The Yorkshire Terrier is a popular, small dog due to its beautiful, silky coat and playful demeanor. The Yorkie gets its name from Yorkshire, where the breed originated. In the 1850’s, immigrants from Scotland brought with them terrier-type dogs. While the exact origins of the Yorkshire Terrier are unknown, it is widely accepted that the original Yorkies were bred specifically for hunting rats and small animals in clothing mills. Ancestors of this breed are believed to be Paisley Terriers, Scotch Terriers, and Maltese dogs.
The most well-known ancestor, however, is Huddersfield Ben, who is referred to as the “father of the breed.” Huddersfield Ben lived in the late 1800’s and was considered to be the best Yorkshire Terrier stud to have ever lived. In fact, today’s show-bred Yorkshire terriers almost always have his lineage.
The Yorkie was first brought to North America in 1872, when interest in the breed was high. Yorkshire Terriers fell out of popularity during the first part of the 20th century. However, one famous Yorkie, Smoky, who served during World War II sparked a revival of the breed. In 2016, the Canadian Kennel Club listed the Yorkshire Terrier as the 9th most popular dog breed, based on registrations.
Yorkies are well-known for having a lot of personality for their small size. They are dignified dogs that convey an air of importance and hold themselves with an upright carriage. They are active, curious, and enjoy attention from their owners. Yorkshire Terriers are also protective of their loved ones, and serve as excellent watch dogs. An intelligent breed, Yorkies are easy to train and are food- and praise-motivated. As with all dogs that were originally bred for work, Yorkies require regular exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. An adaptable pet, Yorkshire Terriers make wonderful travel companions and can get along well with other animals. However, Yorkies are not typically recommended for small children.
Size and Coloring
As a toy-sized breed, the Yorkshire Terrier should not be more than 3 kg in weight. There are four acceptable Yorkie colourings: black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, and blue and tan. The Yorkie’s coat is fine and silky, and should also be glossy and straight. To keep the coat from tangling, it should be brushed daily. Since a Yorkshire Terrier has hair instead of fur, this breed is sometimes considered hypoallergenic, due to reduced shedding.
Although Yorkshire Terriers are bouncy and inquisitive, they do not require a lot of exercise due to their small size. Since their original purpose was as “ratters,” Yorkshire Terriers have excitable prey drives for chasing small items, and often enjoy a rousing game of chase with toy breed-sized tennis balls.
As with all toy-sized dogs, special care should be taken that these pets do not injure their delicate skeletal systems by falling from high objects or being stepped on. Also like most toy breeds, Yorkies have a higher risk of developing dental problems. They are prone to poor dentition, dental crowding, and dental disease. Tooth brushing and regular dental cleanings are a necessity. Other issues include portosystemic liver shunt, which occurs when a blood vessel bypasses the liver, carrying unpurified blood directly to the heart. Common eye diseases include cataracts, retinal dysplasia, and dry eye. Heart disesae, thyroid disease, and hypoglycemia can also occur. However, despite the prevalence of certain disorders, the typical lifespan of this breed is 13 – 20 years!