Yorkshire Terrier: A Complete Breed Overview

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are high-energy, spunky, and brave dogs. Often called a “Yorkie,” these dogs are relatively small but have big personalities. They are also very fashion-conscious and love to be pampered. They make excellent companions and are known for their loving nature. 

The Yorkshire Terrier is small enough to be considered a toy, weighing no more than seven pounds. They have long, silky fur that is steel blue with tan highlights. Though small in stature, Yorkies are packed with personality. They’re tenacious, feisty, brave, and sometimes bossy – every trait of a true terrier. 

This article will explore everything you need to know about the Yorkshire Terrier, from their unique history to care needs. So keep reading to learn more about this fashionable little dog!

Breed Highlights

The most important things that potential owners should know about this breed are:

  • Yorkshire Terriers are high-energy dogs that require daily walks and playtime.
  • Yorkies are very intelligent and can easily train using positive reinforcement methods.
  • This breed is known for being difficult to housetrain, so crate training is recommended.
  • Some Yorkshire Terriers can be “yappy,” barking at every sound they hear.
  • Because of their small size, delicate structure, and terrier personality, Yorkies generally aren’t recommended for households with toddlers or small children.
  • Yorkshire Terriers are relatively easy to groom, but their long fur will require regular brushing and trimming.
  • This breed is prone to several health problems, including dental, luxating patella, hypoglycemia, and tracheal collapse.
  • Yorkies typically live 11-15 years.

Unique History

The Yorkshire Terrier emerged in the mid-1800s in English countries Yorkshire and Lancashire. Rich ladies during late Victorian times kept it as a fashionable lapdog, but its humble beginnings were with working-class families.

The Yorkie originates from weavers in Scotland who owned Scottish terriers. These weavers migrated to England and took their terriers (Skye Terrier, Dandie Dinmont, Manchester Terrier, Maltese, and the now-extinct Clydesdale (Paisley Terrier) with them. 

The Yorkie’s genetic mix consists of breeds of now-extinct Scottish terriers and Skye and Dandie Dinmont terriers whose bloodlines still exist today. One historical source speculates that Maltese blood was added at some point too.

The Scots weavers proudly bred small terriers, tough enough to squeeze into the nooks and crannies of textile mills in pursuit of rodents. Jokes were made about the Yorkie’s long, silky coat, inferring that its finely textured hair was a product of the looms. 

The Yorkie’s home region was a center of mining and textile making, and many were employed in coal mines as exterminators.

In 1886, the Kennel Club (England) granted Yorkie recognition, which marked a significant moment in the breed’s history. This newfound publicity caused the Yorkie to become popular among fashionable ladies as an adorable and amusing companion. 

As its popularity increased, so did public demand for smaller-sized Yorkies that could comfortably sit on laps. Consequently, over time the size of the average YORKIE decreased to meet these luxury standards.

The first Yorkie seen in America was in the 1870s, and the first record of a Yorkie puppy was Belle, a female, registered in 1885, according to the American Kennel Club.

General Appearance & Breed Characteristics

The Yorkshire Terrier breed is a small, long-haired toy dog whose blue and tan coat is parted on the face and from the skull’s base to the tail’s end. The body is neat, compact, and well-proportioned, with a high head carriage and confident manner that gives the appearance of vigor and self-importance. Yorkshire Terrier-what it looks like and some of its key features.

Head

Yorkie’s head is small and rather flat on top, with a skull that is not too prominent or round. The muzzle is not too long, and the bite is neither undershot nor overshot. Teeth are sound.

The nose is black. Eyes are medium in size and not too prominent; dark in color and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression. Eye rims are dark. Ears are small, V-shaped, carried erect and set not too far apart.

A cute Yorkshire Terrier from face on
A cute Yorkshire Terrier from face on

Body

The Yorkshire Terrier’s compact body is well-proportioned and has a short back. The back line is level, with the shoulder height equal to the rump height.

Legs and Feet

The forelegs are straight, and the elbows are neither in nor out. The hind legs will appear straight when viewed from behind but have moderately bent stifles when observed from the side.

The feet are round with black toenails, and dewclaws (thumb-like nails on dogs’ inner wrists) may or may not be removed depending on personal preference.

Tail

A Yorkshire Terrier’s tail is docked, or cut, to a medium length and carried slightly above the level of its back.

Coat

The quality, texture, and quantity of a coat are extremely important. The hair of this breed is glossy, fine, and silky to the touch. It’s reasonably long all over the body but can be trimmed shorter for ease of movement or a neater appearance if desired.

On the head, it falls long down the center-parted or middle-tied with one bow — though two bows are acceptable — and very long on the muzzle. Ears should be trimmed short at their tips, while feet may also benefit from trimming.

Colors

Yorkshire puppies are born black and tan, but their fur lightens as they age. The ideal adult dog has a deep body color, plenty of black hair mixed in the tan, and a richly pigmented head and legs.

