Yorkshire Terrier 101: Yorkie Breed Information, Traits & Temperament

Yorkshire terriers, or Yorkies as enthusiasts fondly know them, are members of the Toy group and are one of the smallest dog breeds you can find. However, despite their tiny stature, the Yorkie is a terrier through and through!

The Yorkshire terrier is currently the ninth most popular dog in the U.S. and has to be one of the cutest pups on the planet! Yorkies are curious, intelligent, and lively. And did you know that these diminutive pups are ideally suited to the speed and action of agility and flyball? So, there’s never a dull moment when you have a Yorkie in your household.  They are also considered hypo-allergenic (more or less) and they are one of the top dogs people like to mix breeds with.

In this article, we provide you with all the information you’ll need if you’re looking to take on one of these super-cute, spunky little dogs.

So, let’s learn more about the adorable Yorkshire terrier!

History

The Yorkshire terrier is descended from the terrier-type dogs that were kept by Scottish weavers who moved into England back in the early 1800s. The Yorkie’s ancestors were used to catch vermin in the English woolen mills and were derived from crossbreeding local dogs with those imported terrier types.

The first dog to be recognized as a Yorkshire terrier appeared in 1870.

It wasn’t long before these feisty little ratters became the favorite companions of fashionable ladies. By 1872, the Yorkie had crossed the Pond to the U.S., where the breed quickly became the preferred choice of upper-class ladies of leisure as an early form of purse-dog!

The Yorkie is now popular right around the world, especially in the U.K. and the U.S.

In 1932, there were just 300 Yorkies registered with the British Kennel Club. But by 1957, the number had rocketed to 2,313. In 1990, there were a record 25,665 Yorkies registered! And today, the breed is one of the most popular dogs around.

As well as being a favorite as companion dogs, Yorkies are shown by enthusiasts and are members of the Toy group. In some countries, including the U.K., the Yorkie is traditionally shown on an individual box, draped with a red cover. A show ring full of Yorkies displayed on their red boxes is really quite a sight!

Surprisingly, modern Yorkies also enjoy success as a competitor in agility and flyball events. That just goes to show that size isn’t everything!

Health

Although most Yorkies live long, healthy lives, there are a few conditions that are common to the breed, including:

Also, Yorkies are prone to a liver defect called portosystemic shunt, which often requires expensive surgical treatment. Note that there is a test available for this condition that’s worth asking your vet about to put your mind at rest.

The average lifespan of a healthy Yorkshire terrier is between 14 and 15 years, although some have been known to live up to 18 years.

Luxating patella

Luxating patella is the medical name for dislocating knee caps. The condition is especially associated with Yorkies, so always make sure that your puppy’s breeder has certification for both parents, stating that they are clear of this congenital health problem.

Dental problems

Because of their tiny mouths, Yorkies can be susceptible to issues with overcrowding or incorrect dental development. Also, little, crowded teeth can trap plaque, allowing tartar to form and canine periodontal disease to develop.

You can prevent problems by brushing your Yorkie’s teeth every day with a dog-specific toothpaste and a special mini toothbrush that you can get from your vet.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease

Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease is a condition that causes poor blood supply to the head of the dog’s rear leg bones. Over time, that poor circulation causes the bone to degrade. The condition can be treated surgically, but again, ask your puppy’s breeder if the puppy’s parents have been screened for this congenital disease.

Teacup Yorkies

Although they might look super-sweet, it’s essential to know that tiny, teacup Yorkies can be very prone to conditions such as hypoglycemia. For that reason, good breeders recommend that you don’t buy a dog that weighs less than three pounds. And, for that reason, the AKC strongly advises against buying a teacup Yorkie.

Health Certifications

For a Yorkie to be included in the Canine Health Information Center’s database (CHIC), the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America insists that the dog has been tested for eye disease. It’s also recommended that Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease testing is carried out and that a thyroid evaluation is done at one, three, and six years of age.

You can search the CHIC website to see if your puppy’s parents are listed there.

