Popular Dog Breeds: Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the smallest of all dog breeds but don’t let that small size fool you! Yorkies are feisty little dogs with a big dog personality. They may be a Toy breed but they began as Terriers and they still have a Terrier attitude. Brave, determined, curious, and energetic, Yorkies are dynamos!



The Yorkshire Terrier is named for the region in England where they originated. At that time Yorkies were used to hunt vermin in textile mills. As Terriers they were fierce in finding and killing rats in the mills. They were owned and bred by weavers and working class people. But the small dogs were so beautiful that they became popular as pets for people in high society in England and Europe. By the late 19th century Yorkshire Terriers were fully established as companion dogs instead of ratters.



Although they are no longer used to hunt and kill rats, Yorkies still have a Terrier personality in many ways. They are bold and fearless; they like to investigate things; and they are quite determined and energetic, especially for a small dog. In fact, if you’re not careful, a Yorkie will become the boss in your home so it’s important that you don’t let this little dog become too bossy or spoiled. They adapt well to all kinds of home environments and make excellent apartment dogs. They don’t require much exercise because of their small size. They do need to be around people a great deal and they crave human companionship. They love attention and they are very affectionate with their owners. However, Yorkies do tend to bark a lot so this is something you should take into account, especially if you live in an apartment.



The Yorkie has a long, luxurious coat that has a steel blue body and tan coat around the face and legs. The coat is glossy, fine, and silky. Yorkies are very small dogs. They weight is not supposed to exceed seven pounds for show dogs though pet dogs might weigh a little more than this. Most dogs are between four and seven pounds when they are not overweight. There are some so-called “teacup” Yorkies sold sometimes which are excessively small – as small as a couple of pounds. Dogs this small often have an increased risk of health problems and a shortened lifespan. Yorkshire Terriers have their tails docked in the U.S. and dew claws are removed when the puppies are a few days old.



Like many Toy and small dogs, Yorkies can have a very long lifespan. Their lifespan is reported to be 17 to 20 years, though the average lifespan may be somewhat shorter. However, like all breeds, Yorkies are subject to certain health issues. Issues in this breed include: bronchitis, lymphangiectasia, portosystemic shunt, cataracts, and keratitis sicca.


Genetic issues in the breed can include: distichiasis, hydrocephalus, hypoplasia of dens, Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome, luxating patella, portosystemic shunt, retinal dysplasia, tracheal collapse, and bladder stones.


Yorkies can also have problems with hypoglycemia, especially as puppies or juveniles. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar and it is typically caused by going too long between meals. As a small breed Yorkshire Terriers need to eat several small meals per day, especially as puppies and young adults, to keep their blood sugar level steady. If your Yorkie shows signs of hypoglycemia it’s important to give him some Nutrical or syrup right away to get his blood sugar level up and then take him to the vet. Feeding frequent meals or adding snacks between meals usually prevents this problem.



Yorkies are very smart little dogs and they can be easy to train. Ideally you should start training your Yorkie when he is young. Try to find good ways to motivate your dog. Some Yorkies are food-motivated but some aren’t. Praise, toys, playtime – all of these things can be used as motivation.


Be careful about using certain collars when training your Yorkie. Yorkies are subject to tracheal collapse and it has been suggested that pulling too much on the leash and collar is one possible cause of this condition. You should avoid using chain collars with Yorkshire Terriers for the same reason.