even remotely yorkies although they resembled something of a Yorkie, bearing in mind that their ancestors were Yorkshire Terriers.

There is much speculation around the globe as to the actual ancestry of the Biewer Terrier; than factual documented history by the originators of the breed.

At this stage, I contacted various people around the globe who was willing to share information on the Biewer Terrier.  I was a member of the International Biewer Club (IBC), but soon realized this club was definitely not where I should be if I wanted to make a difference.

The Biewer Terrier Club of America (BTCA). Bless them! They educated the founding members of the Biewer Terrier Club of South Africa (BTCSA) on so many levels. We learned about Mars testing and breed specific testing. Science proved that the Biewer Terrier was NOT a white Yorkshire terrier.

Not knowing exactly what breeds made the Biewer Terrier, we are at a little bit of a loss. We do know that the Shih Tzu is a BIG probability. A Shih Tzu, also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog, is a medium size toy breed.  The exact origins of the breed are unknown, but it is thought to have originated in Tibet.  The name Shih Tzu means “little lion”, fierce and ferocious.  An American composer James Mumsford, accurately describes the Shih Tzu, “... a dash of lion, several  teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man, a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, (and) a dash of teddy bear.”    When Biewer Terrier puppies learn to run they actually hop like bunnies. This is probably inherited from the Shih Tzu.  It is too adorable to see!  The description of the Shih Tzu could just as well have been that of the Biewer Terrier.

The study showed a BIG influence from the Hapso family, which includes Havanese, Tibetan terriers, and of course the Lhasa apso.The Tibetan terrier is a medium-size breed that originated in Tibet. Despite its name, it is not a member of the terrier group. The breed was given its English name by European travellers due to its resemblance to known terrier breeds. It is truly believed the breed started when the Werner and Gertrude Biewer had an oops litter with their pet Tibetan terrier and Yorkshire terrier. They like it so much Mrs Biewer decided to sell her business and move to Hunsruck and start showing and raising dogs. Also 50% of Biewer Terriers smile. That is a big Tibetan trait and adored by all owners of Biewers who smile.

Early 2000 when the rest of the world found this breed, the Germans had to fill that demand and mixed anything they could. The Shih Tzu was a big influencer from the Germans.   The Lhasa apso a medium size toy breed likewise originating in Tibet, which monks used to guard the monastery grounds.  The Biewer Terrier most likely inherited some personality of the Lhasa; whimsical, always up to mischief endless performing for a laugh. They believe they are the centre of the universe, have a heart of gold and bring great joy to the homes they reside in.  Absolutely adore children.

When you combine all these exceptional breed traits together in one breed you need not look further than the Biewer Terrier.    Back to my first paragraph; when breeders constantly breed the Biewer back to the Yorkshire terrier it can NOT be claimed that Biewers are bred or even call them Biewer Terriers, Biewer yorkies or say that they carry the Biewer gene.  Up to this day, the arrogance of these breeders is beyond me.

When you scrutinize the breeds which make up the Biewer Terrier you will see some of our issues.

Most of the forefathers of the Biewer were medium size toy dogs.  With selective line breeding, we were able to decrease the size of the Biewer somewhat.  This was only due to demand.  Today I don’t know if it was such a good thing.  Biewer terriers should not be compared with Yorkies and the forever demand for the smallest of the breed. Where the accepted Breed standard calls for a weight of 3,6kg I think this ought to have been up to 5kg.   Our Biewers, unfortunately, know range from as little as 1 kg.  My personal favourite size for the Biewer is approximately 2-3 kg.  I have never been keen on dogs weighing less than a 1 kg.  Although we have had many extremely small Biewers we never deliberately bred for the exceptionally small size.

You will reminisce that the Biewer Terrier is a carrier of the Piebold gene (White), which Wikipedia explains as; a piebald or pied animal is one that has a pattern of pigmented spots on an unpigmented (white) background of hair.  The spots are pigmented in shades of black and/or yellow, as determined by the genotype controlling the colour of the animal. The animal's skin underneath its coat may or may not be pigmented under the spots, but the skin in the white background is not pigmented.

Location of the pigmented spots is dependent on the migration of melanoblasts (primordial pigment cells) from the neural crest to paired bilateral locations in the skin of the early embryo. The resulting pattern appears symmetrical only if melanoblasts migrate to both locations of a pair and proliferate to the same degree in both locations. The appearance of symmetry can be obliterated if the proliferation of the melanocytes (pigment cells) within the developing spots is so great that the sizes of the spots increase to the point that some of the spots merge, leaving only small areas of the white background among the spots and at the tips of the extremities.

