Yorkshire Terrier: The Ultimate Companion Dog?

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Yorkshire Terrier licking its noseDo you not have much of a yard, or live in an apartment? The Yorkshire Terrier could be a perfect fit for your lifestyle. The Yorkshire Terrier, commonly known as the Yorkie, is a spunky little dog with a personality that far outweighs its small stature. A widely sought-after companion dog, the Yorkshire Terrier ranks as the ninth most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club’s annual rankings. Read on to learn more about the Yorkie’s characteristics, health issues, temperament and much more.

What’s The History Of The Yorkshire Terrier?

The Yorkie is named for Yorkshire, England, where breeders developed them in the 19th century to catch rats in cotton and wool mills. The Yorkshire Terrier traces back to the Waterside Terrier, a breed formed by crossing the rough-coated Black-and-Tan English Terrier with the Paisley and Clydesdale Terriers. Weavers brought the developing breed to England when they emigrated from Scotland. Although originally bred as a working dog, the Yorkie became a popular companion and show dog to families of European high society.

The Yorkshire Terrier made its first appearance in North America in 1872, and the first AKC registration was in 1885. As popular in the U.S. as it was in England for decades, the breed hit a low point in the 1940s when smaller breeds lost popularity. But a Yorkie named Smoky, famous as a World War II soldier’s companion and war hero, renewed enthusiasm for the breed. Since then, the Yorkshire Terrier has remained one of America’s favorites.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) classifies Yorkshire Terriers in the Toy Group for their “diminutive size and winsome expressions.” This breed is formally recognized by the CKC, FCI, AKC, KC, UKC, KCGB, CKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, and ACR.

The Yorkshire Terrier’s Overall Appearance

The Yorkie’s body is compact and well-proportioned, with a height ranging from 6-9 inches. The breed standard weight is under seven pounds, but some can reach 10 pounds.  The Yorkie has a high head carriage and small, V-shaped, erect ears. His tail should be docked to medium length. Other than its small size, the most distinguishing characteristic of this breed is their coat and color.


Purebred Yorkshire Terriers have amazing coats that distinguish them from many other breeds. What’s the breed standard? Their hair must be glossy, silky, fine, and perfectly straight. The coat is grown out very long and parted on his face and down the middle of his back. But the coat color is what sets them apart. Yorkshire Terrier puppies are black and tan, but their coloring transitions into blue and gold as adult dogs. Traditionally the blue color starts from the back of the neck and runs to the end of the tail, but some Yorkies have variations.


A Yorkie’s coat must be long (to floor length) for shows, but many owners trim the hair short for easier maintenance. If left long, their coat is challenging to maintain on a daily basis. They require daily brushing and a coat oil to keep the hair from getting knotted. The good news? Yorkshire Terriers have minimal shedding. Yorkies need regular bathing (once every three weeks), nail trimming and teeth brushing.

Tail Docking

The AKC and Canadian Kennel Club require the Yorkie’s tail be docked to a medium length to compete in shows. Tail docking is still a common practice in the U.S., but the practice is controversial in most areas of the world. Many countries, including Australia, Finland, Greece, Norway and Sweden, ban tail docking.

Popular Breed Variations

There are a couple of popular breed variations with the Yorkshire Terrier. These don’t include hybrid breeds.

Parti Yorkie

The defining characteristic of the Parti Yorkie is its coat color. Parti Yorkies have the traditional coloring of black, tan and white, but many different color combinations occur with this Yorkshire Terrier variation. Although the AKC has included the Parti classification since 2000, there’s still some debate among hardcore Yorkie breeders that the Parti shouldn’t be considered a true representation of the breed.

Teacup Yorkie

“Teacup” Yorkshire Terrier is a common term used to describe tiny adult Yorkshire Terriers (less than 4 pounds). The AKC and other kennel clubs don’t recognize the Teacup as a separate variety of the breed, and breeding practices for the “Teacup” are controversial and widely discouraged by responsible breeders. Teacups are bred to resemble Yorkie puppies for a mass market appeal. Health issues are a major concern with Teacups: the mother faces a great risk during pregnancy because she’s too small to give birth naturally, resulting in a high mortality rate.

Characteristics Of The Yorkshire Terrier

Although members of the Toy Group, Yorkshire Terriers embody many strong features shared in the Terrier Group.


