There may not be as elegant nor a more popular terrier in the world than that of the Yorkshire Terrier. With its long flowing and dashing coat, the Yorkie has seen many changes since their conception in the mid 1800’s.
While most enthusiasts celebrate their blue coats, it turns out, the Yorkie is quite the blue collar. From chasing away vermin in textile factories to burrowing in coal mines. Like a true terrier, this breed’s courage and bravery is a testament to their character.
But times would change. They would become a luxury to own, and a threat inside the show ring.
So what is it that makes this breed such a popular choice for dog lovers?
Here is what you need to know about the Yorkshire Terrier.
There are some breeds that have quiet pasts. Some have had very little to no glory at all. That couldn’t be further from the truth regarding the Yorkshire Terrier. A hero, a winner, and a favorite ever since the mid-1800’s, when breeders began creating the small size dog. Part of the breed’s foundation was several types of terriers likely from Scotland. Some believe that the Dandie Dinmont, Skye Terriers and possibly the Maltese. Others are likely extinct today.
It all began when Scottish weavers bred the terriers to chase away vermin from their textile factories during the mid-1800’s. The Yorkshire Terrier would also serve at the same role but in coal mines as well. The word on these terriers at the time was how reliable, bold, and brave the breed was. But it was also the convenience of the Yorkshire Terrier that was a big sell. Workers could easily stash these dogs in their pockets and unleash them during hunts whenever they chose to do so.
In The United States, the breed began to emerge around the early 1860’s. However, you wouldn’t know it by their show names. Appearing as the “Broken Haired Scotch Terrier,” it really wasn’t until the 1870’s, that the breed began to make a name for itself. The first Yorkshire Terrier on record with the American Kennel Club was “Belle” in 1885. By that time, however, the breed was well on its way to recognition and stardom.
One of the breed’s biggest gains was during the Victorian Era. It was during this time, that the breed began to shy away from being that pesky blue collar ratter. Instead, they had become a flamboyant force inside the dog show ring.
Meet the “father of the Yorkie.” The dog’s name, Huddersfield Ben. Huddersfield Ben was some sort of legend alright, in fact, it is said the dog won over 70 contests and ratting competitions. The dog was such a legend that he became the standard for the breed as we know them today. Around that time, a reporter would beg the question, why not call them the “Yorkshire Terrier.” Since that is where the breed had spent most of its time making their name. Indeed, others would agree, including the U.S. and hence the birth of the Yorkie. In 1886, the breed’s name was officially the Yorkshire Terrier.
The American Kennel Club would grant the breed recognition, according to their site, in 1885, a year before the Kennel Club of England. This would bring exposure and invite others to welcome the Yorkie in a way it had never seen before. It was almost a luxury to own a Yorkie in the latter years of the 19th century. Certainly, it became fashion state to have a Yorkshire Terrier.
Their popularity would continue to grow but would take a momentary pause in the late 1930’s. That is, until the public caught wind of Smokey. Smokey, a Yorkie, was found by an American inside a shell hole in New Guinea during World War 2. Smokey was quite the character. It is said that Smokey put on a parachute and would jump 30 feet from a tower in an escape. Moreover, Smokey is said to have been delivering telegraphs through 8 inch pipes for soldiers. When the public caught light of this, once again, the Yorkshire Terrier’s stock would soar to great levels.
The United Kennel Club, second biggest in the U.S., gave recognition to the breed in 1956.
Today, the breed is a top ten most popular breed in America. Around the world they are equally as popular. The American Kennel Club lists the Yorkie as the 9th most popular breed in America. While they no longer chase vermin as they once did, they are wonderful tricksters, competitors and companions.
The Yorkshire Terrier is part of the toy group and a small breed. Both male and female Yorkies stand between 7 to 8 inches.
With regards to weight, both male and female Yorkies should weigh 7 pounds, according to their standard.
Personality and Temperament
The AKC suggests that the Yorkie is “tomboyish,” whatever that means. Nobody can deny that they are elegant and flamboyant. A diva, if you will.
Another thing that the Yorkshire Terrier is is a family dog. This is a breed that loves being around family. They are affectionate dogs, willing to please and eager to learn. However, they can be stubborn and independent as you may expect with a terrier.
Bold and brave, this breed has a nose for being curious. While calm inside, they are active when they chose to be. The Yorkie enjoys a challenge and plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Perhaps that’s why they thrive at sports like agility and obedience.
Always willing to be the comic or at the last, the center of attention, Yorkies are always on a quest to please their people. They can be quite protective, while getting along with dogs isn’t their top priority nor is smaller children.
All in all, this is an adaptable breed. They can live out in the country or in the inner city. The breed isn’t fond of cold or too hot of conditions. They enjoy their daily walk or two short walks, and they’ll rise up for a game of fetch. While they won’t tolerate horseplay with smaller children, generally, they are a friendly dog. Strangers may not experience that, but with their family, this is a dog that needs a close bond and craves suffice attention.
Many enthusiasts, including the American Kennel Club, suggest the breed is hardy and healthy. You can expect your Yorkie to live between 11 to 15 years. Of course, when you buy a Yorkie, you should only do by buying from a reputable breeder. This person should be able to provide you with documents necessary to make the best purchasing decision. Ask the questions, read the reviews and demand health clearance. In addition, you should schedule regular veterinarian visits to maintain your Yorkshire Terrier’s health.
