Yorkshire Terrier

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Yorkshire Terrier

Top Breed
6-7 lb
12-15 years
Best Suited For
Families with older children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
Feisty, stubborn, cuddly, inquisitive
Comparable Breeds
Cairn Terrier, Pomeranian
6-8 inches
Yorkshire Terrier Basics

There are many different Terriers, but only one Yorkie. This is a superstar breed, beloved by small dog lovers for generation and with good reason. It’s hard not to fall for a Yorkie. Loyal and loving, these are dogs that owners bond with for life. Once you’ve had a little Yorkie in your life, it’s hard to go back. Are they flawless animals? Obviously not. No dog is perfect. But ask anyone with a Yorkie in their life and they’ll tell you that these energetic little fluff balls come close. The adorable Yorkie has that unmistakable, cute look that can’t be resisted. They are spunky, goofy, cute and confident – with plenty of affection for their humans. And this makes them fantastic family pets and dogs for single owners alike.

Originating in England as rat and small vermin hunters, the cuddly Yorkshire Terrier has become a go-to lap dog (a much better lifestyle than rat eating). They may have started out as a working class dog, but their beautiful coat later made them a favorite in dog shows. Often referred to fans of the breed as “Yorkies,” this bold and fearless dog makes a great addition to any family. However if it’s a quiet and laid back kind of dog that you’re looking for, you’re out of luck with the Yorkshire Terrier. A feisty breed, the Yorkie loves attention and tends to bark. In many ways it’s a true breed of the English working class. A Yorkie too loves a bit of action and is full of energy – but at the end of the day, it’s all about love and good nature. Either way, keep in mind that this pup will make his presence known, for better or worse.

That said, don’t let those character traits scare you off. The Yorkshire Terrier makes a great pet for families with older children and if properly socialized as a puppy, these little guys will make friends with all of the other animal members of your household. Read on to learn more about this enchanting breed and see if it’s a fit for your family. While they may not be for everyone, those who love Yorkies will never go back to another dog breed. Here is what you should know about the breed before you make it a part of your family.

Often referred to fans of the breed as “Yorkies,” this bold and fearless dog makes a great addition to a family.


The Yorkshire Terrier was first bred in the 19th century in the county of Yorkshire, England to catch rats and other vermin in clothing mills. The Yorkshire Terrier was owned predominantly by the working class. In particular, they tended to live in the homes of professional weavers. An evolution of other terrier breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier can trace its heritage from the Waterside Terrier, Manchester Terrier and Paisley Terrier. So this sweet little pup has quite the pedigree.

A part of the English Kennel Club since the club was started in 1873, the Yorkshire Terrier came to the U.S. in the 19th century where it has remained a popular breed. The portable pooch was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, and has become a popular breed in North American thanks to its big personality and luxurious coat. Perpetually popular, these dogs are favourites at pet shops and dogs shows alike.


The Yorkshire Terrier is a relatively newer breed, making its appearance in the 19th century. It was bred from terriers such as the Waterside Terrier, Manchester Terrier and Paisley Terrier in order to achieve the small stature needed for chasing and catching rats. From these humble origins came an iconic lapdog that is now a fixture in countless homes.

Of course, with such a substantial history and pedigree when parent breeds are considered, the yorkie has quite a lot of traits to fulfill to be considered an ideal specimen of the breed. There is the typical short – but not stubby – snout, the small pointed ears, and of course the iconic long coat. Stature is also an important feature, as well as the little curving tail. All in all, thanks to this set standard and pedigree, a Yorkie is hard to miss and easy to recognize.

Food / Diet

Since the Yorkshire Terrier is so small, it doesn’t need a large amount to food for its daily sustenance. Since the Yorkie is so cute, you may be tempted to feed it scraps or treats. It’s a temptation that few dog lovers can resist. However, no matter how difficult it might seem, you must fight that urge! Over feeding a Yorkie can lead to a variety of health problems, not the least of which is the creation of an overweight dog. So, the best approach is to try a premium dry dog food and make an effort to stay away from soft food as it tends to rot its teeth. Feed your Yorkshire Terrier two or three times a day if possible. Since this dog is so small, it won’t eat much at one time. This will also help your Yorkie regulate digestion.

Of course, it is always crucial to pay extra attention to the quality of the food your Yorkie is getting. Proper nutrition is crucial – vitamins, nutrients and proteins are important for normal functioning. You need to make sure they are getting enough of these. As always, if you are in any way concerned about your dog’s diet, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian. While dog food manufacturers and pet blogs provide useful feeding guidelines for dogs, they should still be treated as guidelines and not gospel. All dogs are different after all and the only personal qualified to assess the specific dietary needs of your personal pooch is your vet. Always consult with a vet before establishing or altering your dog’s diet. It’s the safest approach to ensuring your pup’s belly stays full without an adverse effects on the little furball’s health.

Well known for its beautiful coat and lively character, the Yorkshire Terrier has become popular as both a pet and a show dog.