Exercise

Although Yorkies are tiny, they still need lots of exercise, not only to keep them fit but to prevent them from becoming bored.

An adult Yorkie will need two short walks each day. Alternatively, a few short playtime sessions in your backyard will suffice.

Yorkies love to run around and chase a ball or play with other dogs at the dog park. However, remember that your Yorkie is tiny and fragile, so you must stick to letting him play off-leash in the area that’s reserved for small dogs and puppies.

Training

Yorkies are bright as buttons and very quick to learn. You’ll find housetraining your puppy is a breeze, as they cotton on to what’s required very rapidly.

Like other terrier breeds, the Yorkie can have a cheeky streak, and once on the scent of a prey animal such as a squirrel or rat, you may have trouble getting your tiny terror to come back to you!

Size & Living Conditions

An adult Yorkshire terrier grows to around eight or nine inches tall at the shoulder, typically weighing in at four to six pounds.

Teacup Yorkies are merely regular Yorkies that have been bred to be significantly smaller than is the norm. A teacup Yorkie typically weighs between two and four pounds but can weigh up to seven.

It’s not recommended that you buy a teacup Yorkie puppy, as these super-tiny pups come with lots of size-related health problems, including bladder problems and fragile bones.

Yorkies do not have a fluffy undercoat to keep them warm. That means you’ll need to provide your pet with a jumper or coat during the winter months when you go out for walks. Needless to say, a Yorkie will not do well if kept outside.

Also, Yorkies are very people oriented, and they can become stressed if separated from their human pack for long periods.

Nutrition

Yorkies don’t need special food to stay healthy. However, when choosing kibble, look for a brand that’s designed specifically for small and toy breeds. The pieces of kibble must be small enough to be manageable for your Yorkie’s tiny mouth and teeth.

When you collect your puppy, ask the breeder what they recommend as an ideal food for your pup and stick to that, particularly for the first few weeks.

For more advice on what to feed your Yorkie, have a chat with your local veterinary clinic.

Coat & Color Type

All Yorkshire terriers are born with smooth, black coats with small tan points. As the dog matures, his coat turns the characteristic dark, steel blue and tan of the breed.

Some Yorkies remain black even in adulthood. Others can become very light and silvery colored. These would be considered faults in show, but your dog’s color will have no bearing on his suitability as a pet and companion.

Grooming

If you take on a Yorkie, you must be prepared to devote much time and energy to grooming and bathing him.

Many pet Yorkies have their coats shaved or trimmed short for convenience, so you’ll need to factor in the cost of a professional groomer to your calculations when deciding if you can afford to keep a Yorkie as your canine companion.

Yorkies have a single coat that does not shed. That can make the breed suitable for people who have a dog allergy. Also, you won’t need to worry about cleaning up handfuls of shed fluffy undercoat!

The Yorkie’s coat should be long, straight, and silken. Amazingly, the Yorkie coat is very similar to human hair and unlike other terriers, the coat will carry on growing right down to floor length if you don’t have it trimmed periodically.

You’ll need to take particular care of the hair around your Yorkie’s rear end. Because of their long hair, Yorkies often suffer from matting in this area, and that can lead to the hair becoming clogged with feces. Aside from making the dog uncomfortable and sore, other more serious issues can arise, such as fly strike, which would mean a trip to the vet.

You’ll need to trim the hair inside your Yorkie’s ears to keep the ears from being weighed down. Keep your dog’s fringe trimmed or tied up, as the hair can cause problems if it’s allowed to fall into the dog’s eyes.

As Pets

So, now you know more about the Yorkshire terrier, you’ll be wondering if one of these smart little dogs would make the ideal family pet for you?

