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Yorkshire terrier

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 7-8 inches
  • Weight — 6-7 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Yorkshire terriers, or Yorkies, are known for their long, straight, silky coats.
  • Coat color — Steel blue and gold, black and tan, black and gold, and blue and tan. Yorkie puppies often start with a blue and tan coat, but it changes to gold and blue as the dog matures.
  • Exercise needs — Frequent
  • Intelligence — Highly intelligent
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 11-15 years
  • Temperament — Affectionate, playful, feisty, and protective
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — England, specifically the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire

Yorkie fun facts

  • Yorkies became popular pets during the Victorian era, especially as lap dogs of well-to-do ladies.
  • Some consider Yorkies the inspiration for Toto, the small dog that famously accompanied Dorothy down the yellow brick road in the illustrated Wizard of Oz book series. A cairn terrier played the movie version.
  • They’ve been named the most popular dog breed in some American cities.
Yorkie wearing a bandana

Yorkie temperament and characteristics

Yorkies have a playful, affectionate, and feisty temperament with moderately high or high energy levels. They are attention-seekers that love to ham it up. Despite their small size, they often have the personality of bigger dogs, courageous watchdogs that are protective of their owners but occasionally snappish with children. Training is recommended when bringing a Yorkie into the family home.

Common Yorkie health problems 

In general, Yorkies are healthy dogs with a typically long life span. However, there are a few health problems that tend to plague Yorkies. Some of the conditions are more severe and are prevalent in several of the toy breeds. They include dental disease, heart disease, and blood sugar regulation.

  • Dental disease. While dental problems afflict 80% of dogs by the time they are 2 years old, Yorkies are especially susceptible to dental issues, including periodontal disease. Brush your Yorkie’s teeth every day if possible.
  • Collapsed trachea. Toy breeds like Yorkies are more susceptible to tracheal collapse, which when paired with other conditions like heart disease, can be serious. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing.
  • Heart disease. Yorkies are susceptible to heart troubles, including patent ductus arteriosus, a heart condition in which a small vessel that carries blood between two parts of the heart does not close shortly after birth as it should. This puts strain on the heart.
  • Diabetes. While diabetes mellitus is fairly common and affects many dog breeds, higher-than-average incidents are found in Yorkies. Dogs diagnosed with diabetes cannot regulate the metabolism of sugars and require daily insulin injections.

Cost of caring for Yorkies

Caring for your Yorkie can average $180 per month or almost $2,200 annually for food, supplements, grooming, and dental care alone. The cost of a Yorkie’s care and cost can climb much higher if it’s diagnosed with a serious illness or condition, including those mentioned above.

Preparing for such costs by purchasing health insurance may significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses. An alternative to pet health insurance is a pet savings account.

If you plan to enter your little Yorkie in dog competitions, expect to spend more for grooming and maintaining your dog’s long coat.

History of the Yorkshire terrier

While many may consider the Yorkie a pampered pooch from the Victorian era, the breed has a working-class beginning. Scottish weavers migrating to England fancied the Yorkshire terrier because it could chase rats and other rodents in small spaces inside the weaving mills. Yorkies also were used as rat killers in coal mines.

The dogs got a boost in reputation in 1886 when the Kennel Club of England recognized the Yorkshire terrier breed. They soon became fashionable, especially as a lady’s companion. Yorkies were first reported in America in 1870, and in 1885, the American Kennel Club recorded its first Yorkie, a female.

Two Yorkshire terriers with long coats

Caring for your Yorkie

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. It’s also important to puppy-proof your home, prepare for teething, and obtain a free ID tag through an organization like FidoAlert.

Here are some other care suggestions specific for the needs of Yorkies.


Because of their small size, Yorkies can comfortably live in apartments or larger residences but need regular exercise.

  • Fit in at least one walk daily — Walks can be relatively short, usually between 15 and 25 minutes each.
  •  Short bursts of exercise are good for Yorkies — A game of fetch will keep Yorkies’ bodies and minds sharp.
  • Make accommodations for a Yorkie’s short legs — Keep your Yorkie safe by investing in a baby gate near stairs and a ramp to facilitate safe jumps on and off the furniture.

👉 Yorkies have less muscular support around their necks. Invest in a harness versus a leash for outside time.

Yorkie playing with a ball


The Yorkie’s beautiful coat takes work to stay clean and tangle-free. Whether you are growing it out for dog shows or keeping it trimmed, expect to work on your Yorkie’s coat several times a week. For dog competitions, keep the coat moderately long and perfectly straight with the help of once-a-week baths. Otherwise, bathe them every other week. A pin brush, metal-toothed comb, and slicker brush as well as pet shampoos and conditioners made specifically for a drop silky coat can help with at-home baths.

Trim your Yorkie every four to six weeks, either with a professional groomer or at home. As with any other breed, regularly trim your dog’s nails, clean their ears, and brush their teeth.

Diet and nutrition

Yorkies don’t need a special diet beyond high-quality commercial dog food. They are known to be picky eaters, so you may need to experiment with different brands.

Other tips include:

  • Start them on dry food for small-breed dogs — This will help control tartar and ward off dental problems.
  • Consult your veternarian — In general, Yorkies eat between ¼ and ½ cups of food daily, but your vet can give you the best advice based on your dog’s particular situation.
  •  Puppies need frequent, smaller meals — Starting around four months, puppies can begin eating about three times a day and after that, they will quickly graduate to twice-a-day feedings.

Training your Yorkie

Yorkies are intelligent dogs with feisty, fun personalities. While they can be a little tough to train, Yorkies are loyal pups that want to please their owners. When teaching your pup to walk on a leash, be prepared for a fighter instinct if your Yorkie spots another dog on your walks, even a larger breed, that they perceive as a threat. They may resist such walks on cold or rainy days, so we suggest investing in doggie jackets and booties. Be patient while training — treats like Cheerios or shredded cheese will help reinforce good habits.


Breeds similar to the Yorkie

Not quite sure that a Yorkie is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Silky terrier. Another breed in the toy group, the silky terrier is similar in looks and personality. Silkys have shorter hair on their heads, and they are slightly bigger and more muscular than Yorkies.
  • Pomeranians. Like Yorkies, these tiny pups also have long coats, big personalities, and love to play and cuddle. Pomeranians are a popular breed as an emotional support animal because of their loving nature.
  • Chihuahua. Another tiny breed with a big personality, Chihuahuas are affectionate and will be happy to spend time in your lap! Because their fur is much shorter, they don’t require as much grooming as Yorkies.

Frequently asked questions

Are Yorkies expensive?

They certainly can be. If you opt for a full-bred Yorkies from a reputable breeder, expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $10,000. The ones at the top of the pay scale are the American Kennel Club champions, and you’ll want to get the proper documentation from the breeder. Adoption fees for mixed-breed Yorkies at a shelter or through a rescue group are much less.

Do Yorkies bark excessively?

Yorkies consider themselves little watchdogs and will bark if they suspect a threat to their home and people. However, if someone comes into the home whom the family knows, Yorkies typically warm up quickly.

Are Yorkies hard to train?

Yorkies are known for being stubborn when it comes to housetraining. They may resist going outdoors when it’s cold or rainy weather. Owners can overcome this by choosing one specific area outside for their pooch to do their business, wrapping their Yorkie in sweaters and booties, scheduling time for potty breaks, and rewarding success.