Everything you need to know about Yorkshire Terriers

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
1st Aug 2022
7 mins read
The photo shows a Yorkshire Terrier with natural, long fur. The image of the dog has been cut out and placed onto a plain blue background.
Yorkshire Terriers are small and elegant, but that pretty package hides a big personality and a feisty, playful pup that seems bigger than they are.

Key Stats

Small (Toy)
12-15 years
Long, straight, silky
30-40 minutes daily
daily or weekly
Bold, independent, lively

Breed history

Although their long, silky fur gives them a regal appearance, Yorkshire Terriers were not an aristocratic companion.
These little dogs were bred to be rat catchers, and were often found working in the mills across Yorkshire.
Miners would also take these tiny dogs with them into coal mines, carrying them down in a bag or their pocket so the terrier could catch mice and rats down in the pit.

Did you know?

The first therapy dog in the world was a Yorkshire Terrier called Smoky.
Smoky had also been a soldier’s companion during the Second World War. She survived 12 combat missions and 150 air raids. Smoky was credited with helping to build an airbase!
The photo shows a Yorkshire Terrier stood on a beige rock, staring up at the camera.


Yorkshire Terriers are small dogs, rarely taller than a foot high. They have V-shaped ears that stand upright, and round, dark eyes and noses that give them a teddy bear appearance. A Yorkie’s fur is naturally long and silky, a bit like human hair. They’re almost always red or brown, with black or grey markings on their backs called a saddle.

Yorkshire Terrier colours

Yorkshire Terriers come in a very limited range of colours, and they almost always have a tan face and legs, with a dark blue or black “saddle” marking on their back.
The breed standard Yorkshire Terrier colours are:
  • Black and tan
  • Blue and tan
  • Black blue and tan
  • Blue steel and tan
  • Steel blue and tan
  • Steel blue
  • Steel blue black and tan
  • Steel grey and tan
Most Yorkshire Terrier puppies are born with black and tan coats. As your Yorkie gets older, their coat will probably get lighter and become a blue and gold colour.

Yorkshire Terrier temperament

Although they often look dainty and distinguished, Yorkshire Terriers still have a feisty terrier personality. The typical Yorkshire Terrier temperament is spirited and energetic, and they’re often described as a big dog in a little dog’s body.
Despite their bold streak, Yorkshire Terriers are a loving and affectionate breed and will happily lap any attention you give them.
Although they have become a lapdog in recent years, some Yorkshire Terriers still have traits of a working dog. They can have a high prey drive and might chase small animals. They’re also very alert and tend to bark at anything unusual.
the photo shows a Yorkshire Terrier with a long, uncut coat looking off to the right of the shot. It's stood in the woods, surrounded by fallen leaves.

How much exercise do Yorkshire Terriers need?

Yorkshire Terriers have a lot of energy so they need at least one brisk walk every day. However, they are only small, so they don’t need to be taken trekking to wear them out.
You should expect to give your Yorkshire Terrier at least
30 to 45 minutes
of walkies every day, and hopefully some playtime and enrichment too.

How to groom a Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier grooming can be quite intense depending on their coat. Because their fur is naturally long and silky, it can tangle like human hair does. If your Yorkie has long fur, you will need to brush it once a day to make sure it doesn’t get knotted or matted.
When a Yorkshire Terrier’s fur is clipped short, it doesn’t need as much brushing, and you can brush it every few days instead. If you do keep your Yorkshire Terrier’s clipped short, it will need less brushing, but more visits to the groomer. You’ll need to have their fur trimmed roughly every 6 weeks.
As for baths, you only need to wash your pooch whenever they’re visibly dirty or smelly. Just remember to brush them before bathing them to prevent their fur getting tangled.
As well as brushing and trimming your Yorkie’s fur, you’ll need to trim their claws every month to prevent them from overgrowing. You should also brush their teeth regularly, ideally once a day, to get rid of bacteria and plaque and prevent
dental disease
the photo shows a close-up of a Yorkshire Terrier puppy

Yorkshire Terrier lifespan

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the
longest living dog breeds
, with an average lifespan of 12-15 years. However, individual dogs have been known to reach their late teens!
To help your dog live as long and healthy a life as possible, remember to provide them with a complete diet, daily exercise, and regular veterinary care.

Common Yorkshire Terrier health problems


Yorkshire Terriers are prone to skin and dietary allergies, which often manifest as itchy skin and recurring ear infections. You may need to pay for testing to identify and treat the cause of your pup’s irritation.

Eye problems

Yorkshire Terriers are vulnerable to a few eye problems including dry eye and cataracts. Occasionally, they might inherit conditions including lens luxation or progressive retinal atrophy.
Cataracts and lens luxation require surgery to prevent vision loss. Meanwhile, progressive retinal atrophy has no cure and causes vision loss that may lead to blindness.

Dental issues

Dental issues are some of the most common Yorkshire Terrier health problems. This is because their jaws are small, making them prone to overcrowding and vulnerable to
dental disease
cleaning your dog’s teeth
and annual dental checks with the vet will help to protect your pooch’s pearly whites.

Luxating patella

Luxating patella is a condition where a dog’s kneecap moves out of place. Sometimes it pops back into place on its own, other times physiotherapy or surgery is required to correct the joint. It’s common in most small breeds of dog, including the Yorkshire Terrier.
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Frequently asked questions

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