The Yorkshire Terrier is often considered a “froufrou” dog, but it is anything but. This member of the Toy Group is actually quite playful, strong-willed, and friendly. Of the 193 breeds registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), it ranks 9th, making the Yorkshire Terrier one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and it’s just as beloved around the globe.
The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, originated England’s Yorkshire and Lancashire counties during the middle part of the 19th century. It is believed to be the descendent of several types of terriers, such as the Dandie Dinmont, the Manchester, the Maltese, and the Clydesdale (which no longer exists). The creation of the breed is unclear. Some historians believe that it was developed to hunt rats, foxes, and other vermin; other accounts report that it was created as a companion animal for those who resided in Northern England and were unable to keep larger breeds.
Whatever the purpose of the breed, the Yorkie was largely used as a ratter, meaning that it would hunt rats and other vermin that infested mine shafts, mills, and tight-fitted locations. The dogs were sent in to hunt and kill the pests, making the locations safer for humans to enter. The English Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1886, and it’s popularity grew. The long, flowing coats and sweet disposition of the Yorkie caught the attention of many and it became a fashionable pet among women. The first Yorkshire Terriers were larger than the breed that is known today. As dogs shifted from exterminators to companion animals, selective breeding miniaturized the Yorkie so that it could comfortable sit in the laps of their owners.
The Yorkshire Terrier appeared in the United States during the 1870s. A female Yorkie named Belle was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1885, and thus the breed became one of the 193 AKC-recognized purebred dogs.
Characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier
Next, we’ll go into the appearance and temperament of the Yorkshire Terrier.
Yorkshire Terriers are a part of the AKCs Toy Group. They have very small frames; males stand up to 9 inches high, while females are up to 8 inches tall, and both genders weigh between 5 and 7 pounds. Their bodies are compacted and even proportioned. Their heads are flat and their muzzles are medium in length. They have dark, yet bright eyes, and a small black nose. The ears of the Yorkie stand erect and are triangular in shape.
Besides its small size, the most distinguishable feature of the Yorkshire Terrier is its coat. It’s long, fine, straight, and has a very high sheen. The colors of the coat can vary; however; in order to be registered with the AKC, the hair that runs from the back to the hindquarters, right at the start of the tail, must be dark steel blue in color, and the tail is a similar color, but darker, while he lower portion of the legs, the head, and the chest must be a deep golden-tan color. Of course, not all Yorkies are registered with the AKC, and they can be comprised of a variations of the aforementioned colors, and these colors can appear in different ways; bronze, black, and fawn are other colors that are commonly associated with Yorkshire Terriers.
The average life expectancy of a Yorkshire Terrier is 11 to 15 years.
Yorkshire Terriers are often believed to be prissy or dainty dogs. That is largely due to their appearance; the small stature and long, flowing coat of this breed. However, in reality, the Yorkie is anything but dainty. These fun-loving dogs have a penchant for play and they are incredibly courageous and quite feisty. The tenacity of this breed can make them a bit pushy, too. For a such a small dog, the Yorkie has a lot of personality; in fact, their personality rivals some of the largest breeds.
Generally, Yorkshire Terriers do well with people of all ages, including the elderly and families with older children. With proper training, they can do well with younger children and other pets, too. Do not assume that because a Yorkie is small and can easily fit on your lap that it is a true lap do. Conversely, this breed prefers figuring out how to manipulate interactive dog toys and chasing around plush dog toys to lounging the day away. Due to their confidence and strong will, they can even manage to wrangle rope and tug toys. Once they’re tired out, however, they will happily curl up in the laps of their human companions or in a dog bed that’s near their family. The Yorkie thrives on companionship and does not like to be left alone.
Because of their size, confidence, and bravery, Yorkshire Terriers make wonderful travel companions. Generally, they do very well in a car and will look forward to taking a drive. Do make sure that you invest in a dog car seat, as well as a dog seat belt to ensure your pet is properly secured. The Yorkie is also very adaptable and will easily transition from location to location and do well in various types of settings, be it a large house or a small apartment.
There are a few traits that Yorkies exhibit that are less than desirable. They have a tendency to bark a lot, and their bark can be quite shrill. If they are not properly trained, they can be aggressive toward smaller animals, other dogs, and young children, as a result of their innate instinct to attack anything that they believe is a threat. Yorkies can be difficult to train; particularly, they are notorious difficult to housebreak. And lastly, because of their long coats, grooming is a constant requirement.
With socialization and proper training, the undesirable traits that Yorkies may exhibit can be controlled and this breed can make an excellent pet for all types of families and in all types of living situations.
Caring for a Yorkshire Terrier
In order to ensure a Yorkshire Terrier lives a happy, healthy life, it’s important to understand the care requirements of the breed. With proper care, they can maintain optimal health.
Being that Yorkshire Terriers are such a small breed, they require a diet that is specially formulated for their size. For example, they should consume fewer daily than a larger breed dog; experts recommend a caloric intake of around 200 to 250 calories per day; however, younger and more active Yorkies may require more calories, while older and less active dogs may require fewer.
Yorkshire Terriers require a well-balanced diet that is comprised of wholesome ingredients. Their diet should be comprised of about 30 to 40 percent protein from premium sources; chicken, beef, salmon, duck, and bison are all great sources of protein and they should be listed as the first ingredients. Yorkies also need to consume healthy fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as these nutrients nourish the skin and coat. This breed will also benefit from the nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cranberries, sweet potatoes, peas, apples, and carrots. To ensure your pet is getting the vital nutrition that he needs, opt for a reputable brand of food for small dogs. Not only do these formulas offer the proper nutrition that smaller sized breeds require, but if you are selecting a dry dog food, the kibble is properly sized so that the small mouth of a Yorkie can easily handle it.
