Yorskshire Terrier

A Quick Look at the Yorkshire Terrier…

Though the typical mental image of a Yorkshire Terrier is of a precious, pampered, and overly babied tiny dog that rides around in a designer purse or wears its own couture clothing, or standing pristinely at a dog show, in actuality, the Yorkie is indeed a terrier and lives up to its name with a personality many times its physical size and a tough inner hunting instinct.

Here are some fast facts about the Yorkshire Terrier:

Dog Group:
Terrier, Toy, AKC
Recognized By:
Dogs – 7 lbs. or less (3 kg or less)
Bitches – 7 lbs. or less (3 kg or less)
Dogs – 9-12 in. (23-31 cm)
Bitches – 9-12 in. (23-31 cm)
Average litter size:
Life expectancy:
9-15 years (average of 12)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:

Brief History

The Yorkshire Terrier, not surprising due to its name, finds its origins in Great Britain. It is among the most recent of all of the terrier breeds, as well as being the smallest.

The belief is that a small terrier dog was brought out of Scotland with a group of weavers who emigrated from the country in the mid Nineteenth Century. It is thought that this dog was bred with the Maltese, the Manchester Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Skye Terrier, and the Paisley Terrier.

At first, it was recognized and shown (starting in 1861) as the Scotch Terrier. It was not until 1886 that the breed became recognized as the Yorkshire Terrier by The Kennel Club (KC).

Not ten years passed before the Yorkshire Terrier was brought over to the United States and was recognized as an established breed there. Though it did still maintain some working class dog designation, right from the start it was considered to be a lapdog, family companion, and luxury pet. This being said, it was also commonly used as a ratter in many homes.

Yorkshire Terrier Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance – The Yorkshire Terrier is an attractive breed with a mixture of gold and blue coat coloring. With long, human-like hair, the Yorkshire Terrier is easy to recognize for its appearance. Due to the coat-type of the Yorkshire Terrier (in the less cottony cases), this is usually a dog of choice among people who have dog allergies. This being said, maintaining the appearance and fur style of this dog requires a great deal of attention. The Yorkshire Terrier is the second smallest dog breed.

Typical Temperament – Though they are very small, the Yorkshire Terrier is indeed a terrier and lives up to that type of breed in its temperament. Willful, independent, and bold, the Yorkshire Terrier is a powerhouse in a tiny package. This being said, these dogs also have a character that is all their own, sometimes enjoying meeting strangers, and behaving quite socially, though others can be more reserved and aloof. Training plays a critical role in the final temperament of the adult dog, though overall it can be predicted that just about any Yorkshire Terrier will be bubbly and relatively even-tempered.

Basic Yorkshire Terrier Care Requirements

Grooming – The silkier the Yorkshire Terrier’s coat, the easier it is to maintain. The woollier it is, the more challenging it is to keep up. On a daily basis, the coat should need only a good brushing to ensure that knots, mats, and snarls are not given the opportunity to build up, and that the coat and skin are kept clean. The dog will need to be bathed every few months – more frequently than other breeds, but not excessively, as it will cause drying of the skin and many dermatological issues and discomforts.

If the dog will be shown, its coat should be left to grow to floor-length, clipping only the tips of the ears and the hair on the feet. Most owners who are not showing their dogs, though, have the fur clipped much shorter to make it easier to maintain on a daily basis.

The long coat is extremely challenging to maintain and requires an experienced hand. This is because breakage must be very carefully avoided. This is generally accomplished by using a special coat oil on the hair and then having the hair wrapped in either tissue paper, rice paper, or plastic. Once every month, the oil should be rinsed away, and the wraps must be adjusted a few times every week to stop them from slipping and causing breakage.

Both the eyes and the anus area must be routinely cleaned using a clean moistened towel, to ensure that nothing is left in the area (mucus in the case of the eyes and feces in the case of the anus), which could lead to infection.

Exercise – Though tiny in size, the Yorkshire Terrier has abundant energy levels. The dog greatly enjoys the opportunity to run around in a yard or field. This being said, it is important to keep a Yorkshire Terrier leashed when not in a fenced area, since it has a strong terrier instinct and it will chase any prey it sees, from rodents to blowing leaves, or even something imaginary!

