ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Although the Yorkshire Terrier is quite small in size, they make up for it with a large personality. They can be a feisty and very loving companion, and quickly became one of the most popular toy breeds in the United States. He displays devotion to his owners, and is very suitable for apartment living, so he can be taken just about anywhere.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Companion dogs
Height:Eight to nine inches at the shoulder
Weight:Four to six pounds
Life Span:12 to 15 years

Also known as the Yorkie, the Yorkshire Terrier can seem quite standoffish and full of himself, and who wouldn’t blame him. He has a long silky coat, a perky hairstyle, and he knows how to carry all of it quite well. He is considered one of the most glamorous dog breeds in the world, and definitely attracts attention wherever he goes. He does enjoy traveling in style, given his small size, so don’t be surprised when you see one being carried around in a purse.

They’re known for their long steel-blue and tan coats, and it is considered to be his crowning glory. However, it’s his personality that truly endears him to his family. He’s completely ignorant of his small size and is always on the lookout for adventure on the grandest of scales. His mischievous nature can oftentimes get him into trouble if he isn’t being supervised. To put it more simply: the Yorkshire Terrier is a big dog trapped in a small dog body.

They are extremely affectionate towards anyone who shows them a modicum of attention. Although they are expected to be a companion dog, they were bred to be a terrier, and that means being suspicious of strangers and barking at large sounds or intruders. Being mindful of their yappiness requires that there be lessons on knowing when and when not to speak.

They can also be quite aggressive towards strange dogs and small animals; their terrier instinct will have them chasing squirrels and other small creatures that they find in your yard. Despite this senses of bravado, the Yorkshire Terrier also has a soft side that they display with their owners. They require a lot of attention. Being left alone for long periods of time is not best for their dispositions.

Being overprotective of your Yorkie is also not a good idea, as they can pick up on your emotions very quickly. If your actions tell them that the world is a dangerous place, then they’re going to pick up on that very quickly and may even become neurotic. This is why it is best not to display nervousness when you are introducing your Yorkie to the other residents in your home, whether they are human or animal. In this regard, they can become quite possessive of their owners, and may even challenge them. In the off chance that a fight does break out, the Yorkshire Terrier’s tenacity will have him fighting to the death.

Yorkies are better suited for playing with older children, due to their size. Children should be taught to be careful and respectful of the dog, especially when he is eating. Otherwise, he can become snappish if they are startled or teased.

One wouldn’t think that a dog of this size would require much exercise, but they do need some every day. A good session of play indoors or going for a quick walk around the block is enough to satisfy him. Take care in not overworking him too much.

Main Highlights
  • Yorkshire Terriers have earned the reputation of being a bit difficult to house train. Having a crate can help to make this process easier.
  • Yorkies do not like the cold and are quite prone to having the chills. If they get damp, dry and warm them up immediately.
  • Yorkshire Terriers are not fit for homes that have very young children, as they can become injured quite easily due to their small size and delicate structure.
  • They can be yappy at times, barking at any sound that they hear. Training from a young age can curtail this, and provide you with a more peaceful household.
  • Yorkshire Terriers can have very delicate digestive systems and can be a bit picky with their foods. Eating problems can become worse if they have problems with their teeth and/or gums. If your dog starts showing signs of discomfort, such as rubbing at their mouths or not eating, then you should take him to a vet immediately.
  • They will try to pick a fight with any dog, even those that are much bigger than them. Providing training and maintaining control over your dog can prevent confrontations from happening. Early socialization is key in order to help your dog understand what is expected of him.
  • Yorkies have a tendency to retain their puppy teeth, especially their canines. Checking his teeth on a regular basis can help you to prevent a problem from occurring. If you notice that an adult tooth is trying to grow while a baby tooth is still there, he should be taken to the vet in order to have the tooth removed. Retained baby teeth can cause the adult ones to grow improperly, and that can lead to tooth decay.
Breed History

During the Industrial Revolution in England, Scottish workers were going to Yorkshire to work in the coal mines, fabric mills and factories. They would take dogs with them which were, at the time, known as Clydesdale Terriers or Paisley Terriers. They were much larger than the Yorkshire Terriers, and were primarily used for catching rats. These dogs were crossed with other kinds of terriers in order to develop the Yorkshire Terrier. Many believe that the Skye Terriers and English Black and Tan Toy Terriers played a role in creating the Yorkie that we know today.

In 1861, the Yorkie was brought to a dog show, and was referred to as a «broken-haired Scotch Terrier.» The breed was first registered in the British Kennel Club in 1874, two years after they were being born in the United States. They began competing in shows as early as 1878, and slowly gained popularity. Yorkshire Terriers back then were divided by their weight: under five pounds and five pounds and over. Eventually, this was reduced to one class, where the average weight for the breed was three to seven pounds.

Size

Yorkshire Terriers are quite small, and are usually no more than eight to nine inches at the shoulder. They can weigh as much as seven pounds, but somewhere between four to six pounds is more preferable. They can sometimes be quite inconsistent with size. It’s not unusual for a litter of puppies to grow up to be several different sizes. What should be looked out for, however, are breeders who advertise «teacup» variations of the Yorkshire Terrier. They’re bred to be even smaller, but they are prone to a wide variety of genetic disorders and have higher health risks than the standard breed.

Personality and Character

The Yorkshire Terrier is known for being quite smart and self-assured. He is the combination of a small size and an adventurous spirit.  The breed itself displays quite a range of personalities, from cuddly and perky, to mischievous and outgoing. The Yorkie wants nothing more than to follow his owner around and engage in anything that piques his interest. However, limits must be set for your Yorkshire Terrier, or he may start to have a run of the house hold. Spoiling him is never a good idea. Training and socialization should be done early in order to round out his personality, and ensures that he does not become fearful of people.

