Breed Profile: Yorkshire Terrier

This dog packs a big personality in a tiny package. Learn what makes the Yorkshire Terrier one of the most popular toy dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier breed profile
Yorkies are small dogs with big personalities. By: itarife


Yorkshire Terrier, a.k.a. Yorkie



Physical Description

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most popular dogs among the toy breeds. They weigh between 4 and 7 pounds and average 6 to 7 inches tall. Their average life expectancy is around 15 years. Yorkies have medium-sized eyes and V-shaped ears.

Although the tail is usually docked, this practice is illegal in some European countries. The coat is long and silky and comes in colors of steel blue and tan. The coat is sometimes clipped short for easy maintenance, especially near the face.


Weavers from Scotland migrated to England with a dog called the Waterside terrier.

It is said that people used to make sarcastic remarks about the dog coats that they were products of the loom from the clothing mill in which the weavers worked. Despite this perception, the breed flourished and was named for the city of Yorkshire, England, in 1870.

The dogs were often used to rid the mills of mice and rats. The small dog could also fit into burrows of animals to chase them out.

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Yorkshire Terriers were much larger than they are now; they were bred down in size over time to become the tiny toy dogs so popular today. The breed appeared in the United States in 1872 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.


Yorkies are companion pets, ratters and competitive show dogs.


Don’t let the size fool you; Yorkies may be small in size but are big on personality. They need to be trained or can become snappy or unruly. They can be difficult to housebreak but are determined dogs. They are brave, curious, energetic and affectionate companions. Even though they are small, they make excellent watchdogs.

Yorkies can also learn to do tricks. In this video, Shorty the Yorkie demonstrates several of them:

Exercise Needs

Yorkies need only limited exercise due to their small size. Daily interaction, play and a walk will help expel energy. They are active indoors and suitable for apartment life.

Grooming Requirements

Although there is little to no shedding, daily brushing and regular grooming sessions are expected with Yorkies. The dogs also have a propensity for dental problems, so get comfortable with brushing your Yorkie’s teeth. The ears should be cleaned and the nails trimmed weekly.

Yorkies are also considered to be a great option for people with dog allergies and asthma.

Common Health Problems

Yorkies are sensitive to cold temperatures and prefer warmer weather. In addition to their temperature sensitivity, they are prone to these conditions:

  • Luxated patella
  • Bronchitis
  • Eye problems
  • Tooth decay
  • Anesthetic sensitivity
  • Digestive issues
  • Herniated disks

Is the Yorkshire Terrier the Right Dog for You?

Yorkies are active indoors, so they can live the apartment life without issue. They are recommended for older children and need training because they can be difficult to housetrain.

The dental issues experienced by this breed make toothbrushing and regular dental exams a must. Grooming will require maintenance in the form of daily brushing and regular grooming.

These small dogs are affectionate with their families and make excellent watchdogs. If you can handle the maintenance, a Yorkie might be a great fit for your family.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Yorkshire Terrier, please try adoption resources first. See Petful’s pet adoption page. You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. Ensure that the breeder is reputable.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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