With their long, silky coat and sassy personality, Yorkshire terriers are prized toy dogs. In fact, they’re consistently one of the top ten most popular breeds in America. You may picture Yorkies as a fancy city dog, but they started out as rat hunters in textile mills and mines. Yorkshire terriers pack a big terrier personality into a small frame.
Learn more about Yorkshire terriers, from their humble beginnings in England to their high-status position as one of the most popular lap dogs around. We’ll tell you all about their personality, care, and needs to help you decide whether a Yorkie is the right dog for you.
- Origin: England
- Weight: <10 pounds
- Lifespan: 11-15 years
- Breed group: Toy group
- Activity level:
- Barking/howling level:
- Good with dogs: yes
- Good with kids: yes
- Good with cats:
- Easy to groom:
- Easy to train:
Yorkshire Terrier Appearance
Yorkies are one of the smallest dog breeds, measuring just 7-10” tall with adults weighing no more than seven pounds. They’re known for appearing confident thanks to their high head carriage and compact, well-proportioned body shape. Yorkies are low-slung with a straight back, and have a small head, carried high, with v-shaped ears that stand up tall. Their tails stand up tall, too.
The signature characteristic of Yorkshire terriers is their fine, straight, floor-length coat. Yorkie fur is similar to human hair, making them semi-hypoallergenic. The hair is dark grey to black on their back, and a golden tan color on their limbs, chest, and face. Yorkies are typically groomed so that their coat falls evenly on either side of their body. They can also be trimmed to have shorter hair. When left long, the hair on Yorkie’s heads is often tied up with a ribbon to keep it out of their eyes and add to their jaunty appearance.
Yorkshire Terrier Personality
True to the Yorkie’s terrier roots as vermin hunters, this is an active little dog who needs a daily walk for stimulation. Fun and games are always an added bonus. They might look cute–and believe us, they do– but because of their small stature and butter-wouldn’t melt appearance, there’s a risk of your Yorkshire terrier trying to boss you around. Socialization and training can help, and it’s worth keeping in mind that companion dogs like Yorkies crave your attention most, so they might act up to get it. This might include some unwanted yapping, but with steady training, you’ll raise an affectionate and sweet natured dog.
Ideal Environment for a Yorkshire Terrier
Though originally bred to be ratters in textile mills and mines, these days, Yorkies are known for being great apartment dogs. Their small size and low-allergen coat make them popular apartment dogs. However, Yorkies can also be quite the little watchdogs, meaning they may react to noise. Whether in an apartment or house, Yorkies need environments with plenty of mental stimulation, and benefit from early socialization and training.
Even though Yorkies don’t need much space, they are terriers, and appreciate moderate exercise. Access to outdoor space for walks and playtime will help keep your Yorkie active. They may be sensitive to cold, so if you live in a chilly climate, they will need a coat.
Ideal Human for a Yorkshire Terrier
If you’re a city or town dweller looking for a fun-loving, small stature dog to share and don’t mind occasionally having to carry them when you’re out and about or covering a bit more distance, then a Yorkie could be the right dog for you. They’re naturally inquisitive, which makes them great as playmates and, like other dogs of the terrier group, can be prone to try digging their way out of your garden. If you’re prepared for a dog with a larger than life personality, and perhaps have older children and aren’t thinking of adding additional pets to your brood at a later date (Yorkies are thought to bond better when they grow up with other pets, as they can be a tad possessive and territorial) you’ll be blessed by this tiny package of dog delight!
Yorkshire Terrier Training
As an intelligent and entertaining little dog, a Yorkie will be a fun playmate and you’ll enjoy learning a few tricks together. When it comes to obedience training, with confident leadership shown by the owner, the Yorkshire terrier isn’t too hard to train. But beware giving into their cuteness, otherwise you may find that they start to act up to get more of what they want most–your attention. The Yorkshire terrier can apparently be somewhat challenging to housebreak, so you’ll need to stay alert and stay patient, rewarding good behavior.
Yorkshire Terrier Grooming
The signature Yorkie coat requires regular grooming to keep it clean, healthy, and tangle-free. With fur very similar to human hair, they need daily brushing and a bath every week or two (including conditioner). The hair on the top of their head should be trimmed or pulled up to avoid eye irritation. Some Yorkies find professional grooming worthwhile to keep their dogs in optimum shape. Like all dogs, Yorkies need regular nail trimming, and to have their teeth brushed for dental health.
Yorkshire Terrier Health
Due to the delicacy of their limbs, and they’re known for being prone to knee issues–a nasty sounding condition called luxating patellas (slipped-out knee caps), you should be careful not to let your Yorkie jump from high places, especially as a puppy while bones are still developing.
Their eyes are also somewhat prone, some Yorkies can have retinas which gradually deteriorate which can lead to them losing their sight. Responsible breeders will tell you all about the medical history of a puppy’s parents and grandparents, and may even have screened specifically for some of the more common issues this breed can face. Broadly speaking, Yorkies are a fairly healthy breed.
Yorkshire Terrier History
The Yorkshire terrier so named for its region of origin in early 19th century England. The Yorkie was intentionally bred from a range of terriers, including the Black and Tan Terrier and the Waterside Terrier, by the working men of northern England. The Yorkie’s small stature and nimble frame suited the workers as they helped chase and catch rodents in textile factories. But before the end of the same century, helped along the way with breed recognition and a splash of fame, this delicately featured terrier had taken up residence as a fashionable lap dog for wealthy ladies. Soon after, Yorkies made their way to the United States where they’ve won their way into America’s hearts, enjoying their place in the limelight as one of the most popular breeds in the nation, and around the world.
Getting a Yorkshire Terrier
Finding a Yorkie puppy or adult dog can be as easy as an internet search, but be careful of puppy mills and internet scams. There are many ways to find a reputable breeder, and it’s important to ask around, visit before committing to payment, and trust your gut. Plus, there are many Yorkies available from rescue organizations and individuals rehoming dogs that they can no longer look after.
Yorkies are popular everywhere, including in rescue groups. The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America keeps an updated list of Yorkie rescues nationwide on their website. According to the AKC, most breed rescues report that a majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for the owner. Owner-surrendered dogs frequently come with some basic obedience training and socialization, and have detailed health and behavior histories that help inform their care. Plus, Yorkies are eager to learn, so you can continue training with your rescue pup no matter how much experience they have.
You can use the American Kennel Club (AKC) search tool to find a reputable Yorkie breeder near you. It’s important to research and check references in order to avoid puppy mills and online scams. When you find a reputable breeder, be sure to ask questions, and make arrangements to meet the parent dogs or mother in person. When you visit, ask about any health issues in the dog’s bloodline.
Remember to follow your gut. If something seems wrong at a breeder you visit, or the Yorkshire terrier puppy seems too good to be true, move on to the next option.
More on Yorkshire Terriers
Can’t get enough of this adorable breed? Are you ready to start making the dream of owning your very own Yorkie become a reality? We’ve got plenty more for you, from the best names for your Yorkshire terrier, the top toys a Yorkie will love, tried and tested food reviews, as well as gift ideas for the Yorkie lover in your life.
- Shop Yorkshire Terrier Totes, Mugs and More on the Rover Store
- 12 Best Dog Toys for Yorkies
- 15 Best Yorkie Gifts for Yorkie Lovers
- The Best Food for Yorkies in 2020
- Yorkshire Terrier Puppies: Everything You Need to Know
- 12 Things Only Yorkshire Terrier People Understand
- The Top 122 Yorkie Names of the Year
- Silky Terrier vs. Yorkshire Terrier: What’s the Difference?