Yorkshire Terrier

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yorkshire terrier (yorkie) portrait
Meet the Yorkshire Terrier, a small but mighty canine with a larger-than-life personality! These feisty furballs, affectionately known as "Yorkies," pack a punch of playfulness and sass in their tiny frames. Their silky coats and adorable faces have won hearts worldwide, making them one of the most loved dog breeds on the planet.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Yorkshire Terrier is an ideal companion for a wide range of individuals and families. These small, charismatic dogs are perfect for those who appreciate a lively and spirited pet with a touch of elegance. Their compact size and adaptability make them a good choice for various living spaces, including apartments and city dwellings.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEYorkshire Terrier
OTHER NAMESYorkie
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPToy Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT7-8 inches
WEIGHT4-7 lbs
LIFESPAN11-15 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERHigh
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYHigh
BITING TENDENCYModerate
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK13th
yorkshire terrier (yorkie) sitting in an open field
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Appearance

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small yet striking breed known for its distinct appearance and elegant charm. With a well-proportioned body that exudes both strength and grace, Yorkies captivate onlookers with their unique blend of beauty and confidence.

In terms of size, Yorkies are classified as a toy breed. Adult males and females typically stand between 7 to 8 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh approximately 4 to 7 pounds. However, some Yorkies can weigh slightly more or less, depending on their individual genetics and lifestyle factors.

The Yorkie’s body is compact and well-balanced, with a level topline and a slightly rounded croup. Their tail is typically docked to a medium length, carried slightly higher than the level of the back, and covered with a plume of hair that matches the elegance of their overall appearance.

One of the most eye-catching features of the Yorkshire Terrier is its luxurious coat. The breed boasts a long, silky, straight coat that falls gracefully to the ground.

Yorkies display an attractive combination of blue and tan colors, with the blue ranging from dark steel blue to a lighter shade, and the tan varying from a rich golden hue to a pale cream. The coat is parted down the middle of the back, giving them a distinctive and elegant appearance.

The head of a Yorkie is small and somewhat flat on top, with a medium-sized muzzle that tapers slightly towards the nose. The breed’s expressive eyes are medium in size, dark in color, and have a sharp, intelligent look. Their V-shaped ears are set high on the head, standing erect and adding to their perky demeanor.

In terms of movement, the Yorkshire Terrier displays a confident and energetic gait. They walk with a straight, free, and effortless stride, giving the impression of a small but powerful canine.

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) sitting in a park

Temperament

The Yorkshire Terrier may be small in stature but don’t let that fool you. This petite pooch is overflowing with a big, bold personality that can light up a room and warm the coldest of hearts.

They’re feisty little furballs, unafraid to explore the world around them. A breed that carries an air of audacity and confidence, despite its size. It’s like they’ve got the spirit of a lion, trapped in the body of a tiny terrier. They’re adventurous, always ready to go on a journey, even if it’s just a trip to the mailbox.

Yorkies are also incredibly smart. They’re the kind of dogs that will surprise you with their quick thinking and problem-solving skills. Their intelligent minds are always active, making them quick learners and great companions. They might even outsmart you at times, with their clever little tricks and antics.

But it’s not all bravado and brains. Yorkies are also known for their affectionate nature. They love being the apple of your eye, the center of all attention. They thrive when they are showered with love and can form deep, strong bonds with their family. Loyalty is their middle name, and they’ll stick by your side through thick and thin.

Despite their energetic and spirited demeanor, Yorkies have a sensitive side too. They respond well to gentle handling and a soft voice. They’re like tiny bundles of joy, bringing laughter and happiness wherever they go, but they also need to be treated with kindness and respect.

Each Yorkie is unique, with their own quirks and personality traits. Some might be more laid-back, preferring a quiet cuddle on the couch, while others might be constantly on the move, ready for the next adventure. But one thing is for sure, having a Yorkie in your life means having a constant source of joy and entertainment.

Overall, the Yorkshire Terrier is a small dog with a big heart. They’re brave, bold, intelligent, and affectionate, making them the perfect companion for those who can match their energy and shower them with love.

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) on a green lawn
Photo: Artush

Ideal Environment

The Yorkshire Terrier is a versatile breed that can adapt well to various living situations. However, there are certain aspects of an environment that are particularly suited to their unique needs and characteristics.

Physical Environment

In terms of the physical environment, Yorkies thrive in both urban and suburban settings, thanks to their small size and moderate exercise requirements. They are well-suited for apartment living, as long as they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation. It’s essential to provide them with a safe, secure, and comfortable living space where they can relax and play without the risk of injury.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, Yorkies are sensitive to extreme temperatures, particularly cold weather. Their thin, silky coats do not provide much insulation, so it’s important to take precautions during colder months by providing them with warm clothing, such as sweaters or jackets when venturing outdoors. Additionally, limit their exposure to frigid temperatures to prevent hypothermia.

