Your Complete Guide To The Yorkshire Terrier!
These are tiny dogs with huge personalities.
We are not surprised you’d love to have one.
The Yorkshire Terrier Breed
You have probably already had your heart stolen by the Yorkie’s small stature.
Not to mention his gorgeous haircut.
But there is a lot more to this little dog than looks alone.
The Yorkshire Terrier is a member of the popular Toy Group of dogs.
He is lively and full of fun.
And the clue to his origins lies in his name.
In this guide, we’ll discover where the Yorkie comes from.
As well as finding out what the breed is like to live with.
We’ll give you top tips for caring for your Yorkshire Terrier.
And help you decide if he is the right pup for you.
Where Do Yorkshire Terriers Come From?
The Yorkie is the 9th most popular dog in America.
But his origins lie across the ocean in England.
Experts agree that Yorkshire Terriers come from the English county of Yorkshire.
However, this is just about the only fact that everyone can agree on!
They are a breed with a rich if relatively short history.
One that lots of people disagree on.
So what do we know for sure.
Yorkshire Terriers Come From Yorkshire
Yorkshire Terriers were first seen in England the mid 1800’s.
They were bred from a few different members of the terrier group.
There are a lot of breeds that could have been involved.
And no one can agree which!
But here are just a few of the possibilities:
- the Clydesdale Terrier
- the Paisley Terrier
- the Waterside Terrier
- the Dandie Dinmont Terrier
- the Leeds Terrier
- the Manchester Terrier
- the Maltese Terrier
- the Skye Terrier
Broken Haired Scotch Terrier to Yorkshire Terrier
Before the Yorkie became the Yorkshire Terrier it was known as the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier.
Yorkshire Terrier was first used in the late 1800’s.
Less random terriers were bred with them as time went on.
Until they became one defined breed.
26,000 dogs were registered in the UK in 1990.
In the decade that followed however the popularity of the Yorkie plummeted.
To less than 5,000 puppies registered in 1991.
They are not so popular nowadays.
Yorkshire Terrier hovering at just over 1000 registrations a year.
In the USA the Yorkie is still going strong.
Despite having slipped a little in the AKC’s popularity rankings.
What Role Did the Yorkshire Terrier Play?
The word Terrier means ‘of the earth’.
And referred to small and feisty dogs used for working underground.
Hunting in small, hard to reach spaces.
Their high prey drive and courage gave them seemingly endless enthusiasm.
Working to reduce rat, fox or badger populations.
And it wasn’t just farmers or game keepers who made use of their skills.
They also worked in industrial settings.
Like down mines and in clothing mills.
Keeping workers healthy by reducing vermin.
Some people think these varied tasks and moving workers are the reason that so many other terriers made the breed.
Changes to the Yorkshire Terrier Breed
The Yorkshire Terrier is now often found as a show dog.
Yorkshire Terriers were originally many and varied in type.
Any dog of a small terrier type with a long coat, was called a Yorkshire Terrier.
But this variation was vastly reduced when a Yorkie named Huddersfield Ben famously won numerous prizes at shows, and was as a result put to stud multiple times.
He was thought to have had a big impact on limiting the gene pool.
Producing more uniform puppies.
These went on to become the recognizable dogs we now see today.
Their working roots have now been largely left behind.
Yorkies are mostly owned and bred as show dogs or family pets.
Often being sort out by owners looking for a lap dog.
What Do Yorkshire Terriers Look Like?
The Yorkie is a distinctive little dog.
Small, evenly proportioned and with a luxurious coat of hair.
He certainly stands out in a crowd.
Let’s take a look first at that memorable coat of fur.
Yorkies, if left unclipped grow a very long coat.
It will be smooth, silky, glossy and straight.
The color is described as ‘dark steel blue’ across his back.
It is tan on his face and chest.
When you collect your puppy this dark blue coloration will look almost black.
It may not reach it’s adult hue until he is as much as three years old.
Yorkies have long coats.
So it’s important to make sure it is managed.
Don’t let it get matted or uncomfortable.
And keep it clear of his eyes.
You need to make sure that it is kept in a nice condition.
Free of tangles and dirt!
How do you Groom a Yorkshire Terrier?
It needs regular clipping or brushing.
So you will need to get your pup used to being groomed.
Giving a neat centre parting from head to tail.
It is worn long and great care is taken to keep it looking both silky and straight.
Some owners will apply coat oil and wrap the hair to prevent breakages!
The hair on the top of their heads is held up and away from their eyes.
Often with a clip or bow.
This prevents their vision from being impeded, as well as giving the required look.
For pet owners, a slightly shorter cut or all over clip will be a lot more practical.
