The Yorkshire Terrier is a small dog breed
of terrier type, developed in the 19th century
in the county of Yorkshire, England, to catch
rats in clothing mills, also used for rat-baiting.
The defining features of the breed are its
maximum size of 7 pounds and its gray, black,
and tan coat. The breed is nicknamed Yorkie
and is placed in the Toy Terrier section of
the Terrier Group by the Fédération Cynologique
Internationale and in the Toy Group or Companion
Group by other kennel clubs, although all
agree that the breed is a terrier. A popular
companion dog, the Yorkshire Terrier has also
been part of the development of other breeds,
such as the Australian Silky Terrier.
The Yorkshire Terrier (also called a “Yorkie”)
originated in Yorkshire (and the adjoining
Lancashire), a rugged region in northern England.
In the mid-19th century, workers from Scotland
came to Yorkshire in search of work and brought
with them several different varieties of small
terriers. Breeding of the Yorkshire Terrier
was “principally accomplished by the people—mostly
operatives in cotton and woolen mills—in
the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire.”
Details are scarce. Mrs. A. Foster is quoted
as saying in 1886, “If we consider that the
mill operatives who originated the breed…were
nearly all ignorant men, unaccustomed to imparting
information for public use, we may see some
reason why reliable facts have not been easily
What is known is that the breed sprang from
three different dogs, a male named Old Crab
and a female named Kitty, and another female
whose name is not known. The Paisley Terrier,
a smaller version of the Skye Terrier that
was bred for a beautiful long silky coat,
also figured into the early dogs. Some authorities
believed that the Maltese was used as well.
“They were all originally bred from Scotch
Terriers (note: meaning dogs from Scotland,
not today’s Scottish Terrier) and shown as
such…the name Yorkshire Terrier was given
to them on account of their being improved
so much in Yorkshire.” Yorkshire Terriers
were shown in a dog show category (class)
at the time called “Rough and Broken-coated,
Broken-haired Scotch and Yorkshire Terriers”.
Hugh Dalziel, writing in 1878, says that “the
classification of these dogs at shows and
in the Kennel Club Stud Book is confusing
and absurd” in lumping together these different
In the early days of the breed, “almost anything
in the shape of a Terrier having a long coat
with blue on the body and fawn or silver coloured
head and legs, with tail docked and ears trimmed,
was received and admired as a Yorkshire Terrier”.
But in the late 1860s, a popular Paisley type
Yorkshire Terrier show dog named Huddersfield
Ben, owned by a woman living in Yorkshire,
Mary Ann Foster, was seen at dog shows throughout
Great Britain, and defined the breed type
for the Yorkshire Terrier.
Huddersfield Ben was a famous dog. His portrait
was painted by George Earl and in 1891 an
authority on the breed wrote, “Huddersfield
Ben was the best stud dog of his breed during
his lifetime, and one of the most remarkable
dogs of any pet breed that ever lived; and
most of the show specimens of the present
day have one or more crosses of his blood
in their pedigree.” A show winner, Huddersfield
Ben quickly became the type of dog everyone
wanted, and through his puppies has defined
the breed as we know it today. He is still
referred to as “father of the breed.”
In North America
The Yorkshire Terrier was introduced in North
America in 1872 and the first Yorkshire Terrier
was registered with the American Kennel Club
(AKC) in 1885. During the Victorian era, the
Yorkshire Terrier was a popular pet and show
dog in England, and as Americans embraced
Victorian customs, so too did they embrace
the Yorkshire Terrier. The breed’s popularity
dipped in the 1940s, when the percentage of
small breed dogs registered fell to an all-time
low of 18% of total registrations. Smoky,
a Yorkshire Terrier and famous war dog from
World War II, is credited with beginning a
renewal of interest in the breed.
For adult Yorkshire Terriers, importance is
placed on coat colour, quality, and texture.
