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What is a Yorkshire Terrier?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie for short, is a small, long-coated breed of dog. Its name comes from the breed's beginnings in the Yorkshire area of Northern England in 1861. Yorkshire Terriers were developed from breeds such as the Skye Terrier and the Maltese to kill rats and mice. The Yorkshire Terrier was first registered by the British Kennel Club in 1874 and then by the American Kennel Club in 1878.

Most Yorkshire Terriers today weigh less than 7 pounds (3.175 kg), but the earliest Yorkies were larger and weighed up to 30 pounds (13.618 kg). The dog's coat is long and parted down the middle of the spine. The mid section is a steel blue-gray color that is often quite dark, while the face, ears and throat areas are tan in color.

Since the Yorkie has no undercoat and sheds very little, it may be a good choice for those with milder allergies. Yorkies do need daily brushing and combing to keep their long coats tangle-free and looking good. For easier care, the coat can be cut to a shorter length.

The Yorkshire Terrier is prone to health conditions such as bronchitis, cataracts and hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver. Yorkies are said to sometimes be picky eaters and may have a sensitive digestive system. Yorkies are also susceptible to distichiasis, which is a growth on the eyelid that irritates the eye and creates tearing and redness.

Yorkies are thought to be intelligent and curious dogs that are quick and active. The poorly socialized Yorkshire Terriers may be timid towards strangers. Well-socialized Yorkies, however, are often quite outgoing and assertive. The dog is not usually considered a good choice for families with young children since this breed is a bit delicate due to its small size. Yorkies can make good apartment dogs as their exercise needs are quite low.

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Discussion Comments
By anon994541 — On Feb 17, 2016

Our (Yorkie cross) was abandoned and found by my sons. He was; scared of tall men, very wary of other dogs, especially 'friendly' ones and couldn't get used to having food and scrounged bits off the floor, especially when outside.

He was only about 8 months old and appeared to have been abused enough for a lifetime.

He's now 11 years old and has spent most of his life well balanced and I hope, happy. They are very resilient dogs and are well worth the effort as a rescue.

By Soulfox — On May 22, 2014

@Logicfest -- you might not want to look elsewhere if you are the type that likes to take a dog that might have been abused, give it a good home and restore the critter to its natural state of having fun in an environment where it is comfortable and loved. I have taken in a couple of dogs that were skittish because they have been abused and it was a lot of fun transforming them from nervous, distrustful animals to dogs that are comfortable in a loving environment.

By the way, be warned about Yorkies -- they tend to bark quite a bit. As you said, they are terriers. The problem with a Yorkie's bark is that it's more of a high-pitched yipe. That's not enough to scare a burglar, but it is enough to wake up everyone in your home in the middle of the night.

By Logicfest — On May 21, 2014

A shy Yorkie is a troubled Yorkie. They are terriers, after all -- dogs that are naturally friendly, outgoing and assertive. If you are out Yorkie shopping and run across one that isn't friendly, happy and spunky, you might want to look elsewhere.

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