The Yorkie’s above average intelligence, loyalty and small size make it easy to train. Always up for an adventure, Yorkies love to accompany their owners on walks, at the park or even just running errands. They don’t do well if left alone for long periods of time. Yorkies crave attention and love a good play session or a warm lap. They’re also highly courageous dogs not known for timid or fearful personalities. Their bravado and loyalty make them overprotective with their owners — they’d be excellent watchdogs if not for their size. Yorkies tend to bark a lot, but with regular attention and training, their excessive barking can be curbed.


Because originally bred as working dogs, Yorkies tend to need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Short walks and indoor play time should be part of their everyday routine to satisfy a higher than average energy level.

Health Concerns And Lifespan

Like all purebreds, Yorkies aren’t immune to certain hereditary conditions and health problems. The most common concerns include retinal dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (thigh bone degeneration), luxating patella (kneecap dislocation), collapsed trachea, and portosystemic shunt (a liver condition). Yorkshire Terriers have a longer than average lifespan of 14-16 years.

Pet Insurance Testimonial

Yorkshire Terrier: Lola
Pet Parent: Michael
Injury/Illness: Autoimmune disease
Petplan Reimbursement: $8,000

Petplan is the pet best insurance for your fur babies!!!! My wife and I have several dogs, including Lola, our precious 4 year old Yorkie. Recently, she became quite ill from an autoimmune disease. One can imagine how sad we became to see our little bundle of joy go from running and barking in her yard to being immobile and unable to move. We took her to several doctors, and yes, the vet bills were quite expensive, nearly $8,500. But after all, Lola is family and our focus was making sure she got the best care. Needless to say, we found excellent doctors and Lola is on the road to recovery. Petplan reimbursed us nearly $8,000 so far for her care. Lola will be on medication the rest of her life, but my wife and I are grateful to Petplan for standing by us and enabling us to get the best treatment for our fur baby, Lola.

Learn More About Pet Insurance Here

A View Into The Yorkie

Check out this video to see the Yorkshire Terrier in action and to learn more about this breed.

Is The Yorkshire Terrier The Right Dog For You?

Below is a breakdown of the Yorkie’s characteristics to help you choose if this sprightly, clever little pup is a good match for you and your family.

  • Minimal Need for Experience: This breed is a good fit for new dog owners with little experience.
  • Good Adaptability: Yorkies don’t require a yard and are well-suited for apartment living. This breed handles heat well but doesn’t tolerate cold climates due to its size.
  • Moderate Activity: Short walks and indoor play will keep these energetic dogs happy. They don’t need much exercise to stay in shape.
  • Good with Children: This breed behaves well with kids, as long as you show them how to be gentle with the dog. They’re also very friendly with strangers, but can be shy around other pets.
  • Moderately Easy Training: The Yorkshire Terrier is an intelligent dog that loves to please, so training (including house breaking) is usually relatively easy. Some, however, can be stubborn but will learn gradually.
  • High Grooming Maintenance: The Yorkie’s coat requires regular grooming and clipping.
  • Minimal Shedding: This breed is an excellent choice if you don’t want dog hair all over your house and car.
  • Moderate Watchdog Ability: The Yorkie will bark and alert its owners of unwanted intruders, but its size won’t be a deterrent.

