Everything you need to know about Yorkshire Terriers

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
1st Aug 2022
7 mins read
Summary
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

Height
20-23cm
Weight
1.8-3.2kg
Size
Small (Toy)
Lifespan
12-15 years
Coat
Long, straight, silky
Exercise
30-40 minutes daily
Grooming
daily or weekly
Temper
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.

Appearance

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

Allergies

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
.
Regularly
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.
Protect your Yorkshire Terrier's health and happiness with comprehensive pet insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Are Yorkshire Terriers easy to train?
Yorkshire Terriers aren’t the easiest dog to train. They can be independent and a little stubborn at times, so you must be consistent and patient when training them.
That being said, these pups are eager to please and are quick-witted thanks to their use as working dogs. With positive reinforcement, you should be able to train your Yorkie without too much trouble.
Toilet training can be a challenge with Yorkshire Terrier puppies, purely because their small size means they have equally small bladders, so they need to go outside more often.
When are Yorkshire Terriers fully grown?
Because Yorkshire Terriers are only small, they don’t take long to reach their adult size. Most Yorkshire Terriers are fully grown by the time they reach 12 months old.
Do Yorkshire Terriers shed?
No, Yorkshire Terriers don’t tend to shed. They might lose a few strands of hair during brushing or bathing, but you won’t find fur all over your furniture. They also won’t moult into a different coat as the seasons change.
This is because Yorkshire Terrier’s fur is similar to human hair. Because it is naturally long, it just keeps growing, and only falls out when the hair has died and is ready to be replaced by a new strand.
Are Yorkshire Terriers hypoallergenic?
It’s sometimes said that a Yorkshire Terrier is hypoallergenic, because their long fur doesn’t tend to shed unless they’re being bathed or brushed. However, many allergies are caused by dander, which is like dandruff in humans, or saliva.
Although a Yorkshire Terrier might be suitable for some people with allergies, it can still cause a reaction for some people.
It’s important to remember that no breed of dog is hypoallergenic. Although sensitivities can vary between breeds, so if you spend time with a certain breed you may find it doesn’t trigger your allergies in the same way another breed does.
What are teacup Yorkshire Terriers?
Sometimes extra-small Yorkshire Terriers are called “teacup Yorkshire Terriers” or “miniature Yorkshire Terriers”. These are usually smaller than average dogs, weighing less than 2kg.
Sadly, breeding dogs for such small size can negatively impact their health. Breeding dogs to achieve a certain look can make dogs more likely to inherit health conditions or poor temperaments.
If you’re looking to buy a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, avoid any billed as teacup or miniature dogs. Instead, look for
a good breeder
that focuses on passing on good health and temperaments, not certain looks or colours.
If you’re looking for a Yorkie in a rescue home, check out these tips on
how to adopt a dog in the UK
.

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