The grey that is sometimes visible amongst the white coat is called the ticking gene. In all probability, this gene was inherited by the Havanese.  The ticking gene affects white portions of the coat. A Parti coloured dog with this gene, in addition to his colour patches, will have matching colour flecks throughout the white coat, giving it a salt and pepper appearance. The amount of ticking can vary from a little to a lot. Dogs without this gene will have a white that stays crisp and pure. In the canine world, the term for this is "Belton".   The new MARS 4.0 now has the ability to test coat colour analysis. I personally do not like the ticking gene in the Biewer Terriers, but unfortunately, it is part of the Biewer Terrier.  You can get two puppies from the same mother and father where only one of the pups has the ticking gene.    We have attempted to breed this gene out of the Biewer terrier but as you know this can take time and an awful lot of money.  Having our dogs Mars 4.0 tested is just not feasible for the South African.  A single test cost approximately R1500.00   Hopefully, a big sponsor will come along!!

As far as health goes, I am happy to say that the Biewer Terrier appears to be extremely healthy dogs.

a.     A sensitive gastrointestinal (GI) system has been reported.  GI disorders and diseases affect a dog's stomach and intestines.  When regularly given protexin this disorder is kept to the minimum.

b.    Less than a handful of dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) was reported.   KCS is a relatively common disease of dogs that cause decreased tear production. It is most often an immune disorder in which the components of tears are available, but production is interrupted by the dog's own immune system, resulting in dry, itchy, crusty eyes.

c.    Occasionally the ear flaps may become inflamed. Just like with yeast infections, bacterial infections are mostly secondary effects of allergic reactions. They, however, can occur independently. These infections are known to be notoriously itchy and can drive the dog and the owner crazy.

d.    Occasional under or overbite.

e.    Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles of a dog fail to descend into its scrotum. It is a very common birth defect.

•    America has reported two or three cases of kidney stones.  We have not had any kidney stones reported in South Africa.

•    Liver shunts in dogs occur as a result of a birth defect (congenitally).  We have not had any reports of Porto systemic shunt (PSS) or liver shunt.  This is a condition where the normal flow of blood, to and through the liver, is markedly reduced or absent. Normally, blood returning from the puppy's digestive tract is routed to the liver through the portal vein. The blood flows through the liver and then exits the liver and joins the venous blood flowing back to the heart. A liver shunt is a blood vessel that connects the portal vein with the main systemic blood stream. This causes the blood to bypass the liver. Without adequate blood flow to the liver, the puppy's body cannot thrive.  Liver shunt has been reported in America.  We have not had any report of Liver shunt in South Africa.  Please remember that the parent dogs are all tested for liver shunt.

•    Patellar Luxation; a dislocated kneecap is one of the most prevalent knee joint abnormalities in dogs. The condition is common in the Yorkshire terrier; we have however not had severe Patellar Luxation amongst the Biewer Terriers.

I think the Biewer Terrier is still a developing breed and people need to be aware of what they are breeding. There is no guarantee on how your Biewer terrier will turn out. All we can guarantee is a healthy puppy free of hereditary deceases.  Congenital conditions can sometimes not be picked up by a veterinarian at 6 weeks when the pups receive their first inoculation. We only had one fatal congenital disorder in the 10 years.  The pup started fading at 3 months due to a congenital heart condition. We offered the owner a new puppy and we gave her a full refund.  We have achieved immense progress on the Biewer Terrier since 2007, when our first Biewer Terriers arrived at Oliver Tambo Johannesburg International.  I remember being frantic due to cargo personal taking their time to offload the 4/5-month-old pups.

There is still so much we do not know and probably never will.  All I can say is that the Biewer Terrier is the best breed ever, having bred Yorkies for more than 20 years.   Today looking back at a decade of Biewer Terrier breeding and advocating that the traits of the Biewer Terrier will disappear when Yorkshire Terriers are bred into the Biewer Terrier, I would not have changed a thing.   I am happy for every authentic Biewer Terrier owner because they experience something so unique words cannot justify.  

With heartfelt gratitude we thank the BTCA, Veterinary Genetics’ Laboratory at Onderstepoort, and sponsors over the years as well as KUSA (although we have had many issues with KUSA as still do) and most importantly the integral passion the founder members of the BTCSA approached the challenge of dedication to this extraordinary breed called the Biewer Terrier.

Although the colour of the Biewer terrier is an integral part of the Biewers appearance, it is not the qualifying factor when it comes to showing the Biewer.  For example a tan colour on the leg or too much black or too much white, a black tail with only a white mark on the tip of the tail or the yellow Biewer Terrier referred to as “Gold dust”.  

We have had a few dogs with a kink in their tail, known as a "knickschwanz" in Germany. This should not be faulted in anyway. One thing interesting is the Tibetan terrier standard actually mentions the kink in their standard.

The Breed standard as accepted around the globe makes provisions for such.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect on health & welfare of the dog.   The emphasis is on the health and welfare of the Biewer Terrier.

The Biewer Terrier is the first dog in the history of dog breeding and showing to be recognized as a purebred dog due to a genetic study provided by some of the best scientists in the world. In the past meticulous records were kept and pedigree documentation.

