Yorkshire Terrier

Other names: Yorkie, York

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is an animated, lively, very intelligent dog, who should never be treated like a toy but like the true Terrier that he is. He is only suitable for those children who are able to respect him. Even if he is principally used as a companion and show dog, he remains an avid rat hunter, the latter being the role for which he was bred. He can be a good watchdog by virtue of barking, an ‘alarm dog’ so to speak. This miniature dog is the smallest of the terriers, and currently the most popular dog in the world, from the States through to Europe.

Key facts about the Yorkshire Terrier

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful

Size :

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Origins and history

The breed is quite recent since it has first emerged in the beginning of the 19th century, around the time of the industrial revolution. In fact, wool workers migrated from Scotland to Yorkshire, taking their dogs with them. There are, however, no surviving documents that fully explain their origins. It is nevertheless more or less certain that various Terriers like the Skye, Cairn, Clydesdale (extinct today) and the “Melita Terrier” (today’s Maltese Dog) have contributed to his formation. Initially bred to hunt for rats in the mines and for rabbits in the burrows, he is nowadays regarded exclusively as a toy terrier. Initially dubbed “Miniature Terriers”, it is in 1886 that the Kennel Club officially recognised the breed in its own right as the “Yorkshire Terrier”. The first official breed standards had been established towards the end of the 19th century, in 1898.

Physical characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier

  • Yorkshire Terrier
    Yorkshire Terrier

    Adult size

    Female : Between 6 and 10 in

    Male : Between 6 and 10 in


    Female : Between 4 and 7 lb

    Male : Between 4 and 7 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Yorkshire Terrier is a dog of compact and balanced constitution, carrying himself upright and exuding an air of importance. His build is generally robust and proportional. The head is rather small and flat, with a skull not too round and a rather short muzzle. The eyes are of medium size, shiny, cast in a straight direction. The ears are small and v-shaped, erect and covered in shorter and duller red-brown hair. The limbs are perfectly straight. The tail is densely covered by hair and carried above the level of the back.

    Good to know

    This breed is extremely popular, which has led to an increased production of low-quality dogs. It is vital to seek out the best breeders in order to adopt an authentic Yorkie rather than a dog that simply resembles him.


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      A clingy little thing with the people he trusts, the Yorkshire Terrier is very demonstrative of his affection with members of his social group, and very much enjoys spending time on their knees in particular.

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      This toy terrier is very dynamic and active, which makes him a little jester eager to entertain an audience. He is very playful and enjoys nothing more than to have fun with his owners- he often seeks their attention out to get them to play with him.

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      This dog knows how to be calm if he’s been sufficiently expended during the day. He does often seek out something to do at home, and solicits many interactions from his owners, but can also adapt to their moods and, when needed, settle down on the couch and remain still for several hours.

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      Quite clever, this little toy dog has many impressive skills that he sometimes keeps to himself, tricking his master into spending more time with him under the pretext of repeated training, for instance.

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      The York is a terrier, and so he is equipped with a certain predisposition to hunting. He was, in fact, originally bred to hunt rats and rabbits. 

      Nowadays, he is first and foremost a toy terrier, who can still nevertheless hunt- be it for a toy in the house, or for rodents in the garden.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      According to official standards, this miniature terrier should neither scare easy, nor be aggressive. Very close to his social group, he does sometimes have trouble trusting someone whom he doesn’t know, he may therefore seem distant at first.

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      His terrier side makes him slightly more independent than his fellow toy dogs, but he still remains particularly attached to members of his social group, and to his owners in particular.

      Behaviour of the Yorkshire Terrier

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        Tolerates solitude

        Although he definitely prefers to accompany his owners on all of their journeys, if he is accustomed to staying alone in a positive and gradual manner, and from his youngest age, the York can absolutely tolerate loneliness. 

        Do note: the absences should not be prolonged- just because he’s a toy terrier, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need to be stimulated physically, mentally, socially, and that his sense of smell does not need to be stimulated as regularly as possible.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Despite his small size, the Yorkie is a dog with a strong personality who necessitates a firm and consistent training. 

        It is therefore necessary to implement some rules of life and clear boundaries to be respected as soon as the Yorkshire Terrier pup first integrates the home, in order to stop bad habits from developing. 

        You also shouldn’t think that a dog of this size does not need to be trained- small or big, all dogs need to learn some basic discipline not only to integrate the household as seamlessly as possible, but also to adapt well to society in general.

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        A very good alarm dog, the Yorkshire Terrier doesn’t need many reasons to start barking,  and can sometimes prove to be very insistent and noisy, especially when guests pass the threshold of his house- regardless of whether he knows them or not.

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        Tendency to run away

        Even if he possesses a spirit of adventure, this dog remains very attached to his social group, and does not like to be far nor isolated from his kin.

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        As is the case of many other dogs, if left alone for too long, this miniature terrier can resort to certain destructive activities, mainly to pass the time and/or take out his frustrations.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        A good but not excessive eater, he will not refuse a meal but will not throw himself at it either. Snacks are appreciated even if they aren’t always enough to obtain the dog’s full cooperation.

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        Guard dog

        Not particularly dissuasive in any way, the Yorkshire Terrier only protects inasmuch as he serves as a good ‘alarm dog’.

