When people think of the Yorkshire Terrier, their long, tan, black coat is often the first thing to mind. And they have that adorable ponytail on their head. People also think of the breed's size. They are quite tiny. But despite their appearance, the Yorkshire Terrier is anything but dainty.
The Yorkshire Terrier breed used to be a hunting dog, if you can believe it! This canine breed has the attitude to prove it. They are courageous, energetic, intelligent, and brave. The Yorkshire Terrier is not your average lap dog, whether taking on dogs three times their size or acting as a watchdog.
Yorkshire Terrier Characteristics [Physical]
The Yorkshire Terrier has a very distinct look that sets it apart from other toy breeds. While small, the Yorkie has a very strong expression and strong body. This compact dog is built for rat hunting, although you're more likely to see a Yorkie on someone's lap these days.
Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Size
The Yorkie is a very small dog breed. They weigh only seven pounds and often reach just seven to eight inches.
The Yorkshire Terrier has a small head that's a bit flat on top. Their skull isn't too prominent or round, their muzzle isn't too long, their ears aren't too far apart, and their eyes aren't too prominent. Their small, black nose and sparkling, sharp eyes stand out about this breed's head. According to the Yorkshire terrier club, a national breed club celebrating the Yorkshire terrier, this dog has a very intelligent expression.
The Yorkie has a very compact and proportionate body. Their back is short, and the backline is level. Their shoulder height is the same as the rump. This tiny breed has straight legs. Their paws are round, and the claws are black. Their dew claws on the front and back legs are often removed.
The Yorkshire Terrier has a docked, medium-length tail. The tail is carried slightly higher than the dog's back.
Yorkshire Terrier Personality
Don't let the Yorkshire Terrier's dainty appearance fool you. This is a feisty and fiery dog that's known for its devotion to its family. This breed is often said to be a lot smarter and more personable than other toy breeds.
The Yorkie gets its unique personality thanks to its terrier identity. Terriers are known for their tenacious personalities and headstrong attitudes, and the Yorkshire Terrier is no different. This is a dog that's a bit clingy, a bit loud, and a bit wary of strangers. You'll often notice two sides to your Yorkie that make this dog truly one-of-a-kind.
First, there's the cuddly side. Yorkshire Terriers often love to lay on your lap and hang out while you go about your day. They love following their owners around the house, getting involved in whatever it is you're up to. This small dog breed has a big heart, and no amount of attention or affection is enough.
The other side is the Yorkie's mischievous nature. This clever dog gets bored very easily. They need a lot of entertainment and activities to keep them stimulated and happy. The Yorkshire Terrier can get easily distracted and often look for the next activity before doing their current one. This is a dog with an adventurous and fun-loving spirit.
The Yorkshire Terrier is known as an excellent watchdog. They may be small, but this breed is very courageous. They will bark when strangers approach the house or door.
Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Exercise
The Yorkshire Terrier may be small, but they are a bundle of energy. This breed needs a lot of exercise each day, so families looking for a lap dog should consider another breed. The Yorkie requires a blend of moderate exercise, like going for walks, and cardio exercise, like playing fetch.
For walks, make sure you do this at least once a day (although two walks a day is best). Try walking your Yorkie once in the morning and once in the early evening, doing it at the same time each day to create a routine.
Even though the Yorkie is small, this breed deserves a walk at a fairly brisk pace. You want your dog moving along steadily but not out of breath. You should do this for about 20 minutes. This will help your dog release some energy and be a bit calmer while inside.
Looking to do something a bit more intense? Consider cardio exercise twice a week or throw a ball for your Yorkie and play fetch in the backyard. Bring them to a dog park so they can run around off a leash.
Teach your Yorkie agility by making a fun obstacle course in your backyard. They will love learning to weave back and forth between objects. Take out a (small) frisbee for your dog to catch in the air. Play hide and seek with some treats, having your dog race around to find the tasty snacks.
It's very important to always supervise your Yorkie at all times. While Yorkshire Terriers are energetic dogs, they are still toy dogs that can get injured if pushed to the limit. Jumping too high can lead to injuries.
Yorkshire Terrier Training
Yorkshire Terriers are very intelligent. Their cleverness and love for attention mean they respond well to training (especially when treats are involved). But the Yorkie does have a bit of an independent streak that means you must stay consistent to get the dog's respect.
Always train your dog when they are a puppy. Bring them to obedience classes to learn basic training techniques to bring into your own home. This will also provide them with much-needed socialization early on.
One thing to focus on early on is your Yorkie's leash etiquette. It's important to train your Yorkshire Terrier to heel, meaning they walk beside you instead of pulling on the leash. Always keep them in a well-fitted harness.
How to Train Your Yorkie to Heel
- Have your dog walk on your left side, keeping the leash short
- When you start walking, say "heel."
- If your dog ever walks in a different direction, keep walking where you want to go
- When/if your Yorkie stops, keep walking at a slow pace
- If your dog goes ahead of you, start to slow down. If they keep going, stop and turn around
- When they walk beside you, say "heel" and give them praise and treats
The Yorkshire Terrier has a few quirks that need to be addressed consistently. These are things that are common with most terrier breeds, big and small.