Biewer Terrier breeders how are passionate about the breed should join the BTCSA were all the breeders are united and committed to help new breeders.

 

Biewer Terrier Breeders Association of South Africa - Breeders’ Code of Conduct

Being recommended for approval as new member of the Biewer Terrier Club of SA with the intention to breed Biewer Terriers, understand that for and by acceptance as a new breeder,

I agree and commit myself to:

Apply for membership by e-mail directed to the members of the Biewer Terrier Club of SA, understanding that membership to the Biewer Terrier Club of South Africa (Biewer Terrier Breeders Association) will be open to all approved and interested individuals with professional or other interests in the operational areas of the Club.  I commit myself to abide by the BTCSA breeders code of conduct and to pay my membership fees – as decided upon by the members during a general club meeting, immediately once my application is approved.

I agree and commit myself to:

1.         Strive to bring the Biewer Terrier’s natural qualities, beauty, temperament and conformation to perfection through careful breeding selection, using the official BTCSA/KUSA breed standard as the only Biewer Terrier breed standard of excellence for the Biewer Terrier.

I agree and commit myself to:

2.         Continuously attempt to become more knowledgeable regarding the Biewer Terrier as the Biewer Terrier is still a developing breed and it will take several years to reach a platform where the Biewer terrier will consistently breed true.  Study all documentation sent to me via the BTCSA and as far as possible attend educational meetings.  Evaluate and document traits present in a breeding dog’s immediate and extended family and refrain from using dogs for breeding which, although seemingly unaffected with a specific physical or temperament defect itself, consistently produce afflicted offspring with different mates.    Acquire sound genetic advice before considering line or inbreeding (incest).

I agree and commit myself to:

3.         Strive to breed only physically and mentally sound dogs that have not been identified having hereditary disorders, in order to produce only healthy dogs, free of genetic and heritable defects. Attempt to have histopathology done on puppies and adult dogs that died unexpectedly or from unknown causes other than communicable  diseases and make these post mortem results available to the BTCSA to be documented and the seriousness of the possibly hereditary disorders to be discussed with Onderstepoort.

I agree and commit myself to:

4.    (a)   Register all Biewer Terrier puppies with the Biewer Terrier Club of South Africa, (or KUSA if you wish) Biewer Terriers puppies and adults may NOT be dual registered with any other registrar body in South Africa but KUSA or the BTCSA.

   I agree and commit myself to:

       (b) While undergoing a disciplinary process, the BTCSA Pedigree Certificates may be revoked by the BTCSA on the breeder’s request whose genetic material is being used in a breeding program, realizing that the decision and consent of the breeder(s) will be final.

I agree and commit myself to:

5.         Accept and appreciate the fact that my breeding program should be mentored by a recognized Biewer Terrier Breeder for a minimum of two years in order to evaluate the offspring of my dogs.

I agree and commit myself to:

6.       After becoming a BTCSA breeder member and when making Biewer Terriers available for breeding, keep contact with the new breeder in order to guide and assist such a breeder, evaluate the new pups and inform the BTCSA of any discontent with new litters.  Keep complete and accurate records of all litters, matings and pedigrees and not later than 6 months of date of birth provide the buyer with a valid registration of Pedigree, unless registration materials are withheld  e.g. until the time of spay or neuter by the new owner is verified by a veterinarian by any date before the puppy reach adulthood and become able to produce a litter.

I agree and commit myself to:

6.         Have all my breeding dogs micro chipped preferably with Virback Back Home and ISAG DNA profiled at the Veterinary Genetic Laboratory, Onderstepoort in order for the BTCSA to establish an accurate database on all Biewer Terriers born in South Africa, from which breeding lines and paternity can be evaluated and also to provide only truthful representation about the sire, dam and offspring when selling or advertising any puppies, aiming for further progression toward the ideals of the official BTCSA breed standard.

I agree and commit myself to:

7.         Provide all persons acquiring dogs from me with appropriate documentation on dietary, immunization and inoculation requirements; also encouraging prompt qualified medical attention should they become sick or injured and to educate the newcomer about dental issues and regular cleaning if necessary. Encourage all breeders to see it as a privilege and an obligation to attend lectures and demonstrations provided by the official veterinarian of the BTCSA or any other expert, e.g. a geneticist, which may lead to the improvement of the Biewer Terrier, should it be possible for me to attend.

I agree and commit myself to:

8.         Undertake the task of educating and encouraging all newcomers to the world of Biewer Terriers, no matter their interest: pet owner, or breeder.

I agree and commit myself to:

9.         Employ careful screening practices for potential puppy owners, regardless whether for breeding or pet only, and maintain contact with the dogs and their owners to be able to monitor and evaluate the development of my breeding program and to remain available for advice and mentoring at all times.

