The Yorkshire Terrier has a history as a pest exterminator in 19th Century English factories.
The Yorkie dog generally weighs from 5 to 7 pounds and stands about 6 to 9 inches tall. But don’t let their size fool you. This breed packs a lot of personality into that petite frame.
Yorkies are known for being bold and lively dogs. Plus, they have a loyal and affectionate side too.
In this guide, we’ll discover where the Yorkie comes from and what it’s like to live with them. We’ll also give you top tips for caring for your Yorkshire Terrier and help you decide if this is the right pup for you.
What’s In This Guide?
- Yorkshire Terrier At A Glance
- In-Depth Breed Review
- Yorkshire Terrier Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting A Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier FAQs
- Are Yorkshire Terriers good pets?
- How smart is a Yorkie dog?
- Is a Yorkie a good family dog?
- How long is a Yorkie lifespan?
- What do Yorkies usually die from?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: Yorkie’s are ranked 10th of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club
- Purpose: Show dogs or pets
- Weight: 5 to 7 pounds
- Temperament: Bold, intelligent, loyal
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Yorkshire Terrier
- Fun facts about Yorkshire Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier appearance
- Yorkshire Terrier temperament
- Training and exercising your Yorkshire Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier health and care
- Do Yorkshire Terrier make good family pets
- Rescuing a Yorkshire Terrier
- Finding a Yorkshire Terrier puppy
- Raising a Yorkshire Terrier puppy
- Popular Yorkshire Terrier breed mixes
- Yorkshire Terrier products and accessories
History And Original Purpose Of The Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier was previously known as the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. These dogs were first seen in England the mid-1800s.
The exact origins of the tiny but tough little Yorkshire Terrier are a source of speculation. It’s believed that the first versions of this dog actually started with Scottish laborers that migrated to England.
These workers used the Terrier as a working dog in factories (often weaving ones) as exterminators. They were tiny enough to get into the nooks and crannies chasing after vermin.
What Breeds Created the Yorkie?
There were a number of terrier breeds that may have been involved in the creation of the Yorkshire Terrier but no one can agree on which ones. Here are just a few of the possibilities:
- Clydesdale Terrier
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
- Leeds Terrier
- Maltese Terrier
- Manchester Terrier
- Paisley Terrier
- Skye Terrier
- the Waterside Terrier
Breed as we Know it Today
In 1865 one particular Yorkshire Terrier, called Huddersfield Ben, was born. He was so successful in the show ring and the ratting ring that he was put to stud. He sired many pups and is considered the foundation of the breed we know today.
The name Yorkshire Terrier was first used in the late 1800s.
They went from a working dog to a canine companion. And they graced the laps of many Victorian-era ladies.
Fun Facts About Yorkshire Terriers
The word “Terrier” means “of the earth,” and refers to the small and feisty dog that was once used for working underground and hunting in small, hard to reach spaces. The Yorkshire Terrier is derived from this breed of dog and was often used to hunt rats in factories.
There have been numerous celebrity owners of Yorkies over the years, Including Audrey Hepburn, Joan Rivers, Missy Elliot, Natalie Portman, Paris Hilton, and Simon Cowell.
Yorkshire Terrier Appearance
The Yorkie is a small and evenly proportioned dog with a luxurious coat of hair. This breed certainly stands out in a crowd.
Their color is described as dark-steel-blue across their back. When you collect your puppy, this dark blue coloration will look almost black.
Yorkshire Terriers are tan on their face and chest. They may not reach its adult hue until as late as three years old.
Yorkshire Terrier Coat
Yorkies can grow a very long coat that will be smooth, silky, glossy and straight if left unclipped. However, this beautiful, flowing hair can tangle and break easily.
Their coat needs almost as much care and maintenance as human hair because their hair is so similar to.
Yorkshire Terrier Size
Small dogs like Yorkies are usually fully grown at around one year of age. You can expect your Yorkie to reach anywhere between 6 and 9 inches tall by their first birthday.
According to breed standards, Yorkshire Terriers should be no more than 7 pounds in weight. Show dogs normally weigh between 5 and 6 pounds.
However, it is common for pet Yorkies to exceed the 7-pound weight limit. Often this is simply because the dog is naturally larger in size than the breed standard.
But be careful to make sure that your terrier doesn’t weigh more than he should due to excess body fat. Being overweight is very unhealthy for dogs, especially smaller breeds.
Your vet will be able to tell you whether or not your Yorkie is a healthy weight for their frame.
It is possible to purchase Yorkie puppies specifically bred to be even tinier than the breed standards. But these so-called Teacup Yorkshire Terriers are plagued with health issues.
Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Yorkie dogs are Terriers. This means that they are normally bold, confident, and stubborn.
