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 tenth 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 small 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. There are many different breeds these pups get mixed with, mostly because of their excellent demeanor (see the Morkie or the Shorkie for examples).
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. Basically, if it isn’t in here, you probably don’t need to know it! So, let’s learn more about the adorable Yorkshire terrier.
The Yorkshire terrier is descended from the terrier-type dogs 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. They 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. Surprisingly, modern Yorkies also enjoy success as a competitor in agility and flyball events. That just goes to show that size isn’t everything!
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!
Despite their tiny statures, the Yorkshire Terrier is a vibrant little dog full of fun doggy beans. They don’t require a huge amount of exercise, but they love to play games at home with their favorite humans. A lot of that energy is down to their terrier blood. They have a high prey drive and will chase anything and everything in sight. Especially if it resembles a rodent!
Thankfully, they are also relatively chill in the home and are partial to an afternoon nap (or three!). If you’re looking for a buddy to Netflix and chill with every Sunday, look no further than this guy. They are very affectionate and will happily sit on your lap all day long if you’re up for it. Their energy combined with their easy-going nature makes them well-balanced pups suited to most family lifestyles.
Talking of terrier blood, they have a streak of stubbornness, cheekiness, tenacity, and bossiness. If untrained, they can be a handful for sure, and we’ll talk about this more in the training section. But it is usually this feistiness that Yorkie loves adore, and it is all a part of their canine charm. And if you take this pooch on, we bet you’ll also fall under his spell!
It is this side of their personality that makes them awesome watchdogs. They’ll bark at everyone who approaches their home or family. This is great if you are seeking a canine alarm system. Not so great if you are prone to regular headaches. Although they aren’t a visible deterrent for intruders, their yappy vocals work wonders! They are aloof with strangers at first but will eventually warm up to those who prove themselves trustworthy.
Yorkies are very people-oriented, and they can become stressed if separated from their human pack for long periods. This separation anxiety means that they need a family who can spend most of their day with them. Otherwise, they’ll become very sad bunnies indeed. Thankfully, this purse-sized pup can travel with you to most places you go.
Size & Appearance
An adult Yorkshire terrier grows to around seven to eight inches tall at the shoulder. They typically weigh in at four to seven pounds. This makes them one of the smallest dogs in the world. This is why many people love them so much. Males tend to be larger than their female counterparts.
The Yorkie has a neat, compact, and well-proportioned body. They hold their head high, giving them an aura of self-importance. Their button eyes are small, as are their dark noses. If you want to show your Yorkie in the conformation ring, your pup will need to conform to the Yorkie breed standard. And if you are just looking for a family pet, as long as they are healthy, you don’t need to worry about it!
Have you ever wondered if a teacup Yorkie is a real thing? They are! They are merely regular Yorkies that have been bred to be significantly smaller than the norm. A teacup Yorkie typically weighs between two and four pounds. It’s not recommended that you buy a teacup Yorkie puppy, as these super-tiny pups come with many size-related health problems. We have a dedicated breed guide for teacup Yorkies if you are interested in learning more about them.
Coat & Colors
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.
If you want to show your pup, they’ll need to stick with their long, natural coat. Their natural coat is so long that it falls to the floor, and the hair on their head needs to be tied up for them to see. It is silky soft and shiny, and they are regularly mistaken for the larger Silky Terrier. But for many family Yorkies, owners opt for a shorter, teddy bear coat that is easier to manage.
Yorkies do not have a fluffy undercoat to keep them warm as they are a single-coated breed. 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 in the cold.
Although Yorkies are tiny, they still need daily 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, preferably with toys we recommend for Yorkies. Their high prey drive means that they love to run around and chase a ball, so be sure to play fetching games to keep them stimulated.
Despite their size, they also love to 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. It’s great fun to watch your lil’ pup try (and usually succeed!) at bossing all the other dogs around.
So, a Yorkie would make a great pet for a household without young children where there’s someone around during the day. However, they aren’t that tolerable of young, overzealous hands. So it’s important that you train both children and dogs to respect and co-exist peacefully with each other. Young children often see small dogs as cuddly toys, so kids shouldn’t pick them up in case of an accident.
Other than their basic doggy needs, all these guys ask for is a loving family who can spend most of their day with them. They really hate to be left alone! 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.
Their tiny frame means that they are suited to the smallest living spaces, but they’ll also thrive in large homes. City dwellers and country folk alike are big fans of Yorkies. But wherever you live, you need to Yorkie proof your pad and yard to prevent them from escaping. They will get through the tiniest of gaps and slip through gates if they want to chase something.
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. To overcome their potential stubborn streak, you need to start training early and make it fun. Otherwise, they’ll find something far more interesting to do.
