Also known as: Yorkie
Original Breed Function: Small vermin hunting
Life span: 12 to 16 years
Average Size: 8 to 9 inches
Average Weight: 6 to 7 pounds
Common Health Issues:
- Patellar luxation
- Portal shunt
- Tracheal collapse
- Leggs–Perthes disease
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Origin
The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular and one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. It’s believed that the Yorkshire Terrier was developed in England, less than 100 years ago.
Yorkshire Terriers descended from the Yorkie, which was bred for the sole purpose of catching rats in the mines. Some decades later the Yorkie started to get used for hunting too, especially to hunt foxes and badgers.
The Waterside Terrier is also considered one of the Yorkshire Terrier ancestors. This small Scotish breed was brought to Yorkshire, England in the middle of the 19th century.
The first records of the Yorkie in England can be traced back to 1861 on a bench show. At that time, the breed was called “Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier”. That name kept being used for 9 years until a reporter commented that the breed should be renamed to Yorkshire Terrier due to the popularity of the dog in Yorkshire, and due to the fact that the breed had improved and changed so much since its arrival in Yorkshire.
Today’s Yorkshire Terriers are very different. They are slightly smaller and are considered a fashion accessory. They are very popular among celebrities. That is a strong change if you consider the Yorkshire Terrier used to be mice hunting breed.
This popular breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885. The first Yorkshire Terrier was brought to America, in 1872. In the 1880s the breed varied in size from 7 to as much as 14 pounds. Breeders in America and other countries decided that the smaller size with longer hair was preferred, and soon the Yorkie grew into the tiny dog with the lavishly long coat that it is today.
Yorkshire Terrier Physical Characteristics
Yorkies are attractive small dogs characterized by a long coat that is parted on the face and from the base of the skull to the end of the tail. Their hair hangs straight down and it should be blue and tan.
- The average size of Yorkshire Terriers is 8 to 9 inches and they weigh approximately 7 pounds.
- Hair coat. Yorkies have a silky, glossy, and fine hair coat. Their hair should be straight with a length that reaches the floor. The hair on the muzzle is very long and it should be trimmed on the tips of ears and may be trimmed on the feet to give them a neat appearance. According to the AKC, puppies are born black and tan and are normally darker in body color, showing an intermingling of black hair in the tan until they mature.
- Yorkshire Terriers have a small head with a flat top. Their skull should not be too prominent or round, and the muzzle should not be very long. The nose is black. They have small v-shaped ears that carried erect.
- Eyes. They have medium sized eyes that are not too prominent. The eye color is dark and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression. The eye rims are dark.
- Legs. According to the AKC, Yorkies have straight forelegs with elbows that are neither in nor out. The hind legs are straight when viewed from behind, but the stifles are moderately bent when viewed from the sides.
- Tail. The AKC states that the tail of Yorkshire Terriers should be docked. However, Pet Insurance U, as well as many veterinary medicine professionals, strongly oppose to performing cosmetic surgical procedure in animals. The American Veterinary Association (AVMA) states that “performing a surgical procedure for cosmetic purposes implies the procedure is not medically indicated…there is no obvious benefit to our patients in performing this procedure…the only benefit that appears to be derived from cosmetic tail docking of dogs is the owner’s impression of a pleasing appearance”. You can read more about the welfare implication of tail docking here.
To read more about the Yorkshire Terrier’s breed standard, download the Official Standard of the Yorkshire Terrier by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Common Health Concerns of Yorkshire Terriers
- Patellar luxation. The kneecap or patellar luxation can occur for a variety of reasons, usually because of a congenital defect that prevents the patella from staying seated in its groove. Many cases of patellar luxation are mild and do not require surgical treatment. But in more severe or persistent cases, surgery is needed to prevent future complications.
- Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease. Also known as hip joint disintegration, Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease occurs when the head of the femur, which is one of the long bones of the hind leg, degenerates progressively. The exact cause of the Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease is unknown. It is a hereditary condition most commonly seen in miniature, toy, and small-breed dogs, who are five to eight months in age.
