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Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed

Yorkshire Terrier


The Yorkshire Terrier, also known as the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier, the Halifax Blue-and-Tan Terrier, the Yorkshire Blue-and-Tan Terrier and the Yorkie, became best known as a fashionable tiny accessory in the mid-1800s. However, its true origins lie with England’s working class, particularly with miners and weavers who immigrated to England from Scotland in the mid-19th century, where it was a prized ratter.

Today’s Yorkie is exclusively a charming companion and a competitive show dog and is one of the world’s most popular of all breeds. It has been described as being fearless, bossy, dynamic, intelligent and lively. When gaiting, a Yorkie gives the impression of being “mounted on wheels,” because its feet typically are not visible under its extremely long, flowing coat. Too much coddling can lead to neurotic behaviors, such as barking and aggression, and Yorkies can be somewhat difficult to housetrain.

One particular account involving a Yorkshire Terrier helped to endear the breed to millions of people. During World War II, an American soldier named William Wynne reportedly found a tiny Yorkie bitch in a shell hole near the Japanese line in New Guinea. Wynne named her “Smokey.” Smokey apparently rode in Wynne’s backpack and accompanied him on 150 air raids and 12 air-sea rescue missions before the war ended. According to one author: “Yorkshire Terriers have occupied almost every environment with style and moxy, from the mine shafts of northern England to the trenches of World War II to the halls of the White House in the United States, where Richard Nixon’s Yorkie, Pasha, was a regular visitor.” The Yorkshire Terrier was admitted to the American Kennel Club’s Toy Group in 1885.


The Yorkshire Terrier’s original function was to hunt and kill rats and other rodents in the mines and cotton mills in county Yorkshire in northern England. It is thought to trace back to a small, fairly long-coated, bluish-gray dog that typically weighed about 10 pounds, called the Waterside Terrier. The Waterside Terrier was common in the Yorkshire region and was popular with miners in the West Riding area. In the middle of the 19th century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, Scottish weavers and other laborers migrated south to England in search of work. They brought with them their small Scottish terriers of non-descript heritage. In Yorkshire, these dogs were crossed with local terriers to create the Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier, which became well-known as a superb ratter in local textile factories and coal mines. Over time, other crosses undoubtedly occurred. Although experts cannot agree on the Yorkie’s precise ancestors, the following breeds have been suggested: the Maltese Terrier, the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Waterside Terrier, the old rough-coated Black-and-Tan English Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, the Paisley Terrier, the now-extinct long-haired Leeds Terrier and the Clydesdale Terrier. The end result of whatever crosses took place eventually was called the Yorkshire Terrier. It was larger than today’s Yorkie and was tenacious enough to tackle even the largest and fiercest of rodents.

The Yorkie first appeared at a benched dog show in England in 1861, entered as a “Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier.” In 1865, a dog named Huddersfeld Ben was born and eventually became known as the foundation sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed, which The Kennel Club (Kennel Club (England) recognized in 1886. In 1870, after the Westmoreland show, the breed officially became known as the Yorkshire Terrier, based on the following comment in an article written by Angus Sutherland, a reporter for The Field: “They ought no longer to be called Scotch Terriers, but Yorkshire Terriers for having been so improved there.” For a time, the breed was shown as the Scotch Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier, without distinction.

Yorkies quickly became prized as fashionable companion dogs, particularly for high society ladies, as they were pretty, playful, personable and portable. Yorkies were selectively bred down in size, but their coat apparently did not shrink with their bodies. The result was the Yorkie we know today: a diminutive companion dog with a dramatic and abnormally long, metallic blue and rich golden coat. In the show ring, the Yorkie’s coat usually flows (drags) along the ground and must be tied up in a number of “pony tails” to keep it tidy while waiting to enter the ring.

Yorkshire Terriers were in the United States by at least 1872, when the first Yorkie litter reportedly was born in this country. The American Kennel Club recognized the Yorkshire Terrier as a member of its Toy Group in 1885. Yorkies have been shown in America since 1878. Early classes were divided by weight: under and over five pounds. Eventually, one class for dogs 3 to 7 pounds became part of the breed standard. Puppies are born black with tan markings, but mature to a dark, almost metallic steel-blue from the top of the head to the base of the tail, with rich golden tan on the face, topknot, chest and lower legs. Tails typically are docked to a medium length.

Today’s Yorkshire Terrier retains its terrier feistiness and can participate in virtually all of the activities enjoyed by larger terriers. Yorkies are bright, bold, brave and beautiful. While they are highly competitive in the conformation ring, their most common role is as a tiny, affectionate, frisky and enormously pampered pet.

Health Characteristics

The average life expectancy of the Yorkshire Terrier dog breed is between 12 and 15 years. This is on par with the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), but consistant with most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders more commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Yorkshire Terrier are as follows:

  • Bladder Stones
  • Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts.
  • Collapsing Trachea
  • Distichiasis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypoplasia of the Dens
  • Keratitis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: defined as the spontaneous degeneration of the hip (coxofemoral) joint.
  • Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation, commonly known as a “slipped knee cap,” occurs when the patella is displaced from the joint.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus: Abnormal connections between different chambers of the heart, or between heart vessels.
  • Endocardiosis
  • Short-hair Syndrome of Silky Breeds
  • Alopecia (Hair Loss): Defined as any deficiency of the normal hair coat. It does not necessarily refer only to hair “loss.”
  • Hepatic Lipidosis
  • Microvascular Portal Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Leads to malformation and degeneration of the elbow joint, with accompanying front limb lameness
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Group of degenerative eye disorders that eventually lead to permanent blindness in both eyes.
  • Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism is the physical absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum of a dog.
  • Testicular Neoplasia
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Atlantoaxial Subluxation
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye): Simply put, the dog does not produce enough tear film to adequately lubricate its eyes.
  • Corneal Dystrophy
  • Portosystemic Shunts
  • Retinal Detachment: Separation of the inner layers of the retina from its underlying pigmented layers.


