Who hasn’t heard of, seen, or even met a Yorkshire Terrier or Yorkies as they are affectionately known? The Yorkie may seem the quintessential lapdog, but Yorkies have a much harder history than most people realize. There is a lot more to the Yorkshire Terrier; appearances can be deceiving.
Adorable Yorkies is the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Yorkshire Terriers. But other descriptive words describe them as tiny, full of themselves, a touch aggressive at times, confident, spoiled, barking Yorkies, fearless, fun; what’s the truth, and what are the Yorkie pros and cons?
Let’s start by examining the Yorkie Terrier breed history.
Everything You Need To Know About The Yorkshire Terrier:
1. Yorkie Terrier History
The Yorkshire Terrier’s history began around 150 years ago. It was pretty typical for folk in Scotland to move to England to find work. One northern English county, Yorkshire, needed laborers for the mills and coal mines in the county.
The Scottish workers brought some of their Scottish terriers, such as Waterside Terriers, the Skye, and the Paisley. Inevitably these dogs mated with local terriers such as Broken-Haired Terriers and Manchester Terriers. The resulting mixes were typically known as Broken Haired Scotch Terriers.
The dogs weren’t there as companion dogs; they had to work for food and lodging. Mills and coal mines used the dogs to get rid of the rats that were plaguing work areas. Yorkies were so good at killing rats the workforce began to use the dog as entertainment, putting them in small enclosures with several rats and betting on how many rats the Yorkie would kill in a given timeframe.
Yorkies began entering dog shows in England, and the rest, as they say, is history. Once the rich and privileged saw the Yorkie in dog shows with his beautiful long silky coat, he became a much sought-after lapdog. Breeders could see plenty of money to be made, so they began breeding Yorkies smaller and with longer silkier coats. By 1874, the dog was officially the Yorkshire Terrier after the county name where the dogs originated, and in 1878 the AKC (American Kennel Club) registered the breed.
2. Yorkshire Terrier Characteristics
A full-grown Yorkie will only reach a height of 8 inches and weigh up to 7 pounds; Yorkies have a life expectancy between 13 and 16 years.
Might you have heard of Teacup Yorkies? These Yorkies are not a separate variety, but breeders create them to be deliberately smaller than a standard Yorkie. A Teacup Yorkie will not weigh more than 4 pounds, which is a pretty tiny dog. There will be health issues specific to the size of a Yorkie so tiny, such as small bladders and stomachs, an exceptionally fragile bone structure, and heart problems, among others. A Teacup Yorkie’s lifespan is between 7 and 9 years, considerably less than a standard Yorkie.
Yorkies are peculiar in that their true coat colors don’t wholly appear until they reach three years old; when it does, the coat is straight, can grow very long, around two feet long, if never cut, and has a very silky feel. A Yorkie’s coat color can vary between combinations of blue with tan, black with gold, black with tan, and blue with gold. Blue with tan tends to be the most common Yorkie coat color. You’ll find you need to brush his coat regularly to prevent tangles, and his coat will continue to grow, so you’ll have to cut it to the length you prefer.
3. Yorkshire Terrier Temperament And Personality
Remember, they began life as genuine terriers capable of hunting and killing vermin in very trying environments. So Yorkies are independent thinkers, clever and inquisitive little dogs. A Yorkie is always aware of where he is and what’s going on around him; he’s a take-charge character that sometimes can be far too bossy for his own good.
This type of Yorkie personality is not to say they aren’t affectionate and won’t sit on your lap, but if something piques his interest, he’ll be up and investigating and barking to let you know what he’s found. In fact, barking and separation anxiety are two distinctly Yorkie personality traits that need curbing before they get out of hand. Yorkies love their humans and aren’t a dog you can leave alone for hours. Even if you control the worst separation anxiety issues, Yorkies still need to be with someone most of the time.
Very early socialization is a must with a Yorkie. The recommendation is to start immediately you bring your puppy home if you want him to learn good habits from the off. Terriers can be stubborn, and inevitably that will lead to some training difficulties, particularly potty training.
