Weight –2 – 4kg
Lifespan – 12 – 15 years
Country of origin: England
Breed type – Toy
- Apartment living
- First time dog owners
- Families with older children
Yorkshire Terrier Breed History ♜
Imagine being a miner in Yorkshire in the middle of the 19th century. You’ve got all your gear and equipment, and you’re ready for your long shift underground. It’s hard work, damp, and worst of all, dark. Who knows what’s crawling around just beyond the small sphere of your lamp? It’s enough to give you chills.
And then, imagine how improved the situation would be if instead of rats and spiders and bats, your mining companion was a chipper Yorkshire Terrier? This brave little doggo follows you down into the mine to take care of all the pesky rodents that you don’t want to think about when you’re doing the hard work. And when it’s time for a tea break, you might even share your jam sandwich with the cute little pup.
This is the incredible story of how the Yorkshire Terrier came into being. Miners and millworkers needed an active and self-motivated doggo who could chase out everything from rats to foxes and badgers so that the workers could focus on the job at hand. These puppers had to be small enough to place in the worker’s pockets while they were transported to the work site, but brave and ferocious enough to take on whatever pests were lurking in the dark.
In terms of origin, it’s believed that Scottish miners and mill workers brought Terriers such as the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier with them when they traveled South for work. They may also have used Clydesdale Terriers, Skye Terriers, and Paisley Terriers. Other than that, we’re not sure what other breeds contributed to the Yorkie – it’s understandable that the early breeders had more pressing things to worry about than meticulous record keeping.
What we do know is that the first Yorkshire Terrier was a particularly handsome little guy named Huddersfield Ben, who popularised the breed in the 1860s. Huddersfield Ben made his name at dog shows across the UK, and is thought to be the “father of the breed” because of his role in shaping the breed standard. By the 1870s, the Yorkshire Terrier was a well-known breed, popular in the United States and in other parts of Europe.
Over the years, the Yorkie would become a valued hunting dog and companion animal for wealthy families. Today, Yorkies find themselves at the top of many most popular dog breed lists. But while they’re most commonly found in family homes, Yorkies continue to make waves at dog shows around the world.
Yorkshire Terrier Personality Traits ★
Looking at a Yorkshire Terrier, you would be surprised at how much personality could be wrapped up in such a small, adorable package. But these are complex little doggos.
On the one hand, they’re very affectionate. Yorkies want to be around their favourite humans as much as possible, and they’ll never turn down an invitation to cuddle up. Some Yorkies absolutely love to be cradled and carried around by their Owners, while others are happy on their own four feet. In the next section, we’ll talk about how to incorporate (or avoid) picking your pup up in the socialisation process. But in terms of scooping up your Yorkie every once in a while for a nice cuddle, these doggos tend to love it.
Now, don’t take that to mean that the Yorkie is a lap dog, and be careful not to underestimate that tiny, delicate frame. One minute this dog will be curled up on your knee snoozing, the next you’ll see them tearing after the neighbourhood Great Dane. It’s their bravado that allowed them to thrive alongside the tough mining crowd, after all.
This bravado also gives the Yorkshire Terrier a big voice, as well. Yorkies are great watchdogs who will alert their family of any incoming strangers or goings-on outside. They’ll probably also use that distinctive bark to welcome you home, invite you to play, or just chat with you and their other beloved family members. This can be off-putting to some Yorkie Terrier Owners, but with some quiet command training, the barking is manageable. It will never go away completely – Yorkies will not be silenced! – but you can get a handle on excessive barking.
Because of their love of human interaction and boundless courage, the Yorkshire Terrier can get along in any family dynamic, regardless of other dogs, cats or invited house guests. The best thing that you can do for your Yorkie is to make sure that others know how to handle them with care. Young children and other dogs are the main risks for your Yorkie and should be taught how to interact with them to avoid injury.
Yorkshire Terrier Trainability
Yorkie Terriers have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to training, but allow us to push back on that a little bit. This is, after all, an intelligent pooch with all of the traits of a working dog. They were able to follow directions in dangerous working conditions. They’ve won awards in dog competitions. And, as we’ll discuss in Yorkshire Terrier Fun Facts, they can even be decorated war heroes.
It may be that instead of being untrainable, the Yorkie is given a little more wiggle room because of their size. For instance, some Yorkshire Terrier Owners may instinctively pick up their brave little doggo who is barking and growling at that big, scary-looking Dobermann at the dog park. While that may seem to be in the best interest of the Yorkie at the time, it doesn’t lead to proper socialisation in the long run.
Similarly, Yorkie Owners may rely on puppy pads for longer because these puppers make such little mess that it’s not too inconvenient to delay potty training.
We suggest that you train your Yorkshire Terrier just like you would with a large breed dog. Proper training will ensure that your Yorkie is confident, friendly with others, and attuned to your commands. In the long-term this is safer and healthier for your pup, and a great way to avoid Small Dog Syndrome.