In hot climates, it’s essential to ensure your Yorkie has access to shade and fresh water, and avoid taking them outside during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating.

Ideal Owner

Yorkies are happiest in homes with pet parents who are attentive, patient, and committed to providing consistent care, training, and socialization. They form strong bonds with their human family members and crave affection and attention. As such, they are best suited for individuals or families who have the time and energy to devote to their needs.

While Yorkies can get along well with older children, it’s essential to supervise interactions and teach children appropriate ways to handle and interact with these small dogs to ensure the safety and well-being of both the child and the dog.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Yorkies can coexist harmoniously with other animals, provided they have been properly socialized from a young age. However, their bold and spirited nature may sometimes lead them to challenge larger dogs or chase smaller animals. It’s crucial to monitor your Yorkie’s interactions with other pets and to reinforce positive behavior through consistent training.

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) outdoors
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Grooming

The Yorkshire Terrier is a breed known for its luxurious coat and distinct appearance. To maintain their elegant look and ensure their overall health and well-being, it’s essential to provide them with proper grooming care. Here’s an overview of the grooming needs of the Yorkshire Terrier and how to best care for their unique features.

Coat Care

The Yorkie’s coat is long, silky, and straight, requiring regular grooming to prevent tangles and matting. For pet Yorkies, it’s recommended to brush their coat daily using a pin brush or a slicker brush. This will help remove loose hair, dirt, and debris while keeping the coat healthy and shiny.

For show Yorkies, more intensive grooming may be required, including daily combing with a fine-toothed comb to ensure their coat remains tangle-free and immaculate.

In addition to brushing, you’ll need to bathe your Yorkie approximately every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on their level of activity and exposure to dirt. Use a gentle dog shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for their coat type to maintain its shine and softness. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent any residue from irritating their skin.

Some Yorkie owners choose to keep their pet’s coat trimmed short for easier maintenance. This “puppy cut” can be done at home or by a professional groomer, depending on your comfort level and experience with grooming.

Ear Care

Yorkies have erect, V-shaped ears that can be prone to buildup and infections if not properly cared for. Regularly inspect your Yorkie’s ears for signs of redness, odor, or discharge, which may indicate an infection.

Clean their ears weekly using a cotton ball or gauze pad moistened with a dog-specific ear-cleaning solution. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate structures within the ear.

Dental Care

Dental hygiene is crucial for Yorkies, as they are prone to dental issues such as plaque buildup and gum disease.

Brush your Yorkie’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. In addition to brushing, consider providing dental chews or toys and scheduling regular professional dental cleanings to maintain your Yorkie’s oral health.

Nail Care

Yorkies have small nails that grow quickly and require regular trimming to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Trim your Yorkie’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks using a guillotine-style nail clipper designed for small dogs.

Be cautious not to cut the quick, the blood vessel within the nail, as this can cause pain and bleeding. If you’re uncomfortable trimming your Yorkie’s nails yourself, a professional groomer can assist with this task.

Eye Care

Yorkies have expressive eyes that can be prone to tear staining, particularly in lighter-colored individuals. To keep the area around their eyes clean, gently wipe the area daily with a soft, damp cloth or a pet-specific eye wipe. Avoid using human products, as they can be too harsh for your Yorkie’s delicate skin.

two yorkshire terriers (yorkies) playing in the park
Photo: W1zzard/Getty Images

Exercise

The Yorkshire Terrier may be small in size, but they possess a lively and energetic temperament that requires regular exercise and mental stimulation to maintain optimal health and happiness. Despite their toy breed classification, Yorkies are surprisingly active and agile, making it essential to provide them with appropriate outlets for their energy.

Exercise Amount & Types

Yorkies typically require at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, which can be divided into two or three shorter sessions throughout the day. Keep in mind that individual exercise needs may vary depending on your Yorkie’s age, health, and activity level. Be sure to tailor their exercise routine to suit their specific needs and abilities.

A variety of exercise options can help keep your Yorkie engaged and physically fit. Regular walks around the neighborhood or local park provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation for your Yorkie. Ensure they are walking on a secure harness and leash, as this helps protect their delicate neck and spine.

Engaging in interactive play sessions indoors, such as fetch or tug-of-war, can provide additional exercise and bonding opportunities. Use toys specifically designed for small dogs to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your Yorkie’s size.

Visiting dog parks or participating in small dog playgroups can offer your Yorkie an opportunity to socialize and play with other dogs. Ensure your Yorkie is well-socialized and comfortable in these environments before participating in group play.

