Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small dog with a vibrant personality. These dogs are spirited, affectionate, and excellent companions for people of all ages. Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular toy breed in the United States, gaining a dedicated following for their loyalty, striking appearance, and suitability for apartment living.

While Yorkshire Terriers are lively and playful, they have a tendency to bark frequently, which may not suit those living in apartments with thin walls. They also require regular grooming and dental care. Despite these considerations, with proper care, a Yorkshire Terrier can be a delightful pet. Though energetic, they are small dogs and can be vulnerable around young children, so supervision is recommended when they interact.

When choosing a Yorkshire Terrier, consider adopting from a rescue organization or shelter to provide a home for a dog in need. If you opt for a puppy from a breeder, ensure they are reputable. Conduct careful research to verify their ethical practices and commitment to the dogs’ well-being. Responsible breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs, perform health checks, and raise the puppies in a nurturing setting. This helps guarantee you bring home a healthy, happy pup and discourages unethical breeding practices.

Here are some key details about Yorkshire Terriers:

  • Origin: They hail from England.
  • Size: Typically, they weigh between 4 to 7 pounds (1.8 to 3.2 kilograms).
  • Breed Group: They belong to the Toy Group.
  • Lifespan: They usually live for 11 to 15 years.
  • Coat: Their coat is long, silky, and fine-textured, usually featuring blue and tan colors.
  • Temperament: These dogs are spirited and affectionate, often showing a confident attitude despite their small stature.
  • Exercise Needs: They have moderate exercise needs, which can be met with daily walks and indoor play.
  • Training: They are intelligent and trainable but can be somewhat stubborn. Positive reinforcement methods are effective.
  • Grooming: Their long coat requires high maintenance, including regular brushing, grooming, and occasional trims.
  • Health: Yorkshire Terriers are susceptible to dental issues, patellar luxation, and eye problems. Consistent dental care is essential.

Here’s an overview of the Yorkshire Terrier, commonly known as the Yorkie:

Yorkshire Terriers are known for their striking appearance, boasting long, silky coats and a lively topknot. These glamorous dogs are sure to catch attention wherever they go, often traveling in style alongside their devoted owners.

The Yorkie’s crowning feature may be its luxurious steel-blue and tan coat, but its lively personality is what truly endears the breed to its family. Despite their small size—typically weighing no more than seven pounds—Yorkies exude confidence and are always eager for adventure.

Yorkies are affectionate and loyal companions to their families, but true to their terrier heritage, they can be wary of strangers and will bark at unfamiliar sounds and intruders. It’s important to teach them when to bark and when to be quiet to maintain harmony with your neighbors.

These spirited dogs can also be aggressive toward unfamiliar dogs and have a penchant for chasing squirrels. Despite their feisty exterior, Yorkies have a sensitive side and thrive on attention from their family. They do not cope well with long periods of isolation.

Given their size, Yorkies tend to do best with older children who understand how to treat them gently. They may become snappish if startled or teased.

Yorkies can adapt well to apartment living as long as they receive daily exercise, such as a play session or a walk around the block.

Regardless of their home, Yorkies generally get along with other resident dogs and cats if they were raised with them. However, they may become possessive of their owners when a new pet is introduced. Since they are terriers, they may see new animals as intruders and act aggressively.

With their stylish appearance, small size, lively personality, and unwavering loyalty to their owners, it’s no surprise that Yorkshire Terriers are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States today.

Yorkshire Terrier Highlights

  1. Size: Yorkshire Terriers are small toy breed dogs, typically weighing between 4 to 7 pounds (1.8 to 3.2 kilograms) and standing around 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 centimeters) tall at the shoulder.
  2. Coat: Yorkies feature a luxurious, silky, fine-textured coat that comes in a combination of blue and tan colors. Their body is usually steel-blue or silver-blue, with rich tan markings on their face, chest, legs, and tail.
  3. Grooming: Keeping a Yorkshire Terrier’s coat well-maintained requires regular brushing and occasional trimming to prevent matting and keep it in good shape. Many owners opt for keeping the coat clipped short for easier care.
  4. Personality: Despite their small stature, Yorkies have big personalities. They are known for being bold, confident, and feisty, while also being affectionate and loyal companions.
  5. Intelligence: Yorkshire Terriers are smart dogs and quick learners. They enjoy mental challenges and excel in activities such as obedience training and agility.
  6. Energy Level: Despite their size, Yorkies have a lot of energy. They thrive on playtime and short walks. Regular exercise is important to keep them healthy both physically and mentally.
  7. Health: While generally healthy, Yorkies can be prone to certain health concerns such as dental problems, patellar luxation, and tracheal collapse. Regular veterinary care and responsible breeding can help manage these risks.
  8. Longevity: With proper care, Yorkies often live for 12 to 15 years or even longer, making them a long-term commitment for any owner.
  9. Temperament: Yorkies are known for their affection toward their families and form strong bonds with their owners. They can be cautious around strangers, so early socialization helps them adjust to new people and environments.
  10. Adaptability: Due to their small size, Yorkies are perfect for apartment living. They don’t need a large yard but do require regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Keep in mind that while these highlights describe common characteristics of Yorkshire Terriers, each dog may have its own unique personality and needs. Before bringing a Yorkie into your family, research the breed thoroughly, seek advice from reputable breeders or rescue organizations, and be prepared for the responsibilities of caring for an energetic, small, and high-maintenance dog.

