Learn How to Care for the Tiny and Tenacious Yorkshire Terrier (2024)

The Yorkshire terrier is a small toy dog breed native to England with a long, silky coat that’s often black and tan. Also known as Yorkies, these dogs have tenacious but affectionate personalities.

Yorkies tend to be very vocal, protective, and loyal. And, despite their small size, they can make excellent guard dogs. But, at heart, they are wonderful companions who enjoy pampering and snuggling up to their loved ones.

Learn all about the Yorkshire terrier, from their history to their care needs and more.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 7 to 8 inches

WEIGHT:7 pounds

COAT: Long, silky

COAT COLOR: Black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, or blue and tan

LIFE SPAN: 11 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, bright, playful


ORIGIN: England


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Characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier

Despite their diminutive size, most Yorkies have a big personality. They generally have an affectionate yet feisty temperament. They love to snuggle, but they also can be very active, playful, and vigilant.

Also, these dogs are vocal and act like watchdogs. They bark a lot, and are always ready to let you know when they see something that they think you should know about.

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency to BarkHigh
Amount of SheddingLow

History of the Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terriers can be traced back to the migration of weavers from Scotland to Yorkshire, England, in the mid-19th century. These people brought a variety of terriers with them, which they used to control rodents in textile mills. They preferred a small terrier that could squeeze into tight spaces after the rodents. And several breeds, including the Skye terrier and Dandie Dinmont, went into creating the little Yorkie.

In 1886, the Kennel Club of England recognized the breed. And this changed the dog's reputation from primarily being a working-class exterminator to a fashionable companion. Breeders also further decreased the Yorkie's size so they could better serve as lapdogs.

Yorkies made their way to the United States in the late 1800s. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885, and this has been quite a popular dog throughout U.S. history. President Richard Nixon’s family even had a Yorkie who resided in the White House.

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Yorkshire Terrier Care

Yorkies are more than just lapdogs. This breed can be quite vocal and stubborn at times.Earlytrainingand socialization with people and other dogs are important for the Yorkie and can help keep that big personality from getting out of control. Regular grooming also is essential to keep a Yorkie looking and feeling their best.


Yorkies are no couch potato. They are active little dogs who need regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Aim to provide two 15- to 30-minute walks per day. Going at a moderate pace should be sufficient for a Yorkie to burn off energy.

Yorkies also should be able to run and play off leash. They can have loads of fun and be mentally stimulated with activities like:

  • Fetch
  • Dog sports
  • Agility

Just bear in mind that these small dogs can be targets for predators like coyotes, so always supervise your Yorkshire terrier while they’re spending time outside.

Yorkies are not well-suited to extreme temperatures, hot or cold, so plan outdoor exercise accordingly. Try to go out during the coolest part of the day in hot weather, and provide a sweater or coat in cold weather. Indoor play is also a good option, as Yorkies don't need much room to work out their little bodies.

These very small dogs can be injured when interacting with children who are too rough with them. Supervise kids and teach them to handle a Yorkie gently so they can play together safely.


Yorkies are hypoallergenic and known to be low-shedders. They have silky, continuously growing hair that requires a fair amount of grooming.

If the coat is kept long, it should be brushed daily to prevent tangles and mats. It also will need regular trims to prevent it from dragging, and the hair on the dog's head should either be cut short or put in a hairband to keep it out of the dog's eyes. To avoid this hassle, many Yorkie pet parents choose to keep their dog's coat short (usually cut by a groomer every several weeks).

Plan on a bath every week or two, and check your dog's ears at least weekly for any dirt and debris, using appropriate and safe dog ear cleaners when needed. Nail trims will be necessary roughly every month, depending on how much your dog wears down their nails. And teeth ideally should be brushed every day with dog toothpaste, as small dog breeds are at risk of dental problems like periodontal disease.


Yorkies are bright little dogs who can take to training fairly well, though they can be bossy at times. Still, they tend to respond very well to positive reinforcement.

Aim to start training when your Yorkie is still a puppy to prevent bad habits from forming and to socialize them with various people, other animals, and situations. Attending a puppy obedience class as soon as your dog meets the age requirement is a good option for both training and socialization.

