The Yorkshire Terrier is a huge fan favorite. One of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the United States, to be exact. These elegant pups don’t hesitate to flaunt their gorgeous silky coat. But beauty isn’t all a Yorkie has. He’s also got a terrier-ish taste for adventure.
These elegant pups don’t hesitate to flaunt their gorgeous silky coat. But beauty isn’t all a Yorkie has. He’s also got a terrier-ish taste for adventure.
Plus he sometimes sounds like a goose.
Yorkies are prone to something called pharyngeal gag reflex, or reverse sneezing.
It may seem alarming at first, but with time, that weird honking sound will grow on you.
More on honking Yorkies (plus a video) later.
Read on to find out more about the Yorkie’s strange quirks.
He may be an adorable and elegant lap dog now. But believe it or not, this little pup started out as a working dog bred to kill pesky rodents.
It all started in the mid-1800’s when Scottish weavers migrated with their terriers to northern England.
Over time, these weavers bred their generic terriers into the silky-haired Yorkie we know today. The breed was small enough to fit into the rat-infested crevices in textile mills and coal mines. And it’s said that their long, luxurious coat was made on looms by the weavers themselves.
But weavers and coal miners couldn’t keep this handy little dog to themselves forever. The breed was first introduced to the United States in the 1870’s, receiving AKC recognition in 1885. The following year, the English Kennel Club also recognized the Yorkie as a breed.
And so the little dog became official.
And once word was out, the Yorkie became an immensely fashionable lap dog. To better equip the pup for his new task, people began breeding the dog down in size.
Now, the once-working-class Yorkie is a tiny terrier that loves to cuddle!
Are Yorkshire Terriers Good Family Dogs?
While Yorkshire Terriers make excellent companion and lap dogs, they don’t make for the best family dog.
At least not for families with toddlers and small children.
Because of their small size, Yorkies can easily be harmed by young children. The breed is just too easy to step on, drop, or squeeze too tightly.
In addition, most Yorkies will not hesitate to defend themselves when they feel threatened. Which means little hands grabbing at a Yorkie will likely result in a scared, defensive dog and a crying toddler that needs a Band-Aid.
So in short, if you have young kids, go for a different breed.
For families with older children, a Yorkie can make a great addition! These pups are playful and enjoy gentle cuddles. So if your kids are old enough to understand how to properly handle and play with such a small dog, then a Yorkie shouldn’t be a problem!
As for living situations, the Yorkie is adaptable.
He can make an excellent apartment dog because of his small size. (Though he would definitely appreciate having a yard to stretch his legs in.)
However, being a bit of a barker, he may disturb the neighbors in your complex. At least unless you commit to curbing some of that barking with proper training.
While owning a cute little Yorkie can be really fun, it’s important for you to understand how to care for this breed.
As with any dog, your Yorkshire Terrier has a few basic needs that you’ll have to provide for. These include nutrition, grooming, exercise, training, and health.
And lots of snuggles and love!
Yorkshire Terriers need a balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy.
Of course the amount of food this breed needs is determined by activity level, metabolism, age, and overall health.
But as a general rule, a Yorkie should eat between ½ to ¾ cup of high-quality dog food each day.
You should feed your pup twice daily on a schedule, dividing his daily portion into two meals. Don’t leave food out for your dog all the time as this doesn’t allow you to watch how much he is eating. You don’t want to ruin your pup’s good looks–and most importantly his health–by letting him get overweight.
For further reference, you should check out the guide listed on your dog’s food bag. You may also want to talk to your veterinarian about exactly how much your individual dog should be eating.
Again, several factors affect feeding amounts, and each individual dog is different. But these tips should give you a good starting point.
Before getting a Yorkie, please make sure you are aware of their grooming needs!
The breed is high-maintenance when it comes to keeping him looking and feeling his best.
Yorkies have a single coat of straight, silky hair.
They are non-shedding and are often great for allergy-sufferers. But because their coat is very similar to human hair, they need similar upkeep. (If you’re a woman with long hair, I’m sure you’ll understand! But if not, keep reading!)
A Yorkie with a long coat will need to be brushed daily. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a tangled mess! To avoid eye irritation and allow your pup to see properly, you’ll need to keep the hair around his face trimmed. Or you could pull it up onto his head in a topknot.
Long is not the only option, however. Many Yorkie owners prefer a shorter cut, which requires much less maintenance. Even still, you should brush your pup daily just to avoid matting. And to keep him short, your pup will need to see a groomer to get a haircut every four to six weeks.