Dog Sports

Yorkshire Terriers can also participate in various dog competitions, such as conformation shows, obedience trials, and agility competitions. These events provide an opportunity for your Yorkie to showcase their skills and abilities while also offering additional mental and physical stimulation.

yorkshire terrier walking on the grass
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Training

Training a Yorkshire Terrier can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both you and your canine companion. These small, intelligent dogs are generally eager to please their owners, which makes them highly trainable. However, it’s essential to approach training with patience and consistency, as Yorkies can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak.

Basic Obedience

When it comes to training your Yorkie, it’s crucial to begin early and establish a consistent routine. Start by teaching basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come” to lay a strong foundation for future training. Yorkies are quick learners, and with positive reinforcement and consistency, they will soon master these basic skills.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the key to successful training with Yorkies. This breed responds well to rewards-based training methods, such as using treats, praise, and playtime as incentives for good behavior. Avoid harsh training techniques, as these can cause fear or anxiety in your Yorkie and hinder their progress.

Socialization

Socialization is another critical aspect of training your Yorkshire Terrier. Exposing your Yorkie to various people, environments, and situations from a young age will help them develop into a confident and well-rounded adult. Regular socialization can also prevent behavioral issues such as fearfulness or aggression towards unfamiliar people or animals.

Potential Challenges

One potential challenge when training a Yorkie is their propensity for excessive barking. As a natural watchdog, they may be inclined to bark at perceived threats or unfamiliar noises. It’s important to address this behavior early on by teaching your Yorkie the “quiet” command and rewarding them when they stop barking on cue. Consistency and patience are crucial in curbing excessive barking.

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) relaxing outdoors
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Diet & Nutrition 

The Yorkshire Terrier has specific dietary and nutritional requirements that must be met to ensure they maintain optimal health and well-being. Due to their small size and fast metabolism, it’s essential to provide them with a high-quality diet tailored to their unique needs.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Yorkie, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food that adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutrient profiles for your dog’s life stage.

A balanced diet for Yorkies should include a high-quality protein source, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Additionally, smaller kibble sizes are often more comfortable for Yorkies to chew and digest.

The amount and frequency of feeding will depend on your Yorkie’s age, weight, and activity level. In general, a daily serving of food for an adult Yorkie weighing between 4 to 7 pounds should be around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry food, divided into two meals.

This is just a guideline, as individual needs may vary. Puppies require more frequent feedings – typically three to four times a day – to support their growth and development.

It’s essential to monitor your Yorkie’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and related health issues, while underfeeding can result in malnutrition and low energy. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the ideal feeding plan for your individual dog.

Treats

Treats are an essential aspect of training and bonding with your Yorkie, but they should be given in moderation to avoid excessive caloric intake. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats, and consider using fresh fruits or vegetables, such as blueberries, baby carrots, or green beans, as occasional treats. Remember that treats should not exceed 10% of your Yorkie’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Hydration is crucial for all dogs, including Yorkies. Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times. As a general guideline, your Yorkie should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. This amount may vary depending on their activity level, age, and the climate in which they live.

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) walking in a lawn
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Health

The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 11 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential concerns can help you take the necessary precautions and provide your Yorkie with the best possible care throughout their life.

Some common health issues associated with the Yorkshire Terrier breed include:

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and potentially leading to arthritis or other joint issues. Patellar luxation is relatively common in small dogs like Yorkies and may require surgical intervention in severe cases.

Portosystemic Shunt: A portosystemic shunt is a congenital abnormality in which blood bypasses the liver, leading to a buildup of toxins in the body. Symptoms can include stunted growth, seizures, and gastrointestinal issues. Treatment typically involves surgery to correct the shunt, followed by a specialized diet and medication to manage the condition.

Hypoglycemia: Small breeds like Yorkies are prone to low blood sugar, especially during periods of stress or high activity. Signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, trembling, and loss of coordination. If left untreated, it can lead to seizures or even coma. Regular feeding and monitoring your Yorkie’s blood sugar levels can help prevent hypoglycemia.

Dental Issues: Due to their small mouths and crowded teeth, Yorkies are at a higher risk of developing dental problems such as plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss. Regular dental care, including daily brushing and professional cleanings, is essential for maintaining your Yorkie’s oral health.

Collapsed Trachea: This condition is characterized by a weakening of the tracheal rings, causing the airway to collapse and resulting in difficulty breathing, coughing, or gagging. Treatment options for collapsed trachea may include medication, weight management, and, in severe cases, surgery.

To promote your Yorkie’s overall health and well-being, it’s essential to provide them with regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, proper exercise, and consistent grooming. Early detection and intervention can help manage and treat many of these health issues, ensuring that your Yorkshire Terrier enjoys a long and healthy life.

yorkshire terrier standing on a table
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History

The Yorkshire Terrier boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 19th century. The breed’s origins can be traced to the Industrial Revolution in England, where it was primarily developed in the northern counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

During this period, Scottish weavers migrated to England in search of work, bringing with them various small terriers, including the Skye Terrier, Paisley Terrier, and Clydesdale Terrier. These breeds served as the foundation for the development of the Yorkshire Terrier.

