Yorkshire Terrier

Breed At A Glance


Intelligent and confident

Life Expectancy
12-15 years

Average Height
6-7 inches

Average Weight
7 lbs

Coat Color
Steal blue on body and tail, with tan accents in other areas

Coat Length/Texture
Long, fine and silky

Shedding Propensity
Little or not at all

Also known as Yorkie

General Temperament

The temperament of Yorkshire Terriers can vary widely: some are mellow lap dogs, while others are yappy and playful. Some seem oblivious to their diminutive size, and others seem more conscious of it. Generally speaking, they are bold and courageous little dogs. They want to be near their owners and can sometimes be very protective of them, even suffering from separation anxiety when left alone too long. Some prefer to spend their down time in privacy, in a removed corner of the house or in their crate/kennel.

Yorkies are proud and can be a bit snappish if teased or surprised; and like all toy breeds, they can be seriously hurt or killed by normal household incidents, such as accidentally sitting or stepping on them. For these reasons, they do best with older and/or considerate children. They do well with other household pets they are raised with, although good judgment should be used when pairing the Yorkie with a larger hunting dog, whose instincts may be to hunt the little dog.

Yorkies are a relatively intelligent breed, capable of learning numerous words and commands. But like most terriers, they can be independent and somewhat stubborn, which in some individuals can make training difficult. A Yorkie is quick to find his/her place in the household “pack.” Owners therefore must establish who is boss from the beginning. They are very active inside the home and are great for apartment life.

Socialization is key for the Yorkie. A well-socialized individual can be outgoing and sweet when meeting new people, but an unsocialized one will often be aloof or even aggressive towards strangers (both human and canine alike). Almost all Yorkshire Terriers love to bark and will do so when a visitor enters their territory, so they make great watchdogs.

Breed History

Although specific breeds that were included in the Yorkshire Terrier’s heritage in unclear because records were not kept of the bloodlines, it is generally accepted that the Yorkshire Terrier was developed by mixing several of the terriers brought to England from Scotland in the middle of the 19th century, primarily the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier. At the peak of the industrial revolution, miners and mill workers looking for work moved from Scotland to Yorkshire, a rugged northern region of England, bringing several different varieties of terriers with them. Over time, those terriers were bred together, along with a few other breeds, eventually resulting in the modern version of the Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkies were used to control rodents in the coal mines and textile mills.

The Yorkshire Terrier was first brought to the United States around 1872, and were accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1978.

Body Structure and Composition

The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the smallest of the toy breeds, with most individuals weighing no more than seven pounds. Their flowing steel blue and tan coat is equally long over the entire body, including the face and head. The head is small in proportion to the rest of the body, the ears are v-shaped and usually held erect, and they eyes are sparkling and inquisitive. The body is compact and the back level from the shoulders to the hindquarters. The tail is usually docked to half it’s length; the original purpose of docking the tail in the working terriers was to help prevent injury, but in companion pets it is done more for cosmetic reasons. Tail docking has been banned in many countries.

Medical Information

Yorkshire Terriers are unfortunately prone to a myriad of health problem, some inherited and some developmental or environmental. Patellar Luxation (also know as “slipped stifle”) occurs when the kneelike joint above the hock in the hind leg slips and may require surgery, and is quite prevalent in this breed. Another significant problem Yorkies face is Portosystemic Shunt (PSS), also know as Liver Shunt, in which there is an abnormal flow of blood to the liver, resulting in neurological and behavioral issues.

Yorkies are prone to various eye abnormalities and infections, including cataracts and dry eye syndrome (also known as Keratitis Sicca). They sometimes develop a distichia, or an abnormally placed eyelash, which can cause corneal scratches and ulcers. Retinal Dysplasis is also somewhat common in this breed. The severity of this problem can vary quite a bit, as can it’s source (it can be hereditary or brought on by a viral infection), although there is usually some amount of vision impairment.

Dental health is important in Yorkshire Terriers, as many have tooth and gum pain and may lose teeth early. It’s best to feed them hard food (as opposed to canned or soft food) and have regular dental cleanings. They also have a sensitive digestive system, and exotic foods or foods outside of their normal diet can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Yorkies have a low tolerance to anesthesia due to their small size, and it’s important to find a veterinarian that is familiar with the breed.

This breed can experience a significant amount of spinal disc problems, resulting in lameness or paralysis. And like all toy breeds, Yorkies are particularly prone to accidents that occur around the home and can result in severe injury or death to the dog. Something as simple as stepping on the dog or a jump from a surface that is too high can leave the dog paralyzed.

The so-called “teacup” Yorkshire Terrier, or any Yorkie of exceptionally small size, is prone to severe behavioral and physical problems. They also tend to have shorter life spans than normal-size individuals. Be very wary of breeders advertising these tiny Yorkies.

Although the Yorkshire Terrier’s coat requires daily brushing to prevent matting, Yorkies do not shed and are great pets for allergy sufferers.

Anecdotal Information

The Yorkie’s portability and non-shedding luxurious coat has recently made it a popular fashion accessory/companion pet for many celebrities, including (but certainly not limited to) Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Missy Elliot, Kelly Rowland, Gisele Bundchen, Raven-Symone, Bruce Willis and Joan Rivers.

Audrey Hepburn had a Yorkshire Terrier named Mr. Fabulous.

A Yorkshire Terrier named Smoky was adopted by Corporal William Wynne, and served with the 5th Air Force during World War II. Smoky was award eight battle stars and is credited with 12 combat missions.

In 2002, a Yorkie named Big Boss was listed as the world’s smallest living dog by the Guiness Book of World Records, standing 4.7 inches tall.

The smallest dog in recorded history was a Yorkshire Terrier named Sylvia. Before she died in 1945 just before her second birthday, she stood 2.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighed just four ounces.

A dog known as Huddersfield Ben is universally acknowledged to be the foundation sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed.

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