The first is digging. Yorkshire Terriers love to dig (like all terriers). You need to consistently deter your Yorkie from digging, both inside and outside. By offering distractions or alternative activities, you can distract your dog and hopefully rid them of this behavior. Similarly, try providing your Yorkie with specific areas to dig that won't destroy your garden or let them dig under the fence.
The second is barking. Make sure you never respond (either positively or negatively) when your dog barks. This will only show them it's working! Dogs often bark to get attention or ask for something. Instead, give your dog praise when they are quiet.
Yorkshire Terriers are also known to herd. Like most terriers, the Yorkie will chase almost anything that moves (especially if it's smaller). Yorkies are known to chase around cats and children as well as wild animals during walks. It's very important to teach your dog that this behavior isn't okay as soon as possible.
Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed History
Yorkshire Terriers have a very interesting history. They originated in England, the result of mixing a lot of terrier breeds. In the middle of the 1800s, miners and mill workers came to Europe looking for work. A lot of these travelers took terrier dogs with them. The ones from Scotland were known as the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier at the time.
These early ancestors of the Yorkie were known as ratters. Yorkies were once implemented into mines and mill buildings to hunt rats and other small vermin hiding in these establishments. Yorkshire Terriers would also hunt down animals that lived in dens and caves, including foxes and badgers.
Due to this work, the Yorkshire Terrier became known for their courage and bravery despite their small stature. Yorkshire Terriers weren't afraid to run into a den and face an aggressive wild animal. But this beloved personality trait also made people realize that the Yorkie was more than just a ratter.
The upper class in England began to embrace the Yorkie due to its silky coat and small stature. Small dogs were popular during the period, and the breed became very desired throughout England.
The Story of Huddersfield Ben
M.A. Foster became very well-known in the terrier community for winning more than 70 dog shows and ratter contests. One of his dogs was named Huddersfield Ben (named after the town he was born in). Huddersfield Ben became the foundation of the current-day Yorkie breed.
In the mid-1800s, Huddersfield Ben was one of the most sought-after stud dogs in England. Interestingly enough, the "large" dog (11 pounds) produced litters of dogs, usually around five pounds. This was the breed standard at the time. Ben passed away in 1871 at just six years old, but he left behind an abundance of Yorkies.
By 1874, Yorkies got the official name of Yorkshire Terrier. Around this time, the breed was making it sway to America. It quickly became a favorite amongst families all over the country. The American Kennel Club officially registered the breed in 1878. The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular toy-sized breeds in the world.
Notable Yorkies Throughout History
Many classify The Yorkshire Terrier as a member of the small breed dogs. Though Yorkshire terrier puppies are small, they're quite mighty. Fans of the breed will often recall the story of Smokey.
Smokey served with the 5th Air Force in the Pacific. American William Wynne found Smoky in a shell hole near the Japanese lines in New Guinea. She didn't understand commands in English or Japanese but quickly caught on and became a part of the troop.
Smokey went on over 150 air raids and 12 sea missions. She managed to pull 70 feet of telegraph wire through an underground tunnel on one mission for the Signal Corps. Smokey also jumped from a 30-foot tower with a parachute made just for her. She's in the history books of adult dog sports enthusiasts for her courageousness.
Another Yorkie, Oliver, became a hero in New York when he saved a woman from another dog. The Yorkshire Terrier diverted the dog's attention, saving the woman's life due to his fearlessness.
Common Health Problems Found in the Yorkshire Terrier
Like most purebred dogs, Yorkshire Terriers are known to carry some hereditary conditions. Always go to a reputable breeder who can guarantee the health of their puppies. Registered and responsible breeders will have their dogs tested for genetic conditions and remove the dogs that carry these conditions from the breeding pool.
Always adopt your Yorkie from a reputable breeder. Avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills, which create unhealthy puppies. The Yorkshire Terrier dog's small size is one of the main causes of their most common health problems. This breed may get fractures if they are knocked around or if they fall. Don't handle your Yorkie too roughly due to their fragile bones.
Yorkshire Terriers are also prone to dental issues. This is common in smaller breeds due to the size of their mouths. Be sure to feed Yorkies dry food that they have to chew to keep their teeth cleaner and stronger. Brush their teeth daily to avoid cavities and rotting. You should also bring them to the vet for regular teeth cleaning.
Herniated disks are common in Yorkshire Terriers. This can lead to paralysis if left untreated. They can also get other spine-related issues, so this is something vets should always keep an eye on. Bronchitis and eye infections are also common in this breed.
How to Care for a Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier is a social dog that thrives in a family with time to spend with their dogs each day. If you work eight hours a day or more and leave your Yorkie alone each day, this can lead to nervousness, stress, and a lack of stimulation.
You should also give your Yorkie plenty of toys. They are an intelligent breed that loves to play. Consider puzzles that make them work for their treats. This will keep them occupied and entertained when you're busy.
