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.

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.

Coat

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.

Grooming

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.

Temperament

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.

Exercise

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?

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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JoshuaTree Grandma
May 9, 2020 10:20 pm

I have a dilemma maybe a breeder or someone who has experienced similar situation can help with
I am 50+ years old in my time here on this earth there have been four Yorkies that have owned me last year I Purchased a from a lady who could no longer take care of her she told me that this little girl was three years old, the vet also agreed with this. The lady also told me that this little girl had been fixed and could not have puppies. That was a concern of mine as we have a four-year-old boy (Yorkie) who is not fixed. We have 5 acres fenced in yard and we live in the middle of nowhere so not a huge need to worry about him being fixed. Mostly in the house….
Recently we found out she is not fixed while on a video chat due to this virus situation we have around the world the vet said looking at her belly she looked like she was about 6-8 weeks
This girl claimed she couldn’t really tell without examining her and doing an ultrasound but judging by the look of the belly that’s the conclusion she came to. Our little angels name is baby, baby is just barely 2.3 pounds, since I got off the phone with the vet yesterday I have not weighed her I’ve pretty much been in shock she might be a little more now. Then 2 pounds… The veterinarian informed me that baby was going to have to do a home delivery with us and that she would coach over the phone if she needed to. I am very concerned as baby is only as I said a 2 pound Yorkie is there anyone who has had a successful birthing with a small Yorky in the past and is there anything that I should know about that might happen with a smaller Yorkie ? When I asked the vet She replied baby will most likely be able to do it on her own and that I may need to help remove the membrane off the puppies face so baby can lick the puppy and get them breathing. If she is not able to get them breathing rub them in a warm towel and try to use a bulb syringe to suck the goop out of their mouth
I am very nervous about this please if anyone has had experience birthing puppies with a small Yorkie I would welcome any advice that anybody could give me in all of my years I have never birthed Yorkies
Saint Bernards great Danes German shepherds and Chihuahua ones for a friend of mine. But never a tiny little baby girl thank you for your time and I hope somebody can help me with answers and not criticism of the lady that told me baby was fixed or of me for that matter
Thanks in advance for your love and support
Sincerely,
JoshuaTree Grandma

Loretta Polk
April 2, 2020 9:42 pm

I received my 1st yorkie in 1984 as a Christmas present from my husband. I have never been without at least 1 yorkie in my house since. I addition to all you’ve already heard about yorkies, their personalities are all their own. Some of mine have been super cuddle bugs and others play fetch machines. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that pets don’t talk back to you like kids too. Believe me, they have a way of communicating what they want from you. And, they make fantastic travel companions. My husband and I started RVing about 12 years ago. They adapted quite well. 3 years ago, my husband passed away in our RV. They each laid beside him for hours until his body was removed by the mortuary attendants, I guess they were saying goodbye. But without my 2 yorkies, I don’t think I would have held it together.

Dinah Doolin
January 23, 2020 11:28 pm

I have a seven yr old Yorkie. .

Patricia Ann Saylor
January 20, 2020 5:51 pm

Hi..I have a Yorkie Poo & he is 14yrs. & the love of my life..great health..still has his teeth & chases Squirrels…very active when we walk
He never let’s me out of his sight
He eats Cesar’s & has all his life…plus loves ice tea & sleeps with me..his name is BABE’ & HE IS MY BABE’….THANK U

Sandra Saling
October 15, 2019 8:41 pm

I just adopted a yorkie from my neighbor. She is a surgeon and works 3 days a week at a shelter. She found him on the side of the road. Someone dumped him cause he is old. We call him Tuffie. He is a delight. He has tumors and is 12 so I am going to just love him til he passes. He was groomed today and is a doll baby. Potty trained too.

lisa M. Killebrew
October 1, 2019 12:18 am

I always heard that potty training them was difficult. But not impossible. Also,its the silky Yorkshire that has silky long hair. The Yorkshire terrier doesn’t.

Amber
January 25, 2020 12:19 pm

The Yorkshire Terrier does have silky hair. In fact, it’s the show standard for Yorkshire Terriers to have long silky hair.
“Yorkie coat type is a matter color, texture and length. Yorkies come in three coat types: silk, soft and wiry.” https://pets.thenest.com/yorkie-silk-coat-soft-coat-5753.html
My Yorkie is a Red Legged Yorkie and he is almost 3 years old. Still hasn’t changed color and has a wavy coat. There is a dog that is similar called the Silky Terrier that looks almost identical to Yorkies but they are bigger and longer with a more wedge shaped head. Their ancestors are Yorkshire Terriers and Australian Terriers. People sometimes get them confused with purebred Yorkies.

Bunny
November 2, 2019 11:11 am

I’ve had 4 Yorkies since 1999. If you treat them well they will do anything to please you! NO they are not hard to potty train it takes patience and love. And lastly yes Yorkies can have long silky hair which requires daily grooming. I also had a Silkie and they too have beautiful coats…..again as long as u brush them and keep them groomed. They are for me the best breed but I’m biased. They are the best dogs ever….but there are alot of breeds and mixes that are lovable as well. Just depends what you like if you’re a true dog lover!

Amy Aaron
November 1, 2019 4:44 am

The author of this article knows nothing about yorkies. Notoriously difficult to housebreak!

