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Yorkshire Terrier
Wee Warriors with Giant Hearts

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So you're looking for a dog that will fit comfortably in your lap of an evening. Well, no, you're really wanting a dog that loves to show off and learn tricks, so you can show your friends how much smarter your pet puppy is than all the rest. But then, maybe you really want a dog with the courage of a lion.

How about one pup that has all of those qualities? Say hello to the Yorkshire Terrier-a dog that can sit and fit in a lap, that loves to learn tricks, and at least one of which really was a war hero.

Here is the Yorkshire Terrier at a Glance
Name Yorkshire Terrier
Nicknames Yorkie
Origin Northern England - Yorkshire and Lancashire Counties
Breed Type Toy terrier
Size Small
Average weight 4-6 pounds
Average height 8-9 inches at the shoulder
Life span 13-16 years
Coat type Fine, silky, long straight hair
Hypoallergenic For most people
Color Black/blue tan/gold
Popularity Very popular
Intelligence Very smart
Tolerance to heat Not the best
Tolerance to cold Not the best
Shedding Low
Drooling Non a drooler
Grooming/brushing Needs frequent brushing
Barking Is a barker, needs training
Exercise needs Every day
Trainability Loves to be trained
Obesity Somewhat prone
Friendliness Friendly with people it knows
Good family pet With older families, yes
Good with kids Only those over 8 years
Good with other dogs Not so much
Good with other pets Ones they grew up with
Good with strangers On their guard, will bark
Good apartment dog If well trained
Handles alone time well No
Health issues Liver, collapsed trachea, dysplasia, retinal degeneration, gastric problems, dental problems
Medical expenses Average annual about $200, insurance not included
Annual Food expenses $75-$100
Miscellaneous expenses $100-$150
Average annual expense $450
Cost to purchase $500-$800
Biting Statistics USA & Canada none reported, UK several accounts

The Yorkie's Beginnings

The Yorkshire Terrier is a child of the Industrial Revolution. It was born in the mills and coal mines of Yorkshire and Lancashire Counties in northern England. This a was a time when coal was king, and a lot of the coal was buried in that part of the country; but most of the men who came to dig it out were from Scotland, and they brought their little terrier dogs with them.

Those little dogs had a big job, because the mines were not just full of coal. They were full of rats. The rats were everywhere, and they got into everything, chewed on everything, and ate everything, including the miners' lunches. They even went after the mules that were used to haul the coal out of the mines. The terriers were part of the answer to that problem. They were feisty, brave, and they liked miners more than they liked rats. They went after the rats and kept them under control. The north of England was also textile mill country, and the mills had rats, too. Terriers to the rescue again.

New Lease on Life

So how did the grubby, feisty, rat-biting little canines of that day, owned and raised by miners and millworkers, become the stylish pampered pets we know today as Yorkshire Terriers? You could say it was the result of another product of the Industrial Revolution-competition and the open market. There were several versions of the terrier at that time, and, people being people, contests developed to decide which wasthe best. One particular dog, Huddersfield Ben, owned by a woman in Yorkshire, started winning shows all over the place. Nothing succeeds like success, and Ben became the model dog for these small terriers. Other owners began having their dogs bred to Ben. As a result, Ben's owner picked up some very nice stud fees, a lot of Ben's pups started showing up, and he became the model for the ideal Yorkshire Terrier. The first Yorkies came tothe Unites States in the late nineteenth century, and were recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Over the years it has become one of the most popular breeds, perennially the first or second most popular small dog in the US. One of them was the semi-official White House dog when Richard Nixon was president. His daughter, Tricia, had a Yorkie.

The Dog You See Today

The Yorkshire Terrier you pamper today is the result of all that breeding to Huddersfield Ben. It is a small dog, usually about four to six pounds, and eight or nine inches high at the shoulder. Posture is erect. The hair, which is the Yorkie's crowning feature, is straight, smooth, silky and extremely long. The coat may be black or blue on the top and tan or gold elsewhere. The ears are short and floppy at birth, but will come erect after a while. The tail is long by nature, and whether or not to dock it has become controversial. In some countries, docking is against the law. It is allowed in the United States and Canada and, in fact, if you plan to show the dog, both the American Kennel Club and the Canadian KennelClubrequire docking. Kept healthy, a Yorkie has a fairly long life span-thirteen to sixteen years.