As for baths, your little Yorkie will need to hit the tub about once every week or so. But don’t just let him air-dry afterwards, especially if he boasts a long, floor-length coat. Instead, blow dry him thoroughly to avoid post-bath tangles.
Your Yorkie also requires the basic grooming care needed by all dogs:
- Trim his nails when needed.
- Inspect your Yorkie’s ears weekly for signs of infection or irritation.
- Brush his teeth at least once a week to keep him healthy.
And keep in mind, that last bullet point is very important. Because of their small size, Yorkies are prone to dental problems.
So take the preventative care route rather than making your pup suffer the consequences of dental disease later in life.
Yorkies are fairly active indoors. Your little guy is probably going to burn off some energy just following you around all day.
But puttering around the house still isn’t quite enough. The Yorkshire Terrier may be small, but that doesn’t mean he can skip out on wholesome outdoor exercise.
To keep your pup healthy and burn off his extra energy, you’ll want to take him on a short walk around the neighborhood each day. Walking at a steady pace is best, since those short little legs probably won’t be able to keep up with your long-legged, fast-paced strides.
A good round of fetch in the backyard and lots of indoor playtime will also help your pup get the exercise he needs.
Don’t assume a small dog has a small brain!
On the contrary, the Yorkie is smart, loves to learn, and is eager to please.
Positive reinforcement training works wonders with this breed. Yorkies love receiving praise and affection as well as treats. So use that to your advantage.
And be aware that this breed doesn’t respond well to harsh punishment. You’ll want to make training a good experience for your pup by focusing on good behaviors. Otherwise, you could end up with a dog that is simply too afraid to take action.
Socialization is also an important part of Yorkie ownership. Despite the Yorkie’s small size, your pup will still need to be exposed to lots of new places, people, and other dogs.
So make sure to properly introduce him to the world! Doing so will help to ensure your pup turns into a well-rounded and level-headed individual.
With proper training, the Yorkie will make an excellent pet and even therapy dog. The breed also excels in various canine sports, including obedience and agility.
The one area you may struggle in, however, is potty training.
Yorkies are notoriously challenging to housebreak.
The breed unfortunately has a reputation for being hard to housebreak. This is partly because of his small bladder and partly because of his hatred of going out in the cold and rain.
You should probably create a covered potty area where your dog can stay dry as he does his business. A doggy door is also a good idea so he can run out right when the urge to pee hits. Or you may also consider litter box training him indoors. This can be especially helpful for the littlest of Yorkshires.
Whatever your method, just make sure you are consistent. Especially during the initial training period. Crate training is advisable, as are frequent potty breaks.
Yorkshire Terrier Health Issues
Yorkshire Terriers are a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan between 13 and 16 years of age.
Still, Yorkies are prone to certain conditions and diseases:
- Patellar luxation
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Portosystemic (liver) shunt
- Collapsed trachea
- Reverse sneezing
- Retained baby teeth and dental disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Retinal dysplasia
Things to Know About Yorkies
1. Each is an Individual
This can, of course, be said of every dog breed. But you should be aware that Yorkies can have a wide range of personality traits.
Some are lap dogs at heart that love cuddling and happily following you around the house. Others are more mischievous and better live up to their terrier name. Some can be outgoing. Others are more timid.
It really just depends on the individual dog–their nature and their nurture. You can get an idea of how a certain pup might be by meeting the parents. But honestly, a lot of it comes down to how you treat your Yorkie puppy.
2. Dog or Doll?
You’ve probably seen a Yorkie or two that’s behaved in a less-than-ideal manner. Barking like mad when you walk by their house. Trying to snap at you if you get too close to their owner. Overall, just being a plain menace.
And let’s be honest, no one likes THAT kind of dog…
But the truth is, not all Yorkies are little monsters. In fact, the breed can be really sweet and affectionate. It just depends on how you treat and train them.
Though he’s small and it’s tempting to baby him, you must remember that your Yorkie is a dog, not a doll or a stuffed animal.
He needs rules, boundaries, socialization, and consistency just as much as a Labrador needs those things.
“But he’s so small and delicate!”
– You, probably
And yes, that’s true. Yorkies are more prone to injury due to their small size. But they still need lots of opportunities to build their confidence.
And that’s where you’ve got to master the tiny dog balancing act.
3. Balance is Key
And no, I don’t mean that you need to learn how to balance your pup on your head (please don’t try this by the way!)
I mean you need to find a balance between keeping your Yorkie safe and also making sure that he gets to live like the dog he is.
For instance, you could carry him in your purse all day and you could snatch him up at the mere sight of another dog approaching. But those things aren’t necessarily what you should do.