What are the most important characteristics of a dog breed for your lifestyle?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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Linda Tingler
I have two yorkies males they want to fight all time we have to
I have 3 wonderful yorkies..yes I have to put pee pads down for long hours at work….I do have a newly acquired yorkie from my aunt who is a champion breeder who needed a home…she only goes potty on a pad.
My kids are clowns…each has a beautiful personality. But are very fierce with strangers and think they own the boardwalk when I take them to the local beach.
We comb them during TV time each night which relaxes them. I oil their coats to keep it from being fly-away crazy.
I keep sweaters and shirts for them when it is chilly, since my power rate is crazy in the winter here in Tacoma
I love having Yorkies….there is nothing better than having the ‘mini herd’ as I call them snuggled up with us at night or their excitement on a new car adventure!
Dianna Howard
Love to get the yorkie
Nancy Coughlin
I need a little help. How do I train my Yorkie pup not to bite?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Check out this article: How To Stop A Dog From Biting
Pamela Corsica York
My sisters dog is so active that she cant control her. She leaves deap scratches on her arm. She 81 and this dog is wild..
I had a tea cup Yorkie for 13 years and 4 months. She thought she was people. She was very loving, sweet natured, and protective of all her human family member’s. She treated us all like we were her puppies for her to watch over and take care of, even though she had never had real puppies of her own. I got her when she was 8 weeks old. When she passed away we all grieved her passing deeply, which is a testimony to how much she deeply loved each of us and how deeply we each loved her in return. I would highly recommend adding a Yorkie to your life if you have the time to devote to having a pet in your life, because a yorkie will be 100 percent devoted to you.
Itala Engelking
Why is so difficult for adopting one I try for like a year for have one for us we love have one but is really difficult here in Virginia and expensive to?
Google a yorkie rescue, they are often to be found at shelters.
Betty Bricker
Jennie Antonelli
I just got a Yorkie who is 13 months old. I was told he was house trained and for the most part he is he pees outside but he will poop in the house and I can’t figure it out. I love her as she stays with me all the time. Her name is Bella
Lynda Garner
My Yorkie was trained on prepare when I got her and she will hold it outside and run to the pad as soon as I let her in. She can be out for an hour and still holds it. I have tried removeing the pad but she just goes to the spot and uses it anyway. Frustrated
dee snoddy
I had a Male Yorkie for 11 years. We never got him completely pottie trained. I’ve always heard that they can be difficult when it comes to this.
We recently got another Male that is 13 months old and never has an accident. So in short, it really just depends on the individual furbaby
Ceci-Stephanie, Escondido California
I’m truly sorry to your loss. I can relate. Yorkies are the best dogs. I had one that was trained to be a true “Service Dog”. In 1996-1998 he trained for two years. His name was, Spike. He was trained to be an Asthma/Seizure Alert Dog. He alerted me every time I was going to have a seizure or asthma attack. All my friends couldn’t believe that a 7 pound dog could be a Service Dog. He would alert me growling under his breath or running in circles around me. I was cooking lunch one day bowling water for spaghetti. I was about to have a seizure, he had gotten in front of me, jumped & I fell back. My seizure had come on quickly, he quickly jumped on me and pushed me to the floor. If it wasn’t for him I would of fallen forward and injured myself. He also was trained to undressed me buy pulling my socks, pants,shirts,and blouses off. He would retrieve my meds, things I dropped from my wheelchair. He would open cupboard doors for me. He was the best service dog I had. He past away on November 9, 2009. That was the hardest day of my life. I think about him every day, and that’s the truth. The second Service Dog I had was a 110 pound chocolate Labrador, he was my big baby. But he didn’t come close to all of the things that Spike did for me. He was good but not as good as Spike spike did a lot more for me and that’s the truth. I now have a rescue who at the time was approximately six and a half for seven years old. He is a Yorkie mix, he also is a seizure a smaller dog. I find that your keys are extremely easy to train. He is now 12 and a half years old, and has a few health issues. Last year knowing his age, I went looking for a Yorkie puppy. He’s been training for a little over 10 months now, and is making great progress. My service dog trainer loves Yorkies because they’re so sharp and learn fast. Although they do have their attitudes and their moods at times. But all in all they’re the best service dogs in my opinion! My Yorkie’s are so quiet of course they were talk to me that way, my neighbor is unbearable and Barks A lot. All in all and give them all the love and attention they need and want they’ll give you the best years of your life!!!
We just had to say goodbye to our little Yorkie Tiger. He was 17 years old but he was getting blind and losing his hearing and his sense of smell. He went down fast as he could not stand on his legs they would collapse under him he lost alot of weight and he would not eat very much. He had a cough which I could never understand why the vet was not concerned about it. The day we had to let him go his breathing was hard and he could not move. He fell over when he was let out to do his business. He only had his four canine teeth left but I am not sure if that is what brought him down. I just dont know what happened to him and I am so distraught over his passing. He was a good dog he never barked he never whined and he loved us so much. We miss him so much but it was a good 17 years. I just wish we had answers as to why he died.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Fran. 17 years is a long life for a dog and I bet you made the most out of those years with Tiger. I bet he lived a wonderful life for him to be around for 17 years. Perhaps your vet could offer some insight as to what your yorkie died from. Also, you may find this article helpful, How To Deal With The Death Of Your Dog. My thoughts are with you.
My Yorkie also had a cough. The vet said it was heart failure and nothing could be done. His lungs were filling with fluid. He lived a few months more before his breathing got too hard and I had to put him to sleep.I still miss him.
I think that Yorkies are one of the best companion dog breeds. They will follow you everywhere like a shadow and will be happy to be with their parents all day if possible.
Yorkie mom
Yorkies are the absolute BEST dogs…although I may be bias since I have one 😉 hehe