The Yorkshire Terrier has been among the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the USA since 2013, and it seems that it will retain its position of one of the top favorite dogs for American people.
There are many reasons why Yorkies are much-preferred family pets and companions. Firstly, they are toy-sized and suitable for apartment living. Plus, they have big personalities and are great dogs for first-time dog owners with no previous experience.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about these loving and a tad feisty pups.
Temperament: loving, lively, tomboyish
Height at the shoulder: 7-8 inches
Weight: 7 lbs.
Life expectancy: 11-15 years
Breed Group: Toy group
About the breed
Yorkshire Terriers may weigh a mere 7 lbs. and have floor-length silky and glossy coats, but don’t let their toy-like size and appearance fool you. They are still terriers and as such are still pretty energetic, brave and even bossy little dogs.
They were first developed as ratters for mines in England, and later on, became the favorite lapdog companions for the rich Victorian ladies.
They may be small enough to be carried in a purse, but their personalities are as big as ever.
Yorkies are not only perfect for urban dwellers because of their small size and adaptability, but they are also among the top preferred breeds because they are considered to be hypoallergenic.
They almost don’t shed, and have little dog dander, because their coats are more like human hair than like dog fur.
This makes them excellent pets for homes where there are allergy sufferers.
You may be surprised by this fact, but Yorkshire Terriers are also among the top best watchdog breeds as well. Your pup will alert you any time a suspicious person or dog is approaching your home and property.
They are affectionate companion dogs but because they are terriers, they have a natural suspicion of strangers.
Due to their suspicion to strangers, as well as their inborn yappiness, you should curb this type of excessive barking from early on if you don’t want to have problems with your neighbors.
They can also be aggressive to other dogs and have a strong drive for chasing small animals like squirrels.
But then again, Yorkshire Terriers do have a softer side, and they are constantly seeking attention from their humans.
These purse dogs are considered one of the best personality breeds, and will quickly become the favorite member of any family.
Their long and glossy coats can come in various color combinations, including black and tan, black blue and tan, blue and tan, steel blue, blue steel and tan, steel blue and tan, steel grey and tan or steel blue black and tan.
Their heads are usually tan colored with darker hues around the ears, on their sides and on their muzzles.
But the truth is, it is not the glossy and long coat or the perky topknot on the head of the Yorkie which makes it so special, it is its amazing personality of a big dog in a tiny body.
Yorkies are always ready for new adventures, and can even be a tad mischievous.
They are prone to separation anxiety, so they should not be left alone for long. Then again, spoiling the dog too much and being too overprotective can make them neurotic and anxious.
The dogs from this breed do great with older children and are not suitable for homes where there are toddlers because they are so small and delicate, that they can easily get injured or dropped by a very young child. Plus, these small pups can actually become snappish if they are mistreated or teased by young kids.
In fact, some breeders will not sell a Yorkie puppy to a family where there are children under the age of 5-6.
Yorkshire Terriers do need daily exercise, which can be in the form of walks around the block and some playtime inside or outdoors. If provided with the exercise they need, they can be perfect apartment dogs.
Housetraining may take more time than it does for some other breeds, but it is possible with the proper consistent positive reinforcement training.
Because they are naturally intelligent and quick thinkers, obedience training is pretty easy for dogs of this breed. This is why they are recommended even for first-time dog owners.
Beware of the fact that the terriers in them are fearless and may lead them to try to challenge any strange dog or other animals, so always be careful when you are introducing your Yorkie to unknown pups or cats. This is just one of the reasons why early socializing is essential for these pups.
Also, due to their tiny size and weight, Yorkies are prone to colds and chills, so you will need to keep them warm at home, and outdoors too – with suitable clothing, especially during the winter.
Like other toy breeds, Yorkshire Terriers can be picky eaters and do have delicate digestive systems, so you should be careful with the food you feed them and follow the advice of your breeder, vet or nutritionist.
They also tend to keep their puppy teeth, so keep an eye on their teeth and gums as they are growing up, to see if the baby teeth are still there and are in the way of the adult teeth.
Keep in mind that if you want your dog to look perfect and stay well, it will require regular grooming and maintenance by a professional groomer several times a year.
Always get your puppy from a responsible breeder who can provide health clearance for the parents, and who cares about breeding dogs with good temperaments. You can also check your local shelters for any dogs which are looking for homes as well.
Yorkies are naturally smart and pretty self-assured. Despite their tiny size, they are adventurous dogs. they can vary in temperament – some of them being calm and cuddly dogs, while others are more mischievous, outgoing and playful.
Even though they are toy-sized, it is essential that you start socializing and training your dog from as early as possible. This will help curb the Yorkshire Terrier’s instinctive suspicion to strangers – human and canine. Also, you can help prevent the dog from becoming overly yappy. And also, by meeting your dog with friendly pups, people and taking it to see and hear different sights and sounds, you will help prevent it from becoming nervous and fearful.
