Yorkshire Terriers started at the bottom, catching rats for workers in Northern England factories. Now they're here: Yorkies — as they're known to their fans — are the world's second-favorite dog breed. And if the Labrador Retriever is ever, for any reason, unable to fulfill the function of her “World Favorite” title, you know the fashion-plate Yorkshire Terrier is ready and willing to step in.
A few characteristics make this breed unique. Yorkies aren't born with those distinctive tan-and-blue coats; their puppy hair is pure black. And their unusual gag reflex sometimes makes them honk like geese. It's their supermodel locks that really set this dog apart from the pack, though. Get ready for some serious brushwork!
Originally from England, this small-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to roughly 7 pounds and lives an average of 11-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Toy group. (But don't let the classification fool you — the Yorkie is a terrier through and through.)
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting, Companion
Breed Group: Toy
Average Lifespan: 11-15 years
Bark Factor: I love to talk!
AKC RANKING 6
AREA OF ORIGIN England
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION small vermin-hunting
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 8-9 Weight: <7
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 8-9 Weight: <7
OTHER NAME none
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Shy
Friendliness toward other pets Shy
Friendliness toward strangers Friendly
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A YORKSHIRE TERRIER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Looks like a toy, plays like a terrier: this dog is curious, courageous, and determined. Yorkshire Terriers are boisterous and impish. Though they're playful and affectionate, their small size means they'll do best if supervised while playing with children to avoid injuries. (They might also a bit nippy with kids who handle them roughly.) Your Yorkie might do well with cats, but she'll most likely prefer to be the only dog in your home and heart.
WHAT IS YORKSHIRE TERRIER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a somewhat active breed. Plan on daily walks to provide necessary physical activity and mental stimulation. Though they're among the dogs most likely to wind up in a Birkin bag, Yorkshire Terriers also enjoy action and speed — and, like some well-known starlets, they live for the applause. Consider dog sports to satisfy your Yorkie's yen for appreciation and activity.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A YORKSHIRE TERRIER?
Like many toy breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier can be somewhat slow to housetrain. It's not their fault, their tiny bladders just can't “hold it” for very long. This glamour-puss is independent-minded; be patient and consistent while training your furry friend. These dogs can be somewhat vocal, so be sure to discourage nuisance barking early and often.
Your Yorkie might enjoy dog sports like agility or rally.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO YORKSHIRE TERRIERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Yorkshire Terriers are infrequent shedders who require daily grooming. Those long, gorgeous locks need lots of brushing to prevent mats and tangles and frequent trips to the groomers for clipping.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO YORKSHIRE TERRIERS HAVE?
As a breed, Yorkshire Terriers are generally healthy. Some are prone to slipping kneecaps or eye disease.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE YORKSHIRE TERRIERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Yorkshire Terriers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers. However, Yorkies are considered by some experts to be hypoallergenic.
Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies. You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as tiny as a Yorkshire Terrier!
WHAT IS A YORKSHIRE TERRIER'S BEST DAY?
Yorkshire Terriers look fancy, but they're terriers at heart. Let this fancy-face get her paws dirty digging in the yard, chasing and running and exploring the great big outdoors — within a well-fenced area, of course. You may also need to keep an eye out for predators while she does so. Yorkies, like other toy breeds, can be easily picked up by birds of prey or coyotes.
Once she's exhausted her tiny feet and sniffed everything she can, she'll happily curl up with you after.
SHOULD I ADOPT A YORKSHIRE TERRIER?
Though they don't mind the heat, these tiny Toys need protection from cold temperatures. (Bonus: adorable tiny dog sweaters.) Yorkshire Terriers have moderate exercise needs and are small enough to fit into almost any kind of home with older kids. The primary consideration for this breed is her daily beauty ritual. If you don't mind keeping up with her supermodel lifestyle, the Yorkshire Terrier makes a picture-perfect canine companion.
Have you decided that a Yorkshire Terrier is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.