The hair must be glossy, fine, straight, and
silky. Traditionally the coat is grown out
very long and is parted down the middle of
the back, but “must never impede movement.”
From the back of the neck to the base of the
tail, the coat should be a dark gray to a
black colour, and the hair on the tail should
be a darker black. On the head, high chest,
and legs, the hair should be a bright, rich
tan, darker at the roots than in the middle,
that shades into a lighter tan at the tips,
but not for all dogs. Also, in adult dogs
there should be no black hairs intermingled
with any of the tan coloured fur.
Adult Yorkshire Terriers that have other coat
colours than the above, or that have woolly
or extra fine coats, are still Yorkshire Terriers.
The only difference is that atypical Yorkshire
Terriers should not intentionally be bred.
In addition, care may be more difficult for
“woolly” or “cottony” textured coats, or coats
that are overly fine. One of the reasons given
for not breeding “off-coloured” Yorkies is
that the colour could be a potential indicator
of a genetic defect that may affect the dog’s
health, a careful health screening can clarify
if any health risks exist. Coats may vary
in colour. For example, a grown Yorkie may
have a silver/blue with light brown while
another might have a black and creamy colour.
A newborn Yorkshire Terrier puppy is born
black with tan points on the muzzle, above
the eyes, around the legs and feet and toes,
the inside of the ears, and the underside
of the tail. Occasionally Yorkies are born
with a white “star” on the chest or on one
or more toes. Also, a few Yorkies are born
with a red tint in their coat, but that is
only when the parents also have this trait.
It is also common to find white patch on one
or more nails. These markings fade with age,
and are usually gone within a few months.
It may take three years or more for the coat
to reach its final colour. The final colour
is usually a black/grayish colour. P. H. Combs,
writing in 1891, complained about show wins
awarded to puppies, when the dog’s coat does
not fully come in until three or four years
old, “and the honor of winning such a prize
(for a puppy) can therefore be of but little
practical benefit to the owner” since the
adult dog’s colour cannot be exactly predicted.
The typical fine, straight, and silky Yorkshire
Terrier coat has also been listed by many
popular dog information websites as being
hypoallergenic. In comparison with many other
breeds, Yorkies do not shed to the same degree,
only losing small amounts when bathed or brushed.
and it is the dog’s dander and saliva that
trigger most allergic reactions. Allergists
do recognize that at times a particular allergy
patient will be able to tolerate a particular
dog, but they agree that “the luck of the
few with their pets cannot be stretched to
fit all allergic people and entire breeds
of dogs.” The Yorkshire Terrier coat is said
to fall out only when brushed or broken, or
just said to not shed. Although neither of
those statements agree with what biologists,
veterinarians, and allergists know about dog
fur, allergists “think there really are differences
in protein production between dogs that may
help one patient and not another”, meaning
that some allergic people may not have allergic
reactions to a specific dog, like the Yorkie.
Owners may trim the fur short for easier care.
For shows, the coat is left long, and may
be trimmed to floor length to give ease of
movement and a neater appearance. Hair on
the feet and the tips of ears can also be
trimmed. The traditional long coat is extremely
high maintenance. To prevent breakage, the
coat may be wrapped in rice paper, tissue
paper, or plastic, after a light oiling with
a coat oil. The oil has to be washed out once
a month and the wraps must be fixed periodically
during the week to prevent them from sliding
down and breaking the hair. Elaborate coat
care dates from the earliest days of the breed.
In 1878, John Walsh described similar preparations:
the coat is “well greased” with coconut oil,
the dog is bathed weekly, and the dog’s feet
are “carefully kept in stockings.”
The Yorkshire Terrier is a tan dog with a
blue saddle. Particolours exist, although
they are not correct for the breed standard.
The particolour coat is white with black/blue
and tan. It is very rare to get a particolour,
and if one is found, it tends to be very expensive.