Yorkshire Terrier History

During the Industrial Revolution in England, Scottish workers brought their Clydesdale Terriers or Paisley Terriers to Yorkshire while working in coal mines, textile mills, and factories. These dogs were larger than the current Yorkshire Terriers and were used to catch rats in the mills.

The Clydesdale Terriers likely interbred with other terrier types such as the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier and Skye Terrier. The Waterside Terrier, with its small size and long blue-gray coat, may have also played a role in developing the Yorkshire Terrier. In 1861, a Yorkshire Terrier was entered in a bench show as a “broken-haired Scotch Terrier.”

Huddersfield Ben, a dog born in 1865, gained popularity as a show dog and is considered the father of the modern Yorkshire Terrier. The breed got its name in 1870 due to most of its development occurring in Yorkshire. The breed was first registered in the British Kennel Club stud book in 1874, and the first Yorkshire Terrier breed club was established in England in 1898.

Yorkshire Terriers made their way to the U.S. in the 1870s, with records showing the earliest Yorkie born in the U.S. in 1872. They could compete in dog shows starting in 1878. Early shows divided classes by weight — under 5 pounds and 5 pounds and over — but eventually, classes were standardized with an average weight range of 3 to 7 pounds.

Yorkshire Terrier Size

Yorkshire Terriers stand 8 to 9 inches at the shoulder and weigh no more than seven pounds, with four to six pounds being preferred. Their sizes can vary, with litters often having a range of sizes from less than four pounds to up to 12 to 15 pounds.

Be cautious of breeders advertising “teacup” Yorkshire Terriers as smaller dogs are more susceptible to genetic disorders and overall health risks.

Yorkshire Terrier Personality

Yorkshire Terriers combine an endearingly small size with the adventurous spirit of a terrier. Their personalities vary: some are affectionate and enjoy being close to their owners, while others can be mischievous and outgoing.

Setting limits early on will help shape your Yorkie into a wonderful companion. Starting training as puppies is crucial for teaching them good habits. Early socialization is essential for Yorkies to become well-rounded and friendly.

Yorkshire Terrier Health

While generally healthy, Yorkies are prone to certain health conditions. If buying a puppy, seek a reputable breeder who provides health clearances for both puppy parents. Health clearances confirm that a dog has been tested for and cleared of certain conditions.

In Yorkies, you should expect health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (rated fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) confirming normal eye health. You can verify health clearances by checking the OFA website.

Patellar Luxation: Also known as “slipped stifles,” this condition commonly affects small dogs. It occurs when the patella (knee cap) isn’t properly aligned with the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (calf), causing lameness or an abnormal gait. Although present from birth, the misalignment may not manifest until later. The resulting friction can lead to arthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Patellar luxation ranges from grade I (occasional luxation causing temporary joint lameness) to grade IV (severe turning of the tibia, making manual realignment impossible). Severe cases may require surgery.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a degenerative eye disorder that leads to slow blindness due to loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. It can be detected years before symptoms appear. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Hypoglycemia: Yorkies, like many small breeds, can suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when stressed, especially as puppies. Signs include weakness, confusion, a wobbly gait, and seizure-like episodes. Consult your vet for prevention and treatment options.

Collapsed Trachea: The trachea, which carries air to the lungs, is prone to collapse. Signs include a chronic, harsh cough resembling a “goose honk.” Treatment can be medical or surgical.

Reverse Sneezing: Often confused with collapsed trachea, reverse sneezing is a minor condition that typically lasts a few minutes. It occurs when a dog is excited or eats or drinks too quickly, or when irritants like pollen are present. Calm your dog during an episode by stroking their throat gently.