Health and Potential Problems

Yorkshire Terriers can be generally healthy, but there are certain physical conditions and diseases that they are prone to.

  • Patellar Luxation: also known as «slipped stifles,» this is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which consists of three parts: the femur, patella, and tibia. This condition occurs when these three bones are not properly lined up. This causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait in the dog. It is a disease that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of Patellar Luxation ranging from grade I, which is an occasional luxation causing temporary lameness in the joint, to grade IV, in which the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives the dog a bowlegged appearance. Severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical repair.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: a degenerative eye disorder. Blindness caused by PRA is a slow process resulting from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
  • Portosystemic Shunt: portosystemic shunt is an abnormal flow of blood between the liver and the body. That’s a problem, because the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, metabolizing nutrients, and eliminating drugs. Signs can include but are not limited to neurobehavioral abnormalities, lack of appetite, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), intermittent gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract problems, drug intolerance, and stunted growth. Signs usually appear before two years of age. Corrective surgery can be helpful in long-term management, as can a special diet.
  • Hypoglycemia: like many toy and small breed dogs, Yorkies can suffer from hypoglycemia when stressed, especially when they are puppies. Hypoglycemia is caused by low blood sugar. Some of the signs may include weakness, confusion, a wobbly gait, and seizure-like episodes. If your dog is susceptible to this, talk to your vet about prevention and treatment options.
  • Collapsed trachea: the trachea, which carries air to the lungs, tends to collapse easily. The most common sign of a collapsed trachea is a chronic, dry, harsh cough that many describe as being similar to a «goose honk.» Collapsed trachea can be treated medically or surgically.
  • Reverse sneezing: this condition is sometimes confused with a collapsed trachea. This is a far less serious condition and lasts only a few minutes. Reverse sneezing primarily occurs when your dog is excited or tries to eat or drink too fast. It also can occur when there are pollens or other irritants in the air. Secretions from the dog’s nose drop onto their soft palate, causing it to close over the windpipe in an automatic reaction. This can be very frightening to your Yorkie, but as soon as he calms down, the reverse sneezing stops. Gently stroke his throat to help him relax.
  • Eye infections, teeth, and gum problems also can occur.
Care Features

It does not take a lot of effort to keep a Yorkshire Terrier well exercised. If you have enough space in your apartment, some play time throughout the day is enough to get any Yorkie tired. They’re extremely receptive to training, especially if it garners attention from other human beings. Teaching them to perform tricks and putting them through obedience trials can provide him with the mental stimulation that he needs.

Be prepared for your Yorkie to have small accidents in the home before he is fully house trained. Showing them where to go from the beginning and rewarding them when they do so is the best start to getting them to understand what they need to do. With patience, you can end up with a very well-trained Yorkie. This paper training method is especially useful when it is hot outside, as such small dogs don’t do very well in heat. They are definitely house dogs, and should not be left outside ot be exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods of time.

Check your Yorkie’s toys on a regular basis to ensure that they have not been chewed open. Yorkies are drawn to squeaky toys in particular, and may chew through it to get to the noise maker inside. What he does love best, however, is playing fetch with any toys that you throw for him.

Feeding Schedule

Due to their small size, they don’t require a lot of calories to get them through the day. It is best to provide no more than 1/2 to 3/4 cup of food in a day. Feeding any more can lead your dog to become obese quite quickly. This breed does not look good with a big belly, and he will quickly lose his charm. If you are worried that your Yorkshire Terrier is becoming a bit too chubby, cut back on his food and increase his exercise activities.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Yorkshire Terrier’s coat is quite long and silky, and very straight. As show dogs, their coats are allowed to grow to the floor so that it looks like they’re floating when they walk. They have a single coat that sheds very little, making them the perfect breed for those who are prone to allergies. The puppies are usually born black, and the blue and tan coat develops gradually. After turning a year old, they start to lighten and turn grey rather than blue. These are due to hormonal changes that affect the color of their hair. Females, who are in heat, become lighter and then turn dark again after their season is over.

Grooming is not something an amateur should attempt. Their soft coat can tangle quite easily and should be brushed on a daily basis, even if his coat has been trimmed. A lack of care can ruin this breed’s reputation for good lucks, as his hair will quickly become matted and tangled, and ruin his appearance. His perky ears should also be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they’re free from any dirt or signs of infection.

Your Yorkie should be bathed on a weekly basis in order to keep his hair smooth and shiny. Simply apply the shampoo and run your fingers through his hair in order to remove any dirt. Rubbing is not necessary. Afterwards, spray your dog’s coat with a light conditioner and then brush. Brushing a dry coat can lead to breaking.

Small dogs are prone to dental and gum problems, so it’s important that you consider checking his mouth on a regular basis. They tend to form a lot of tartar on their teeth, and can lose them at a very young age if they’re not properly maintained. Brushing their teeth regularly and scheduling a trip to the vet for a dental procedure once a year will help to save his teeth.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Yorkies are not very suitable for families with very young children. This is because they can be injured quite easily. Teach children how to handle and play with Yorkshire Terriers, and always supervise interactions. Being treated too roughly can lead to a Yorkie biting back, and can make both dog and child fearful of each other.

A Yorkshire Terrier can be quite cute to look at and soft to the touch, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not a lot of work. This breed is a little more active than people expect, but it isn’t too much that demands a lot of time to be set aside. Keeping him physically and mentally active will bring out the best in your Yorkshire Terrier, and you’ll certainly have a fun time finding new ways to keep him entertained.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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