  • Yorkshire terriers are tiny dogs, making them ideal for you if you have an apartment or limited space.
  • You must enjoy grooming your dog and have the time to devote to keeping your Yorkie’s coat in good condition. That said, the Yorkie doesn’t have a fluffy undercoat to shed, so your home will stay pretty much a hair-free zone. For that reason, these dogs are also good for people who have pet hair allergy.
  • Yorkies generally get along well with cats and other dogs, but other small furries can be viewed as prey items to be chased.
  • Yorkies are quite tough and make surprisingly good watchdogs.
  • If you live in an apartment block or have near neighbors, you should know that the Yorkie is a yapper, which could be a problem, especially if you are out all day.
  • A Yorkie is not a good choice for you if you have young kids in your household. Kids can be boisterous, and such a tiny dog may be easily injured. Also, Yorkies can be short on patience when it comes to tolerating the attention of small children, and the breed can be inclined to nip.
  • The Yorkie is not a lazy lapdog. These pups do need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy.
  • Yorkies are very affectionate, and they do love nothing more than cuddling up in their owner’s lap at the end of a busy day.
  • You can’t keep a Yorkshire terrier outside in a kennel. These pups don’t tolerate the cold very well, and they much prefer to be in the company of their human family.

So, a Yorkie would make a perfect pet for a household without young children where there’s someone around during the day. As long as you give your Yorkie plenty of exercise and groom him frequently to keep his coat in excellent condition, your little buddy will love nothing more than to cuddle up on your lap at the end of the day.

Buying a Puppy

A good place to begin your search for a Yorkie puppy is on the website of the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. Here you’ll find many approved breeders who abide by the YTCA’s code of ethics.

The code of ethics specifies that puppies may not be advertised before 12 weeks of age. Also, the code prevents the sale of puppies through pet stores and insists that breeders have the necessary health certifications for their breeding animals.

So, how do you spot a good breeder? There are a few red flags to be aware of when looking for a reputable breeder, especially online, including:

  • Multiple litters on the premises
  • Always having lots of puppies available
  • Offering you the choice of any puppy
  • Being offered the option to pay for the puppy with a credit card online
  • Offering puppies at a discount price “without papers”

Never buy a puppy from a website that offers to ship the pup to you right away. That’s a common scam that frequently leaves buyers with a dog that isn’t what they expected. Always visit the breeder’s facility and ask to see the puppy’s parents and siblings.

You could also ask your vet to recommend a reputable breeder or check out a breed rescue organization.

How much are Yorkshire terrier puppies?

The cost of your Yorkie puppy will depend on where you live, the puppy’s parents’ show record, and the sex of the puppy.

In general, Yorkie puppies can cost from around $500 up to $10,000 for a puppy who has many champions in his bloodline.

Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are to be avoided at all costs when it comes to buying a Yorkie pup. These mills are commercial enterprises that are run specifically to churn out as many puppies as possible, as quickly and cheaply as possible.

More often than not, the breeder has not had the puppies’ parents screened for genetic health conditions that could be passed on to their offspring. Also, puppies from mills are frequently not wormed or vaccinated, and many are sold with diseases that may not be curable.

You should know that many pet stores obtain their puppies from puppy mills.

Rescues

If you would prefer to give a forever home to an adult Yorkie, you might want to consider rehoming a dog from a shelter.

Check out this link to see if Yorkshire Terrier National, Inc. have a suitable Yorkie for you. Petfinder is also a handy resource that you might want to take a look at.

Of course, not every adult Yorkie from a rescue center comes with a full history. So, you could be taking a chance on your new dog’s behavior. Some rescue shelters will allow you to take a dog on a sort of “try before you buy” footing, so you can take a Yorkie home with you for a trial run before you have to commit to rehoming him.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a small dog with a big personality and a feisty, cheeky character, a Yorkshire terrier could be what you’re looking for.

Although Yorkies love to play, they can also enjoy just kicking back and cuddling with their owners after a long walk. A Yorkie will get along fine with other dogs and cats, as long as he’s allowed to rule the roost! However, this breed doesn’t generally take to small kids and can be nippy if tormented.

Even though a Yorkie is a tiny dog, you’ll need plenty of time to spare for grooming him. The breed has a long, silky coat that takes quite a lot of maintenance. That said, you could opt to have your Yorkie trimmed or clipped by a professional groomer if you aren’t planning on showing him.