The Inner Yorkie


If a dog can have a Napoleon complex, the Yorkie surely does. This little dog was born knowing that the universe revolves around it. The Yorkie's sense of entitlement pervades everything it does. It is smart, knows it, and demands that everyone else know it too. It loves being the star, and wants to be involved in everything that's going on. It has to investigate every new occurrence in its life, and can't stand to be ignored. As a result, Yorkies are susceptible to being spoiled, and need firm training. Fortunately, that is no problem, because they love learning things, and have fun being trained.


Yorkies are also extremely courageous and unafraid, and will stay with a task even when it is scary. If you need proof of that, meet Smoky. During World War Two, an Army Air Corps corporal named Bill Wynne stumbled across a small, hungry, scarred up little dog that had been abandoned in a shell crater in New Guinea. It was a female Yorkie, and who knows how she got there. Wynne adopted the dog and named her Smoky. He and Smoky finished out the war together-one and a half years and twelve combat missions in all. Smoky proved her worth when she and Wynne were stationed in the Philippines. There was an airfield on the Lingayen Gulf that had three squadrons separated from the main field. Those squadrons had telephone wires strung through pipes from headquarters to the outlying squadrons, but they were torn up and needed replacing. That meant digging up the pipes to reach them, and this while enemy planes were bombing and strafing. Wynne had a better idea. He tied a string to Smoky's tail, put her into the entrance of one of the pipes, and then went to the other end and started coaxing and calling the dog to him. Smoky probably wasn't crazy about the idea, but she was a Yorkie, after all, and so she couldn't resist a challenge. She followed his calls and carried the string to the other end of the pipe. Then they attached the string to a telephone wire and pulled it through.

Living with a Yorkie

Training requirements

It is very important to start training and socialization as early as possible with your Yorkie. It needs limits to be set to avoid it developing bad habits. Usually they are fairly receptive to training as long as the attention remains positive for them. House training can be harder so be prepares for accidents around the home. Some owners lets the accidents go because they are small so easy to clean up, but the Yorkie is good at taking advantage and those boundaries and expectations you are setting need to be stood by.

How active is the Yorkie?

Yorkies are not for everyone. Even though their size would seem to make them ideal for apartments, their needs may contradict that. First of all, they are barkers, although this can be trained out of them. They are curious and active, and get into everything if you let them. They are smart, and they are also bred as working dogs-remember those rats?-and so need to be kept busy. They need regular physical activity, walking, etc., but they also need and demand mental activity. They love to show off and love to learn tricks. What they do not tolerate well is being ignored. If you don't have the time and/or patience to give this dog the attention it needs, you should think of a different breed. But if you do, this is a dog that will be eager to be trained and to learn new things.

Caring for the Yorkshire Terrier

Grooming needs

Yorkies also need more physical care and grooming than many dogs. They need daily brushing, and their hair tends to mat and get tangled up if not attended to. Their teeth tend to be more of a problem, and regular trips to the doggie dentist are advised. Overall, they need that kind of physical attention just as much as they need emotional attention.

Give it a bath just when it needs one so as to avoid hurting the natural oils in its skin. Check the ears for infection and wipe then clean once a week. When the nails get too long give them a clip yourself if you know what you are doing or have it done at a professional groomer.


When using a dry dog food it is best to pay out for the higher quality stuff for the sake of your dog's well being. It has less unnecessary ingredients and more nutrients. How much it eats depends on size, age, metabolism and activity levels but as a small dog it is likely to only need somewhere between ¼ to ½ cups a day, split into two meals. Avoid feeding table scraps despite its probable begging as they are not good for it.