Socializing your Yorkie pup is super important. Not only will it teach them the skills of doggy life, but it will build their confidence too. In turn, this will prevent them from developing something that is known as ‘small dog syndrome.’ Don’t allow your small Yorkie to get away with naughty behaviors just because they are small.
Like other terrier breeds, the Yorkie can have an independent streak. 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! When it comes to properly leash training your Yorkie, we recommend choosing a Yorkie-appropriate dog harness. This will ensure your pup doesn’t have any tracheal issues if they decide to pull. These pups are small, which means you’ll want to make walking as gentle as possible.
A crucial part of the training for your Yorkie will be crate training. Unfortunately, this pooch is one of the most susceptible to suffering from separation anxiety. And no matter how much you want to, you can’t be with them 24/7. So for the times when you need to leave them, you’ll want to give them somewhere that will make them feel as comfortable as possible.
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. Although most Yorkies live long, healthy lives, there are a few conditions that are common to the breed, including:
- Collapsing trachea
- Luxating patella
- Dental problems
- Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Bladder stones
- Ingrown eyelashes
Also, Yorkies are prone to a liver defect called portosystemic shunt, which often requires expensive surgical treatment. Note that a test is available for this condition that’s worth asking your vet about to put your mind at rest.
Luxating patella is the medical name for dislocating knee caps. The condition is especially associated with Yorkies, so always ensure that your puppy’s breeder has certification for both parents. These will state that they are clear of this congenital health problem.
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. Use dog-specific toothpaste and a special mini toothbrush that you can get from your vet.
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. Again, ask your puppy’s breeder if the puppy’s parents have been screened for this congenital disease.
Yorkies don’t need special food to stay healthy. However, when choosing kibble, look for a brand that’s designed specifically for Yorkies or other small 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.
The average adult Yorkie will consume around one cup of kibble every day. This should be split into at least two different meal sittings. Always choose a high-quality food option because they will ensure that your Yorkie will get everything they need. Poor-quality or store-bought brands are rarely nutritionally balanced and are full of fillers and nasty preservatives.
If you take on a Yorkie, you must be prepared to devote much time and energy to grooming and bathing him. The Yorkie’s natural 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. Natural coats need brushing every day and bathing every few weeks.
Yorkies who pick a shorter hair-do will have a much easier time when it comes to grooming. Many opt for something known as a teddy bear cut which chops the hair down to around one inch long, and it follows the lines of their bodies. As a result, they will only need to be brushed several times a week and bathed once every eight weeks or so.
Yorkies have a single coat that does not shed frequently. 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! This is why they are also considered hypoallergenic.
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, leading to the hair becoming clogged with feces. Aside from making the dog uncomfortable and sore, other more serious issues can arise, such as flystrike, which would mean a trip to the vet. You’ll also need to trim the hair inside your Yorkie’s ears to keep the ears from being weighed down.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
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.
Puppy mills are to be avoided at all costs when it comes to buying a pup. These mills are commercial enterprises 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 pups. Also, puppies from mills are frequently not wormed or vaccinated. And many are sold with diseases that may not be curable.
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. There are also ongoing lifetime costs to factor into your budget on top of the puppy costs. And remember this could be for 11 to 15 years!
Rescue & Shelters
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. has a suitable Yorkie for you. The costs of rescuing a Yorkie are often much lower than buying a brand new sparkly puppy from a breeder.
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. This way, you can take a Yorkie home with you for a trial run before you have to commit to rehoming him.
As Family 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 apartments.
- The breed requires regular grooming to keep their coats looking nice.
- Yorkies don’t have a fluffy undercoat to shed, making them low-shedding.
- For that reason, these dogs are also good for people who have pet hair allergies.
- Yorkies generally get along well with cats and other dogs.
- Other small furries can be viewed as prey items to be chased.
- Yorkies are quite tough and make surprisingly good watchdogs.
- This breed is known to be a yapping dog, which can be problematic in apartments.
- A Yorkie is not the best choice for you if you have young kids, due to their size.
- Kids may be prone to mishandling dogs, and your Yorkie may get injured.
- Yorkies can be short on patience with children as well, and may nip when agitated.
- The Yorkie is not a lazy lapdog, and need regular physical activity.
- Yorkies are very affectionate, and love to cuddle with their owners.
- You can’t keep a Yorkshire terrier outside in a kennel.
- These pups don’t tolerate the cold very well, and prefer the company of humans.
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. They have lots of energy and are similar in activity level to other toy breeds like the Pomeranian. 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 they are socialized well! 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. As long as you can provide this pooch with his basic doggy needs and the almost constant companionship he craves, you should be a match made in toy dog heaven!