Yorkshire Terrier

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    History & Overview

    The Yorkshire Terrier belongs to the Toy Breeds and is descended from terrier bloodlines. As the breed name suggests, these dogs were bred to go to earth (terra is Latin for earth) for rats and other vermin that generally are pests to man. A favorite of British miners in the Yorkshire part of England where he was used as a ratter in the coal mine, the Yorkie has retained all of the hardiness and tenacity that his working-dog origins demanded of him. The Yorkshire Terrier was not recognized by that name until sometime in the 1880s.

    The breed evolved from a variety of regional terrier types:

    The first Yorkshire Terriers were much larger than those we see today, many of them weighing as much as 15 pounds. In 1886 the Yorkshire Terrier was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club. The British Yorkshire Terrier Club was formed in 1898 and established the official breed standard. The early breeds could be as large as 6 kg and were used, similar to other terrier breeds, to kill rats. Over time, breeders produced a smaller, more beautiful dog that was a household pet and show dog, rather than a rat killer.


    This tiny dog with engaging personality and courage has endeared himself to pet lovers all over the world. His qualities as a companion are unsurpassed, for he is intelligent, highly trainable, fearless and affectionate. He likes long walks which makes him ideally suited to country living, and he also can exercise himself in a reduced space which makes him adaptable to all lifestyles.


    A Yorkshire Terrier is born completely black with tan markings on the face and legs. As an adult, he must have well-defined tan markings at the sides of the head and ear roots, on the muzzle, down the back of the neck, on all four paws and under the tail. All traces of the black or sooty puppy hair must be outgrown. The profuse, flowing coat of the Yorkie is the hallmark of the breed, and it demands constant care which should begin while the dog is only two or three months of age.

    At A Glance

    Country of Origin:

    Great Britain


    Toy Terrier


    FCI Classification: Group 3 – Terriers; Section 4 – Toy Terriers
    AKC Classification: Toy Group


    Up to 7 pounds (AKC, UKC, CKC, NZKC, ANKC, KC(UK) Breed Standards)


    Blue and gold, blue and tan, black and gold, or black and tan. The following colors are NOT recognized by the AKC Breed Standard: all gold, born blue, liver (also known as red or chocolate), and parti-colors.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    9 – 15 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    Yorkshire Terriers require daily brushing to maintain their long silky coat in good condition. Ears and teeth should be cleaned regularly.




    The Yorkshire Terrier has an independent and lively spirit, but it is also a very loyal companion and a good watchdog. He loves to run and play around.

    Social skills:

    Yorkies usually get along with other animals. Problems between canine housemates are more likely to occur among dogs of the same sex or age.

    Suitability for Children:

    Yorkshire Terriers are not suitable for families with young children. They are tiny, fragile dogs and should be treated with care.

    Exercise Needs:

    0 – 20 minutes walk daily.

    Train Ability:

    Can be hard to house train.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Yorkshire Terriers are extremely susceptible  to both hereditary and non-hereditary health problems, including birth defects that may go undetected for a long time. Other common problems may include, but are not limited to, diarrhea, vomiting, along with extra and expensive tests prior to routine teeth cleanings and surgeries.  Small ones are more likely to have poor reactions to  anesthesia and die from it.1 Tiny dogs are more easily injured by falls, being stepped on and being attacked by other dogs.  These health problems nearly always result in large veterinary bills.

    Yorkshire Terriers are quite sensitive to many medications. They don’t like cold or rain and should wear a sweater in cold weather. Most common health issues include:

    Known Health Risks

    From the moment you purchase your puppy, your veterinarian is the most important person in both your lives. His professional advice and treatment will ensure your pet’s good health, and he is the first person to call when illness or accident occurs. Do not try to be your own veterinarian or apply human remedies to canine diseases.

    Nearly everything a dog might contract in the way of sickness has the same set of signs: loss of appetite, diarrhea, dull eyes, dull coat, warm and/or runny nose, and fever. It is most important to take his temperature at the first signs of illness. The normal temperature for a dog is 101°F to 102.5°F.

    First Aid Kits

    However, at all times, you should keep a first aid kit handy for minor injuries. First aid for your Yorkie would consist of stopping any bleeding, cleaning the wound, and preventing infection. Your kit must contain medicated powder, gauze bandages, and adhesive tape to be used in case of cuts. If the cut is deep and bleeding profusely, the bandage should be applied very tightly to help in the formation of a clot. A tight bandage should not be kept in place longer than necessary, so take your dog to the vet immediately.

    Do not apply wads of cotton to a wound as they will stick to the area and may cause contamination. You should also keep some hydrogen peroxide available as it is used in cleaning wounds and is also one of the best and simplest emetic known. Cotton applicator swabs are useful for applying ointment or removing debris from the eyes. A pair of tweezers should also be kept handy for removing foreign bodies from the dog’s throat or body.

    The Yorkshire Terrier is a relatively healthy breed. However, there are several inherited diseases that every Yorkshire Terrier owner should know about. Some of these diseases may require lifelong treatment and intensive supportive care.

    Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

    Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP disease) is a bone disease of young, small breed dogs, usually those weighing less than 24 pounds, in which the growing end of a bone dies and then is gradually replaced over a period of years. The immediate cause of bone death is the loss of blood supply. Both sexes are affected, but males suffer 4 times more often than females. LCP usually occurs in puppies between four and twelve months of age.

    Portosystemic Shunt

    A portosystemic shunt is an abnormal vessel that allows blood to bypass the liver. As a result, the blood is not cleansed by one of the body’s filters: the liver, which results in neurological diseases. Dogs with PSS have small liver, large kidneys, and stones in the bladder or kidneys.

    Patellar Luxation

    The patellar or kneecap is usually located directly in the center of the knee joint. Luxation, or dislocation of the patellar, occurs when the patellar slides out of its groove. Patellar luxation occurs mostly in the toy and small breeds of dogs weighing 22 pounds. Females are 1.5 times more affected than males. In most cases, luxation is a congenital condition (that appears at birth), but it may appear sometime later. An affected dog can lame occasionally or walk on three legs. Sometimes, a dog will show pain and hold his leg up. Surgery is the treatment of choice. Conservative treatments such as prednisone and/or restricted activity doesn’t give much benefit and is recommended mostly for mildly affected or older dogs.

    Tracheal Collapse

    Tracheal collapse is a narrowing of the trachea (windpipe) due to softening of the cartilage rings in the trachea in some small dog breeds, such as Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Maltese, Chihuahua, and other toy and miniature dog breeds. Symptoms include a cough, especially after exercise, noisy breathing, and gagging. Treatment consists of conservative therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.

    Retinal Dysplasia

    Retinal dysplasia is an abnormal development of the retina. Light microscopic examination of affected eyes will show folds and rosettes within the outer retinal layers. Heritable retinal dysplasia is the most common form and has been described in many breeds of dogs. Mild forms of retinal dysplasia rarely cause serious vision problems. However, large areas of dysplasia (geographic dysplasia) may lead to retinal detachments, and dogs can become totally blind. Congenital cataracts often accompany the retinal dysplasia.

    Video Credits: AnimalWised


    1. Pang et al. – Sudden Cardiac Death Associated With Occult Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy In A Dog Under Anesthesia
    2. Houston et al. – Canine And Feline Urolithiasis: Examination Of Over 50 000 Urolith Submissions To The Canadian Veterinary Urolith Centre From 1998 To 2008
    3. Bhang et al. – Epitheliotropic Cutaneous Lymphoma (mycosis Fungoides) In A Dog


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