Some Yorkshire Terriers are liver or chocolate,
a brown colour; they are unable to produce
black pigment. The breed is defined by its
colour, and such non-standard colours may
indicate health problems or cross-breeding
with other breeds of other colours. The AKC
registration form for Yorkshire Terriers allows
for four choices: blue and tan, blue and gold,
black and tan, black and gold. Colour alone
will not affect whether or not a dog is a
good companion and pet. Even though off-coloured
Yorkshire Terriers are advertised at premium
prices, being of an unusual or untypical colour
is neither new, desirable, nor exotic.
Until recently, mismatched Yorkshire Terriers
could be crossed with Biewer Terriers, a new
breed originated in Germany (note that this
breed is not eligible for registration in
Germany, its country of origin. Until it is,
no official club, world-wide will recognize
the Biewer as being purebred) from party coloured
Yorkshire Terriers. Although the American
Kennel Club will not deny registration of
a Yorkshire Terrier on colour alone parti
colour are now registered at the American
kennel club the Yorkshire Terrier Club of
America has a directive that “any solid colour
or combination of colours other than black
and tan” for adult dogs is a disqualification,
and “dogs of solid colour, unusual combination
of colours, and party colours should be disqualified.”
The ideal Yorkshire Terrier character or “personality”
is described with a “carriage very upright”
and “conveying an important air.” Though small,
the Yorkshire Terrier is active, very overprotective,
curious, and loves attention. Mentally sound
and emotionally secure ones should normally
not show the soft submissive temperament seen
in lap dogs. Because of this, it is advised
that a Yorkie would not be suitable for a
home with typical young children- they are
Terriers after all. Instead, they make ideal
companions for older families with many more
reputable breeders routinely only homing to
families with children older than about 8
years for the comfort of the dog, but more
so for the benefit of the child.
Yorkshire Terriers are an easy dog breed to
train. This results from their own nature
to work without human assistance. Because
they were developed as a working breed then
many need a lot of both physical and mental
stimulation- with both long walks/runs but
also indoor games and training to keep their
mind busy. they are known for being yappy,
but from experience many have reported that
a contented Yorkie is a quiet one- that will
happily curl up on your knee in the evening.
Of course it must be noted that they are all
individuals, with some being much more laid
back than others and the breeder should ideally
be able to advise on the needs and temperaments
of their particular line.
Yorkshire Terriers do tend to bark a lot.
This makes them excellent watch dogs because
they will sound the alarm when anyone gets
near. This barking problem can be resolved
with proper training and exercise.
Yorkshire Terriers are ranked 27th in Stanley
Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.
Health issues often seen in the Yorkshire
Terrier include bronchitis, lymphangiectasia,
portosystemic shunt, cataracts, and keratitis
sicca. Additionally, Yorkies often have a
delicate digestive system, with vomiting or
diarrhea resulting from consumption of foods
outside of a regular diet. The relatively
small size of the Yorkshire Terrier means
that it usually has a poor tolerance for anesthesia.
Additionally, a toy dog such as the Yorkie
is more likely to be injured by falls, other
dogs and owner clumsiness. Injection reactions
(inflammation or hair loss at the site of
an injection) can occur. In addition they
may have skin allergies.
The life span of a Yorkie is 10–15 years.
Undersized Yorkies (3 pounds or less) generally
have a shorter life span, as they are especially
prone to health problems such as chronic diarrhea
and vomiting; are even more sensitive to anesthesia;
and are more easily injured.
As with all other dogs, Yorkies have two sets
of teeth in their life. The first set of teeth
is the 28-piece deciduous teeth (often referred
to as “milk teeth”, “baby teeth” or “puppy
teeth”). The second set is the 42-piece permanent
or adult teeth. Sometimes the number of permanent
or adult teeth may vary, which is fine as
long as they do not cause bad bite. When puppies
are born, they have no teeth because milk
is the only food they need. The deciduous
teeth will grow from the age of 3 to 8 weeks
old, in the order of incisors, canine/ fangs
and premolars. Yorkie puppies have no molar
teeth. Yorkie puppies will start to lose their
deciduous or baby teeth when the permanent
or adult teeth come in. The permanent or adult
grow when the Yorkie puppies are 4 to 8 months
old. By around 8 months old, those teeth should
fully develop. The permanent or adult teeth
will grow in the order of incisors, canine/fangs,
premolars and molars. Molar teeth will develop
at around 6 to 8 months old.