How Much Should my Yorkie Weigh?
Yorkshire Terriers should be no more than of 7lbs (3.2kg) in weight.
At least according to the breed standard.
However, while show dogs normally weight between 5 and 6lbs, it is common for pet Yorkies to exceed the 7lb weight limit.
Often this is simply because the dog is naturally larger in size than the breed standard.
Be careful though 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.
And your vet will be able to tell you whether or not your Yorkie is a healthy weight for his ‘frame’
It is possible to purchase Yorkie puppies specifically bred to be even tinier than the breed standards.
These so called teacup Yorkies are plagued with health issues.
How Tall will my Yorkshire Terrier Grow?
Dogs reach their adult height at varying times.
But small dogs like Yorkies are usually fully grown at around a year of age.
You can expect your Yorkie to reach anywhere between 6 to 9 inches tall by his first birthday.
His parents and grandparents’ heights will give you a good indicator of how tall he is likely to grow.
Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Like all terriers, Yorkies were originally bred to work in vermin control.
This means that they have built into them a desire to chase and kill.
They have also been required to be brave in the face of other animals aggression.
This means that they are bold and stubborn when facing the local wildlife.
Just like any dogs, Yorkies’ temperaments vary widely.
But there are some things we can be fairly sure about.
For the last hundred years, they have been widely considered companion pets.
Lap dog sized, they are loyal to their owners and loving to their families.
They are however naturally suspicious of strangers.
For this reason they need socialisation.
Meeting a wide range of people from a young age.
Having lots of visitors to your home.
As well as taking them out to meet new people.
Are Yorkshire Terriers Good with Children?
Younger children will need closer supervision around Yorkshire Terriers.
Children under the age of 8 are prone to accidentally roughly handling pets.
Although Yorkies are generally tolerant dogs, they have been known to snap or nip.
Especially in response to annoying handling.
It is always a good idea to let dogs have space from kids when they want it.
Life with a terrier!
The breed standard describes Yorkshire Terriers as ‘spirited, with an even disposition’.
But what does this actually mean?
Well, first and foremost, Yorkies are terriers.
This means that they are normally bold, confident and stubborn.
They have a high prey drive.
As a result they tend not to want to make friends with other smaller pets.
Although they are small in stature, this isn’t something that they are aware of.
They will face larger animals with the same tenacity as they would rats and nice.
Proper socialisation to other creatures from a young age is very important.
Unless you are happy to have to keep them constrained around other animals.
There are some other hang-ups that Yorkies bring with them from their hunting terrier routes.
And one of these is barking.
Do Yorkshire Terriers Bark Much?
Terriers were bred with a preference for those that barked.
It helped to alert their handlers to find them.
They were also worked as watchdogs by some owners.
Most of us don’t want our dog to provide a secondary alarm or doorbell system these days.
You will be pleased to hear that although some breeds are more likely to bark, you can still help them to minimise this by setting off on the right foot from the word go.
Dogs bark more when they learn that making a noise gets results.
By ignoring them when they bark and praising them when they are quiet, you can help your puppy to grow up without encouraging his barking tendencies to increase.
Training a Yorkshire Terrier
Training will be a big part of your time together.
They must be treated with the same respect as a larger dog.
You will need to teach them what is appropriate in your home.
Some basic manners and to help them to socialize with other people, dogs and animals.
Rewarding your dog when he is good using basic positive reinforcement training methods will help.
Is a Yorkshire Terrier a Good Pet?
Yorkies can make fabulous pets in the right homes.
As long as you are happy to do lots of socialization.
And to adapt their needs around other pets.
Due to their size Yorkies are well suited to most sizes of home.
Yorkshire Terrier Exercise
Although they are small and considered as lap dogs, Yorkies still need plenty of exercise.
Not just to keep them fit, but to stop them from getting bored.
As an adult he will require a couple of short walks a day.
Or a few fifteen minute play sessions in the back yard.
Yorkies are bright little dogs and can be taught to enjoy retrieving games like fetching a ball.
This is also a great way to help them blow off steam.
You will need to build up the distance gradually.
Make sure that they are not getting over tired keeping up with your longer legs!
Be aware that they are prone to injury.
Being small and feisty they can get themselves into trouble.
Especially with other larger dog breeds.
Yorkshire Terrier Lifespan and Health
Yorkies in general have a pretty good lifespan as dog breeds go.
Living on average between 12 and 16 years.
If your Yorkshire Terrier stays well he should remain fit into his retirement years.
There are however some health issues which you will need to be aware of.
General Dog Health Problems
Some issues are present in most dog breeds, but you still need to be aware of them.