  • Blue: This color is dark steel blue, not silver blue or other colors.
  • Tan: All tan-colored hair should be darker at the roots than in the middle, shading to lighter tan at the tips. No sooty or black hair should be intermingled with any of the tans.

Color on Body

The Yorkshire terrier has navy feathers that start at the back of its neck and go down to the base of its tail. The hair on its tail is a darker blue, especially near the end.

Head fall

Tan coloration typically doesn’t extend all the way down to cover the entire back neck area, with a beautiful golden tan that’s deeper near the head’s sides by the ears and roots and on the muzzle.

Chest and Legs

A tan that extends no further than the elbow on the forelegs or the stifle on the hind legs.

Weight, Height & Life Span

  • Full-grown, the Yorkshire Terrier typically weighs 7 pounds.
  • There is no limit to how tall a Yorkie can be, but most are about 7 to 8 inches at the shoulder.
  • Life expectancy for this breed is 11 to 15 years.

Shedding & Drooling Level

The Yorkshire Terrier is a non-shedding breed, meaning it doesn’t blow its coat or lose hair regularly. This makes it a good choice for people with allergies. The Yorkie may still release some hair when brushed, however.

The Yorkshire Terrier is also less likely to drool than other breeds, making it a good choice for people who don’t want to deal with a lot of slobber.

Training & Energy Level

The Yorkshire Terrier is relatively easy to train due to its high intelligence. This breed is also known for being quite energetic, despite its small size. Yorkshire Terriers need plenty of exercise and playtime to stay happy and healthy. Daily walking or running is a good way to keep your Yorkie in shape.

Vital Needs of the Breed

1. Grooming Needs

When you groom a Yorkie, you’re not just taking care of the coat—you must take care of the entire dog. Let’s begin with the fur and then move on to other areas.

Coat Brushing

The Yorkshire Terrier’s coat is often lauded for being silk-like and lustrous. In reality, their coats are more similar to human hair than other dogs because they have only one layer with no undercoat. 

A healthy Yorkie diet will help promote growth and give the dog’s coat a deep shine that reflects in the sunlight like metal. However, not every YORKIE has this ideal coat type–some may have cottony, wooly, or double coats instead.

The cotton coat is okay, but it will become matted easily and isn’t the type of coat that’s easy to grow. To help this coat, brush it daily and use a conditioner with a slight oil base. Many people find the easiest solution is to cut this coat into one of the many clipped styles available.

The wooly coat is spacious, plentiful, and most often very dark. Many times it will never turn the typical Yorkie colors. To avoid matting, this coat should be brushed once or twice a day, and it is highly encouraged that you keep the dog in one of many trims for Yorkies so that it’s easy to take care of.

Bathing

A Yorkie should be bathed once every one to two weeks. Some may need it more frequently than others. Any good dog shampoo is recommended, along with a conditioner.

A freshly groomed Yorkshire Terrier
A freshly groomed Yorkshire Terrier

Eyes Cleaning

If your Yorkie tears a lot, it’s important to clean the corners of their eyes daily. Some produce more tearing than others, so cleaning this area can help prevent any staining. In addition, tears will cause the whisker’s hair to rot if they’re not cleaned frequently.

Ear Cleaning

Most Yorkies have prick ears, meaning they can stand up independently. Be careful with your dog’s ears, and do not use cotton swabs, etc. If the ear smells bad or your dog is scratching it a lot, take them to a qualified veterinarian.

For a Yorkie, shave 1/3 of the hair on their ears from the tip. Keep the hair around their pads clipped for steadiness on slippery surfaces and trim around their feet as necessary.

Teeth Cleaning

If you want your Yorkie to have clean teeth and fresh breath, brush them every day, if it is an adult or Yorkshire terrier puppy.  This can be done in many ways: pet toothbrushes and toothpaste to pretreated pads; or use a gauze pad wrapped around your finger. Gently wipe or brush the front and back of their teeth daily for best results.

Nail Clipping

Cutting your toenails every two weeks at the curve or natural nail wear prevents bleeding and hangnails.

well clipped nails of a Yorkshire Terrier
well clipped nails of a Yorkshire Terrier

Parasite Control

No matter its size, any flea can damage a Yorkie’s coat. Inspect your dog for these critters regularly to avoid an itchy flare-up. Take extra care when checking around the ears, neck, chest, and legs – any bugs in these areas could cause serious skin irritation.

2. Exercise Needs

Even the smallest dogs need to exercise regularly to stay mentally and physically healthy. Yorkies will benefit from moderate exercises such as

  • Walks with their owner at a steady pace
  • Occasional short bursts of activity include chasing after a backyard tennis ball.

To keep your Yorkie healthy and active, twice daily walks and dog sports such as obedience or agility are great options. 

3. Training Needs

Generally, Yorkies are intelligent and affectionate toward their owner. They desire to please their owner, so it is influential in rewarding gestures such as treats or verbal praise instead of scolding them harshly.

  • The Yorkie should be gradually introduced to different environments, people, and strange dogs starting from puppyhood.
  • Ensure that these experiences are positive by remaining calm and upbeat.