I agree and commit myself to:

10.       Provide my clients with a written purchase agreement (available at the BTCSA) for all puppy sales and stud services.

I agree and commit myself to:

11.       Provide the Committee of the BTCSA with a motivational statement of how I intend to rectify a specific breeding issue should it occur, e.g. accidental mating, females whelping when not having reached one year of age before mating, etc.

I agree and commit myself to:

12.       Actively promote quality and integrity in breeding programs, thereby making it of paramount importance to protect and improve the KUSA breed standard, heritage, quality, temperament and welfare of the breed.

I agree and commit myself to:

13.       Refrain from breeding a Biewer Terrier to any other breed other than a ISAG DNA BTCSA/KUSA registered Biewer Terrier and from providing stud services to any female dog other than an ISAG DNA KUSA/BTCSA registered Biewer terrier.

I agree and commit myself to:

14.       Not to use exceptionally small Biewer terrier females (1.6kg) in my breeding program without the consent of a veterinarian and with a veterinarian’s assistance in the whelping of such a breeding female.   Females unable to give natural birth will only undergo a maximum of 3 caesarian sections where after the bitch should be spayed.

I agree and commit myself to:

15.       Under no circumstances whatsoever refer to my Biewer Terriers as “tea cup Biewer Terriers or “pocket” Biewer Terriers, as these connotations maybe confusing or misleading potential clients acquiring a Biewer Terrier - a unique new breed which should not be compared or confused with other breed connotations such as the Yorkshire terrier.

I agree and commit myself to:

16.       When desiring to withdraw my membership, to do so by giving written notice of such withdrawal, by email.  Take note of the fact that if a member has withdrawn or ceased to be a member, they can be reinstated provided all their obligations to the Club have been met.

17.       To apply for membership solely to get my hands on a Biewer Terrier to breed with other breeds will be considered reprehensible and action will be taken.

I agree and commit myself to:

18.     Adhere to the rulings that:       

(a) A complaint lodged by a member against another member  must be in writing  in which case only the members will decide whether or not, or which, if any, disciplinary actions to take..

(b)  The member to whom the complaint refers to, will be informed by email of the allegation.

(c)  The member to whom the complaint refers to will have two weeks (fourteen working days) to reply to the allegation in writing by e-mail.

(d)  The allegation will be brought in front of the members where at least five members must be present or in conference to vote in order to reach an agreement.  The directors of the BTCSA may mediate if less than five members are able to vote and their ruling will be decisive.

(e)  If the allegation is upheld, the 5 most senior members have the final authority to decide whether a member shall receive a six months suspension or be expelled from the club or which other actions should be taken. 

(f) The same disciplinary process will be followed if directors or most senior  members have irrefutable evidence that misconduct, unethical practices at an existing breeding member’s kennel or with his/her breeding program.  Disloyalty will be considered a major offense.  Statements on Facebook or internet forums should be over thought with caution, not to implement the Biewer Terrier Club in any negative way.

19.       The unanimous consent of the majority members is needed for revisions to the Breeders code of conducts. 

We stand united to preserve and protect the development,  health and quality of the Biewer Terrier.

 

 

Dr. Cindy Harper completed her BVSc degree in 1993 and spent a year in private, small animal, practice before returning to Onderstepoort to complete her MSc degree in Veterinary Parasitology in 1998. She joined the Equine Research Centre in 1999 and became involved in horse identification systems at the time when the transition occurred from blood typing, as the horse identification and parentage testing method, to DNA typing. During the past 10 years that she has been involved in this field, she has developed a passion for veterinary genetics and particularly the application of the latest technology and test methods to meet the needs of the veterinary profession and animal breeders, to ensure that their pedigrees are sound, advise them on the effects of inbreeding and the use of selective breeding to reduce the incidence of offspring affected by genetic based diseases and breeding for specific valuable traits. Dog breeders are particularly fortunate in that the dog represents a good model for the study of human genetic conditions and the expansion of knowledge of the genetic conditions of the dog is, therefore, very rapid. Genetics now drives most other biological disciplines including vaccine production, pharmacology, immunology, parasitology and clinical medicine and is the most rapidly developing and expanding science. We are privileged to have Dr. Cindy Harper on our btcsa team who plays a major part in its application and the contribution that it can make to improve the wellbeing of animals and particularly in the Biewer Terriers in the future.

Genetic testing in South Africa

 

The Veterinary Genetics laboratory at the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science (OPVGL) is responsible for the DNA profiling of the Biewer Terrier in South Africa.   The laboratory is a member of the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) and participates in an international comparison test every two years.   In the test various laboratories that do dog DNA testing, compare and standardize their tests and results, ensuring that the highest international standards and most current technology is applies at the laboratory.    During the last comparison test in 2008, a total of 40 international labs took part and agreed on a minimum set of DNA markers for dog genotyping.  These markers are used to create a unique profile of each dog that provides a means of individual identification and a validation of the pedigree of the dog when comparing this profile to the profiles of its parents.