As with many breeds, eye problems can emerge in Yorkshire Terriers.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a risk.
You should make sure your pup’s parents have been DNA tested.
PRA causes a breakdown of the retina, which results in dogs going blind in both eyes.
Yorkshire Terriers are at risk of developing any general canine health problems.
But they are also at higher risk than their doggy cousins of developing a range of other problems.
Some of which are specifically associated with their small size.
Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems
Like many small breed dogs, Yorkies suffer from knee problems.
Patella Luxation is very common in Yorkshire Terriers.
It is a malformation of the knees, which causes the joint to dislocate.
Most dogs show signs when still in puppyhood.
They will have trouble walking.
It can give them a bow-legged look or a lame skip to their steps.
If your dog has luxating patellas it’s very important that he stays slim.
Also that he is and is not exercise too much or allowed to jump.
If your vet diagnoses your dog with luxating patella it can usually be successfully treated.
The vet will be able to offer surgical or non-surgical treatments.
These will depend on your dog’s age and the severity of the condition.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a rarer, but more serious.
This disease is often presents in a puppy of around 5 to 8 old months old.
He will suddenly having problems walking.
The symptoms are caused by the spontaneous degeneration of the femur.
The long leg bone which sits in the hip socket and allows the smooth swing of their leg.
There is no cure for this nasty condition.
But it can be treated with pain control, surgery and medication.
Don’t buy a puppy with any family history of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
Tracheal collapse is another serious condition which Yorkies are prone to.
Tracheal collapse occurs because the rings of cartilage in your dog’s windpipe are malformed.
Not strong enough to support his breathing, this can be a disaster.
Resulting in your dog wheezing, being tired or collapsing after exercise.
The risk of this condition occuring are increased if you smoke around your dog.
Or let them get fat.
Congenital Portosystemic Shunt
Portosystemic Shunt is known as Liver Shunt.
It is another issue for Yorkies and a pretty nasty one.
Congenital portosytemic shunts occur in just under 0.2% of all purebred dogs.
They are less common in crossbreeds.
There are more Yorkshire Terriers with this disease than any other breed.
Defects in the development of the veins in affected dogs causes blood to flow abnormally, missing the liver.
This can result in problems with your dog’s growth, seizures, and even behavioral issues.
This condition can be fatal if not recognized and treated.
To avoid this severe fall in blood sugar levels you need to feed your little dog more often that you would a larger breed.
Especially during the first few months of life.
Should I buy a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy?
The list of health issues might seem long.
But in reality, it is no worse than many pure breeds.
And a lot better than some.
Yorkshire Terriers would benefit from being slightly larger and from having a more diverse gene pool.
However, they have a reasonable skull shape for a tiny dog.
As well as a relatively well proportioned body
They are also, on average a fairly long lived and healthy bunch.
Is A Yorkie Right For Me?
Yorkies aren’t ideal for families with very small children.
They are happy with sensible older kids and adults in their homes.
Avoid Teacup Yorkies, and make sure the breeder health tests.
Yorkies are not the lowest maintenance breed.
They need careful handling, frequent meals and regular grooming.
Make sure that you read as much as you can about avoiding encouraging noise.
Take a big role in making sure your puppy is socialised to lots of different animals and people.
If you are looking for a tiny, lively, feisty new member of the family, you could do a lot worse than adopting a Yorkie.
Your little friend will provide you with plenty of fun and enthusiasm during the day.
And someone to snuggle up on the sofa with in the evening.
And what could be better than that?
Your Yorkshire Terrier Puppy
Recently brought home a Yorkie Puppy?
Then you will have a lot of questions.
We have put together a quick list for you.
To help your puppy make a happy introduction into the family.
- Should I crate train my puppy?
- How to master potty training
- Stop my puppy biting me
- Feeding your puppy
- Puppy socialization
- Training your puppy
References and further reading
- Di Dona F. Lateral patellar luxation in nine small breed dogs. Open Vet J 2016
- Tobias K et al. Association of breed with the diagnosis of congenital portosystemic shunts in dogs: 2,400 cases (1980–2002) Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2003
- Bulback J et al. Surgical treatment of tracheal collapse in dogs: 90 cases (1983-1993). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1996
- Robinson R. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease in dogs: Genetic aetiology. Journal of Small Animal Practice 1992
- Parker H et al. Genomic Analyses Reveal the Influence of Geographic Origin, Migration, and Hybridization on Modern Dog Breed Development
- Beauchat C. The History Of Purebred Dogs In The UK. The Institute Of Canine Biology
- Dog breeds ranked by popularity American Kennel Club
- Toy dog breed registrations in the UK The Kennel Club