Joan
February 27, 2020 12:51 pm
Reply to  Amy Aaron

No way! I have many a Yorkie, at one time 5 and loved everyone of them, male or female❤️smart,smart dogs! Love them and will always have a Yorkie in my life….never had a problem pottie training one.

Meliss
January 12, 2020 5:40 pm
Reply to  Amy Aaron

My 7mo. old sure is

Lil
January 10, 2020 4:42 pm
Reply to  Amy Aaron

My yorkie was very easy to house train he was a baby doll lived to be 12 yrs old and very healthy

Heather Taylor
January 1, 2020 2:55 am
Reply to  Amy Aaron

I’ve owned three Yorkies and they were very easy to train in all aspects especially housebreaking

Trina
November 29, 2019 9:35 pm
Reply to  Amy Aaron

My female Yorkie started using a pee pad at 8 weeks and to me she was one of the easiest dogs I have ever trained

Dana Berels
November 16, 2019 2:10 pm
Reply to  Amy Aaron

That was not my experience. I’ve had 2 Shih Tzu’s and 3 Yorkies. Currently 1 Shih Tzu and 2 Yorkies. All except my original Shih Tzu are pee pad trained and I found it fairly easy. Original Shih Tzu went outside but was very easy to train. Guess I was lucky.

Linda Tingler
August 19, 2019 2:17 pm

I have two yorkies males they want to fight all time we have to

Sheri
July 19, 2019 10:20 pm

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
September 3, 2019 9:40 pm
Reply to  Sheri

Love to get the yorkie

Nancy Coughlin
May 11, 2019 2:23 am

I need a little help. How do I train my Yorkie pup not to bite?

Heather Taylor
January 1, 2020 2:57 am
Reply to  Nancy Coughlin

You have to take control bop him on the nose with your finger and say no or worst case scenario lightly grip his muzzle with your thumb and pointer finger and say no if the bopping on the nose doesn’t work..they are very smart you’re not hurting him and it won’t take long and he’ll get the message

Lusti Case
December 18, 2019 5:31 am
Reply to  Nancy Coughlin

I watched a segment on tv where when they nip you shake a penny jar, mine was very bad at this nipping thing, especially when left alone and then I came home in his excitement of my arrival he would nip so I shook the penney jar and it scared him and he eventually learned that the nipping had to stop, he’s so much better now I even used my car keys one day because I left the penny jar out of reach and that worked whatever will startle them.

Amanda
January 11, 2020 6:09 pm
Reply to  Lusti Case

Wonderfull idea, I’m looking for a Yorkie now , my doc wrote me a script for one in for emosinel help , u live Yorkie they are so much fun and loving , my heart melts when I see one , I had one yrs ago she lived 15 yrs when she crossed over Rainbow bridge

Trina
November 29, 2019 9:39 pm
Reply to  Nancy Coughlin

When my little girl started chewing and biting all I did was tell her no and give her a toy she was aloud to bite and chew

Pamela Corsica York
September 2, 2019 5:53 pm
Reply to  Nancy Coughlin

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..

(Admin)
Kimberly Alt
May 13, 2019 3:04 pm
Reply to  Nancy Coughlin

Check out this article: How To Stop A Dog From Biting

Maria
March 11, 2019 5:38 pm

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
March 10, 2019 12:42 pm

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?

JoshuaTree Grandma
May 9, 2020 10:40 pm

Call your shelter and most of them will call you when they get one mine has we live in a small town. I have fostered in the past. They are expensive May I suggest insurance as they are seen almost as much as tow legged humans. I think that mite be part of the reason they are so expensive.
Rule of thumb
If one doesn’t have funds for vet bills you may want to rethink the breed.
(I’m in no way insinuating you don’t)
But most breeders will figure if you can put out a larger some an them they will be cared for properly.
But most of the rescues have been due to a gift someone gave and then the gifting person finds out later they gave up the gift for one reason or another. So….
Buy due try your local shelter

Betty Bricker
August 3, 2019 10:01 am

unitedyorkierescue.com

Leslie
June 23, 2019 7:25 am

Google a yorkie rescue, they are often to be found at shelters.

Jennie Antonelli
August 10, 2018 7:58 am

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

dee snoddy
April 16, 2019 12:56 pm

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

Brenda
November 23, 2019 11:38 am
Reply to  dee snoddy

I have a year old Yorkie that uses the bathroom pad for pooping but I have not been able to potty train. I take him out about every Two hours but he just doesn’t seem to catch on.

Lynda Garner
August 12, 2018 9:52 am

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

Karen Shaw
March 1, 2020 10:12 pm
Reply to  Lynda Garner

Try putting the peepad outside when you put the dog outside to go pottie. Put it where you want him to go pottie and encourage him to use it, when he does give loads of praise if he misses just ignore it and try again next time. He will ‘get it’ after a while and once he is using the pad outside the regularly make the pad smaller and smaller till it’s gone altogether.

Ceci-Stephanie, Escondido California
August 7, 2018 11:44 pm

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!!!

Fran
July 1, 2018 9:30 am

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.

Beth
September 5, 2018 10:51 pm
Reply to  Fran

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.

(Admin)
Kimberly Alt
July 2, 2018 9:49 am
Reply to  Fran

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.

Carey
January 12, 2018 6:12 pm

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
June 14, 2017 2:28 pm

Yorkies are the absolute BEST dogs…although I may be bias since I have one 😉 hehe