Yorkies are predisposed to obesity, which can cause a host of complications as a result of the breed’s small size. Therefore, it’s important to establish an eating routine and stick to it. Offer your pet properly portioned meals at a consistent time each day, and do not allow your Yorkie to “free range” eat, as leaving food accessible at all times can increase the risk of weight gain. To help your pet support a healthy weight, consider feeding him dog food for weight loss.
There are several reputable commercial brands that offer dog food for Yorkies. Some of the best brands to consider include:
A long, luxuriant coat of hair is the trademark of the Yorkshire Terrier. This breed’s coat is more like human hair than it is fur, and it is considered hypoallergenic. Surprisingly, it doesn’t shed as much as one might think. But, because their hair is so long, it can tangle and form into mats if it is not properly cared for.
To prevent tangles, remove spent hair, and facilitate the production of natural oils that will nourish the skin and coat, brushing your Yorkie on a daily basis is a must. A thin-bristled comb can be used to remove tangles, followed by a long, think-bristled dog brush, which will remove expelled hair. In addition to regular brushing, the coat also needs to be trimmed regularly. Their hair grows at a rapid rate should be clipped frequently to maintain its length. If you are not showing your dog, you might consider keeping your Yorkie’s hair short so that it is easier to maintain and if you feel confident, you may be able to use dog grooming clippers to trim our pet’s hair at home. If you are showing your Yorkshire Terrier, you might want to consider professional grooming to ensure that your pet’s coats meets breed standards.
Bathing should occur once every 6 weeks, or as-needed. Excessive bathing can strip the skin of natural oils, which can lead to dryness and can damage the hair; however, waiting too long between baths can detract from the look and smell of your pet Furthermore, an unclean coat can increase the risk of skin irritations and infections. Use a quality dog shampoo when bathing your pet; preferably, one that is hypoallergenic and is free of harsh dyes and perfumes. Some Yorkies like the water and some do not. If yours enjoys the water, baths should be generally hassle-free; however, if yours is not fond of the water, consider using water toys for dogs to distract him and always offer plenty of reassurance and praise.
Yorkies nails should be trimmed once a month to keep them neat and prevent overgrowth. If allowed to grow too long, your pet can experience a number of problems, such as cracking, splitting, and pain. Use a pair of durable and sturdy do nail clippers to trim his nails at home. If you do not feel confident with your abilities to trim your pet’s nails or if he protests, arrange to have them clipped by a groomer or veterinarian. Inspect your pet’s paws. The hair between the toes should be kept trim, as well. You can trim this hair with a pair of scissors. If you are having your pet professionally groomed, the groomer will attend to his paws.
To keep the teeth strong and healthy and to prevent bad breath, brush your Yorkshire Terrier’s teeth on a weekly basis. Doing so will remove the buildup of plaque and tartar. Alternatively, a groomer can brush your pet’s teeth, or you a dental chew can be offered to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar, while a dog breath freshener can combat bad breath.
Exercise and Activity
Yorkshire Terriers require adequate amounts of exercise and activity to maintain their weight and provide mental stimulation. If this breed is not properly exercised and is not provided with engagement, they can suffer from weight gain and develop negative habits, such as destructive behavior.
Offer your Yorkie at least one walk per day. Walking with a dog harness is a better choice than a securing a leash to a dog collar. Because of the small stature of this breed, pulling on a collar can cause neck and throat problems. Regular play is also important for a Yorkshire Terrier. This breed should be provided with a variety of toys to peak his interest and prevent boredom. Allowing a Yorkie to run in a well-secured yard is also a simple, yet effective way to offer your pet the exercise and activity he needs.
Overall, Yorkies do not require a substantial amount of exercise or activity; moderate amounts of activity should suffice.
Yorkshire Terriers are very intelligent; however, they have a tendency to be strong-willed and have a personality that is much bigger than they are. Therefore, training your Yorkie is a must to avoid complications, such as aggressiveness an bossiness.
The keys to successfully training a Yorkshire Terrier include consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement. Yorkies are ready for training by the time they reach 8 weeks old. Older dogs can be trained, too; however, they may be more difficult to teach and the help of a professional may be needed. Praise your pet when he follows a command or completes an action and offer a small treat. Work on one command or trick at a time; once your pet has mastered one skill, move on to the next one.
Housebreaking can be difficult for Yorkshire Terriers. Because the breed is small, they have a tendency to dislike being outside in wet or cold weather. Crate training is the recommended approach. Make sure you show your pet where he is expected to relieve himself when he goes outside; and, consider designating a covered area as his “restroom”. A Yorkie will be less resistant to go outside when presented with an area that can offer protection from the elements.
With proper care, a Yorkshire Terrier can live 15 years or longer. To ensure your pet lives a fulfilling life, it’s important to be aware of the different health complications that this breed faces, and to know how to prevent the onset of these conditions and/or treat them.
The following are some of the most commonly health issues that are associate with the Yorkshire Terrier:
- Low blood sugar levels are not uncommon in toy breeds, including the Yorkie. This condition is marked by weakness, disinterest, overall lethargy, and even fainting.
- Retinal dysplasia. This vision issue occurs as a result of abnormal development of the retina. It can lead to vision loss or total blindness, and unfortunately, there is no treatment.
- Collapsed trachea. This genetic defect is common among small breeds. The trachea and windpipe are narrower in dogs that suffer from this condition, and it can lead to respiratory blockages; hence one of the reasons a harness as opposed to a collar is recommended for walks.
- Yories are also prone to pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas. This inflammation can occur as a result of a high fat diet, so it’s important to make sure you are feeding your pet a high quality dog food that is low in unhealthy fats.