A smart little cookie, the Yorkshire Terrier has a mind of its own. This will make the training process interesting to say the least. To properly train a Yorkshire Terrier, keep it fun. These dogs should have a good time so it feels like it’s not being trained at all. It’s a sneaky approach to be sure, but also the one that tends to be the most successful. Keep it fun. Keep it light. Always focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based encouragement. Anything less is closer to abuse than training and simply won’t yield the results that you seek.

That said, you should have fun with the process as well. Yorkies can be quite responsive to training when treated with the right approach. Be sure to teach your Yorkie a few tricks. It’s something the breed excels at. Use treats as a reward, as you’ll find the Yorkie will pick the tricks up quickly this way. They’ll do just about anything to ensure that a savoury canine treat passes through their furry little lips.

But be wary – since the Yorkshire Terrier has a mind of its own, it may try to outsmart you. They are quite clever animals who may see through all of your training games a tricks. Sometimes a firm hand (with a gentle touch) will be needed in order to train successfully. Either way, you should have a few tricks of your own up your sleeve, and it also helps to be patient. Similarly, it is good if your own personality matches that of your Yorkie – they might be more acceptable to training through some form of action and an energetic approach. A Yorkie – bred as an active rat catcher – will love a good task and some high energy problem solving.


The Yorkshire Terrier should only weigh six to eight pounds. These pups are tiny little muffins. Still, don’t be fooled by this diminutive stature – they can be quite hardy and healthy throughout their life, a fact that is directly proportionate to their sparky behavior.

Their lightweight also means that a Yorkie will be super easy to carry around. If you like to spoil your precious pet, you will have no problem carrying them in your embrace. And for all the ladies out there – the answer is yes: a little yorkie will fit easily into a dog-carrying handbag!

Temperament / Behavior

There’s more than one reason why the Yorkshire Terrier is a great house dog. Well known for its beautiful coat and lively character, the Yorkshire Terrier has become popular as both a pet and a show dog. A wonderful companion dog, this breed has a great sense of hearing and will act as a watchdog – the Yorkie never lets a thing like its small size stand in the way. Sure, this little pup won’t exactly intimidate any intruders to act as a guard dog, but they will at least let you know when anyone arrives at your door (for better or worse).

A devoted breed that loves to be close to its family, the Yorkshire Terrier loves attention. And even though the Yorkie makes a great family dog, it should be watched when around small children and larger dogs due to its size. These little pups are fragile and need to be treated gently. Fortunately they are so adorable that tends to happen naturally, but it’s still worth noting.

Don’t be surprised if your Yorkshire Terrier is a bit of a character. Mischievous and known to have a mind of its own, the Yorkshire Terrier often acts much larger than it is. Feisty and bold, the Yorkie will show off and do as it pleases. Perhaps it is its spirit that makes them so irresistible. You will always be aware when your Yorkie is in the room and because they are so outrageously cute that you’ll always be happy about it.

Common Health Problems

Common health concerns revolve around the Yorkshire Terrier’s size as a result from falls and jumps. This breed may also suffer from Portosystemic shunt, collapsing tracheas, Legg Perth’s disease, patellar luxation and progressive retinal atrophy.

Life Expectancy

Yorkshire Terriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. This is somewhat of an average lifespan and quite reasonable by all the standards. Of course, with proper, lifelong care, a Yorkie can surpass this average lifespan and hang around for a bit longer. Nevertheless, they make excellent friends and companions for a good part of your life.

Exercise Requirements

This toy dog is very active, as it loves to explore. Yorkshire Terriers like to be taken for walks and need to interact with both dogs and humans. Because it is small, exercise needs are minimal, but attention is most important. Be sure to play with your Yorkie and have an adequate range of toys available. Due to their natural tendencies as rat catchers, Yorkies will love to burrow in some hole when possible, or to solve simple tasks, as for example on a dog action course. Either way, don’t hesitate with fun and playtime – a Yorkie and its mood might depend on it.

Feisty and bold, the Yorkie will show off and do as it pleases.

Recognized Clubs

The American Kennel Club says this about Yorkshire Terriers: “Though members of the Toy Group, they are terriers by nature and are brave, determined, investigative and energetic. This portable pooch is one of the most popular breeds according the AKC Registration Statistics.”


Its most descriptive feature, the Yorkshire Terrier’s straight coat is silky and flows along the body. Its coat is a blue and tan color, and the hair on its head is usually tied up. Although it does have a long coat, the Yorkshire Terrier is not a shedder. Its coat does require daily brushing, as well as regular visit to the groomers for shaping and upkeep. Of course, not all owners prefer their pets to have such a long and flowing coat. Instead, they choose to keep a Yorkie’s coat trimmed and neat – which is also one of the iconic looks of the breed. However, it might be suitable to let the coat grow out a bit during the colder months of the year, and trim it when it gets hotter. Either way, a Yorkie’s coat might require some extra attention, but that’s nothing an occasional visit to the groomer won’t fix.


A cute bundle of hair, Yorkshire Terrier puppies are hard to resist. Be sure to start grooming rituals young and introduce them to other dogs as soon as possible. Early training and socialization is vital to ensuring that your Yorkie never develops the dreaded small dog syndrome.

Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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