The personalities of individual Yorkshire Terriers depends a lot upon how they are raised. Some are more spirited and plucky like a terrier, while others are delicate divas who require the royal treatment at all times. Yorkies are what usually comes to mind when someone says, “Purse Dog,” as well-to-do ladies have enjoyed carrying their Yorkie friends around in their handbags or under their arms for hundreds of years. These little dogs soak up attention and do not like to be left without companionship – even if your are only traveling to the kitchen. Owners say their Yorkies follow them from room to room like little shadows. They are excellent companions for the elderly who have the time to focus all of their energy on their dog, but can be just as happy in families of all sizes.

Activity Requirements

Yorkies do not require a lot of vigorous activity in order to remain healthy and happy. A daily stroll around the neighborhood an d some time to play every day will meet their requirements for exercise. Yorkies should always be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard when outdoors. They are scrappy little dogs who won't hesitate to pick fights with other dogs – no matter how large the dog may be – and they have a tendency to chase things.

The size of a Yorkie is very appealing to people who live in apartments and condos, and these dogs will do just fine in any sized home. All they require to thrive in life is food, water, moderate exercise and all the attention you can shower ton them.


Yorkies are moderately easy to train. They are terriers, and that means they have a stubborn, independent streak. Begin training early when your puppy is amenable to the process, and always conduct sessions with lots of praise and treats. Keep the sessions short, as Yorkies bore easily and try to vary the activity as much as possible.

House training a Yorkie ranges from easy to difficult, depending on the individual dog. Some Yorkies do not like the rain and will refuse to step outside when it is wet. Some just don't like to be told what to do, and others pick up on it in a matter of weeks. Puppy pads and canine litter boxes can help keep your carpet clean throughout the process. Some owners never get rid of the pads or boxes, because their Yorkies never fully give in to house breaking.

Behavioral Traits

Socialization is important in the healthy development of a Yorkie. They are naturally suspicious of new people and will bark incessantly, and in some extreme cases, will snap. Over-sheltered Yorkies tend to be neurotic, so while it may be tempting to constantly shield your dog from the outside world, they need to exercise some independence in order to be mentally sound.

Yorkies are yappy little dogs who can set your nerves on edge. They will bark at every little sight and sound, and are often difficult to live with in an apartment building where people are constantly coming and going. It is imperative that a Yokie learn to obey commands to stop barking.

Separation Anxiety is common in Yorkshire Terriers. They get attached to the people they love and as companion dogs, believe they are fulfilling their life's duty to be in the company of people. Leaving a Yorkie alone for extended periods of time is unfair to the dog. They are better suited for retirees or families with stay at home parents than they are with people who work long hours away from home.

Yorkshire Terrier


Yorkshire Terriers are small, long-haired toy terriers with compact and well-proportioned bodies. The coat is long and silky and should be steel blue and gold. All puppies are born black with tan points, and mature into their adult coats after one year. The hair is parted down the dog's back and grows to the flow. The head is flat with a medium-length muzzle. The bright eyes are dark with dark rims, and the button nose is black. The ears are small, triangular and erect. The tail of the Yorkshire Terrier is customarily docked to half the original length.

Size and Weight

The average height for a Yorkshire Terrier is 7.5 inches at the shoulder, and they should not weigh more than 7 pounds.

Coat and Color

Their coat is their distinguishing feature and must be fine, silky, perfectly straight and have a high gloss. The hair on the face is very long; the topknot between the ears typically is tied with one bow in the center or parted in the middle and tied with two bows, while the long hair on the muzzle is kept natural. Coat color is of prime importance in adult Yorkies. The body (from the back of the neck to the root of the tail) must be a dark steel-blue, not a silver-blue and not mingled with bronze, fawn or black hairs. The tail typically is a darker shade of the same color. The head, chest and lower half of the legs must be a rich golden tan, with individual hairs being darker at the roots, shading to lighter, brighter color at the tips.

Puppies are born with a black coat, and as they mature, it changes to blue and tan. Individuals who lighten before they are a year old are usually gray at maturity, rather than blue. The blue hair runs from the back of the head to the tail tip. The head is gold, as is the headfall. The hair at the base of the ears and on the muzzle is slightly darker, and no tan should reach beyond the ears. There is tan on the legs, but it should not go above the elbow.

Grooming Needs

Soft haired Yorkshire Terriers are prone to tangles, so brushing should be a daily occurrence to prevent mats and to keep the coat clean. Silky haired Yorkies need to be brushed at least three times per week, but their hair is not as prone to tangling. Regardless of coat texture, if the dog is not being shown, there is no practical need to keep the hair long, and many owners opt to clip the coat short in order to reduce maintenance.

Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Small dogs are prone to dental problems, especially later in life, so the more the teeth are brushed at home, the better. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear down the toenails naturally.



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