One of the bigger problems this breed suffers with is Luxating Patella. Patella Luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place. This will cause plenty of discomfort and pain. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals cites that the breed is the 2nd worst out of 133 breed with a 21.2 dysplastic rating. That puts them in the company of the Australian Terrier and the number 1 overall worst, Pomeranian.
There’s also potential for a disorder, Hip Dysplasia. This is when there’s a malformation of the hip joint, that can lead to problems like arthritis, lameness, and pain… The breed ranks 124th worst out of 187 breeds. Out of 142 evaluations, the OFA claims the breed has a 8.5 dysplastic rating, putting them next to the Weimaraner.
Degeneration of the femoral head in the location of the dog’s hind is what they call Legg Perthes Disease. This will also cause pain, limping, and lameness. If the problem persists, then a Vet may need to perform surgery as necessary.
A big problem for the breed can be Portosystemic Shunts or Liver Shunts. This is when the liver fails to process toxins or filter out bad toxins from entering the bloodstream. This can lead to poisoning the liver, heart, lungs and other important organs. Muscle weakness, lack of appetite, lethargy, and behavioral changes are a few signs your dog is experiencing Liver Shunts.
Retinal Dysplasia can be found in the Yorkshire Terrier. This is a malformation of the retina that can eventually lead to a reduction in vision if it worsens. You’ll see this with many breeds like the Beagle, Labrador Retriever, Doberman and Akita to name a few.
Collapsed Trachea is quite common for smaller dogs. This is due to the softening of the rings that hold together the windpipe, which causes the airways to narrow and restricts breathing. If necessary, your vet may need to prescribe a mediation or perform surgery to fix this complication.
Other issues the breed encounters include: Hypoglycema, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, pancreatitis, and skin allergies. Consult your veterinarian about your Yorkshire Terrier’s health.
While the breed can get away with medium amounts of exercise, they do require at the least two walks per day and a decent backyard romp. Playing fetch or chase should suffice their needs. Introducing new activities like obedience and agility will fulfill their needs for mental and physical stimulation.
Early training and socialization is a key for any breed. Introduce your Yorkshire Terrier to new events, people and things so that they’ll progress into social and more personable dogs.
The AKC suggests supervising encounters between other dogs and children around the Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkie doesn’t like to be alone and can resort to destructive behavior and habits. Provide them plenty of attention, adequate amounts of exercise and affection for best results.
The breed does have a strong prey drive. This means you’ll want to be mindful of what you bring around your Yorkshire Terrier. Investing in a fence or putting them on a leash is always a good idea.
They shouldn’t be left out in the cold and don’t do well in hot conditions. You can have a Yorkie in an apartment, but watch what kind of climate you surround them with.
Experts believe that you should bathe them weekly or bi-weekly for a healthy coat. You should inspect their ears occasionally, wipe any debris from their eyes and trim their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth, splits and cracks.
Like any breed, the Yorkshire Terrier needs a high quality formula. One with meat as the first ingredient. A balance of quality protein value, crude fat and carbs is a must. A blend of veggies, fruits, minerals and vitamins is always helpful. How much your Yorkshire Terrier eats will depend on their age, metabolism and activity rate. Spaying and neutering can also have an impact on how much your Yorkshire Terrier eats.
That said, most owners seem content feeding their Yorkies between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cups of top quality kibble a day. You can break that up into two meals per day to help reduce the chances of Bloat or obesity. Portions help discipline your dog and acquaint them with your eating schedule.
As always, you should provide your Yorkshire Terrier with fresh drinking water.
Perhaps one of the highlights for this breed is their long coat. However, if you aren’t a fan of daily maintenance then turn away from the Yorkshire Terrier at once. This is a breed that needs a comb daily to help with tangles, mats and to promote a healthier coat. There will be plenty of trimming around the feet and tip of ears for this infrequent shedder. You can always call upon a professional groomer as well if you aren’t up for the task.
The coat of the Yorkshire Terrier is glossy, silky and fine in texture. It should straight, with a long or medium length to it. There is what they call, a fall around the head. This should flow long enough off the head to give it that drape look.
According to the AKC, there are four acceptable coat color options: Blue and gold, blue and tan, black and tan, black and gold.
There are no acceptable markings.
Fun Yorkshire Terrier Facts
- A Yorkie was the Best in Show winner at Crufts in 1997. The champion’s name was Ozmillion Mystification.
- The Yorkie also won a Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1978. The champion’s name was Cede higgins.
- In the past five years, the Yorkie has spent their time comfortably as a top ten most popular breed. Moreover, two years the breed would reach as high as sixth most popular.
- The Yorkshire Terrier is the 34th most intelligent breed from the Intelligence of Dogs list by Stanley Coren. This means they’ll obey commands 70 percent or better the first time.
- A Teacup Terrier is a smaller version of the Yorkie, in which the AKC and other clubs won’t recognize over breeding ethics. Some of these dogs can weigh as much or as little as 4 pounds.
There are few breeds that need little of an introduction. That would be the Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkie has been stealing the hearts of people for over a century and a half.
Today, they are up to their usual tricks. Being cute, elegant, confident and bold. Those are just a few of many traits that Yorkie fans from all over can’t get enough of.