Approximate Food Cost – Since it is a very small dog, it is not one that costs a great deal to feed on a monthly basis. The cost and quantity of food consumed will vary depending on the age of the dog, his or her health and activity level, and the type of food he or she is eating, but generally speaking, he or she will eat about ½ to 1 cup of food every day and this will cost about $10-$15 every month.

General Health Information

Unfortunately, the Yorkshire Terrier is prone to a large number of illnesses both genetic and chronic. For example, Yorkshire Terriers have a high rate of tooth decay, loss, and infection, even at an early age, and should therefore regularly have their teeth cleaned by a veterinarian. They are also quite predisposed to bronchitis. They generally have weak digestion, meaning that owners must be very cautious as to what they feed their dogs, especially in terms of treats. The Yorkshire Terrier generally has a very low anesthetic tolerance.

Yorkshire Terriers are at risk of herniated disks and spinal issues that can lead to back-end paralysis. The bones of this breed are quite small and fragile, putting them at serious risk of breaks and fractures from falls and bumps.

Yorkshire Terriers who are less than 8 inches (20 centimeters) in size are prone to abnormal skull formations. The smaller Yorkshire Terriers (often referred to as “teacup” sized) have even greater health and behavioral problems and concerns.

Delivery problems and complications are extremely common among Yorkshire Terrier bitches.

Common Illnesses include: Tooth decay, loss of teeth and infection, open fontanellas, patella luxation, elongated soft palate with Perthe’s Disease, and a risk of trachea collapse.

Are You the Right Yorkshire Terrier Owner?

Living conditions – Yorkshire Terriers can live comfortably in just about any sized home, from an apartment to a large house. Since they can be very active indoors, they can be quite happy in a home that does not include a yard. Yorkshire Terriers are more comfortable in warmer climates as they are easily affected by the cold.

Training – Lots of attention and play time with a Yorkshire Terrier puppy will make a big difference in the adult dog’s eventual size and strength while helping to socialize them and help them to develop good manners around people. Due to the terrier instincts of this breed, training must be firm and consistent, using only positive reinforcement techniques. The main challenge for this breed is generally housetraining as opposed to obedience, though it is more than possible to housetrain any Yorkshire terrier with assertive persistence regarding the rules.

Common Problems – Though very high in energy, the Yorkshire Terrier is a tiny, fragile dog that is at very high risk of health issues. Everything from birthing complications to genetic problems to simply having a high risk of various chronic health problems can impact this breed. It is very important to carefully observe the health of the Yorkshire Terrier and remember to maintain strict veterinary visit routines.

Moreover, it is essential to ensure that this dog is treated gently, meaning that this may not be a good choice for families with children, who can forget how strong they are and could inadvertently hurt the dog, causing bone fractures, breaks, or worse.

Because this dog is so small, many owners fail to train and housetrain their pets. This only encourages problems later in the dog’s life, as insecurities, aggression, and lack of confidence can result from a lack of boundaries and understanding of what is expected of him or her.

The bottom line…

Yorkshire Terriers might be very small, but they are terriers all the way and have enormous personalities in those tiny packages. Though they can be highly sociable dogs, they are also keen watchdogs and will bark at anything that moves with a sound that is surprisingly loud compared to the dog’s size. If not properly controlled, a “yappy” dog characteristic can form.

Though relatively fragile in body, they are tough in spirit and meet other people and dogs boldly. They are more than willing to take on an opponent to defend what they perceive to be their own territory, without a hint of cowardice.

Yorkshire Terrier owners have an attractive dog that is easy to carry and that can live happily in an apartment or smaller home. However, they do still have to keep up with the maintenance of the long hair-like coat, consuming the time that would be used for exercise with other breeds. This being said, the type of coat featured by the Yorkshire Terrier makes it a wonderful choice for people who have dog allergies.

Owners adore the grace and wholehearted lust for life displayed by a Yorkshire Terrier and benefit from both the full personality and the tiny size.

Filed Under: Yorkie Training


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