The breed is known to be difficult to housebreak, in part because Yorkies can be stubborn and often don’t like to go outside in inclement weather. Be patient and consistent during this process to reinforce good housebreaking habits.

Furthermore, many Yorkies don’t do well when they’re left alone for most of the day. They prefer lots of attention and companionship, and might develop separation anxiety and bad habits if their social needs aren’t met. However, they don’t always make good companions for young children, who might be too rough with the little dog and provoke them to nip.

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Common Health Problems

Yorkshire terriers are generally healthy dogs. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed, including:

  • Patellar luxation: This condition causes looseness of the kneecap, resulting in it moving out of place. Symptoms include limping, licking the knee, and bending the knee at an unusual angle.
  • Collapsing trachea: This is a chronic, progressive disease that is not reversible, but there are treatment options. It can cause noisy breathing, coughing, exercise intolerance, and retching, among other symptoms.
  • Eye problems: Yorkies can have various eye problems, such as cataracts, conjunctivitis, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
  • Portosystemic shunt: This is a congenital liver disorder that causes blood to bypass the liver, preventing removal of toxins and absorption of nutrients. Symptoms include excessive urination and thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, circling, head pressing, and seizures.
  • Heart disease: Have your Yorkie examined regularly by a veterinarian to look for early signs of heart disease that might be easy to miss.
  • Intervertebral disc disease: This refers to a slipped disc in the spine. Symptoms include lameness, dragging limbs, and stepping on the wrong side of the paw.
  • Dental issues: Check your dog’s teeth and gums regularly to look for signs of gum disease and plaque and tartar buildup. Symptoms of dental problems include loss of appetite, difficulty eating, swollen face, and pawing at the mouth.

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Diet and Nutrition

Select a quality, nutritionally balanced dog food for your Yorkie. Kibble that’s sized for small breeds often is ideal.

Discuss any diet, including the quantity to feed, with your vet, as this can vary based on age, activity level, and other factors.

Always make sure to factor treats into your dog’s daily caloric consumption to prevent overeating. And provide fresh water at all times.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Yorkshire Terrier

If you think you'd like to adopt a Yorkshire terrier, look at local animal shelters and breed-specific rescues for dogs in need of a home.

For a Yorkie puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 or more; the cost can widely vary based on bloodline and other factors.

For further information to help you find a Yorkshire terrier, check out:

Yorkshire Terrier Overview

The Yorkshire terrier is hard to resist, with their adorable looks and playful nature. If you’re searching for a little lapdog who will be loads of fun, this breed might be perfect for you. Just bear in mind that they can be prone to certain health problems, and they can be stubborn sometimes.

Pros of Yorkshire Terriers

  • Good watchdog
  • Affectionate and loyal
  • Energetic and entertaining

Cons of Yorkshire Terriers

  • Needs lots of grooming
  • Can be difficult to housebreak
  • Can be loud

21 Small Hypoallergenic Dogs That Don’t Shed (Much)

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, if you think the Yorkshire terrier is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before obtaining one. Talk to other Yorkshire terrier pet parents, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

  • Silky Terrier
  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!


  • Are Yorkshire terriers good family dogs?

    Yorkshire terriers can be good for families with older children who understand how to gently handle the dog. Young children might be too rough with the little dog, potentially injuring them or causing them to nip.

  • Are Yorkies high-maintenance?

    Yorkies are considered high-maintenance dogs because of their grooming needs (their coat needs to be brushed and trimmed often), and because of their stubborn side, which can make them a bit challenging when it comes to training and housebreaking.

  • Are Yorkshire terriers aggressive?

    Yorkies are typically sweet dogs and not usually aggressive. But they also tend to be fearless watchdogs and must be properly trained and socialized to ensure that they have good manners.

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Yorkshire Terrier. Central Texas Veterinary Speciality & Emergency Hospital.

  2. Yorkshire Terrier Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.

Learn How to Care for the Tiny and Tenacious Yorkshire Terrier (2024)
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