The best place to start is with socialisation and basic commands. From an early age, teach your Yorkie how to interact safely with other dogs and people so that they are friendly and comfortable in social settings. They should also know to come when called and sit and stay on command. Not only will this make your life easier when you need to gather up your pup for bathtime or a trip to the vet, but it can quickly diffuse a dangerous situation. After all, if you’re worried about your little pup chasing after bigger dogs, these basic commands will allow you to keep them out of harm’s way so that you can ask fellow Owners whether they have a friendly dog.
Under normal circumstances, your Yorkshire Terrier should be house trained at a similar pace as any other dog. Make sure to provide your Yorkie with plenty of incentives and consistency so that your pup can learn not to think of the inside of your home as a place to poo. If you’re struggling, it can be very helpful to bring in a dedicated Dog Walker to give your Yorkshire Terrier a potty break while you’re away at work.
Exercise Needs & Living Conditions ⌂
Due to their size, Yorkshire Terriers adapt well to apartment living. They’ll love you for providing small dog ramps and other accommodations so that they’re as mobile and self-sufficient in the home as possible.
Yorkies tend to be very social and affectionate, however, some doggos also appreciate a place where they can be alone to rest. This is especially true with senior Yorkies, and you can learn more about how to make them feel comfortable by reading our article on How to Help Your Dog Age Gracefully.
When it comes to exercise, new Yorkie Owners are often taken aback by how much energy these little guys have. They will need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy and can walk a surprising distance for their size! Yorkies love trotting along beside their loving Owners and will keep going and going! If you’re able to take your Yorkshire Terrier with you when you’re out and about, they’ll love the attention. Otherwise, you might want to leave them with a caring Pet Sitter so that they’re not alone at home.
The good news about Yorkshire Terrier grooming is that it’s pretty easy – so long as you opt to keep their hair short. Yorkies have a very low-shedding single coat that is closer to hair than fur. That means low dander and less frequent brushing, but more combing to prevent tangles. You may also want to take them to the groomers about every 8 weeks for clipping.
It’s also important to keep the fur clean with doggie wipes, especially around the eyes and nose. Like dogs with a similar coat like the Maltese, Yorkies are susceptible to face staining.
Even more so than other dogs, you’ll want to brush your Yorkies teeth. These little guys have notoriously poor dental hygiene, which means you’ll want to spend more time establishing a teeth brushing routine.
Fun Fact about the Yorkshire Terrier ♥
Now, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned about the Yorkshire Terrier so far, it’s that this dog will defy expectations. They’re not a shy little lap dog in need of protection and a quiet lifestyle. And if you’re still not convinced, let us introduce you to Smoky.
Smoky’s story starts out in New Guinea in the middle of World War II. She was starving and weak, hiding in a foxhole on the side of the road. Scooped up by an American Sergeant and sold to an Army Air Force pilot named Bill Wynne for 2 Australian pounds, Smoky started her career as a combat mission flight companion. Tucked in Bill’s jacket pocket in the cockpit of a fighter plane, She and Bill completed 12 combat missions. Smoky even had a specially-designed doggie parachute.
And when Wynne developed Dengue, Smoky was there by his side until her beloved Owner recovered. And so, she started her second career as a therapy dog.
But Smoky’s most important role by far was a job that she did in the Filipino island of Luzon. Communication lines were down, and fixing them would put the squadrons at considerable risk. So, they tied a kite string to trusty Smoky’s collar and had her run along the pipeline to restore the telephone line. What was nothing more than an exciting obstacle course for Smoky would end up saving numerous lives.
She survived the war and continued to brighten the lives of veterans and hospital patience for ten more years. She would pass away at 14 years of age. Bill Wynne went on to be a successful dog trainer and Owner to more Yorkies. And if you’re thinking, “how can I learn more about this incredible doggo,” don’t worry. There’s an entire book about her called Smoky the Brave by Damien Lewis.
Final Thoughts on the Yorkshire Terrier
A small dog with a personality that is anything but, it’s easy to see why the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Whether they’re copiloting a WWII plane, hanging out with their best mining mates, or cuddling up in the protective arms of their beloved Owners, Yorkies are not to be overlooked.
Yorkies are the type of dog to go with the flow, although there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re looking to adopt. This a vocal pup with medium-to-high energy and the bravado of a much larger dog. As such, they need early socialisation and continued training to ensure that they’re polite and friendly. They also want a lot of attention so it’s a great idea to arrange for a friendly Dog Walker to give them some love when you’re not around.
And because they’re so petite, it’s important that everyone around them, including children and other pets, is gentle with this little doggo to prevent injury.
When you bring home a Yorkshire Terrier, be ready for a dog that will steal your heart, along with all the attention in the room. This natural-born star may have had humble beginnings, but the Yorkshire Terrier was born to shine.