Yorkshire Terriers, endearingly referred to as “Yorkies,” are renowned for encapsulating vivacious and spirited personalities within their petite frames. Despite being classified under the Toy Group, these diminutive canines embody the quintessential traits of terriers—bravery, determination, curiosity, and boundless energy.
Originating from the English county of Yorkshire, which bestowed upon them their distinctive name, Yorkshire Terriers played a pivotal role in the nineteenth century. They were primarily employed to hunt and catch rats that infested clothing mills, showcasing their agility and keen instincts. Intriguingly, in the early stages of their history, Yorkies were predominantly associated with the working class, particularly the weavers. This association led to playful and facetious remarks about the dogs’ exquisite, silky coats being the ultimate creation of the weaving looms.
As time progressed, the Yorkshire Terrier underwent a transformation in status and lifestyle. The breed transitioned from being a diligent member of the workforce to becoming a cherished companion animal, gracing the homes of families belonging to European high society. The Yorkie’s charm, elegance, and spirited demeanor made it a favored choice among the elite, marking a significant shift from its humble beginnings.
The evolution of the Yorkshire Terrier‘s role in society is a testament to its versatility and adaptability. Whether serving as a vigilant rat-catcher in mills or as a beloved pet in aristocratic households, the Yorkie has demonstrated its ability to thrive in diverse environments and win the hearts of individuals from all walks of life.
Today, Yorkshire Terriers continue to be celebrated for their bold and lively nature, compact size, and luxurious coats. They are not only a symbol of sophistication and luxury but also embody a spirited and adventurous character that makes them endearing companions. Whether exploring the outdoors with their investigative zeal or enjoying the comforts of a loving home, Yorkies remain a timeless and cherished breed in the canine world.
The Yorkie’s terrier heritage can be seen in its sharp, intelligent expression, confident carriage, and compact body. It is a diminutive breed, however, now more noted for its long, silky hair, which should be fine, glossy, and perfectly straight. Color is a hallmark of this breed, with the blue a dark steel blue and the tan a clear tan.
The Yorkshire Terrier seems oblivious of its small size, ever eager for adventure and trouble. It is busy, inquisitive, bold, stubborn, and can be aggressive to strange dogs and small animals in other words, it is true to its terrier heritage. Although some tend to bark a lot, it can easily be taught not to do so.
- Yorkshire Terriers are known for being difficult to housetrain. Crate-training is recommended.
- Yorkshire Terriers don’t like the cold and are prone to chills, especially if they’re damp or in damp areas.
- Because of their small size, delicate structure, and terrier personality, Yorkshire Terrier generally aren’t recommended for households with toddlers or small children.
- Some Yorkshire Terriers can be “yappy,” barking at every sound they hear. Early and consistent training can help. If you don’t feel qualified to provide this training, consult a professional dog trainer.
- Yorkshire Terriers can have delicate digestive systems and may be picky eaters. Eating problems can occur if your Yorkie has teeth or gum problems as well. If your Yorkie is showing discomfort when eating or after eating, take him to the vet for a checkup.
- Yorkshire Terriers think they are big dogs and will try to pick a fight with a big dog if allowed. Be sure to keep your Yorkie under control. Even better, try to socialize your Yorkie at an early age by taking him to obedience classes.
- Yorkies tend to retain their puppy teeth, especially the canines. When your puppy is around five months old, check his teeth often. If you notice that an adult tooth is trying to come in but the baby tooth is still there, take him to your vet. Retained baby teeth can cause the adult teeth to come in unevenly, which may contribute to tooth decay in later years.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Other Quick Facts
- The Yorkshire Terrier has an inquisitive temperament — not to mention an impish sense of humor.
- Yorkies have stunning blue-and-tan coats, but they’re not born that way. Puppies are black, and their coat color develops as they mature.
- Despite their Toy status, these dogs love speed, action, and plenty of applause, so sports such as agility and rally are tailor-made for them.
- Show dogs should weigh between four to seven pounds, but pet Yorkies can weigh as much as 12 to 15 pounds. A Yorkie who weighs less than four pounds is more prone to health problems, and more likely to suffer complications while under anesthesia.
- Comparable Breeds: Cairn Terrier, Pomeranian
The Yorkshire Terrier’s bold nature descends directly from his ancestors, which include the long-extinct Clydesdale Terrier and the Black-and-Tan Terrier. Scottish weavers who migrated south to England during tough economic times took their terriers with them to York, Manchester, and Leeds. The weavers ultimately crossbred their little terriers with local dogs, creating the small but feisty terrier known today for its shimmering cloak of blue and gold.
Yorkies proved to be fine ratters in the English woolen mills, a skill they retain to this day. As they became more and more of a companion dog, breeders began to select for smaller size. The dog considered to be the foundation sire of the modern Yorkie, Huddersfield Ben, was born in 1865. At the time, the dogs were called Broken Haired Scotch Terriers or Toy Terriers, but by 1870, they were known as Yorkshire Terriers, after the region where they were first produced. It wasn’t long before these tough ratters morphed into domestic sidekicks for fashionable ladies, and began appearing at dog shows as “fancy terriers.”
By 1872, Yorkshire Terriers had made their way to the U.S., where they quickly became upper-crust favorites and even political mascots. The Nixon family shared the White House with their beloved Yorkie, Pasha. The Yorkshire Terrier currently holds third place among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club.
Smart and self-assured, the Yorkshire Terrier is a combination of endearingly small size and adventurous terrier spirit. The breed displays a range of personalities. Some are cuddly and perky, wanting nothing more than to follow in their people’s footsteps throughout the day. Others are mischievous, outgoing, and into everything.