It’s important not to underestimate what activities small breed dogs like the Yorkie can participate in and excel at – examples include rallies, agility courses, obedience training, etc. 

Moreover, modern Yorkshire terrier enjoys working together with their human owners in roles such as therapy work.

4. Feeding Needs

The amount of food your adult dog needs daily depends on various factors, including size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Just like people, dogs are individuals and have different nutritional needs. The dog food you purchase also makes a difference – better quality foods provide more nourishment and often require smaller amounts per feeding.

Make sure your Yorkie stays slim by feeding him set meals twice a day instead of leaving food out all the time. You can tell if he’s overweight by looking down at him–you should be able to see a waist–and feeling his back for ribs; you should be able to feel them without pressing hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.

5. Health Needs

Yorkshire Terriers, for the most part, are healthy dogs. However, to ensure they stay that way, we need responsible breeders who test their stock for conditions like eye anomalies and luxating patella (AKA a ‘trick knee’ in humans). We should also be careful about how high we allow them to jump, especially when puppies.

The National Breed Club recommended the following health tests:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Common Health Issues

The Yorkshire Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but Club of America lists the following as health concerns for them:

  • Patellar luxation (looseness of the kneecap)
  • Collapsing trachea
  • Eye problems
  • Portosystemic shunt (PSS)
  • Heart disease
  • Intervertebral disc disease

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is where a dog’s kneecap (patella) moves out of the groove it’s supposed to stay in. There are two types of knee luxation- medial and lateral.

Medial occurs when the injury is on the inside of the knee, while lateral happens on the outside. It is possible to have problems with one or both legs. Yorkies may be born with this condition or develop over time due to joint laxity or injury.

Symptoms of patellar luxation include:

  • Leg bent at an unusual angle
  • Patella moves freely back and forth when touched
  • Dog licking the knee
  • Limping

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, take him to the vet for an evaluation. Treatment may require surgery; in some cases, the condition can be managed with medication or weight loss.

Collapsing Trachea

Collapsing Trachea, also known as collapsing tracheal syndrome, refers to a condition in which the rings of cartilage that support the trachea (windpipe) become weak or damaged. This can cause the trachea to collapse and make it difficult to breathe.

Collapsing Trachea is most common in small breeds of dogs, such as Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas. It can be caused by many things, including genetics, injuries, and certain medical conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign of collapsing trachea is a harsh, dry cough that sounds like goose-honking. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Coughing when pressure is put on the neck (especially by a collar or hands)
  • Coughing and/or wheezing when excited
  • Retching (looks like trying to vomit but produces nothing)
  • Noise when breathing (wheezing, etc.)
  • Blue-colored gums (often in conjunction with exercise or excitement)
  • Episodes of fainting/loss of consciousness

Treatment for Collapsing Trachea depends on the severity of the condition and may include weight management, medications, surgery, or a combination of treatments.

Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)

PSS is a congenital condition where abnormal vessels allow blood to bypass the liver. This can lead to several serious health problems, including malnutrition because the liver cannot filter out toxins, medications, and wastes from the blood. It also prevents the absorption of critical nutrients normally occurring in the liver.

PSS can be either intrahepatic (inside the liver) or extrahepatic (outside the liver). Dogs with multiple shunts are more likely to experience health problems than those with only one shunt.

Symptoms

Yorkshire Terrier shows the following symptoms in PSS:

  • Poor growth
  • Abnormal behavior (e.g., aggression, anxiety, seizures)
  • Excessive urination and/or thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Muscle wasting

The best way to diagnose PSS is through a series of tests, including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, bile acids test, and imaging (e.g., x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI). Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and may include surgery, medications, and/ or special diets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Yorkshire Terriers Easy to Train?

Most Yorkshire Terriers are quick to learn tricks, but this often depends on what you’re trying to teach them. They often excel at tricks that involve begging, dancing, spinning, or rolling over. As with any dog, they’ll need plenty of patience and positive reinforcement. And of course, they’ll always expect a treat after a good performance!

Are Yorkies Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Yes, Yorkshire Terriers are considered hypoallergenic dogs because they don’t shed much and produce fewer allergens than most dog breeds. They have human-like hair instead of fur, which means they don’t shed seasonally and produce fewer allergens than most dog breeds. This doesn’t mean they’re completely allergy-free, but they’re often a good choice for people with allergies.

Do Yorkshire Terriers Bark A Lot?

Yes, Yorkshire Terriers tend to be known for their barking. They’re small dogs with big attitudes, and they’re very territorial. This means they need to guard their home against intruders, which often causes them to bark at the slightest noise. A Yorkie is probably not the best choice if you’re looking for a quiet dog.

Final Thoughts

The Yorkshire Terrier is a great choice for those looking for a small, affectionate companion. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train. They are also relatively low-maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise needs. 

However, potential owners should be aware of the breed’s health risks and potential for separation anxiety.  A Yorkie might be the perfect option for you if you’re looking for active little dogs.