Being smart learners and always eager to please, Yorkies are an excellent option for newbie dog owners. They are easy to train and can adapt living even in a small apartment if given the proper attention, exercise, and care.
Although they are loving and affectionate companion dogs, they do not do well with very young children unless they have all grown up together. Yorkies are tiny and delicate creatures which can easily be injured by toddlers. They also can try to bite if they are being teased or handled roughly by young children.
These toy dogs though thrive when they are beside their humans and are prone to separation anxiety, so do not adopt or buy a dog from this breed if you are out of home for long hours.
The Yorkshire Terrier needs to be fed high quality home-made or commercial dog food in order to stay healthy, fit and well.
The average recommended amount of food for the dogs of this breed is between ½ to ¾ cups of food per day. It is recommended that you divide it into two meals a day – one in the morning, and the other in the evening.
The exact portion size depends on the activity level of your dog, its size, its age, as well as on its metabolism. More active pups will do well with more calories per day, while couch potatoes need smaller sized meals.
You should never let your pup become overweight or obese because this can lead to serious health issues and shorten its lifespan seriously.
Watch the weight of your dog closely, and if you suspect that it is overweight speak to your vet or an animal nutritionist for advice on how to adjust the pup’s diet and daily exercise to get it back into shape.
The long, straight human-like coat of the Yorkshire Terrier requires daily grooming and regular maintenance. These dogs may shed very little due to their single coat, but they do need to be brushed daily, just like the human hair does.
If you are planning on leaving the coat of your pup long, then do brush it daily, and carefully trim its head hair or pull it up on a topknot to avoid eye irritation.
The dogs from this breed which have soft rather than silky coats are prone to matting and tangling.
Yorkies need weekly baths to keep the coat clean and shiny. Use good quality shampoos and conditioners to make sure that the hair remains in pristine condition and so that you don’t dry out the dog’s skin. You don’t need to rub the coat once you shampoo it. But it is advisable that you spray it with a light conditioner before you proceed to dry it.
An interesting fact is that Yorkies are born black, and they start to lighten as they grow. Females also can become lighter colored when they are in heat, and then become darker again after the season is over.
The older the dog becomes – the lighter its coat color will become too.
Like other small and toy-sized dogs, Yorkshire Terriers are prone to dental and gum problems, which means that you should brush their teeth regularly to remove the plaque and bacteria, and to prevent decay and gum problems.
You should also schedule a professional cleaning by a vet once a year too. This will help your dog keep its teeth for longer, and will promote better gum and tooth health and fresher breath too.
The grooming of your pup should also include regular inspections of the ears. Clear the inner sides of the ears gently but without inserting anything in the ear canal. If you notice redness or a bad smell, then you should go to the vet for a checkup for a possible ear infection.
You should also trim the pup’s nails following each bath. This will prevent painful splintering and other problems. If you can hear the nails of the dog clicking on the floor, then they do need trimming.
Be careful when trimming the nails, because there are blood vessels in them. Ask your groomer or vet for pointers on how to safely take care of the nails of your Yorkshire Terrier.
Also, apart from protecting the dog’s eyes by tying a topknot, or clipping its hair, you should also regularly check out and clip the hair in the anal area to keep in clean and mess-free.
In order to make the grooming process a pleasant experience or at least a tolerable one for you and your dog, teach your pup to stay still during the procedures from an early age. Use rewards and praise the dog in order to get it used to the grooming because it will be part of your daily and weekly schedule for years to come.
When you are grooming your furbaby, always check its skin for any rashes, sores, lumps or other potential problems. Also, examine its nose, eyes, and mouth for irregularities.
The earlier on you spot a potential health problem, the easier it will be to get it treated in time.
You may think that the Yorkie being such a tiny “purse dog” may not need exercise, but the truth is that no matter how small the dog is, it does need moderate daily exercise in order to stay healthy, fit and happy.
Then again, the Yorkshire Terriers can get the exercise they need with brisk walks around the block and with a bit of playtime outdoors or inside. Two short walks a day and some games inside or out should be enough to keep the pup happy and well.
About 30 minutes of exercise per day should be sufficient for the average Yorkshire Terrier to get the exercise it needs and to burn off that extra energy.
If you have the time or have an energetic puppy, you can participate in different dog sports together, such as agility or obedience as well.
If you have a backyard, make sure that there are no holes in the fence to keep your tiny dog from getting out while it is enjoying itself outside.
Keep in mind that these delicate pups are sensitive to cold, so they will need to wear coats or other clothing when they go out in the winter.
