Average Height: 6-7 inches
Average Weight: Under 7 pounds
Life Span: 10-15 years
Coloring: Blue and Tan with clear lines. The blue must be a dark steel-blue as silver-blue, bronze or black is not permitted. The tan must be dark at the base and taper to a lighter color at the tip.
Area of Origin: Yorkshire, England
Similar Breeds: Skye Terrier, Paisley Terrier, and Australian Silky Terrier.
History and Origin:
The Yorkshire terrier was developed in the mid-19th century by workers in clothing mills for the purpose of killing rats and mice. They were developed from a variety of breeds including the Paisley Terrier, Waterside Terrier, Clydesdale Terrier and Manchester terrier.
The original Yorkshire terrier differed quite a bit from the modern Yorkshire terrier as they did not conform to any bred standard regarding height, weight, hair length or type. It was not until the 1860s, with the help of a dog name Huddersfield Ben, which the breed was given a standard to conform to. From this point due to their small size and beautiful flowing coats they transitioned from a working dog to a companion animal yet never lost their independence or their readiness to work.
The breed itself was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1870 and the American Kennel Club in 1885.
Personality and Temperament:
The Yorkshire terrier is a very noble, active little dog. Like most terriers, the Yorkshire terrier is not exempt from being prone to “Little Dog Syndrome” and without proper socialization, this little dog may be quite a handful. They can be overprotective, territorial, noisy and not the greatest with young children. With the correct training and leadership the Yorkshire terrier is a happy, energetic dog who makes an excellent watchdog, enthusiastically alerting their family to anyone coming near the house.
If your household has small animals such as rats, guinea pigs or hamsters as pets, you will want to ensure they are in a secure enclosure at all times and that the dog has no way of knocking the cage over as they are still terriers and they were bred specifically for eradicating rodents and as such they may see these small animals as prey and attempt to dispatch them.
These dogs are not your standard lap dog and are usually alert as well as mentally and emotionally stable. This makes them less likely to be a dog content to sit on their person’s lap all day and accept change without question, rather, they will actively seek out any new changes to their environment and should they detect a threat they will fearlessly protect their family.
As Yorkshire Terriers are very small, slight and independent, these dogs would do best in families with older, dog-wise children or no children at all.
Exercise & Training:
The Yorkshire terrier makes a wonderful dog for city life as they do not require a large space or a yard. They do well with short, 15-minute walks in the morning and in the evening. These little dogs will not do well as a jogging companion unless you plan on carrying them for a good portion of your run as their little legs will find it hard to keep up with you.
Training a Yorkshire terrier may prove difficult depending on your training style. These dogs do have the tendency to be quite stubborn and do not tolerate abuse or a weak leader. A Yorkshire terrier owner must be consistently firm yet gentle and keep up with socialization with other people and dogs throughout their life. When you meet these qualifications training your Yorkshire terrier will seem easy as these dogs are very happy to please and do well with plenty of praise.
As previously mentioned, these dogs can be prone to “Small Dog Syndrome.” One must remember that even though these dogs are small and cute, they are still dogs and the rules do apply to them. Although the Yorkshire terrier may not be able to inflict as much damage as a German shepherd, they are often under-trained as the owners feel that due to their size they do not require training. This can lead to serious problems in your dog’s life. After all, just like the bigger dogs, these dogs are able to have dominance issues, behavioral problems and bad manners to avoid this plenty of training is required.
Yorkshire Terriers, with their long hair and trademark silhouette, require very specific grooming. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, some owners choose to trim their dogs for both appearance and function.
To care for a Yorkshire terrier’s signature coat takes time, patience and experience. Some Yorkshire Terriers will not end up with the correct coat due to breeding issues. These dogs usually benefit from being trimmed as their coats will easily mat and they are not eligible to be shown.
The Yorkshire terrier is known for its flowing, floor-length coat which gives the dog the appearance of floating. This is facilitated by their lack of an undercoat meaning that their silky top coat is free to flow without catching on any heavier hair. This coat, without proper care and diet, will quickly look dull and limp.
To keep their hair looking its best, follow the following:
- Ensure a good quality food which is high in Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) as well as Omega 6 fatty acids and has a high quality protein.
- Bathe the dog every 1-2 weeks with a high quality shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for dogs.
- Make sure you wash the hair around their eyes carefully as they are prone to tear stains.
- To ensure the dog stays tangle free and so that mats do not have a chance to develop, the dog needs to be brushed at least daily unless they are trimmed in which case it depends on the length of the hair.
- Never brush your dog when their hair is dry as it can cause it to become frizzy and/or break. Using a spray bottle to mist your dog’s hair prior to brushing will help with this.