They also have a high prey drive because they were originally bred to work in vermin control. As a result, they tend to not want to make friends with other small pets.
Yorkies are small in stature but this isn’t something that they are aware of. They will face larger animals with the same tenacity as they would rats and mice.
They are also naturally suspicious of strangers. Therefore, early socialization to both people and other animals is very important.
Another hang-up that Yorkies bring with them from their hunting Terrier roots is barking. Terriers were bred with a preference for those that barked. It helped to alert their handlers to find them.
Training And Exercising Your Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier Training
It is important to start both training and socialization early. The more stubborn your pup may be the longer you wait to start.
Yorkshire Terriers are eager to please dogs and respond well to positive training techniques and praise. They are also smart dogs that can pick up new tricks very quickly.
They tend to do well in canine sports like rally and agility. These sports activities along with puppy obedience classes can be a great way to train, exercise, and socialize your puppy at the same time.
It is recommended that you get them used to meeting new faces from the start as Terriers tend to be wary of strangers. For example, taking your puppy out to the park and having different friends over to your house can help them get used to meeting new people.
When it comes to Yorkie barking, you can try to minimize this habit by how you respond to their barking. Dogs bark more when they learn that making a noise gets results.
Therefore, you can help reduce your puppy’s barking tendencies by ignoring them when they bark and praising them when they are quiet.
Yorkshire Terrier Exercise
Yorkies still need to exercise a lot even though they are small and considered lap dogs. Not just to keep them fit, but to stop them from getting bored.
They require a couple of short walks a day as an adult or a few fifteen-minute play sessions in the back yard. Yorkshire Terriers are bright little dogs and can be taught to enjoy retrieving games like fetch.
Traditional walks are fine for healthy Yorkshire Terriers. However, it is best if you build up the distance gradually.
Yorkshire Terrier Health And Care
Yorkshire Terrier Life Span
The Yorkie life expectancy is pretty good in general. The Yorkshire Terrier life span, on average, is between 12 and 16 years.
Your Yorkshire Terrier they should remain fit well into their senior years if they stay healthy.
The following are some health issues which you will need to be aware of. Some are specifically associated with their small size.
Congenital Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)
Portosystemic shunt is also known as a liver shunt. It is an issue Yorkies are genetically predisposed to and it is a pretty nasty one.
Congenital portosystemic shunts occur in just under 0.2% of all purebred dogs. There are more Yorkshire Terriers with this disease than any other breed.
Defects in the development of the veins of affected dogs cause blood to flow abnormally. Some of the blood goes around the liver.
The body cannot grow or work effectively without adequate blood supply. Nor can the liver adequately remove toxins.
This can result in stunted growth, seizures, and even behavioral issues. PSS is sometimes treated with diet and medication and other times it requires surgery.
Yorkshire Terriers have a higher prevalence of developing Cushing’s Disease.
This disease is caused by overactive adrenal glands that produce too much steroid hormones.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include excessive drinking and urinating, potbelly, increased appetite, decreased activity levels, thin skin, and hair loss.
Treatment often involves closely monitored medication, ensuring your dog is getting the correct dosage.
Yorkshire Terriers are susceptible to heart problems. In fact, heart failure is the main cause of death in older Yorkshire Terriers. And this condition is exacerbated in Teacup Yorkshire Terriers.
Two of the conditions they are prone to are patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and mitral valve disease.
PDA is caused by a small vessel in the heart that didn’t close up after birth. This causes fluid to buildup and puts a strain on the heart.
Dogs with PDA have a specific type of heart murmur. It can often be repaired with heart surgery once detected.
Symptoms and Management
Signs of this condition include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue during exercise, and weakness in the hind legs.
Mitral valve disease is more common in older dogs. It is the result of weakened heart valves that allow a backflow of blood. This puts a strain on the heart.
This disease can often be managed with medication and annual heart testing.
Breeders should have proof of thorough cardiac evaluations of both parents and not breed a dog with PDA or mitral valve disease.
All toy dogs are prone to hypoglycemia.
This condition can be fatal if not recognized and treated.
Dogs are most susceptible after exercise or a period of excitement, and also if they miss feeding time.
To avoid this severe fall in blood sugar levels you need to feed little dogs more often than you would larger breeds, especially during the first few months of life.
Signs and symptoms include seizure, collapse, and weakness. Contact your veterinarian if you observe any of these signs in your pet.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a rare, but serious degenerative orthopedic condition.
It is a hip problem mainly seen in small breed dogs. And it often presents in Yorkie puppies from 5 to 8 months old.
The symptoms are caused by the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur. This is the long leg bone which sits in the hip socket and allows for the smooth swing of their leg.