Set limits, and your Yorkie will be a wonderful companion, but if you spoil him, watch out! Start training when they’re puppies, and you’ll have much better luck than if you let them have their way and then try to correct bad habits.
Like all dogs, Yorkies needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Yorkie will be a friendly, well-rounded dog.
Some Yorkies are prone to slipped stifle, bronchitis, eye infections, early tooth decay, poor tolerance of anesthetic, and delicate digestion. Exotic treats should be avoided. They sometimes suffer paralysis in the hindquarters caused by herniated disks and other problems of the spine. Falls or knocks can cause fractures of fragile bones. Abnormal skull formations in Yorkies measuring less than 8 inches (20 cm). Dams often have trouble delivering puppies and sometimes need to have cesareans. Be sure to feed Yorkies some type of dry food or bone to chew on to help keep their teeth clean and strong. They should get their teeth cleaned at the vet to keep them from falling out and creating infection.
“Teacup” Yorkshire terriers is a term used to describe very small Yorkshire terriers. The AKC and other Kennel clubs do not acknowledge the Teacup as a variation of the breed or recognize it as a separate variety.Usually a teacup is any dog weighing less than 4 lbs (1.8 kg) when fully grown, when the actual breed standard is given at 7 lbs maximum. Breeding for “Teacup” is a controversial practice that is not encouraged by responsible breeders.
A fashion pressure, they are bred to appeal with their puppy-like features, rather than bred to expel health issues. There is great risk to a dam (mother) during pregnancy who is too small, most of these litters are a result of cesarean sections and have a high mortality rate.
There are many health issues associated with teacup dogs, such as luxating patella, heart disease, hydrocephalus, hypoglycemia, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, open fontanels and seizures.
These are active little dogs that need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, it will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. If your Yorkie zooms around the house like a speeding bullet, it is a sign that he needs to go on more/longer walks where he is made to heel beside or behind the human. Remember, in a dog’s mind, the leader leads the way. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.
Yorkshire Terriers enjoy taking a walk with you or playing outside, but since they’re very active while indoors, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep them well exercised.
In general, Yorkies are receptive to training, especially if it brings them attention for performing cute tricks or performing in agility or obedience trials. They can be difficult to housetrain, however, because their “accidents” are so small and easy to clean up that people let it slide. That’s a mistake. It’s better to show them where to go from the beginning and reward them for doing their business in the right place. When you make the effort, you can end up with a very well trained Yorkie indeed.
They definitely are housedogs and don’t tolerate extreme heat or cold well. Many people paper train their Yorkshire Terriers so they don’t have to take them outdoors when the weather is too hot or cold.
The Yorkie is a good dog for apartment life. It is very active indoors and will do okay without a yard. The Yorkie is sensitive to the cold and prefers warm climates.
Yorkies are definitely not low-maintenance pooches. If you keep their coats show-dog long, they need to be brushed daily, with their long topknot tied up and kept out of their eyes. Most pet-owners opt for a “puppy” clip, with the facial hair left a bit longer than the hair on the body. Regular trips to a professional groomer are a must, along with weekly baths.
On the plus side, Yorkies don’t shed much, possibly making them less problematic for some people with allergies. However, this varies from dog to dog, so don’t believe anyone who tells you that Yorkies are “non-allergenic.”
The rest is basic care: Trim his nails every week or two. And brush his teeth regularly with a pet toothpaste for overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
Because of their small size, Yorkies aren’t suited to families with young children. Most breeders won’t sell puppies to people whose children are younger than 5 or 6 years old. It’s just too easy for children to drop them, step on them, or hold them too tightly.
Yorkies can get along well with other pets, including cats, if socialized to them at an early age. They’re bold in going after strange dogs, however, even those that outweigh them by a factor of ten, and protecting them from themselves becomes second nature to people with Yorkies.
Is this breed right for you?
Yorkies make excellent companions for pet owners looking for a shed-free and allergen-free addition to their family. A Yorkie’s compact size makes it a perfect apartment dog as long as exercise is part of the daily routine. This breed is sensitive to extreme temperatures, and leaving them outside unattended can cause severe health issues. Due to their independent and stubborn nature, this toy breed may not do well with small children, as most Yorkies enjoy personalized attention. Don’t be overwhelmed by the long locks of AKC-bred Yorkies — regardless of hair length, this breed simply needs a weekly brushing to keep up its looks.
Did You Know?
The feisty Yorkie was once coveted in England for its excellent ratter abilities. In the U.S., the diminutive breed became a popular lap dog for society ladies — and even set paw in the White House. President Nixon had a Yorkie named Pasha.
- Show dogs: In 1997, Champion Ozmilion Mystification became the first Yorkie to win Best in Show at Crufts, the world’s largest annual dog show.
- Small dogs: Sylvia, a matchbox-sized Yorkshire Terrier owned by Arthur Marples of Blackburn, England, was the smallest dog in recorded history. The dog died in 1945 when she was two years old, at which point she stood 2.5 inches tall at the shoulder, measured 3.5 inches from nose tip to tail, and weighed 4 ounces.
- War dogs: Smoky, a war dog and hero of World War II, was owned by William Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio. Wynne adopted Smoky while he was serving with the 5th Air Force in the Pacific.
- White House dogs: Pasha, Tricia Nixon Cox’s pet Yorkie, lived in the White House during the Richard Nixon presidency.
A dream day in the life of a Yorkshire Terrier
Because they were bred as working dogs, Yorkies love a challenge and mental stimulation. This intelligent breed can pick up training techniques faster than most pooches and enjoys the special attention and bonding time of training sessions. Weighing in at an average of 5 to 7 pounds, Yorkies make first-rate travel companions, as they can fit in most purses or carriers. This tiny breed is very attentive to their human counterparts, and constant companionship is a must.