Being smart little terriers, Yorkies also need mental stimulation in the forms of interactive games and training or teaching them new cute tricks. If they get bored, they can become destructive and start chewing on your furniture and belongings, or can bark excessively.
They love playing with balls and toys, so make sure you get your dog some toys so you can play so fetch at home or outdoors.
Due to the fact that their “accidents” are so small, housetraining can be difficult, because oftentimes the owners don’t even notice that the dog has peed on the floor, or don’t mind cleaning up the tiny spot. This is a mistake though. You shouldn’t let these accidents slide by, and should reward to puppies for doing their business only where they are supposed to.
You can paper train your dog if you live in an area where it gets extremely cold, and you don’t want to take out your Yorkie outdoors during the winter.
Otherwise, obedience training is very easy for Yorkshire Terriers because they are not only very smart and quick learners, but they are also always eager to please their owners.
This is one of the reasons why they are among the top preferred and recommended breeds for new and first-time dog owners.
Still, you should take the time to socialize and train your dog from as early as possible.
By socializing your Yorkie pal, and getting it to meet as many people, settings, and other dogs as possible, you will be able to control its natural suspicion of strangers and its territorial instincts. Also, your dog will become well-rounded rather than aggressive, fearful or timid later on.
Of course, you should meet your puppy only with friendly dogs, and take them to calm and friendly places.
Puppy kindergarten or obedience classes are perfect for socializing and training any puppy, including the Yorkshire Terrier.
The dogs from this breed are agile and energetic and are among the top performers at various dog events and sports such as agility and obedience. They are also great as therapy dogs.
Always be fair and consistent when setting the rules and training your pup. They respond very well to positive reinforcement so be prepared to reward them with treats and praises when they behave properly and respond to your commands.
Remember that even though they are tiny, Yorkshire Terriers are still pack animals, so you will need to establish yourself as the alpha dog and the leader if you want your dog to respect you and follow your directions.
You should teach your pup to obey all basic commands such as sit, stay, down, come, quiet and leave it, for its own safety.
When raised together and socialized early, Yorkies can get along with other dogs and even cats in the household.
As for children – these tiny dogs are better off in families where the children are at least 6 years old or older so that they understand how to safely handle the dog and interact with it.
Yorkshire Terriers are generally healthy, but like all purebred dogs, they are prone to some hereditary illnesses as well as to certain health problems.
When you are buying a puppy, make sure you ask the breeder for health clearance for the parents, including tests for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism, thrombopatia and for eye health.
Here are some of the common genetic and other diseases which can affect the Yorkshire Terriers:
This condition is also referred to as “slipped stifles” and is quite common among small and toy-sized dogs. it is caused by the three parts of the patella not being aligned properly. This can cause pain, lameness and an abnormal gait.
Puppies are born with this disease, but it becomes evident much later on.
Due to the misalignment of the calf, knee cap, and the thigh bone, there can be rubbing in between them which can lead to degenerative arthritis.
Patellar Luxation is graded in 4 grades depending on its severity. The less severe grades can be realigned manually by a vet, but the more severe ones may require surgery.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is a degenerative disorder of the eye which causes the damage and loss of photoreceptors from the back of the eye. This condition can be diagnosed years before it leads to partial or complete blindness.
It is a hereditary condition, and reputable breeders do not breed dogs with PRA, plus they get all of their dogs tested for good eye health.
Portosystemic shunt is a condition where there is an abnormal flow of blood between the dog’s liver and the rest of the body. Since the liver detoxifies the body from drugs and other toxins and also metabolizes nutrients, Portosystemic Shunt can be a serious problem.
Some symptoms of this condition include a lack of appetite, neurobehavioral abnormalities, low blood sugar, urinary tract problems, gastrointestinal issues, intolerance to medications, stunted growth and others.
The condition usually appears at the age of 2 years. It is treated and can be managed with corrective surgery and via a special diet.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a common condition which can affect toy-sized and small dogs. it can occur when the dog is stressed, and some of the symptoms include confusion, weakness, seizures, and a wobbly gait. This condition is especially dangerous and can be fatal for young puppies, so if you notice any worrying sign, you should rush off to the vet immediately.
This is a condition when the trachea which brings the air from the mouth to the lungs collapses. The signs that your Yorkie may have a collapsed trachea include a continuous dry cough which sounds like a honk of a goose. It is treated surgically or with prescription medications.
This is far less serious than a collapsed trachea and can happen when the pup is excited or when it is drinking water or eating too quickly. It can also happen due to pollen or other allergens and irritants in the air. Although the sneezing can be stressful for the pup it is not dangerous. Stroke the throat of your dog once the sneezing stops so that it can relax faster.