There is no cure for this nasty condition, but it can be managed with pain control surgery and medication.
Patella Luxation is very common in small dogs, like the Yorkshire Terrier, and may present as early as 4 months old.
A malformation of the knee results in the dislocation of the knee joint.
Signs include a bow-legged appearance or an abnormal gait, and pain. There may be an audible “pop” when the knee dislocated.
Treatment may require massaging the knee back into place, using a knee brace, or surgery. If your dog has patellar luxation, your dog should not exercise too much or be allowed to jump.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA causes a breakdown of the retina. This results in complete blindness.
Signs can start to show in dogs between 3 and 9 years old. Often the first noticeable sign is night blindness.
PRA is hereditary and reputable breeders should be screening for this genetic condition.
Tracheal collapse is another serious condition which Yorkies are prone to. They are one of the three breeds most likely to be affected.
This condition happens because the rings of cartilage in the windpipe are malformed. This can be a disaster because then they are not strong enough to support breathing,
Signs include wheezing, fatigue or collapsing after exercise, and difficulty breathing.
The risk of your dog developing this condition increases if you smoke around your dog or if your dog is overweight.
Mild cases of this condition may only require medication while more severe cases may need surgery.
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)
GHE is an idiopathic disease that can affect any breed. However, it is more common in small breeds like the Yorkie.
This is an acute and serious disorder that can result in death if left untreated. And it can come on from out of nowhere in an otherwise healthy dog.
The symptoms of this disease are large quantities of bloody diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, a painful abdomen, and fever.
Diagnosis by a vet may require extensive testing. And the treatment usually includes intravenous fluids, potassium, and electrolytes. Antibiotics and other medications may also be administered.
Other Health Issues
Yorkies, like many dogs, are also susceptible to minor health issues like dental disease and skin allergies.
Brushing your dog’s teeth weekly with vet recommended canine toothpaste will help prevent dental-related illnesses.
Dogs can also have allergies just like humans. Atopy is a common skin allergy that Yorkies can develop.
Signs of allergies present in the form of persistent licking, rubbing the face, and ear infections. Contact your veterinarian if you think your dog has allergies.
Recommended Testing For The Yorkshire Terrier
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
Yorkshire Terrier Grooming
As mentioned earlier, Yorkies have long coats with a similar texture to that of human hair. It’s important to make sure it is well managed.
If neglected, their silky hair can get matted and tangled. It can also break easily.
A Yorkie’s long coat should be brushed every day, but it is not advisable to brush their long hair against a carpeted floor.
Yorkies should be bathed weekly, and It is advised to start these grooming routines early on with your puppy so that they are familiar and tolerant of them.
Styling Their Fur
Yorkshire Terriers fur is normally styled and given a neat center parting from head to tail in the show ring.
The hair on the top of their heads is held up and away from their eyes often with a clip or bow. This styling prevents their vision from being impeded and also gives them the required look.
When their coat is worn long, great care needs to be taken to keep it looking both silky and straight Some owners will even apply coat oil and wrap the hair to prevent breakages
For pet owners, a slightly shorter cut or all over clip will be a lot more practical and minimize your time spent on grooming.
Do Yorkshire Terriers Make Good Family Pets?
Yorkies make better family pets for those with older children.
Younger children will need closer supervision around Yorkshire Terriers. Children under the age of 8 are prone to the accidental rough handling of pets.
Yorkshire Terriers are generally tolerant dogs, but they have been known to snap or nip, especially in response to annoying handling.
Rescuing a Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier adoption of a rescue Yorkie is a fantastic way to bring a new pet into your family. It can be cheaper than buying a pure bread from a breeder and previously housed dogs can sometimes come already trained.
Finding A Yorkshire Terrier Puppy
The best way to find a happy, healthy Yorkshire Terrier pup is by researching a reputable breeder.
A good breeder will conduct thorough health checks on their dogs. Plus, they should provide a cleanly and loving home for both the parents and pups.
Breeders should be happy to answer all your questions and will likely have a few questions of their own to ensure their puppy is going to an appropriate home.
Pet stores, online ads, and puppy mills tend to supply unethically bred dogs. They purely produce to meet the demand for popular purebred dogs.
Raising a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy
Training your tiny but bold new companion will probably keep you rather busy!