When you're around, spend time exercising and playing with your Yorkshire Terrier. They may be small, but they have a lot of pent-up energy. Just make sure that you use a secure harness so your dog can't slip away if they start chasing a wild animal.
Yorkshire Terriers need an owner that doesn't let them rule the home. If you just let the Terrier get away with everything, they may become aggressive and possessive. This dog needs a gentle leader who will let them know the rules of the house (and stick to them).
Nutrition and Feeding for a Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terriers have very sensitive digestion. This means the quality of the food you give your pet is very important. The high-quality brand should have protein as the first ingredient and be free of unhealthy products and artificial flavors. Talk to a veterinarian to find out the right food for your specific Yorkshire Terrier.
The Yorkshire Terrier is a tiny dog and doesn't need a lot of food. The usually recommended serving is 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup each day. Talk to your veterinarian to find out the right amount for your Yorkshire Terrier. It's based on their weight, age, metabolism, health, and other specifics.
Yorkshire Terriers should be fed twice a day, meaning half of their daily food portion in the morning and a half at night. This will allow for easier digestion and help to avoid overfeeding.
Coat Color And Grooming
According to the American Kennel Club breed standards, the "quality, texture, and quantity of the coat are of prime importance." Texturewise, the Yorkshire Terrier coat is glossy, silky, and fine. It should be perfectly straight with no waves. One of the many unique traits of the Yorkshire Terrier coat is the fur on top of its head, which is tied with one bow in the center of the dog's head, much like a ponytail, and in the middle with two ponytails on each side.
The color of the Yorkshire Terrier is also very important. Puppies are born black and tan. Adult dogs get judged on the body's hair color and the "richness" of the tan on their head and legs. The head should be a "golden tan," while the chest and legs are a "bright tan."
Yorkies require a good amount of grooming. The Yorkshire Terrier should visit a professional groomer every six to eight weeks. This will ensure that their coat is the right length, healthy, and styled correctly.
Between appointments, bathe your Yorkshire Terrier dog once a week. This includes using dog-friendly shampoo and blow-drying the dog's coat. Always be careful to avoid getting water in your dog's eyes and ears to avoid infections.
Brush your Yorkie's coat every few days. Make sure they don't have any tangles. Brushing will reduce excess dead hairs and make your dog's coat look silkier and shinier.
Children And Other Pets
The Yorkshire Terrier has a pretty aggressive attitude due to their history as a ratter. Yorkies aren't recommended for homes with very small children since they're a bit snappy when annoyed. They are also known to herd children, nipping at their heels. Children may also handle the Yorkshire Terrier too roughly, causing injuries.
Older children who understand how to properly handle the Yorkshire Terrier and respect the dog's boundaries can get along well with this pup. They are playful and energetic, making great playmates. Kids and teens can play fetch with the Yorkshire Terrier and teach them fun tricks. They might even enjoy racing through obstacle courses together.
The Yorkshire Terrier gets along well with other pets in general. This includes other dogs and cats. Just make sure to teach your Yorkie manners prior to mingling.
Yorkshire Terrier Dog Rescue Groups
The Yorkshire Terrier may have started as a hunter, but it has become a companion breed that loves being with its family. But the Yorkie is not a lap dog like some people believe. The Yorkshire Terrier may end up being a bit of a handful, leading to some Yorkies being left abandoned.
Said Yorkie Rescue of America: "Our mission is to rescue Yorkies that are in dire need, most of whom are considered a lost cause by other animal welfare organizations. We are truly their last chance at life. Our mission is to come to the aid of those Yorkies that require extensive medical care and intensive rehabilitation through our dedicated and highly knowledgeable foster network."
The rescues' ultimate goal is to find a permanent home for rescued Yorkies. If that doesn't happen, Yorkie Rescue of America will care for the dog for its entire life.
United Yorkie Rescue has rescued 3,764 dogs. The organization has spent over $2.5 million in medical bills for these dogs. Many Yorkies they come across have mobility issues and missing teeth. They often share the stories of the Yorkshire Terrier dogs that come through their doors.
Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Organizations
Dog breed organizations partner with the American Kennel Club. They exist to provide extra information and support to Yorkshire Terrier owners and fans in a certain area, whether it's a specific city, state, or country.
The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America has a mission to "preserve and protect" the breed. On their website, Yorkie fans can find information on the breed's standards, properly judge a Yorkshire Terrier, and health information. They also organize various Yorkie events, including agility contests, for owners to attend with other Yorkie fans.
More About the Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed
While known for its bravery, the Yorkie gets high praise for its signature coat. Their long, silky coats are very similar to human hair. That means they don't have an undercoat and shed less than other dogs. But it can also mean more knots if not brushed. This is why a lot of owners opt for shorter haircuts.
The Yorkshire Terrier is a very energetic, feisty, and bold dog breed perfect for an active family that wants a small bundle of positivity in their lives. If you have the time to exercise and bond with your toy dog, the Yorkshire Terrier is a perfect addition to almost any home.