Instead, make him walk. I know he’s cute and tiny. And I know he fits perfectly in your purse. But he’s got four legs for a reason.
So make him use ‘em! Having him walk on his own to explore new places will teach him to not be fearful of the world he lives in.
At the same time, you can’t just toss him into a new situation and expect him to fend for himself.
For instance, keep your eye on him while you’re at the dog park rather than letting him loose and then looking at your phone. Be ready to step in between him and a bigger dog should problems arise.
Keep him close by on his leash when in unfenced areas, and don’t leave him out in the yard alone for long periods of time.
You know, the basics of small dog care. Which really is just a constant balancing act.
Beyond balancing safety with socializing, there’s a few other things you’ll need to watch out for with your little Yorkie.
- Don’t sit or step on him. Sounds silly and obvious. But it can be easy to plop down on the couch without first checking who might be hiding under the throw pillow.
- Don’t let him leap off high things. You’ll also want to make sure your pup doesn’t try to jump down from super high up, as he could easily break a leg.
- Use a harness when out for a walk. When using a leash, make sure to attach it to a harness instead of your pup’s collar. Otherwise you risk hurting his tiny neck.
- Be patient at mealtimes. Yorkies can be picky eaters, and they’re prone to digestive problems. So you may go through a few different dog foods until you find the one that will make both your pup and his tummy happy.
- Get him some clothes. Yorkies can get cold very easily. You’ll want to avoid long walks in cold weather and invest in a doggy sweater.
There’s a lot to consider when you have a dog as small as a Yorkie. But with a little extra caution, you can keep your pint-sized canine companion safe and happy.
5. The Tomboy Terrier
She may look absolutely gorgeous with that long coat and pretty pink bow. But the Yorkie is anything but a prissy, pampered princess.
On the contrary, the breed is down-to-earth, scrappy, and tenacious.
Plus, they don’t understand that 7 pounds is not 70 pounds.
Seriously. These little dogs think that they have what it takes to confront a Great Dane.
Which would definitely be a problem.
I guess you have to admire the Yorkie’s bravery. But chances are you’ll also want to roll your eyes at his self-important feistiness.
What can I say? He is a terrier.
6. Mr. Bossy
Being terriers it probably goes without saying, but these tiny pups love to rule the roost! Whether it’s another dog or a person, your Yorkie will probably try to boss others around.
Which is another important reason why you don’t want to coddle and spoil your Yorkie–he will go a mile if you give him an inch.
So make sure to set rules and boundaries from day one. And don’t forget to be consistent with those rules. He needs to know that you’re in charge.
7. The Yapper
Let’s face it–Yorkies can be barkers. They just absolutely LOVE to announce it to the world when someone comes to the front door.
On the bright side, they make excellent watchdogs.
But in reality, you’ll probably want to teach your Yorkie how to be quiet on command. Unless, you like his shrill little barks, that is.
8. The Croaker
Barking isn’t the only noise Yorkies make.
As I’ve said before, they are also famous for honking like a goose. Check it out!
9. The Dog with Magic, Silky, Color-Changing Hair
We already know that Yorkies have gorgeous locks of silky hair.
But did you know that their hair can grow to be two feet long?
That’s a lot of hair! But please don’t let it grow out of control. Your poor pup would spend half his time tripping over himself if you let it grow to be a full two feet!
Another fun thing to know about that magic Yorkie hair is that it changes color as your pup ages. Most Yorkie pups are born with dark black and tan markings. As your puppy grows up, however, he may fade to be more of a blue-gray and gold.
10. A War Hero
When you think of a war hero dog you probably picture a German Shepherd or maybe a Golden Retriever.
But during World War II, it was a small Yorkie named Smoky that was famous for saving soldiers’ lives. She was able to pull a communication cable through a 8-inch wide, 60-foot-long tunnel in order to get them the help they needed.
And that’s not all Smoky was known for. She is also thought to be the world’s first therapy dog, visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals.
11. Inventor of a New Breed
Yorkshire Terriers are also partly responsible for creating a new breed of dog.
It all started in 1984 when a Yorkie puppy with unusual markings was born. The pup’s breeders decided to use this unique-colored Yorkie to create a new breed with distinct standards.
These Yorkie cousins look like Yorkies for the most part. Except that instead of being just black and tan, they are tricolor!
These dogs are now known as Biewer (pronounced “beaver”) Terriers. The AKC recognized them as a separate breed in 2014.
12. What Are My Color Options?
The Yorkie is a breed with little variation in coat colors. They can be:
- Black and gold
- Black and tan
- Blue and gold
- Blue and tan
All are equally adorable. (Obviously!)