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        First dog

        Robust, cheerful, clever, enthusiastic and very affectionate, he is the perfect first companion dog for miniature dog enthusiasts.

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          Yorkshire Terrier in a flat

          The Yorkshire Terrier is a flat and interiors’ dog by definition, but does, nevertheless, require daily walks, and not solely to do his business. 

          Warning! In case he has access to a garden in which he spends time, or if he is taken on walks in the countryside- he needs to have his hair bundled up in curlers to prevent his coat from getting dirty or destroyed.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          Even if he is only a toy dog, this little pooch is very active and filled with energy. He needs daily walks and activities at home that will keep him busy and expend his energy.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          Of course, the small size and light weight of the Yorkie constitute a certain advantage when it comes to moving around, as it can be done with the help of a transport bag. 
          A progressive and gradual habituation to this means of transport is nevertheless indispensable to ensure that the dog stay still in the bag.


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            Yorkshire Terrier and cats

            A cat-dog cohabitation is more than possible with this terrier, who knows how to differentiate the household cat from potential prey to chase after.

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            Yorkshire Terrier and dogs

            The Yorkshire Terrier has long been reputed as a vicious dog, but contemporary breeding, carried out by the breed’s biggest enthusiasts, tends to produce much more malleable and balanced dogs. 

            A precocious socialisation, from the Yorkshire Terrier pup’s first months, remains nevertheless vital to ensure that this little toy terrier develops and reinforces a good ‘canine code of conduct’. 

            Do note- for him to be able to calmly get along with his fellow dogs, you should avoid getting into the habit of carrying your dog during an encounter. This does no favour to the Yorkie, who will just be hampered in his interactions with fellow canines.

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            Yorkshire Terrier and children

            The Yorkshire Terrier is kind with children but not particularly patient. You must therefore be careful, especially with the smallest ones, who could tend to be more careless with him.

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            Yorkshire Terrier and the elderly

            Both calm and dynamic at the same time, the Yorkshire Terrier is an excellent companion to the elderly, not least because he knows how to adapt to the moods and daily rhythm of his owners.



            The price of a Yorkshire Terrier varies depending on its origins, age, and gender. You have to count an average of £670 for dogs registered at the Kennel Club. 

            With regards to the monthly budget required to meet the needs of a dog of this size, you have to estimate an average of £20 per month.


            His coat does require rather constant and scrupulous care, and it is actually advised to take him to a professional dog groomer on a regular basis, since his hair grows on a continual basis (around 0.4 inches a month). 

            Regular trims are therefore indispensable to prevent his coat from getting tangled up, or getting in the way of his movements. 

            For those individuals fulfilling companion roles rather than show dog roles, you can trim his hair just enough for it not to reach the ground, which also facilitates the maintenance of his coat. 

            Regular brushes are necessary to maintain the beauty and cleanliness of his coat. 

            His eyes, ears, and teeth need to be checked and cleaned regularly, and his nails need to be clipped or filed if necessary.


            The Yorkie experiences moderate hair loss- it will be necessary to brush him on a daily basis during moulting seasons (autumn and spring), in order to remove any dead hairs.

            Nutrition of the Yorkshire Terrier

            Just like all dogs in general, the Yorkie must be provided with daily rations based on quality nutrients (premium-quality kibbles) adapted to his weight, age, and physical shape. 

            Veterinary supervision is advised, particularly for growing pups. Even if the York seems to be of solid constitution, he can, like many small-sized dogs, have a fragile joint and bone structure.

            One meal a day is enough and should preferably be served in the evenings, to facilitate digestion. Self-service is not an option as it increases the risk of excessive weight gain and gastric torsion.

            Health of the Yorkshire Terrier

            Life expectancy

            The average life expectancy is estimated at 15 years.

            Strong / robust

            Even though he appears fragile, this little dog is robust and can enjoy a very long life in spite of his predisposition to certain diseases.

            Withstand heat

            Even though he is less sensitive to the heat than to the cold, the Yorkshire Terrier should not be  physically overstimulated during heatwaves. Early-morning and late-night walks should take priority during such periods.

            Withstand cold

            Lacking an undercoat, this dog is vulnerable to bad weather (cold and humidity).

            Tendency to put on weight

            Rather active by nature, if he is provided with a nutritional regimen adapted to his needs, as well as sufficient exercise, the York will not fall victim to excessive weight. Be careful, however, as one really tends to spoil toy dogs in particular!

            Common illnesses

            • Patent ductus arteriosus (cardiac malformation)
            • Mitral endocardiosis (degenerative disease of certain heart valves) 
            • Color dilution alopecia (faulty development of the coat and subsequent loss of coat)
            • “Leather ear” (symmetrical hair loss and hyperpigmentation of the muzzle and ears)
            • Cushing’s disease (hypercorticism)
            • Urinary stones 
            • Hydrocephalus
            • Atlanto-axial subluxation
            • Eye afflictions (cataract, dry eye, retina disorders, etc.)
            • Congenital dislocation of the elbow 
            • Patellar luxation 
            • Aseptic necrosis of femoral heads
            • Tracheal collapse (respiratory disease)
            • Undescended testis (testicular development anomaly) 
            • Complications during labour 
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