- Portosystemic shunts. Also known as liver shunt, is a health condition where the blood bypasses the liver circulation and leads to the accumulation of metabolic waste in the dog’s blood.
- Tracheal collapse. Collapsed trachea refers to a progressive, chronic condition that involves the narrowing of the tracheal tube that delivers oxygen to the lungs. Nutritional issues, obesity, and respiratory infections can contribute to the condition in middle-aged dogs. Toy breeds may be born with the condition.
- Hydrocephalus. A health condition where fluids accumulate in the brain due to an abnormal expansion or dilation of the ventricular system—a system of ducts that drains the fluids within the brain. Breeds with a domed shaped skull, such as the Yorkshire Terrier, are genetically predisposed to hydrocephalus.
|Health Condition||Risk Profile||Average cost to treat and diagnose|
|Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease||High||$ 2,000 to $12,000|
|Patellar luxation||High||$1345 to $2955|
|Portosystemic shunts||High||$2,500 to $8,000|
|Tracheal collapse||High||$3,400 to $6,555|
|Hydrocephalus||Medium||$ 5,000 to $10,000
You can learn more about this is other genetic diseases in Yorkshire Terriers and other breeds on the Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs published by The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
Yorkshire Terrier Personality
Yorkshire Terriers are energetic and tend to seek adventure, love, and attention. The Yorkshire Terrier is bold and stubborn by nature. This dog breed is highly devoted so it can be a good companion or a watchdog.
A curious characteristic of Yorkshire Terriers is that they are sociable and shy at the same time. They usually love the family and they bark every time they sense danger. And speaking about barking, Yorkshire Terriers tend to bark often. This makes them good watchdogs, but it can also be annoying for those that prefer calmed dogs and silence.
Yorkshire Terriers get along well with children especially if they grow up together. A word of caution is necessary here, a child needs to know how to properly play with them and respect them at the same time. This dog breed won’t hesitate in attacking a child if the child was somehow abusive or is teasing him or her.
Yorkshire Terriers do not usually get along with other pets either. Unless they grow together, it is difficult to have a Yorkshire Terrier with another dog breed or any other type of pet. When the other pet is a cat, the problem gets worse. Yorkshire Terriers are not usually able to socialize with cats, even if the cats are docile or if they have been together for a long time.
The exact same applies to the relationship between Yorkshire Terriers and rodents. It is important to keep in mind that this dog breed was used to hunt rodents, so it is nearly impossible to turn any kind of rodent into a Yorkshire Terrier friend.
Yorkies are adaptable and can live well in the city or in the country, so a Yorkshire Terrier can live in an apartment. Their small size also makes this scenario easier.
Yorkshire Terrier Training
Yorkies are also a very intelligent breed so they tend to learn quick. In terms of obedience, it is easy to teach Yorkies the basics. Just like other hunting dogs, they thrive on human leadership and need to feel that they are part of a group—their family. Yorkies should be socialized and trained as early as possible.
They can become destructive if not trained appropriately. It is a good idea to train Yorkie puppies to heel on the leash, so that they do not bolt out doorways and gateways before their masters, this will teach them who is the pack leader.
Yorkshire Terrier Grooming
The long blue and tan hair coat of Yorkshire Terriers requires a lot of maintenance. If not brushed daily, their hair can become tangled and very difficult to manage. Yorkies need to be brushed daily in order to keep their hair shiny and silky. It is also a good idea to use a conditioning dog shampoo and a dog hair rinse when you bath your Yorkie. Ask your veterinarian about the best shampoo for your dog.
Bathing frequency depends on your dog’s lifestyle. Since this breed has abundant hair, you can dilute your shampoo before application and this will help you achieve an even application. Always dry your dog’s hair coat thoroughly, paying special attention to the ears, because humidity can lead to ear infections.