In case of the Biewer, the individual unique DNA profile is obtained from a blood sample or buccal swab sample of the animal.   This profile or DNA fingerprint is stored in a database at the OPCVGL.  All Biewer pups are tested and their pedigrees verified by comparing their DNA profiles to those of their parents that are already on the database.   This ensures that registered Biewer Terriers are only from Biewer to Biewer matings, thus maintaining the integrity of the local Biewer Terrier studbook.

DNA certificates from labs belonging to ISAG, containing the profiling information of each dog, can also be exchanged between these labs internationally ensuring that the individual identity of exported dogs can be verified in the importing country.   DNA samples of each dog are stored at the OPVGL and can be used in future for breed specific genetic testing, as these tests become available.

It can also be used by the OPVGL in the local development of breed specific genetic tests if any underlying genetic problems become apparent in the breed in future.   A complete DNA sample set of a breed or pedigree is an extremely valuable resource for future use as technology improves and genome information of the dog increases.   The Biewer Terrier, as a new breed in SA, is setting an example to other dog breeds by making use of this resource from the start.

 

 

 

 

The Biewer Terrier Club of South Africa rejected affiliation with KUSA, however some of our club members still register their Biewer Terriers with KUSA.  Almost all of our foundation Biewer Terriers are registered with KUSA.   It is the vision of the BTCSA that this wonderful and unique new breed, the Biewer Terrier needs meticulous and professional monitoring, care and protection in order to promote its health, quality and welfare and ensuring that we continue to breed closes to the breed specific tests. We are proud to announce that some of our Biewer Terriers have already been Breed specific tested and the results were an astounding 100% Biewer Terrier. 

With a new recognition come huge responsibilities.   A new breed can be under threat through a general failure by a Kennel Union such as KUSA to distinguish between what is necessary to establish a new breed and what is desirable to continue that breed in perpetuity.  At the end of 2007 we submitted our application to the S.A.Registar, the first week in February 2008 our Club was officially registered. The BTCSA initially developed the breed standard, now on KUSA’s website.  Together with Onderstepoort Veterinary Genetics Laboratory we maintain stud books, DNA profiling, health issues, parental verification and general issues which are associated with a new breed.  Our Breed specific testing is done in the United Kingdom. With adequate funding we are hoping to do our own breed specific testing before the middle of next year under the ambit of Dr. Cindy Harper at OPVGL. Regular discussions are held and deaths of puppies or young dogs are analyzed and captured in detail. 

The BTCSA, the parent breed club for the Biewer Terriers, may consider amending or if deemed appropriate change of the breed standard. The purpose of KUSA should be to facilitate the work done by the BTCSA, rather than obstruct it and the parent breed club should be allowed to determine what is necessary for genetic improvement and long-term health, genotype and phenotype of the Biewer Terrier. This has never been negotiable! 

Although it was our expectation to receive the best of the best Biewer (Yorkshire) Terriers to start our foundation lines with, we the founder members of the BTCSA received the worst imaginable dogs! (These dogs will still be discussed)  Can we be held responsible for this?  No, but we can make a difference. By selective breeding we are proud to say we consider the Biewer Terriers bred in South Africa of a very high standard.

Registries like KUSA exemplify a misconception which is directly responsible for the current issues we have with KUSA.

Do Kusa have dirty little secrets; we will soon publish a history of the South African Biewer Terrier on our website.

Hypothetically speaking we would like the head of Greg Eva on a silver platter; together with Jenny Hubbard they undertook an oath to protect the Biewer Terriers and promised to give the BTCSA a chance to develop the Biewer Terriers in South Africa.  Not quite six months later we had our first issues with KUSA. Two and a half years have passed and we still have KUSA issues, Greg Eva has been deceitful, disloyal and he lied to the BTCSA.  With Mike Dannatt’ we have already dealt with.  We want Greg Eva out of KUSA!! It’s time to be superannuated SIR !!   We want back what we have been promised!! The Biewer Terriers which have been bred in South Africa have been scientifically proven by the Wisdom Panel to be 100% Biewer Terrier.  Can the other so called Biewer clubs who poped up overnight claim the same?  We would love to see some Breed Specific tests!

 The BTCSA distances itself from any other interference, especially when this interference is based on power and politics.   We want to development a genetically healthy new breed; the Biewer Terrier which embraces a bright future.

Is it time for Greg Eva to go? Unfortunately the BTCSA feels that he is the cause of a hostile atmosphere between the BTCSA and KUSA. We need a President at KUSA who can keep promises, someone we can relate to.  Not a kennel union of a country without direction.   Make a change; the Kennel Union of SA deserves it!! 