Yorkies and other small dog breeds may have
problems if the deciduous or baby teeth do
not fall out as the permanent or adult teeth
grow. This is caused by the new teeth not
growing right underneath the deciduous teeth.
(Usually, a puppy’s body will absorb the
roots of puppy teeth.) If the puppy tooth
does not yield to the incoming tooth, it should
be removed because it can cause a malocclusion
or bad bite. Retained teeth can cause tooth
decay because food can be easily caught in
between the deciduous and permanent teeth.
Sometimes the new teeth are forced to grow
into an abnormal position and further cause
a bad bite. The retained teeth may stay or
fall weeks after the new teeth have developed.
When necessary, the retained deciduous or
baby teeth need to be removed surgically.
Like other small breeds, Yorkies are also
prone to severe dental disease. Because they
have a small jaw, their teeth can become crowded
and may not fall out naturally. This can cause
food and plaque to build up, and bacteria
can eventually develop on the surface of the
teeth, leading to periodontal disease. In
addition, the bacteria can spread to other
parts of the body and cause heart and kidney
problems. The best prevention is regular brushing
of the teeth with a toothpaste formulated
specifically for dogs. Human toothpaste is
not recommended, because it foams easier and
may be swallowed. Professional teeth cleaning
by a veterinarian may also be required to
prevent the development of dental problems.
Certain genetic disorders have been found
in Yorkshire Terriers, including distichiasis,
hydrocephalus, hypoplasia of dens, Legg–Calvé–Perthes
syndrome, luxating patella, portosystemic
shunt, retinal dysplasia, tracheal collapse,
and bladder stones. The following are among
the most common congenital defects that affect
Distichiae, eyelashes arising from an abnormal
spot (usually the duct of the meibomian gland
at the edge of the eyelid), are often found
in Yorkies. Distichiae can irritate the eye
and cause tearing, squinting, inflammation,
corneal abrasions or corneal ulcers, and scarring.
Treatment options may include manual removal,
electrolysis, or surgery.
Hypoplasia of dens is a non-formation of the
pivot point of the second cervical vertebra,
which leads to spinal cord damage. Onset of
the condition may occur at any age, producing
signs ranging from neck pain to quadriplegia.
Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome, which causes
the top of the femur (thigh bone) to degenerate,
occurs in Yorkies in certain lines. The condition
appears to result from insufficient circulation
to the area around the hip joint. As the blood
supply is reduced, the bone in the head of
the femur collapses and dies and the cartilage
coating around it becomes cracked and deformed.
Usually the disease appears when the Yorkie
is young (between five and eight months of
age); signs are pain, limping, or lameness.
The standard treatment is surgery to remove
the affected part of the bone. Following surgery,
muscles hold the femur in place and fibrous
tissue forms in the area of removal to prevent
bone rubbing on bone. Although the affected
leg will be slightly shorter than prior to
surgery, the Yorkie may regain almost normal
Luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps) are
another common defect considered to be genetic
in Yorkies, although it may also be caused
by an accidental fall. Weak ligaments and
tendons in the knee or malformed (too shallow)
patellar grooves, allow the patella to slip
out of its groove sideways. This causes the
leg to ‘lock up’ with the foot held off the
ground. A dog with this problem may experience
frequent pain and lameness or may be bothered
by it only on occasion. Over time, the patellar
ridges can become worn down, making the groove
even more shallow and causing the dog to become
increasingly lame. Surgery is the main treatment
option available for luxating patellas, although
it is not necessary for every dog with the
Portosystemic shunt, a congenital malformation
of the portal vein (which brings blood to
the liver for cleansing), is also common in
Yorkies. In this condition some of the dog’s
blood bypasses the liver and the “dirty” blood
goes on to poison the heart, brain, lungs,
and other organs with toxins. A Yorkie with
this condition might exhibit a wide variety
of symptoms, such as small stature, poor appetite,
weak muscle development, decreased ability
to learn, inferior coordination, occasional
vomiting and diarrhea, behavioral abnormalities,
seizures (especially after a meal), and blindness,
which could lead to a coma and death. Often,
the shunt can be treated with surgery.