In addition to regular baths and brushing, grooming this breed involves checking their ears, eyes, claws and teeth. The AKC recommends grooming your Yorkie weekly to keep his or her coat clean, shining, manageable and, more importantly, to maintain good health.
A regular grooming schedule allows us to detect any skin abnormality, fleas and ticks, ear infections, among other health problems. Grooming is also an excellent opportunity to bond with your Yorkie and to reinforce your leader position.
Most Yorkies need to have their hair coat professionally groomed every 4 to 8 weeks depending on their lifestyles.
Yorkshire Terrier Energy & Exercise
Training is definitely necessary for hunting breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier. When not trained properly, Yorkies can become anxious and destructive.
In order to meet their exercise needs, you can take your Yorkshire Terrier on daily walks, jogs or runs. Remember to keep your dog walking beside or behind you, that way your dog will learn that you are the pack leader.
If possible, teach your Yorkie to do a job around the house, for example, you can teach him or her to bring you the newspaper every morning. Having daily chores will keep your dog busy, and it will prevent him/her from becoming anxious or developing destructive behaviors. In order to prevent obesity, it is important to feed your Yorkshire Terrier according to his/her physical activity level.
Yorkshire Terrier Nutrition & Feeding
Your best options for feeding your Yorkshire Terrier are commercial dry food (kibble) or canned food, and homemade meals. There are several types of commercial dog foods—how should you choose the best one for your Yorkshire Terrier? You should consider your dog’s size, age, and activity level. It is important to understand that dogs, just like us, need a nutritionally balanced meal with an appropriate amount of calories.
If you decide to feed your Yorkshire Terrier a commercial dry food you should consider buying a small-sized kibbles that will be easier to eat and digest for a small dog such as the Yorkshire Terrier.
Dog food contains a combination of ingredients, including meat, grains, vitamins, minerals, fats, and byproducts. This combination is balanced to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs. If you prefer to feed your Yorkshire Terrier a homemade meal, you should make sure it is nutritionally balanced. Dr. Paula Terifaj from Founders Veterinary Clinic in California has developed a nutritionally balanced homemade dog recipe that you can use to feed your dog. You may also want to consult your dog’s veterinarian before you start feeding your Yorkshire Terrier with homemade meals.
Yorkshire Terrier Pet Insurance
Yorkshire Terrier have an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years. This breed is susceptible to various congenital and hereditary conditions such as tracheal collapse and portosystemic shunts. There is no way to know for certain if your Yorkie will suffer from any of these illnesses, but the possibility is always there, and every dog will require special care as it gets older. The right pet health insurance plan can help keep you from the added burden of financial worries when your dog requires medical care.
The first step to a healthy and happy Yorkie is finding a reputable breeder who can provide genetically fit puppies. The second step is to train your dog well and give it plenty of healthy food, exercise and love. For many owners, the third step is to purchase a pet health care plan that helps to keep vet bills predictable and to ensure that you can focus on helping a sick dog to recover rather than worrying about the cost of treatment.
When choosing your pet insurance plan, it is a good idea to check if it covers the hereditary conditions mentioned-above. Taking this precaution can save you lots of money and headaches. The following pet insurance allow you to choose a plan that covers hereditary or breed specific conditions such as cancer, glaucoma and cataracts.
- Embrace Pet Insurance
- Trupanion Medical Insurance for Your Pet
- Pet Plan Pet Insurance
- Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation
Need help choosing the right pet insurance for your Yorkshire Terrier? Take a look at our Pet Insurance comparison chart.
Is a Yorkshire Terrier For You?
A Yorkshire Terrier may be right for you if you want…
- a small sized dog that can live in an apartment
- a dog with a beautiful hair coat
- an energetic and smart dog
- a sociable dog that is good with kids
- a playful dog
- a watchdog
A Yorkshire Terrier may NOT be right for you if…
- don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time and money in grooming
- you spend long hours working outside of your home
- you do not want to deal with potential congenital health problems
- don’t have time to train your dog
- a dog that barks often and tends to be stubborn