This is another common condition which affects the thyroid gland of the dog and causes the production of low levels of essential hormones. Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism include brittle and dry coats which break before the hair falls out. Other symptoms include weight gain, hair loss, skin thickening, excessive scaling or shedding, weakness, lowered tolerance of cold, and others.
Hair and Coat Problems
Yorkies have unique coats which unfortunately can become affected by certain health problems such as:
- Neurodermatitis – this can cause the Yorkie to continuously keep licking its coat which can cause the follicles to die out and the hair to fall off. This can be caused by anxiety, stress or boredom
- Acanthosis Nigricans – this is a condition due to hormonal imbalance, a hypersensitivity to different triggers, or friction and can cause the hair of the dog to fall out
- Allergic Dermatitis – this can be caused by various allergens, including flea bites, grooming products, household chemicals, and cleaning products, certain foods or anything your dog is allergic to. It is a very itchy and uncomfortable condition and needs to be addressed so that the allergen causing it is removed from the pup’s environment
- Alopecia – this is an autoimmune disorder which causes the coat to become fine and thin and fall out. Usually, the coat will grow back by itself without any treatment
General health problems and risks with Yorkshire Terriers
Keep in mind, that Yorkies are very delicate and pretty fragile dogs which are at a high risk of injuries, broken bones and legs. Plus, the mouths of these pups are so tiny, that they may not allow for the teeth to grow and develop properly, and it is very common that the puppies retain their puppy teeth which need to be removed surgically to make way for the adult teeth.
Also, Yorkshire Terriers are also prone to tooth decay, as well as ear and eye infections.
During the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, workers from Scotland brought their dogs who were known as Paisley Terriers or Clydesdale Terriers to Yorkshire and Lancashire with them and used them to chase and catch rats in the textile mills, the coal mines and the factories they worked in. The weavers from Scotland were known to be proud of their small and agile ratters who were able to get through the tightest spaces in the mills to get to the rodents.
Many of the original Yorkies also worked in the harsh conditions of the coal mines chasing off rats.
These original terriers were much larger than what today’s Yorkshire Terriers are.
The Clydesdale Terriers were mixes from other English terriers such as Skye Terriers or Black and Tan Toy Terriers. Another terrier believed to have contributed to the development of the Yorkshire Terrier is the Waterside Terrier, which was smaller and had a long, blue-gray coat, and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.
The first Yorkie to appear on a bench show was a broken haired Scotch Terrier in 1861.
In 1865, a dog which is considered to be the father of today’s Yorkshire Terrier named Huddersfield Ben was born and proceeded to become a popular show dog.
They were first shown on dog shows under the name of Scotch Terriers.
The breed got its name in 1870 after Yorkshire, because it was there that most of its development had occurred.
The Yorkshire Terrier was first registered as a breed by the British Kennel Club in 1874, the breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in 1886, and the first Yorkshire Terrier Breed Club was formed in 1898 in England.
After it became an officially registered breed in England, although the breed came from the working class, it quickly became a top preferred and fashionable companion dog and lapdog breed by the rich Victorian ladies in England.
In the USA, the first record of a Yorkie born there dates back to 1872, and the dogs from this breed were first allowed to compete in shows in the country in 1878, where they were divided in weight categories, including under 5 lbs. and 5lbs. and more.
In the end, the exhibitors set a single class of dogs weighing between 3 and 7 lbs.
The American Kennel Club registered the first Yorkie in the 1870s under the name Belle.
Through the years, the Yorkie has become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
There are multiple famous Yorkshire Terriers in history and in the arts. Audrey Hepburn had a Yorkie named Mr. Famouse, who was not only her favorite companion dog, but also starred alongside her in various films including Funny Face, and appeared on over 10 magazine covers with the movie star.
Hepburn continued the popularization of the breed among Hollywood celebrities by looking after another Yorkie called Assam after Mr. Famouse got accidentally run over by a car.
Another famous Yorkshire Terrier is Smoky the Yorkie who became one of the first therapy dogs in history during World War II. Smoky weighed a mere 4 lbs. and was found on the front by an American Soldier in new Guinea. The dog backpacked along with the Corporal who bought her from the soldier and joined him in many battles. She was credited for participating in twelve combat missions and even was awarded 8 battle stars. The tiny pup even parachuted in a special parachute made for her.
Smoky even helped build a telegraph line through a narrow pipe which was only 8 inches in diameter and 70 feet long. She was hailed a hero and is believed to have saved about 250 crewmen.
Today, Yorkshire Terriers are still one of the most popular dog breeds around the world. They are charming, affectionate and fun companion dogs, suitable for first-time owners, as well as for apartment and city dwellers.
They are smart, fast learners and are compact and easy to travel with.
Also, they shed very little and are considered one of the best hypoallergenic dog breeds.
They are also very capable watchdogs and irreplaceable companions and friends for owners and families of all types.