With a long, silky coat and a bright personality, the Yorkshire terrier is a popular lap dog for good reason. These little dogs are sturdier and more vigorous than their hairdo would lead you to think. With a confident personality and a compact body, the Yorkshire terrier will happily accompany its owner on the couch, or on larger adventures to explore the world. Read on to learn more about the Yorkshire terrier.
Description of the Yorkshire Terrier
Sporting an ever-growing tan and blue coat, the Yorkshire terrier looks far more dainty than it is. They have huge personalities, and can be confident, bordering on bossy. Their coat is more like human hair than double-coated fur, making them less allergenic for some people. Like most terriers, this dog can be quite barky, and is a ferocious hunter of mice and moths alike.
The breed originated in Yorkshire, England, and is probably a descendent of several Scottish terriers such as the skye terrier and dantie dinmont terrier. The breed was originally a working-class mix used to kill mice and rats in mines, but quickly gained popularity with the proper English ladies.
Nowadays, this little dog is most popular as an urban apartment-dweller. They are bright, intelligent, and personable dogs in a small package – as long as you’re up for the grooming!
Life Expectancy and Size
Like many small and toy breed dogs, this dog will survive into its mid teens. Yorkies generally live to be 11 to 14 years of age. They are very small dogs, weighing around seven pounds, and standing just seven inches tall at the shoulder.
They may look larger than they are, thanks to their long coats, which may hide their legs if left long and well-groomed.
While no one would admit to being afraid of a dainty little dog with a bow in its hair, the Yorkie doesn’t know that! These little dogs have the classic terrier tenacity, and will throw themselves into a barking fit if allowed to do so.
While this breed isn’t likely to take down an intruder, a flurry of warning barks is often enough to spook a would-be burglar. These dogs are a decent deterrent if you don’t mind living with a barker.
These little dogs love being around their owners and are generally bright. While they may have that characteristic terrier stubbornness when faced with undue hardship or challenge, they’re generally easily motivated by treats and praise. Correction-based training often leads them to withdraw from training or “dig in their heels.”
These dogs have a penchant for problem-solving, and enjoy training games, especially in the form of fast-paced sports like agility. Naturally outgoing, the Yorkshire terrier is generally well-suited to therapy work.
Like most terriers, the Yorkie is an energetic companion in a small package. Though it’s been roughly 200 years since they had a “full-time job” as rat catchers in the mines, most of these dogs retain a strong desire to chase, pounce, play, and use their muscles.
Luckily for urban apartment-dwellers, it doesn’t take much to tire out a Yorkie. They require (and enjoy) regular walks and playtime, but won’t force you into becoming a marathon competitor.
What Living with a Yorkshire Terrier is Like
The Yorkshire terrier is the sort of dog that will greet you after a day of work ready to go for a walk. They are active and alert, and enjoy exploring the world. They can be quite barky and may yip at people if they’re overly excited (or overly fearful).
Generally a cheerful companion, most of these dogs are happy to go on adventures around town with their owners and will enjoy meeting people.
Like all dogs, it’s important to properly socialize and train your Yorkie. As puppies, many of these dogs may struggle with potty training due to their small size. They love being near their people, and may struggle with being left alone.
Care of the Yorkshire Terrier
While the Yorkshire terrier can be quite content to sit on your lap and ride around in your purse, these feisty little dogs are still true terriers at heart. Their long coats requires extensive care.
Despite its long coat, the tiny Yorkie does not do well in the cold. These dogs are simply too small for cold temperatures. That said, many do just well in colder climates with the help of sweaters and short potty breaks – or even potty pads in extreme cold. They are susceptible to ice balls forming in their hair when out in snow as well. They also do not do well in extreme heat, though their coats can be trimmed to suit the summer temperatures.
A perky and energetic terrier, the Yorkie requires a good amount of exercise each day. Luckily, a walk around a few blocks is generally enough for this tiny dog. Regular walks, playtime, and mental enrichment will keep your Yorkshire terrier slim and fit.
As a terrier, these dogs are often quite playful, and will enjoy fetch, tug, and other games for further energy burn.
Shedding and Grooming
The Yorkshire terrier’s long, silky coat never stops growing. That means that they require regular trimming to avoid constant brushing – or opt for constant brushing. Either way, this is not the dog for you if you’re unable to pay a groomer, or disinterested in learning to do it yourself. These little dogs are not the best dogs to learn the art of grooming on, thanks to their small size.
Many pet Yorkshire terriers will have a short “puppy cut,” as this is easier for the owner to care for. The long, flowing hair of a show Yorkie requires nearly constant work, as it sweeps the floor. The Yorkie’s coat is very similar to human hair and needs regular brushing and bathing to avoid serious tangles and messes.
They require baths several times per month, and should have the hair on their heads trimmed short or pulled into a topknot. These dogs do not shed much despite their extra-long locks.
Ideal Home Environment
This breed is adaptable and generally easy to care for, aside from their coat. They are generally hardier and more confident than some other small dogs, making them a slightly better fit for homes with children. That said, their small size makes them a bit too delicate for most children.
This dog will do well in almost any home that is committed to grooming properly and socializing their puppy. They are bright and active, and will enjoy being around “their people.” The Yorkshire terrier is generally a good choice for urban apartment-dwellers.
The Yorkshire terrier is generally quite healthy. Like almost all small dog breeds, they are vulnerable to luxating patellas. This condition involves a kneecap that can slip out of place, which is quite painful. These dogs can also be prone to eye issues. Ask your breeder to see certificates showing knee and eye evaluations for the parents before purchasing a puppy.
The Yorkshire terrier should be a confident and friendly little dog. That said, many dramatically under-socialized Yorkies demonstrate significant fear of strangers. Leash reactivity is common in the breed, whether that’s due to excitement or fear. Either way, it’s not uncommon to see a tiny Yorkie yapping and straining towards other dogs or people.
While some owners may think this behavior is cute or funny, it’s actually a demonstration of stress and over-arousal that should not be encouraged. Careful socialization with puppies as well as ongoing treat-based training will help curb leash reactivity. Ask your trainer to tell you how they’ll teach your dog what to do instead, and what will happen if the dog gets it wrong. Avoid trainers that rely heavily on corrections, as this often makes leash reactivity worse.