4. Are Yorkies Easy To Potty Train
Many people expect to bring home a Yorkie lapdog if you’re thinking of purchasing a Yorkie puppy. But Yorkies have far more to offer potential owners than curling up in someone’s lap all day.
Being so tiny, Yorkies have a real issue going outside to do their business, especially in cold weather. As mentioned, Yorkies are stubborn, so Yorkies are not easy to housetrain. You might find yourself crate training your Yorkie to get him clean and not soiling inside the home. Positive reinforcement is a must to train a Yorkie. A calm, kind, persistent and consistent owner is necessary; don’t forget the treats and masses of praise when they get it right.
It’s easy to spoil and not train tiny dogs properly. Many Yorkie owners are guilty of this, but a well-trained and obedient Yorkie is a joy. He’ll be well-mannered, better around strange people and other animals, and visits to the vet will be far less stressful.
5. Are Yorkies Good With Kids?
If a Yorkie puppy grows up with children, they are great pets and loving pals for life. But Yorkies can be hurt in an instant, so children need coaching to pick up and handle a Yorkie in the best way.
Typically Yorkies tend not to do well around very young children. Kids of this age have no perception of how to treat a tiny Yorkie and can hurt and break the bones of a Yorkie; if they mishandle or are too heavy-handed, a Yorkie is very capable of snapping back.
6. Are Yorkies Hypoallergenic Dogs?
No dog is 100% hypoallergenic, including the Yorkshire Terrier. The better question is, do Yorkies shed a lot?
Yorkies do shed their coat, but not so much that it will be an issue for 90% of owners. Unless you have severe allergies to dog dander, you might not even notice any reaction to a Yorkie’s hair. A Yorkie’s hair is similar to human hair in that it grows continually and falls out similar to ours; Yorkies don’t blow their coats twice a year like many breeds. Yorkshire Terriers are such small dogs that even if they lose some hair, it’s hardly noticeable; the only time you will see any substantial amounts is when you comb and brush his hair or when you pop him into the bath.
7. Fun Facts About Yorkies
The Yorkie is popular with celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Joan Rivers, Natalie Portman. Audrey Hepburn once made a movie entitled Funny Face and a Yorkie; Mr. Famous was one of her co-stars. There’s also a Yorkie who took up residence in the White House when Mrs. Nixon was the First Lady; the dog’s name was Pasha.
Although people wouldn’t have known it as therapy in those days, the first-ever therapy dog was a Yorkie. In the Second World War, a soldier found a stray Yorkie and gave her the name Smokey. Back in the States at the end of the war, the dog visited servicemen in hospitals; there’s even a monument to the Yorkie in Cleveland.
8. Pros And Cons Of A Yorkie
Yorkies are not the dog for everyone; no breed of dog can be suitable for all tastes and lifestyles. We title this short section pros and cons of a Yorkie.
It really means if you want a dog who is:
- Portable, can easily live in an apartment, looks elegant, and can look chirpy and sweet with the puppy cut.
- An excellent dog for dog allergy sufferers because of the Yorkie’s light shedding.
- Energetic, curious, and an independent thinker.
- He only requires a minimal amount of exercise, just a laid-back stroll around the neighborhood.
- Yorkies make excellent watchdogs and will always warn you if a stranger approaches your home.
- Well-mannered around other pets.
If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with:
- A tiny dog that can be injured in an instant and requires constant monitoring.
- Yorkies are renowned for being difficult to housetrain.
- Possess an annoying barking habit.
- Grooming and brushing practically every day and regular cutting or trimming their coats.
- Unruly and badly behaved when not socialized correctly or enough.
- Yorkies require patient, consistent, and persistent handling.
Final Thoughts On The Yorkshire Terrier
Before choosing any dog breed, including the Yorkshire Terrier, you must research the breed and the breeder before going ahead. Talk to other Yorkie owners you meet or know. The one thing about dog owners, including Yorkie owners, is they love to tell you about their dogs. Surprisingly they are also sincere in their appraisal, mostly.
Choosing the wrong dog for you and your family is not a mistake you want to make. Hence the reason so many breeds of dogs end up in shelters all around the country.