Here are some tips on puppy training and socialization, as well as some helpful information about the costs of having Yorkie puppies and feeding your new friend:
- 12 Great Places To Socialize Your Puppy
- 5 Simple Rules For Feeding Your Puppy
- Biting Puppy: How To Stop A Puppy From Biting
- Crate Training A Puppy—The Ultimate Expert Guide
- Feeding A Yorkshire Terrier Puppy—Making Your Schedule
- How Much Is A Yorkshire Terrier Puppy—Costs Of Raising A Yorkie
- Puppy Potty Training Schedule And Finishing Touches
- Puppy Training
Popular Yorkshire Terrier Breed Mixes
If you are interested in having a pint-sized companion like a Yorkie, you might find the following Yorkshire Terrier mix breeds intriguing as well:
- Chorkies – Chihuahua Yorkie mix
- Corkies – Cocker Spaniel Yorkie mix
- Dorkies – Dachshund Yorkie mix
- Morkies – Maltese Yorkie Mix
- Snorkies – Miniature Schnauzer Yorkie mix
- Shorkies – Shih Tzu Yorkie mix
Yorkshire Terrier mix breeds are becoming more and more popular!
Comparing The Yorkshire Terrier With Other Breeds
The Yorkshire Terrier And The Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a tiny breed with a beautiful coat like the Yorkie.
However, the Shih Tzu tends to be a bit larger than the Yorkie with an average weight of around 9 to 16 pounds and a height of about 10 inches.
Their long coats also require daily brushing like the Yorkie’s, but the Shih Tzu generally requires less frequent bathing, only once every 3 to 4 weeks.
These breeds are similar in temperament, but the Shih Tzu is known for being great with children. They have less of a tendency to nip when annoyed.
Both breeds make wonderful lapdogs and are loyal companions.
For more on the Shih Tzu click here.
The Yorkshire Terrier And The Pomeranian
Another petite canine is the Pomeranian. This is a spunky little dog with a lively personality like the Yorkie.
Poms love to be around their owners and are also good lapdogs.
The Yorkies and Pomeranians are also similar in their predilection towards barking. They are both astute and like to let you know about everything.
Unlike the Yorkie’s long silky coat, the Pom has a thick, fluffy coat. It requires grooming 2 to 3 times a week rather than daily brushing.
Pomeranians are about the same size as the Yorkie. They can potentially be a bit smaller with an average weight of 3 to 7 pounds. Like the Yorkshire Terrier, the pom is tiny but doesn’t know it and is a bold and outgoing dog.
For more about the Pomeranian click here
Here are a few other breeds that may also interest you if you are thinking about getting a Yorkshire Terrier.
Pros And Cons of Getting A Yorkshire Terrier
Getting a Yorkie pup is a big responsibility and a long-term commitment. It’s important to find a good fit for you and your family. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Yorkshire Terrier:
- Yorkies can be vocal dogs
- They are not ideal for families with young children
- Their coat is high maintenance and may need daily brushing
- Yorkshire Terriers have a predisposition to some serious health problems
- Yorkies are loyal and make great lapdogs
- Their exercise needs are fairly low
- Yorkshire Terriers are adaptable and can easily live in an apartment or a house
- They are a generally long living breed
- Yorkies are intelligent dogs that can learn new tricks quickly
Yorkshire Terrier Products And Accessories
Here are some items that might make caring for and grooming your Yorkie a little easier:
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Rescues
Are you thinking of Yorkie Terrier adoption of a rescue? Here are some organizations that you can check out!
- Save a Yorkie Rescue
- Small Breed Rescue of Tennessee
- Yorkie Rescue Houston
- Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue
Please leave a comment below if you want to join one of our listings.
Is A Yorkie Right For You?
This loyal and affectionate tiny Terrier makes a great companion for individuals or families with older children.
The Yorkie doesn’t need a lot of space for exercise and can thrive equally in an apartment or a house with a yard. Their exercise needs are fairly low but their grooming needs can be high.
The best-suited home for this breed is one that can set aside a little time each day for coat maintenance.
They also should go to a home where a little barking won’t be a big problem. They are a bold and lively dog and can make a cute but attentive guard dog if that is what you are looking for.
References And Resources
- Aubrey Animal Medical Center. 2018.
- Beauchat, C. “The History Of Purebred Dogs In The UK.” The Institute Of Canine Biology.
- Bulback, J. et. al. 1996. “Surgical treatment of tracheal collapse in dogs: 90 cases (1983-1993).” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Maddox, M. 2017. “ Luxating Patellas: Pathology and Treatment Options.” Today’s Veterinary Nurse.
- Parker, H. et al. 2017. “Genomic Analyses Reveal the Influence of Geographic Origin, Migration, and Hybridization on Modern Dog Breed Development.” Cell Reports.
- Di Dona, F. 2016. “Lateral patellar luxation in nine small breed dogs.” Open Vet Journal.
- Robinson, R. 1992. “Legg-Calve-Perthes disease in dogs: Genetic aetiology.” Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Tobias, K. et. al. 2003. “Association of breed with the diagnosis of congenital portosystemic shunts in dogs: 2,400 cases (1980–2002).”Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019.