Tracheal collapse, caused by a progressive
weakening of the walls of the trachea, occurs
in many toy breeds, especially very tiny Yorkies.
As a result of genetics, the walls of the
trachea can be flaccid, a condition that becomes
more severe with age. Cushing’s syndrome,
a disorder that causes production of excess
steroid hormone by the adrenal glands, can
also weaken cartilage and lead to tracheal
collapse. There is a possibility that physical
strain on the neck might cause or contribute
to trachea collapse. Since this is usually
caused by an energetic Yorkie pulling against
his collar, many veterinarians recommend use
of a harness for leashed walks. An occasional
“goose honking” cough, especially on exertion
or excitement, is usually the first sign of
this condition. Over time, the cough may become
almost constant in the Yorkie’s later life.
Breathing through the obstruction of a collapsed
(or partially collapsed) trachea for many
years can result in complications, including
chronic lung disease. The coughing can be
countered with cough suppressants and bronchodilators.
If the collapse is advanced and unresponsive
to medication, sometimes surgery can repair
Low blood sugar in puppies, or transient juvenile
hypoglycemia, is caused by fasting (too much
time between meals). In rare cases hypoglycemia
may continue to be a problem in mature, usually
very small, Yorkies. It is often seen in Yorkie
puppies at 5 to 16 weeks of age. Very tiny
Yorkie puppies are especially predisposed
to hypoglycemia because a lack of muscle mass
makes it difficult to store glucose and regulate
blood sugar. Factors such as stress, fatigue,
a cold environment, poor nutrition, and a
change in diet or feeding schedule may bring
on hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can also
be the result of a bacterial infection, parasite,
or portosystemic liver shunt. Hypoglycemia
causes the puppy to become drowsy, listless
(glassy-eyed), shaky, uncoordinated, since
the brain relies on sugar to function. During
a hypoglycemic attack, the puppy usually has
very pale or grey gums. The puppy also may
not eat unless force-fed. Hypoglycemia and
dehydration seem to go hand-in-hand, and force-feeding
or injecting fluids may also be necessary.
Additionally, a hypoglycemic Yorkie may have
a lower than normal body temperature and,
in extreme cases, may have a seizure or go
into a coma. A dog showing symptoms should
be given sugar in the form of corn syrup or
NutriCal and be treated by a veterinarian
immediately, as prolonged or recurring attacks
of hypoglycemia can permanently damage the
dog’s brain. In severe cases it can be fatal.
Traditionally, the Yorkshire Terrier’s tail
is docked to a medium length. Opposition to
this practice began very early in the history
of the breed; Hugh Dalziel, writing about
Yorkshire Terriers in 1878, declared that
“There is no reason for mutilating pet dogs,
and perfect ears and tails should be bred,
not clipped into shape with scissors.” American
Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel club still
require the Yorkies tail be docked in order
to compete at its events. The majority of
the rest of the world has adopted a ‘no docking/no
cropping’ rule. Often, a Yorkshire Terrier’s
dewclaws, if any, are removed in the first
few days of life, another controversial practice.