Trying to keep a Yorkshire terrier in show condition requires continuous work and it is not practical for the average person. As such, finding a good groomer who is familiar with Yorkshire Terriers is important and they will be able to work with you to find the right style for your dog’s conformation and the amount of upkeep you want to commit to.
The Yorkshire terrier is also known for their small, pointed ears. To ensure these do not get overgrown. This is dealt with by trimming the hair on the ears and for those who are wondering why there are so many pictures of Yorkshire Terriers with bows in their hair on the top of their head it is to keep the hair out of the dog’s eyes. You can also trim this hair if you are not showing your dog.
Yorkshire Terriers also need to have their nails trimmed on a semi-regular basis, approximately every 2-4 months. If they seem long or are starting to fray it is definitely time to get them trimmed. You can do this at home or take them to either a groomer or the veterinarian.
Health and Wellness:
The Yorkshire terrier is not free from genetic issues or other diseases unfortunately. Along with eye issues associated with their hair dragging across them, they are prone to:
- Bladder Stones
- Rock-like mineral deposits in the bladder, commonly calcium oxalate or struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) crystals which cause severe pain and must be treated by a qualified veterinarian.
- Collapsed Trachea
- A genetic issue which affects Yorkshire Terriers more than any other breed. It can appear at any age and requires treatment from a qualified veterinarian, usually in the form of antibiotics, bronchodilators, and/or corticosteroids.
- A condition where one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. It is noticeable from the time they are 6-months-old and these dogs should not be used for breeding as it is genetic. These dogs are also prone to testicular torsion and cancers and therefore should be neutered to reduce this risk. Neutering a dog with cryptorchidism may be more complicated depending on the location of the retained testicle and therefore may cost more.
- Early Tooth Decay
- Preventable by frequent brushing (more than once a week) and veterinary checks.
- Yorkshire Terriers are prone to hypoglycemia, particularly puppies and “teacup” varieties. This is because they expend more energy than they consume due to the fact that they are unable to eat enough to keep them going for the entire day in one sitting. Due to this, it is advised you feed your Yorkshire Terrier at least twice a day, and that “teacup” varieties eat at least 4x a day.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
- A degenerative hip disease with a genetic factor. This happens when blood flow to the hip joint causing the bone to die making it more susceptible to breakage and less likely to heal. These dogs should not be used for breeding. Generally diagnosed within the first year.
- Luxating Patella
- A genetic issue with the knee which causes the knee to pop out of place. It may be as simple as an occasional issue or severe enough to prevent the dog from ever walking properly even with surgery.
- Portosystemic Shunt
- A genetic issue which allows blood to bypass the liver enabling toxins to freely circulate unfiltered through the dog’s system. There is no genetic screening for this disease.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- A genetic condition which causes the dog to eventually go blind. There is no treatment however there is a simple DNA test which can be taken by the parents prior to breeding to prevent the likelihood of this being passed on to any offspring.
- Retained Primary Teeth
- This is where the dog does not lose all their puppy teeth. This can cause issues with bite, teeth spacing and all around health of your dog. Retained primary teeth should be surgically removed by a qualified veterinarian.
Making sure your dog comes from a good, healthy lineage is very important to reduce the chances of most of the above issues. Genetic testing should always be done on both the sire and the dam prior to breeding. Issues such as Cataracts, Progressive retinal atrophy, primary lens luxation, and chiari malformation Syringomyelia can all be screened prior to breeding. If a breeder comes up with excuses as to why their dogs have not been tested, choose a different breeder immediately.
There is also a fair amount of controversy regarding “teacup” Yorkshire Terriers. These dogs are essentially runts and carry significantly more health issues and have a shortened lifespan. Most ethical breeders will not breed these small dogs as they do not conform to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards set out for the Yorkshire Terrier and any dog listed as a “teacup” is not eligible for registration with the AKC.
Five Interesting Facts about the Yorkshire Terrier:
- Yorkshire Terriers are the 6th most popular dog in the United States according to the American Kennel Club in 2013.
- Yorkshire Terriers are named after the region where they were originally bred.
- Yorkshire Terriers are commonly considered to by hypo-allergenic. While they do shed less and have less dander than the average dog making them more appealing to people who suffer from dog allergies, no dog is 100% hypo-allergenic, yet these dogs seem to do well with allergy sufferers.
- The breed’s founder, Huddersfield Ben, was a show dog and won over 70 prizes in his short life.
- Celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Tricia Nixon, Vanessa Williams and Whitney Houston have all owned Yorkshire Terriers.
Organizations dedicated to the Yorkshire Terrier:
The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America
Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, Inc.
The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America Foundation, Inc.
Yorkie Rescue of America Rescue Organization
Yorkshire Terrier Club of Ethical Hobby Breeders