Yorkshire Terrier: The Ultimate Companion Dog?

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.

Article Overview

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

Yorkshire Terrier outsideThe 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.


Yorkie Eating Dog Food in BowlThe 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

Video: 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?

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