Portosystemic Shunt (PSS): PSS is an abnormal blood flow between the liver and body. Since the liver detoxifies the body, metabolizes nutrients, and eliminates drugs, signs of PSS include neurobehavioral abnormalities, lack of appetite, hypoglycemia, gastrointestinal issues, urinary problems, drug intolerance, and stunted growth. Signs usually appear before age two. Surgery and a special diet can help manage the condition.

Syringomyelia (SM): SM is a chronic condition that affects the spinal cord when fluid-filled cavities (syrinxes) form in the spinal cord, expanding and damaging tissue. Symptoms vary from mild discomfort to severe pain and partial paralysis. SM is common in some toy breeds.

Yorkshire Terrier Care

Yorkies enjoy walks or outdoor playtime, but they also stay active indoors, requiring little effort to stay well-exercised. They respond well to training, especially when rewarded with attention for tricks or agility exercises.

House training can be challenging due to their small size and ease of cleaning up “accidents.” It’s best to establish boundaries from the start and reward proper behavior. Yorkies thrive when socialized from a young age, allowing them to become friendly, well-adjusted adults.

Yorkshire Terriers thrive indoors and dislike extreme temperatures. Many owners use indoor training methods such as paper training when the weather is unsuitable. Yorkies love squeaky toys and fetching games. Handmade toys, like crocheted balls, can be a favorite.

Yorkshire Terrier Feeding

Feed your Yorkie 1/2 to 3/4 cup of high-quality dry food daily, divided into two meals. Their diet depends on age, size, build, metabolism, and activity level. Highly active dogs need more food than less active ones. High-quality food nourishes better and requires smaller portions.

Avoid overfeeding your Yorkie; they should maintain a lean physique. Check their waistline and feel their ribs regularly. If you can’t feel their ribs without pressure, reduce food intake and increase exercise.

For more guidance, see recommendations on buying the right food, feeding puppies, and feeding adult dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier Coat Color and Grooming

Yorkies have long, silky, straight coats that reach the floor in show dogs. They shed minimally and have a single coat. Puppies are born black; the blue and tan coat develops over time, usually by age one. Some puppies may turn gray instead of blue.

The head is bright gold, with darker roots and lighter ends. The headfall (hair over the face) is long and golden, matching the face’s hue. Tan legs don’t extend past the elbow. As Yorkies age, they may lighten in color, especially during hormonal changes.

Grooming long-haired Yorkies requires regular maintenance, especially if the coat tangles easily. Even with trimmed coats, daily brushing is necessary to prevent mats and keep the coat clean. Dental care is important, as Yorkies often form tartar and can lose teeth young. Brush their teeth regularly and schedule annual professional cleanings.

Check Yorkie’s ears regularly for infection signs like odor, redness, or discharge. Pluck any hair in the ear canal. Bathing them weekly keeps their coat shiny; avoid rubbing to wash. Use conditioner during baths and when brushing to prevent breaking hair. Trim nails after each bath.

When grooming your Yorkie, trim around the anal area if hair gets too long. After brushing and drying, gather the top hair, brush it back, and secure it with a band. Add a bow for style.

Accustom your Yorkie to grooming and examination from puppyhood. Handle their paws frequently, and inspect their mouth. Make grooming a positive experience to prepare them for future vet visits and handling.

Check for skin sores, rashes, or infections. Eyes should be clear without redness or discharge. Your weekly exams can catch health issues early.

Yorkshire Terrier Children and Other Pets

Yorkshire Terriers are not ideal for families with young children due to their small size. Breeders often avoid selling puppies to families with children under 5 or 6 years old because the puppies can easily be dropped, stepped on, or handled too roughly by young kids.

With proper early socialization, Yorkies generally get along well with other pets, including cats. However, they are known for being bold and may confront larger dogs, even if the other dog is significantly bigger. Owners need to protect Yorkies from their own fearless tendencies.

Yorkshire Terrier Rescue Groups

Many people purchase Yorkshire Terriers without fully understanding the responsibilities involved in owning one. Consequently, there are many Yorkies in need of adoption or fostering. If you cannot find a local rescue group, reach out to the national or local breed club for recommendations on Yorkie rescues.

Yorkshire Terrier Breed Organizations

Selecting a reputable dog breeder is crucial when adding a new dog to your family. Reputable breeders focus on breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies that make excellent companions. They screen their breeding stock for health issues, socialize puppies early, and provide lifetime support to new dog owners.

In contrast, backyard breeders prioritize profit over the well-being of the dogs. They may not screen breeding stock for health problems or properly socialize puppies. As a result, puppies from backyard breeders are more likely to develop health and behavioral problems.

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