Yorkshire Terriers: the Complete Lowdown on this Feisty Dog Breed
Great things come in small packages, they say. And the spirited Yorkshire terrier is no exception. These fun-sized darlings are classified as Toy dogs, but don’t let that demure appearance fool you—Yorkies are a playful and spunky bunch.
Developed in 19th century England, the breed got its start hunting rodents in mines and textile mills. Eventually, the breed’s popularity skyrocketed, and Yorkshires became a coveted “accessory” for trendsetting Victorian women.
Have your sights set on a Yorkshire terrier? Let’s explore whether or not this vivacious dog could be in your future.
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Characteristics
One thing’s for sure: space isn’t an issue for a Yorkshire terrier. They may have big personalities, but at 7 pounds, Yorkies are one of the smallest dog breeds in existence.
Coupled with his adorably compact build, A Yorkie’s luscious locks make quite the statement. His silky, floor-length coat is the envy of all his canine pals. It hangs evenly and perfectly straight, coming in a glossy blend of steel blue and golden tan.
Yorkshire terriers are known for their confident gait and bright expression—two reminders that there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Thankfully, one thing a Yorkie enjoys is longevity. On average, these dogs live between 14 and 16 years.
Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Don’t make the mistake of equating this breed’s prim and proper look with a dull personality. They’re anything but boring!
A terrier through and through, Yorkies are famously brave, energetic, and full of life. Their plucky personality can even cross into bossy territory (but we gladly forgive them for that.)
If a lazy lapdog is what you’re after, consider searching elsewhere. These mischievous canines are always up for an adventure, and they certainly love to play. Yorkshire terriers are intelligent and curious dogs, making them endlessly fun companions.
While they’re friendly and personable, Yorkies can have a stubborn streak, and their fearless attitude can also translate into bold assertiveness towards unfamiliar animals.
Yorkshire Terrier Grooming and Health Needs
Maintaining a Yorkie’s coat is no small task. If he’s sporting a longer ‘do, it’ll require daily brushing. Tying your Yorkie’s hair into a topknot will keep it from blocking his vision or irritating his eyes. “Puppy” clips are popular among Yorkie parents, but you’ll still need to make regular visits to a professional groomer. The American Kennel Club also recommends weekly baths.
The good news is that Yorkshire terriers don’t shed much, so you won’t wear out your vacuum cleaner with one of these pups in your home.
For the most part, Yorkshire terriers are healthy dogs with a long lifespan. They are, however, prone to a few health conditions including hypothyroidism, cataracts, bladder stones, tracheal collapse, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
The breed is also prone to luxating patellas, a defect in which the dog’s kneecaps pop out of place. It’s important, therefore, to keep your Yorkie from jumping from great heights.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is another ailment to watch for. The disease diminishes blood flow to the bones in your dog’s rear legs, causing limping. A liver condition known as portosystemic shunt commonly afflicts Yorkies. Luckily, both of these defects are treatable with surgery.
Because Yorkshire terriers are so small, dental issues can occur, such as overcrowding and improper development. Regular veterinary dental care is a must.
Yorkshire Terrier Energy Level and Training Needs
Yorkies require moderate exercise to stay healthy and happy. Two short walks per day should suffice. To help your exuberant pooch burn off some extra steam, try tossing a tennis ball in the yard.
Don’t rule out competitive dog sports just because your dog is teeny. After all, they’re called the “Tomboy Toy” for a reason. The sprightly Yorkie is as smart as he is energetic, and participating in activities like flyball or agility courses will challenge both his stamina and his mind. Plus, he’ll love the extra attention!
Vetstreet reports that these perennial people-pleasers are easy to train. As a rule, Yorkies are intelligent and love to make their humans happy, so positive reinforcement goes a long way in developing good manners. Have treats on hand and shower your dog with praise to encourage obedience.
Yorkshire Terrier Breed History
Long before they became the pampered favorite of posh Victorian ladies, Yorkshire terriers had more of a blue-collar life. Developed in the 19th century by crossing several types of terriers, Yorkies were originally employed as rat exterminators in the mines and textile mills of England. No doubt, their compact size and fearless attitude made this hard-working terrier the perfect dog for the job.
The tables turned in 1886 when England’s Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. As Yorkies became the “next big thing” for fashionable ladies in England, the dogs traded in their working papers for a life of luxury. Dog fanciers swooned over the breed’s elegant beauty and diminutive size—a trait that breeders began to favor as the dog’s popularity among pet owners grew.
Is a Yorkshire Terrier right for you?
Yorkies have a habit of charming the socks off of everyone they meet. They’re a lively heap of pocket-size fun—what’s not to love?
Overall, Yorkshire terriers make terrific pets. Their small size and confident personality make them ideal for urbanites living in smaller apartments. Barking can be an issue, but Yorkies are super responsive to training and can learn to stop yapping on command.
You’ll need to up your grooming game with a Yorkie. Daily brushing is essential, but for fans of the breed’s lovely locks, the extra work is well worth the effort. And since their coat more closely resembles human hair than animal fur, the breed is also considered hypoallergenic.
If you have kids, you’re in luck: the affectionate Yorkshire terrier loves to run and play. Just don’t let playtime get too rambunctious—a Yorkie may have a bold personality, but he’s still a fairly fragile 7-pound dog.
The tenacious Yorkie is one of the world’s most popular pets, and it’s not hard to see why. If you’re planning to bring home one of these sweet dogs, you’ll have a loyal and affectionate new best friend.