Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Standing profile of a Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)

Artush / Getty Images

The Yorkshire terrier is a small toy dog breed native to England with a long, silky coat that’s often black and tan. Also known as Yorkies, these dogs have tenacious but affectionate personalities. They tend to be very vocal, protective, and loyal. And, despite their small size, they can make excellent guard dogs. But, at heart, Yorkies are wonderful companions that enjoy pampering and snuggling up to their loved ones.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy

HEIGHT: 7 to 8 inches

WEIGHT: 7 pounds

COAT: Long, silky

COAT COLOR: Black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, or blue and tan

LIFE SPAN: 11 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, bright, playful

HYPOALLERGENIC: Yes

ORIGIN: England

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Click Play to Learn More About the Little Yet Bold Yorkie

Characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier

Despite their diminutive size, most Yorkies have a big personality. They generally have an affectionate yet feisty temperament. They love to snuggle, but they also can be very active, playful, and vigilant.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terriers can be traced back to the migration of weavers from Scotland to Yorkshire, England, in the mid-19th century. These people brought a variety of terriers with them, which they used to control rodents in textile mills. They preferred a small terrier that could squeeze into tight spaces after the rodents. And several breeds, including the Skye terrier and Dandie Dinmont, went into creating the little Yorkie. 

In 1886, the Kennel Club of England recognized the breed. And this changed its reputation from primarily being a working-class exterminator to a fashionable companion. Breeders also further decreased its size, so it could better serve its purpose as a lapdog. 

Yorkies also made their way to the United States in the late 1800s. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885, and it’s been quite a popular dog throughout U.S. history. President Richard Nixon’s family even had a Yorkie that resided in the White House.

Nixon and family with Yorkie
Richard Nixon and family with their Yorkie Arthur Schatz / Getty Images 
Yorkshire terrier champion Wildweir Moon sitting on a dining table among dishes
Yorkshire terrier champion Wildweir Moon Nina Leen / Getty Images 

Yorkshire Terrier Care

Yorkies are more than just lap dogs. This breed can be quite vocal and stubborn at times. Early training and socialization with people and other dogs are important for the Yorkie and can help keep that big personality from getting out of control. Regular grooming also is essential to keep a Yorkie looking and feeling its best.

Exercise

Yorkies are no couch potato. They are active little dogs that need regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Aim to provide two 15- to 30-minute walks per day. Going at a moderate pace should be sufficient for a Yorkie to burn off energy. Yorkies also should be able to run and play off leash. Games of fetch and other dog sports, such as agility, will help to give a Yorkie mental stimulation along with exercise.

Yorkies are not well-suited to extreme temperatures, hot or cold, so plan outdoor exercise accordingly. Try to go out during the coolest part of the day in hot weather, and provide a sweater or coat in cold weather. Indoor play is also a good option, as Yorkies don't need much room to work out their little bodies.

Grooming

Yorkies are known to be low-shedders. They have silky, continuously growing hair that requires a fair amount of grooming. If the coat is kept long, it should be brushed daily to prevent tangles and mats. It also will need regular trims to prevent it from dragging, and the hair on the dog's head should either be cut short or put in a hairband to keep it out of the dog's eyes. To avoid this hassle, many Yorkie owners choose to keep their dog's coat short (usually cut by a groomer every several weeks).

Plan on a bath every week or two, and check your dog's ears at least weekly for any dirt and debris. Nail trims will be necessary roughly every month, depending on how much your dog wears down its nails. And teeth ideally should be brushed every day.

Training

Yorkies are bright little dogs that can take to training fairly well, though they can be bossy at times. Still, they tend to respond very well to positive reinforcement. Aim to start training when your Yorkie is still a puppy to prevent bad habits from forming and to socialize it with various people, other animals, and situations. Attending a puppy obedience class as soon as your dog meets the age requirement is a good option for both training and socialization. 

The breed is known to be difficult to housebreak in part because Yorkies can be stubborn and often don’t like to go outside in inclement weather. Be patient and consistent during this process to reinforce good housebreaking habits.

Furthermore, many Yorkies don’t do well when they’re left alone for most of the day. They prefer lots of attention and companionship and might develop separation anxiety and bad habits if their social needs aren’t met. However, they don’t always make good companions for young children, who might be too rough with the little dog and provoke it to nip.

Yorkshire terrier

 

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Yorkie puppy
doptoon / Getty Images
Playful yorkie
STOWEN SETO / Getty Images 

Common Health Problems

Yorkshire terriers are generally healthy dogs. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed, including:

Yorkshire terriers as pets illustration

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Select a quality, nutritionally balanced dog food for your Yorkie. Kibble that’s sized for small breeds often is ideal. Discuss any diet, including the quantity to feed, with your vet, as this can vary based on age, activity level, and other factors. Always make sure to factor treats into your dog’s daily caloric consumption to prevent overeating. And provide fresh water at all times. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Yorkshire Terrier

If you think you'd like to adopt a Yorkshire terrier, look at local animal shelters and breed-specific rescues for dogs in need of a home. For a Yorkie puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 or more; the cost can widely vary based on bloodline and other factors. For further information to help you find a Yorkshire terrier, check out:

Yorkshire Terrier Overview

Pros
  • Good watch dog

  • Affectionate and loyal

  • Energetic and entertaining

Cons
  • Needs lots of grooming

  • Can be difficult to housebreak

  • Can be loud

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, if you think the Yorkshire terrier is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before obtaining one. Talk to other Yorkshire terrier owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are Yorkshire terriers good family dogs?

    Yorkshire terriers can be good for families with older children who understand how to gently handle the dog. Young children might be too rough with the little dog, potentially injuring it or causing it to nip.

  • Are Yorkshire terriers good apartment dogs?

    Yorkshire terriers can be excellent apartment dogs, as they don't need much space to exercise and play. However, they can be vocal and might disturb nearby neighbors.

  • Are Yorkshire terriers aggressive?

    Yorkies are typically sweet dogs and not usually aggressive. But they also tend to be fearless watchdogs and must be properly trained and socialized to ensure that they have good manners.

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Article Sources
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  1. Yorkshire Terrier. Central Texas Veterinary Speciality & Emergency Hospital.

  2. Yorkshire Terrier Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.