SCIENTIFIC PROOF THAT THE BIEWER TERRIER IS A SEPARATE BREED AND THE

PARTI YORKIE CAME ABOUT VIA INTENTIONAL OR “OOPS” CROSS BREEDING

By PHIL STINARD, GENETICIST

 

As you know, my opinion will be based on science, but I'll try to keep it simple. And I won't base my opinion on any particular agenda or fixed point of view, because I don't own a Biewer or have any close friends who own Biewers

Okay, I've formed my opinion on whether Biewers are a separate breed from Yorkshire Terriers based on the information I currently have. It could change based on new research, so it isn't set in stone, but here it is:

Based on the results of breed purity analysis conducted by MARS Labs, I can only conclude that the 100 Biewers that were tested do indeed contain DNA from other breeds of dogs. And the PCA analyses conducted by MARS Labs indicate that these Biewers are fairly uniform, and cluster in their own group separate from Yorkshire Terriers. To me, that meets the definition of a separate breed, but ultimately it's the AKC and other registries who will have to make that decision.

How these other breeds got mixed in Yorkshire Terriers to create the Biewer Terrier is somewhat a mystery to me (perhaps falsified pedigree records in the distant past or "oops" matings, but I am not going to point fingers because those people are long gone and we have no real way of knowing), but the DNA evidence is there, and it is very strong. For me, the smoking gun is the piebald spotting gene (MITF gene) on chromosome 20. This isn't a simple random mutation that can spontaneously occur over and over, but appears to have originated once during the domestication of dogs, and been transferred to the breeds with piebald spotting by crossbreeding and selection. In the breeds analyzed so far, all piebald spotting genes carry a unique DNA insertion called a SINE in the upstream regulatory region of the MITF gene (the part of the DNA that controls the expression of the MITF gene--where and when the gene will be expressed during the dog's growth and development) as well as a separate length polymorphism (segment of DNA that can vary in length) in the upstream regulatory region. The chances against both changes occurring at once spontaneously in a single Yorkshire Terrier are astronomical. My conclusion is that the piebald spotting gene had to have been bred in from another breed of dog during the development of the Biewer Terrier. The way to resolve this question once and for all would be to completely sequence the upstream regulatory regions of the MITF gene in Biewers and see whether it indeed carries the SINE and the length polymorphism. If it does, then it's a done deal as far as I am concerned that the Biewer arose from breeding a Yorkshire Terrier with another breed and re-extracting the piebald color gene.

Since I am a believer in the conservation of genetic resources, my recommendation is that Biewers be bred only with other Biewers in order to preserve their unique characteristics, which go beyond color, but also include behavioral differences. If you keep crossing Biewers back to Yorkshire Terriers, you are going to lose these unique characteristics, and end up with something more like a Yorkshire Terrier, but yet will never quite be a Yorkshire Terrier.
Okay, I'm stepping down off my soapbox now. If you disagree, it's all good, but please be kind and don't shoot the messenger. Thanks!

I understand everything except the piebald gene explanation. How do you explain how the parti yorkie got the piebald gene also and why are they considered yorkies if biewers aren't.

Oh dear, I don't want to create more controversy, but I think that Parti-Yorkies got their piebald gene in the same way that Biewers did--by crossing in from another breed. BUT, I have read absolutely nothing about DNA breed testing of Parti Yorkies, so I don't have as much data to go on as I do for Biewers--the evidence is much more clear in Biewers. It would be great to sequence the MITF (piebald) gene in Parti Yorkies too, just to try to get an idea of what is going on. I am willing to keep an open mind. We simply need more data.

I answered the Parti question in another post. But if Partis are testing as purebred Yorkshire Terriers, one explanation could be that they have been crossed for so many generations back to Yorkshire Terriers that traces of other breeds are being diluted out by Yorkie DNA. That's one possibility. Since I haven't seen any Parti test results with my own eyes, and since Partis have not been subjected to as much analysis by MARS as Biewers, I don't have enough information to draw any firm conclusions. Sequencing the MITF gene in Partis would help a lot in answering this question. With respect to AKC DNA testing, they only do parentage testing, not breed purity testing, and I'm certain that their parentage testing does not predate the appearance of the first Parti Yorkies. If you have any information to the contrary, let me know!
You have a good point about German Yorkies, but my understanding is that pedigree records for them are not as good as in the United States. And again, there was no DNA testing back in the days of Mr. Biewer.
About Biewer to Yorkie breeding, once that is stopped, and you start breeding Biewer to Biewer, the gene pool becomes fixed and the breed stops becoming more and more Yorkie-like. That would explain the MARS results showing that the Biewers they tested were in a unique and uniform group.
About the Biewers that were tested by MARS, yes those mostly came from one club. I don't know whether the person who submitted the DNA samples claimed to be a vet or not, but it doesn't matter, because DNA doesn't lie. If someone has serious issues about the validity of the samples, they should ask for them to be retaken and retested, but I'm sure the results would be the same. I agree that it would be great to test all Biewers from all clubs, but since that might include Biewers coming from Biewer by Yorkie crosses, that would basically be like throwing mixed breed dogs into a purebred test--the results would be interesting, but they wouldn't be informative or normative. I understand that there is some kind of turf war going on with respect to which clubs have the "true and authentic Biewers." I would recommend that all of the clubs doing Biewer by Biewer matings get together, submit their dogs' DNA for analysis, go over the results together, and try to reach some kind of consensus.