Similar breeds and crosses
The Yorkshire Terrier breed descends from
larger but similar Scottish breeds such as
the now extinct Paisley Terrier and the Skye
Terrier. In its turn, other breeds have been
created from the Yorkshire Terrier, such as
the Australian Silky Terrier, and the Biewer
Terrier, bred from a blue, white, and gold
puppy they later named Schneeflocken von Friedheck,
by Mr. and Mrs. Biewer of Germany. Demand
for unusual pets has resulted in high prices
being paid for Yorkshire Terriers crossed
with various other breeds, which are described
with a portmanteau word made up of syllables
(or sounds) from Yorkshire Terrier and the
breed name of the other parent. A list of
such portmanteau-named crosses can be found
on the List of dog hybrids page.
In 1997, Champion Ozmilion Mystification became
the first Yorkie to win Best in Show at Crufts,
the world’s largest annual dog show.
Champion WA Mozart Dolce Sinfonia (“Mozart”)
is a show dog owned by socialite Sabrina A.
Parisi. He was featured in the Krassimir Abramov
music video for “Say Goodbye” and will star
in the upcoming documentary It’s a Dog Life
from director Vibeke Muasya. On 11 May 2006,
Mozart attended Krassimir’s concert at the
Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, becoming the first
dog to enter the venue.
Sylvia, a matchbox-sized Yorkshire Terrier
owned by Arthur Marples of Blackburn, England,
was the smallest dog in recorded history.
The dog died in 1945 when she was two years
old, at which point she stood 2.5 inches
tall at the shoulder, measured 3.5 inches
from nose tip to tail, and weighed 4 ounces.
For 1995 through 2002 Guinness World Records
listed a Yorkshire Terrier named Big Boss,
as the smallest dog in the world. Big Boss
was listed at 11.94 cm (4.7 in) tall when
his owner, Dr. Chai Khanchanakom of Thailand,
registered the toy dog with Guinness.
A Yorkie named Thumbelina, 5.5 inches tall
and 8 inches long, held the Guinness World
Record for smallest living dog prior to 1995.
Tiny Pinocchio, an abnormally small Yorkshire
Terrier, has appeared on several television
programs including Oprah and the Today Show.
Smoky, a war dog and hero of World War II,
was owned by William Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio.
Wynne adopted Smoky while he was serving with
the 5th Air Force in the Pacific.
White House dogs
Pasha, Tricia Nixon Cox’s pet Yorkie, lived
in the White House during the Richard Nixon
Timmy Tammy, the beloved pet of Lucille P.
Markey owner of the Calumet Farm thoroughbred
racing stable in Lexington, Kentucky traveled
with her everywhere she went – even on airplanes.
He was often carried in Mrs. Markey’s purse.
It was rumored that Tim Tam, the winner of
the 1958 Kentucky Derby was named after the
dog, but that has never been absolutely proven
to be the case. He died in 1970 at the age
“Teacup” Yorkshire terriers is a term used
by disreputable breeders and is applied to
any abnormally small Yorkshire terriers. Usually
a teacup is any dog weighing less than 4 lbs
(1.8 kg) when fully grown. There are many
health issues associated with teacup dogs,
such as luxating patella, heart disease, hydrocephalus,
hypoglycemia, chronic pelvic pain syndrome,
open fontanels and seizures. Breeding for
“Teacup” is a controversial practice that
is not encouraged by responsible breeders.
A fashion pressure, they are bred to appeal
with their puppy-like features, rather than
bred to expel health issues. Usually they
are inbred, breeding the runts of litters
together until they gradually become too small.
There is great risk to a dam (mother) during
pregnancy who is too small, most of these
litters are a result of cesarean sections
and have a high mortality rate.
Yorkie owners are particularly proud of their
dogs and relate well to other Yorkie owners.
There are many gatherings of Yorkies throughout
the world, but they are especially popular
in New York City where there is a high concentration
of Yorkies. On 14 September 2013 there was
an attempt to create the largest ever gathering
of Yorkies in one spot in New York City, called