Children and other pets with Yorkies


Yorkies are good with some families, and not so much with others. A key factor is the age of any children. Although Yorkies are friendly, they can be a little jealous. They can also be snappy with children who get rough or rambunctious with them. Many Yorkie breeders will refuse, in fact, to sell a dog to a family that has children under the age of eight. Yorkies are also wary around strangers, and in fact make good watchdogs. They are not aggressive, however, and are friendly with people once they get to know them. They are not the best dog for people who have other pets, because of their need to be the center of attention.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

Yorkies are not sickly, and stay generally healthy, but they are vulnerable to some problems as a breed.

Because they are active, and at the same time small, they may be more prone to get hurt than some other dogs. They are vulnerable to hip dysplasia and dislocated knees, sometimes just because of all the banging around they do. And they can also develop tracheal problems from constant tugging against the collar. In fact many vets advise using a harness instead of a regular collar when your Yorkie is on a leash.

One serious problem is a defect that causes the blood to flow inadequately to the liver. This usually shows up, if it is going to, before the age of two, and can be dealt with by surgery. Another serious problem is a disorder called progressive retinal atrophy, which causes deteriorating vision and eventual blindness. This progresses very slowly, however, and it will typically be many years before you notice it.

On a less serious level, Yorkies have sensitive stomachs, and are vulnerable to gastrointestinal disorders, as is true of a lot of small dogs. They need to be given quality dog food, and the correct amount of it. This is definitely not a table scrap dog.

Biting Statistics

Looking at the data over the last 34 years for dogs attacks on people in the USA and Canada the Yorkie is not involved in any that reported. However when looking at data for attacks in the UK it does come up, while there are not dozens there are some, and some of those victims are children. Some people mistakenly think getting a small dog will mean there is less need for training or socialization and that biting will not be in issue. Yorkies can become aggressive though as can any dog if in certain situations.

Key to having a better chance at avoiding this issue is to get a dog that suits your living arrangements and lifestyle. Do not get an active dog if you are not active. Do not get a large dog if you live in a small space. Do not get any dog if you cannot commit to training and socialization.

Your Pup's Price Tag

The Yorkshire Terrier can look like a bargain compared to some other purebred dogs. The average price for a new pup will run from $500 to $800. If you have the good luck to find one at an animal shelter-less likely than with other breeds because of the Yorkie's popularity-the cost will of course be considerably less. Some people are wary of shelter dogs, assuming that they are ill, or bad tempered . The fact is that most shelter dogs are there through no fault of their own-their owners have died, or moved to a new place where they cannot have dogs. Or sometimes they have simply realized after getting a dog that they don't have the time, energy, or willingness, to take care of the animal. There are also organizations that specialize in rescuing and finding homes for Yorkshire Terriers. One of the largest is Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, Inc.

The expenses don't stop, of course, after you bring your pup home. Spaying or neutering will run you $150 to $200 most places. With the Yorkie you can expect to spend another $200 a year for veterinary expenses. Even though the Yorkie is little and doesn't eat as much as some other dogs, you should still count on $75 to $100 a year in dog food. And you will give the pup treats, of course. The cost there depends on how fancy you want to be-some people spend almost as much on doggie treats as they do on people food. Then you need to pay for a license, the cost of which will vary according to where you live. And as soon as your pup is old enough, it's off to obedience school, which will be very helpful both for dealing with daily behavior and with, in the Yorkie's case, barking. Finally, as the cost of veterinary services, while not as great as for human medical visits, is going up more and more, a great many people are deciding it is worthwhile to obtain veterinary insurance for their pets. These days that runs in the neighborhood of $200 to $250.


Looking for a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

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  • Compared to dogs that have been around for hundreds of years, Yorkshire Terriers are relative newcomers, but ask them if they care. They do not! They are proud, confident in themselves, and happy to show you their stuff. They have a strong need to be at the center of everything that's happening around them, and can make it hard to ignore them. Originally bred to take on rats, they are not easily intimidated. They can actually be pretty feisty; but they are also extremely loving to the people who appreciate their qualities. Yorkies are smart and love to learn new tricks. In fact, they have a strong need to learn, and will love you even more if you give them the chance both to learn and to show off what they know. They are not the dogs for everyone, but if you can understand and appreciate their special abilities, you'll be delighted-and so will they.

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