The primary purpose of these early terriers was to control rats and other vermin in textile mills and coal mines. Their small size and agility made them well-suited for navigating tight spaces and efficiently hunting down pests. However, their beautiful coat and elegant appearance quickly caught the attention of the upper classes, who began to adopt Yorkies as companion animals and status symbols.

One of the most famous early Yorkshire Terriers was a dog named Huddersfield Ben, who is considered the father of the modern Yorkie. Born in 1865, Huddersfield Ben was owned by a man named M.A. Foster and had an impressive show career, winning over 70 prizes before his death in 1871. His remarkable appearance and temperament set the standard for the breed and contributed significantly to its development and popularity.

The first Yorkshire Terrier was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885, and the breed rapidly gained popularity in the United States. By the early 20th century, Yorkies had become one of the most sought-after and fashionable dog breeds, particularly among high society and celebrities.

Their glamour and charm have made them a favorite subject in popular culture, often appearing in films, television shows, and literature.

Some notable examples of Yorkies in popular culture include Audrey Hepburn’s beloved pet “Mr. Famous” in the movie “Funny Face” and the character “Toto” from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” who was originally a Yorkshire Terrier in the book but portrayed by a Cairn Terrier in the 1939 film adaptation.

Additionally, Yorkies have been owned and adored by numerous celebrities, such as Paris Hilton, Natalie Portman, Britney Spears, and Tom Brady.

The Yorkshire Terrier is currently the 13th most popular dog breed in the United States. Their small size, affectionate nature, and adaptability make them an ideal companion for various living situations, from city apartments to country homes. The breed is also known for its participation in dog sports, such as agility, obedience, and rally, showcasing their intelligence, athleticism, and eagerness to please.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Yorkshire Terrier in the United States is the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America (YTCA). Founded in 1957, the YTCA is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the breed through education, responsible breeding, and adherence to the breed standard.

The club also organizes various events and activities, including dog shows and educational seminars. Visit their website to learn more about the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Yorkshire Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

yorkshire terrier (yorkie) puppy sitting on a table
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Acquiring

Thinking of adopting a Yorkshire Terrier? You’re in for a treat! Prepare a cozy bed, quality food, engaging toys, grooming supplies (those lovely locks need care!), and a trusted vet.

If buying is your preference, ensure you go with a reputable breeder to secure a healthy and happy Yorkie. But have you considered rescue? Numerous Yorkshire Terriers in shelters are waiting for their forever homes. The American Kennel Club and the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America can provide resources to help you rescue.

Remember, whether you adopt or buy, you’re not just getting a pet. You’re welcoming a lively, affectionate companion who’ll fill your life with joy, love, and maybe a little bit of diva drama. Life with a Yorkshire Terrier is nothing short of a delightful adventure!

FAQs

Are Yorkshire Terriers good pets?

Yes, Yorkshire Terriers make excellent pets for many families and individuals. They are affectionate, intelligent, and adaptable, making them suitable for various living situations. However, they may not be the best choice for families with very young children due to their small size and fragility.

Do Yorkshire Terriers bark a lot?

Yorkshire Terriers can be prone to excessive barking as they were initially bred to be watchdogs. However, with consistent training and proper socialization, you can teach your Yorkie to control their barking.

Are Yorkshire Terriers loyal?

Yes, Yorkshire Terriers are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners. They often form strong bonds with their family members and enjoy spending time with them.

Are Yorkshire Terriers hypoallergenic?

While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Yorkshire Terriers are considered one of the more allergy-friendly breeds. Their coat is similar to human hair rather than fur, which produces less dander and can help reduce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

How much exercise do Yorkshire Terriers need?

Yorkshire Terriers require at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, which can be divided into two or three shorter sessions throughout the day. This can include walks, indoor play, and engaging in activities such as agility training.

How often should I groom my Yorkshire Terrier?

The grooming needs of a Yorkshire Terrier will depend on their coat type and length. For long-haired Yorkies, daily brushing is recommended to prevent matting and tangles. Shorter-haired Yorkies may only need brushing every few days. Regular baths, nail trims, and dental care are also essential components of a proper grooming routine.

Are Yorkshire Terriers good with other pets?

Yorkshire Terriers can generally get along well with other pets, especially when properly socialized from a young age. However, their small size and terrier instincts may make them more prone to chasing smaller animals, such as rodents or birds. It’s essential to monitor their interactions with other pets closely and provide appropriate supervision.

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