Dog Breed Guide – Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)

Dog Breed Guide - Yorkshire Terrier

All You Need to Know about Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are known as ‘ Yorkies’. They are among the top most popular toy dog breeds in the USA. This is attributed to their loving big personalities, elegance, loyalty to their owners and their suitability for apartment living.

This breed of dogs originated from Yorkshire in Northern England in the mid 19th century when Scottish workers came in search for work together with varieties of dog breeds.

The Yorkie primarily came as a result of inter breeding with various dog breeds such as the Clydesdale Terriers, the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier, the Skye Terrier, and the Waterside Terrier.

Physical Attributes

Yorkshire Terriers stand at a height of approximately 8 to 9 inches at the shoulder and weigh approximately between 4 to 7 pounds.

They have a small-sized head that flattens at the top and a medium-sized black colored muzzle. Their eyes are dark with dark eye rims. Their ears stand erect and are v-shaped.

Their feet stand straight when viewed from the front and their toe nails are also black in color.

They have a long fine silky glossy coat that falls straight down to their feet. It is usually steel blue or tan in color. Their puppies, on the other hand, can either be brown, black or tan in color.

The hair at the base of their ears and around the muzzle is slightly darker. The tan on their head does not extend past the ears with no black hairs mixed with the tan.

Their legs are also tan in color and does not extend past the elbows.

All Yorkies are born black and lighten gradually as they grow older. Hormonal changes can also affect the color of their fur with females becoming lighter when on heat and darken thereafter when out of season.

Their tails are usually docked or are medium-sized.

Their fur is a lot on the head and can hinder their sight or get into food while easting. Most owners opt to put it up in a bun or in most cases trim it.

Personality and Temperament

Yorkshire Terriers are known for their adventurous spirit. They are brave, intelligent, loyal and enjoy the company of their owners. They can be aggressive to strangers and bark at suspicious sounds and small animals though this can be managed through early socialization.

They make good watchdogs.

They bark a lot and need good leadership otherwise they can take over the home and can be manipulative. If the owner does not demonstrate good park leadership, these dogs may express jealous behavior and may snap when frightened, over teased or when surprised. For this reason Yorkies are best suited for older children and adults who can take charge of them.


Yorkshire Terriers can be somewhat difficult to train and crate training may be required. Owners need to be patient and consistent for good results. They respond well to gentle and positive reinforcement.

They are quite receptive to learning tricks that require agility or obedience but can difficult to house train. Many owners opt to paper train to avoid trips outdoors when they need a toilet break.

Yorkies do not respond to extreme cold or heat, therefore, best suited as house dogs.

When it comes to their diet, they can be picky eaters and have a sensitive digestive system. They are also quite prone to teeth and gum problems which can contribute to their eating disorders. This mostly applies to their canines which at times do not fall off during teething. This may obstruct the new teeth growing leading to dental problems later in life.


Yorkies require approximately a quarter to half a cup of dry food divided throughout the day. The amount of food however highly depends on their size, level of activity and metabolism as not all dogs are the same.

It’s best to feed them two meals a day rather than leaving food out throughout the day to avoid obesity.


As mentioned above, Yorkshire Terriers have long, straight, silky hair that falls to the ground. They have a single coat which hardly sheds.

If your Yorkie has a soft coat as opposed to the silky type, regular brushing is needed to keep it from matting and tangling. Always apply conditioner before brushing to prevent hair breakage.

Regular brushing of teeth is also necessary as they are prone to dental problems such as tartar and periodontal disease.

Remember to also trim their nails to prevent any tears. If you hear them clicking on the floor, then they are probably too long. Care should be taken when trimming not to do so too far off the nail to avoid bleeding.

Trim hair around the anal hair to prevent any impaction by stool. Have their anal glands drained regularly as well to prevent infection and discomfort.

This also applies to their ears, they should be cleaned regularly to prevent ear infections .Always check for any off smell and abnormal discharge.

To make grooming easier accustoming them to being brushed and handled especially the paws while they are young helps to prevent aggressiveness when older.

Care and living conditions

Yorkies are well suited for apartment living. They are quite active indoors therefore not requiring a yard for exercise. They, however, enjoy walks outdoors.

They are also prone to extreme cold or heat, therefore, should not sleep in kennels.

Yorkies do not thrive in households with small children. Most breeders won’t sell to owners with children below 6 years. This is because they can be stepped on, handled too tightly or at risk of being dropped as they are very delicate

Yorkies do well in multi-pet households especially if socialized very early.

Health problems

Yorkshire Terriers are prone to various health problems. These include:

  • Patellar luxation: This is displacement of the knee cap which can predispose them to arthritis and other joint degenerative diseases. This often leads to lameness and abnormal gait. This condition is usually present at birth but manifests later in life.
  • Hypoglycemia: This is decrease in blood sugar which usually occurs during periods of stress e,g. lactation. Symptoms include seizures, lethargy, wobbly gait, etc.
  • Dental, ear and eye infections.
  • Collapsed trachea: This manifests as a chronic, dry, harsh cough.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: This is a degenerative eye disease that occurs when there is loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. Blindness usually occurs gradually.