Oh, I forgot to mention that if you are getting a lot of different colored "Yorkies" (and I use the term loosely) from ONE litter, that is clearly a sign that breed standards for the Yorkshire Terrier are being ignored and flaunted, and people have been crossing Dog knows who to Dog knows what. Each color is not a separate breed--it's a sign of breeders gone wild.

I'm glad the AKC is satisfied that the Parti color can be produced in otherwise normal litters of Yorkshire Terriers, because I sure am not. Old records can be falsified, and the Parti color predates the era of DNA testing. And as I said in another post, if the trait did come from another breed and was crossed in to breed standard Yorkshire Terriers for generation after generation, eventually the sign of the evil deed is doing to disappear. In order for my curiosity to be satisfied, I would need to see a DNA breed analysis test done on as many Partis as possible, and I would like to see the MITF (piebald) gene and its upstream regulatory DNA sequenced. I'm a show-me kind of guy.

To relate to what I was talking about above, the "S" gene described in the article is the normal, functional MITF gene (found in breed standard Yorkshire Terriers), and the piebald gene is a mutant form of the MITF gene that is now known to have two unique mutations (a SINE DNA insertion, and a length polymorphism) in its regulatory region.

I've heard different stories as to which other breeds Mr. Biewer had at the time--I'm still waiting for the definitive answer to that question, because that could be the answer to where the piebald gene came from. But yes, DNA analysis could determine which breed supplied the piebald gene.

Here is another smoking gun. I was going to propose that someone cross a Biewer to a piebald Maltese to see whether the offspring would be piebald. If the offspring were piebald, that would prove that Biewers definitely carry the piebald gene. (This kind of cross is what geneticists call an allele test.) But I didn't say anything because I thought it would be unethical to ask someone to do that kind of cross. But guess what? While I was googling Biewer and Maltese, I found this ad: MORKIE German Biewer Yorkie / Maltese cross | North Port | eBay Classifieds (Kijiji) | 27676387. Someone has already done the cross, and the result is a piebald dog! Boo-yaaaa!!!!! I will attach a photo of the dog in case the ad disappears.

Just because a dog looks piebald doesn't mean that it is caused by a mutation in the piebald gene--there could be other as-yet undiscovered mutations in other genes that could cause the same appearance. I hadn't seen any proof that the Biewer coat color gene is due to a mutation in the MITF (piebald) gene. This Biewer/Maltese cross proves it to me. Maybe others have done this test, but I hadn't come across it yet. To me, the question remains, is the DNA sequence of the mutation in the piebald gene in Biewers the same as the DNA sequence of the mutation in the Maltese (and other breeds with proven piebald genes)? If so, that would prove to me that the origin of the piebald gene in Biewers is a cross of a Yorkshire Terrier with some other breed carrying a piebald gene. Genetically speaking, new mutations don't occur in the exact same place with exactly the same DNA sequence, and the piebald mutations in other breeds have a very distinctive DNA sequence. I don't care what Mr. Biewer said back in the 1980's, if the piebald gene came from some other breed that was crossed into his Yorkshire Terrier lines, then the Biewer is the result of a mixed breed dog. It wasn't necessarily Mr. Biewer who did this--it could have already been in the lines he got from England. I'm just trying to get at the truth.

Evidently, the Healthgene company knows the answer to this question, because they have a test for the piebald gene in Yorkshire Terriers and Biewers: Parti Color Yorkshire Terrier l Coat Color Test - HealthGene

I have sent them a technical email asking them for details about what they are testing for, and how they determine the difference between the piebald mutation and the normal Yorkshire Terrier MITF gene. If the answer is by the presence of the SINE DNA insertion and/or the length polymorphism in the regulatory region of the piebald version of the MITF gene, then it's case closed for me.

I have heard about the question of whether Biewers have Irish spotting (si) or piebald spotting (sp). They are both different mutations in the same gene. I can't answer that question based on appearance, because I've seen a broad range of degree of spotting in Biewers--some look Irish, and some look more piebald. Supposedly, the piebald gives more variation in the different patterns you see, so that's why I was guessing that Biewers are piebald, but hopefully the testing company will be able to answer the question for certain.

