When choosing a dog, it’s important to choose the breed that’s right for you. In order to do that, you need to know the characteristics and temperament of the breed you’re thinking about adopting or purchasing before you do so. The Yorkshire terrier is just one breed among many from which to choose.
It is believed that the Yorkshire terrier was developed by breeding the Clydesdale terrier or Paisley terrier with other types of terrier such as the English Black and Tan toy terrier and the Skye terrier. It is also thought that the Maltese terrier may have been crossed with these breeds to help produce the long coat. The Yorkshire terrier was initially larger than it is today and was bred in the 19th century in a city in north England called Yorkshire, hence the name Yorkshire terrier. These dogs were bred to catch rats in clothing mills and, in the beginning, belonged to the working class, especially the weavers. Eventually, they became companions to the European high society.
Yorkshire terriers, also known as Yorkies, are usually playful, very friendly, brave, determined, investigative, highly energetic, loyal and clever. They are easily adaptable to all surroundings and travel well. They require limited exercise but need daily interaction with people and daily walks or may display behavior problems. They are eager for adventure and easy to train, although they can be stubborn if not given proper boundaries.
When owners display pack leadership, Yorkies are very sweet and loving and can be trusted with children; however, problems arise when owners allow them to “take over” the house because they are cute and small. They are affectionate with their masters but may become suspicious of strangers and aggressive to strange dogs and small animals and can become “yappy” if not given pack leadership by their owners.
Yorkies eat very little but can be difficult to housebreak. They think they are larger than they are and will defend their territory. They make excellent watch dogs because they have an acute sense of hearing and will alert their owners to signs of intruders. Yorkshire terriers do not like to be ignored and require more human companionship and attention than any other breed. The more attention they get, the better. They are lap dogs that prefer to be held on their owners’ laps all day.
A Yorkshire terrier’s coat is ultra long, fine and silky, usually steel blue on body and tail and tan elsewhere. They are born black, gradually attaining blue and tan coloration. Tail is usually docked to half its length. If dogs are not for showing, owners usually go for the shaggy look. A Yorkie has an abundant amount of hair on its head, which must either be trimmed short or kept out of the eyes with a band. Its hair keeps growing and has to be trimmed. Most owners have the coats trimmed short or shaved for convenience and hygiene. The Yorkshire terrier has no undercoat, which is desirable for some people with allergies, and sheds little to no hair. The Yorkie’s height is 6 to 7 inches, and weight is around 7 pounds.
The life expectancy of a Yorkie is about 12 to 15 years, but health problems that can occur include early tooth decay, poor tolerance to anesthesia and delicate digestion. They are also prone to bronchitis and can sometimes suffer paralysis in the hindquarters, caused by herniated disks and other spine problems. Fall or knocks can cause fractures. Females often have trouble delivering.
Congenital/hereditary defects can occur if not bred properly. These include patella subluxation, open fontanels, Perthe’s disease and smaller incidence of elongated soft palate and tendency to collapsed trachea.
Grooming for Yorkshire terriers consists of daily to weekly combing and brushing. Ears and eyes should be cleaned daily, and teeth should be cleaned regularly.
Yorkies are good dogs for apartment life. They are very active indoors and do okay without a yard. They are sensitive to the cold and prefer warm climates.
Yorkshire terriers are small in body but big in personality. They make great companions but require lots of human interaction and attention to grooming, so it’s best to determine if you have the extra time for this breed before choosing it.