Jumping back in to the conversation, I wasn't able to get a direct reply from HealthGene on how they test for the presence of the piebald gene in Biewers and Parti Yorkshire Terriers, but HealthGene did refer me to Dr. Schmutz's 2009 paper on MITF and white spotting in dogs, and I found the answer buried in Table 2 of that paper. Here is the link to the paper:

MITF and White Spotting in Dogs: A Population Study

Table 2 lists the genotypes of 151 dogs from breeds in which individuals with random spotting were homozygous for the SINE insertion in the MITF gene. Two Biewers tested homozygous for the SINE insertion.

According to Dr. Schmutz's paper:

The SINE insertion 5′ of MITF-M first described by Karlsson et al. (2007) was associated with white markings in many and diverse breeds in this study, suggesting that it is an “old” mutation. There is considerable debate about the age of particular breeds. However, the Chinese Shar-Pei, Akita, and other Asian dogs are typically considered to be among the oldest breeds (Parker et al. 2004). The SINE insertion has been found in individuals with white markings in these breeds. 

Since breed standard Yorkshire Terriers are solid colored and do not carry the piebald allele (the MITF gene with the SINE insertion), it had to have been bred in from some other dog breed to create the Biewer. Case closed.

I don't know how I missed this article...


Here is another fascinating research paper on DNA coat color testing in dogs that specifically references the Yorkshire Terrier:

Coat color DNA testing in dogs: Theory meets practice

It is behind a pay firewall, so I will quote the relevant parts:

These data illustrate that owners may be using coat color testing to help them understand the appearance of pups of unexpected coat colors in their litters. Using DNA testing will therefore help them to eliminate carriers of undesired alleles from future breeding. However, in some cases dog breeders are actually trying to create a line of dogs with a new coat color. An example of this is the Biewer Yorkshire Terrier, where random white spotting caused by a SINE insertion in MITF [11], is now selected for. The presence of the e allele in 9 of the commercially tested Yorkshire Terriers (Table 1), suggests that the random white spotting, called particolor in this breed, has likely been introduced from a breed where the e allele occurs commonly.

So according to this study, Biewers carry the piebald allele at the MITF gene, and Parti Yorkshire Terriers carry the "e" allele at the E (technically called the MC1R) gene. And BOTH were introduced from other breeds, because the likelihood of the exact same mutation arising independently in the Yorkshire Terrier is astronomically small. That article is a GOLDMINE of information, and I am going to curl up and read through it more carefully tonight. It also references people testing their Yorkies for the presence of the "b" (brown, or chocolate) allele at the B (technically called TYRP1) gene, and I need to see if this was introduced from other breeds as well--since they were testing for specific variations of the "b" allele found in naturally brown breeds, it's very likely that chocolate color in Yorkies came from some other breed. What a mess! DNA doesn't lie, folks!

Before I read that article, I had assumed that Biewers and Partis were both carriers of the piebald allele at the MITF gene because they supposedly both traced back to Streamglen (is that true, or just a theory that both trace back to Streamglen?). Now that some Partis have tested as "e" at the E gene, I'm not so sure. Biewers are definitely piebald, but maybe some lines of what people are calling Parti are piebald and others are "e"? I don't know--more testing of Partis is needed! Have any Parti breeders here had their dog's coat color genes tested?

What makes a dog lineage a separate breed is a unique appearance and genetic uniformity that is distinct and separates them from other breeds. The 100 Biewers that were tested in the MARS study fit that description because they could be separated from the Yorkshire Terrier group in the Primary Component Analysis. But those Biewers are from Biewer by Biewer matings, so that kind of breeding has kept them separated from the Yorkshire Terrier gene pool. The breeders who cross Biewers with Yorkshire Terriers to create "splitters" are breeding more Yorkshire Terrier into their DNA and they will test to be more like Yorkshire Terriers and may not be separable from Yorkshire Terriers by the MARS test.
To recap:
Beiwer X Biewer = separate breed
Biewer X Yorkshire Terrier = becoming more like Yorkshire Terrier, and are not a separate breed.
Parti X Parti = No data on that, sorry!
Parti X Yorkshire Terrier = becoming more like Yorkshire Terrier and not a separate breed.
Chocolates -- No data on them either, but if they are being crossed back to Yorkshire Terriers, they are becoming more like Yorkshire Terrier and not a separate breed.

The upshot is that these colors were all bred into Yorkshire Terriers from some other breed in the (hopefully distant) past, and just because a dog is a different color, doesn't automatically make it a different breed. What makes a dog a different breed is more than just a single coat color gene--it involves multiple genes on multiple chromosomes that have become fixed by breeding within the emerging breed or population to keep it separate from other breeds, and you have to be able to distinguish the separate breed from other breeds by appearance, behavior, etc.

 

This historic picture of Mr. Werner Biewer holding a rather large puppy in comparison with his traditional Yorkie’s size has merit to Phil Stinard claim that Biewer Terriers and Tri Colour Yorkies are not the same breed.

This puppy does not even resemble a Yorkshire terrier puppy!

 

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