Yorkshire Terriers – most commonly referred to as “Yorkies” – are one of America’s most popular choice in lap dogs. They are small in size, but big in personality and can make the perfect companion for the right owner.
Whether or not you have already found yourself a Yorkie companion or are considering getting one, here is everything you need to know about these little fluffy balls of fun.
How to Care for my Yorkshire Terrier Dog
Weight: Show Yorkies typically weigh between 4-7 pounds, while pet Yorkies can be up to 12-15 pounds.
Height: Yorkie sizes can be inconsistent, but they should be about 8-9 inches at the shoulder.
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
Yorkies are small dogs that live life from a “big dog” perspective. They cherish their human relationships, though are known to be wary towards strangers and other dogs, thus their yapping reputation. Training them from a young age when and where not to bark can be important for these little tyrants. They can also be the type to pick fights with other dogs, so socializing them with other dogs when they are young can also be beneficial. They enjoy scampering about, chasing after balls, toys, and squirrels and often love going on outings and being toted about with their favorite humans.
They are known to be very adventurous, curious, and potentially mischievous. They definitely know how to get your attention and wiggle their way into the center of your life. They can go from being a “fierce” protector of your home to being the silliest little playmate you have ever seen. They can be highly sensitive and aware of their surrounding as well as your moods and emotional state, which gives them such a good companionship appeal.
Though they do have a perky personality, they also have a soft side. They are a very affectionate breed that needs lots of attention. Leaving them for hours on end without company is not for them, an important factor to keep in mind when considering one for yourself. They are very social dogs that like to be constantly involved in day to day life. They also have a classy taste, which is often why they are depicted as the breed that sits on special pillows and gets high-quality food.
Do not let the lapdog qualification fool you. Yorkies tend to be a high energy breed, meaning they require a good amount of exercise and are always ready for the next adventure. They need daily mental stimulation and a nice variety of activities to keep them healthy and happy. They are very playful and are known for their perky nature.
Good With Children
Yorkies are not known for being good with children. They can be easily startled and jumpy and can often become snappy with tiny humans with whom they are not comfortable being around. They do much better with older children who know how to respect them and handle them with the proper care.
Good With Other Dogs
As mentioned, Yorkies have a tendency to be wary of dogs they do not know. They can pick fights and become very protective of their owner around other dogs. They do, however, do well with other dogs/pets they are raised around and socialize with, again why socializing them from a young age can be a good idea.
Yorkies do not shed much at all, though this can vary from dog to dog and does not mean they are completely non-allergenic.
Do not mistake their low shedding tendencies for low-maintenance. Yorkies require a decent amount of care and grooming. They do best with a daily brushing (using a spritz of conditioner before brushing will prevent you from damaging their hair, brushing their hair dry can cause it to break) and something to keep the hair on the top of their head out of their eyes (safe hair-ties, bows, or pup clips are recommended). They should be bathed weekly and it’s suggested to trim their nails after each bath to keep them from tearing or getting caught on things. If you are unsure how to properly clip your Yorkie’s nails, be sure to consult a pet groomer or veterinary professional.
Yorkies also have a tendency to develop tarter on their teeth, which can eventually lead to poor dental health and their teeth falling out when they are older. Brushing their teeth daily is recommended.
Tips: one of the best things you can do to make the grooming process as smooth as possible is to make it a fun and rewarding experience for your Yorkie. Handle their paws frequently to avoid them developing sensitivities overtime and also treat the toothbrush like a fun toy in their mouth when they are young until they get used to it. Give them their favorite treats and make grooming something they can enjoy and look forward to.
As mentioned, Yorkies have a reputation for being yappy. If you nip their barking habits in the bud, then they can be very manageable.
Trainability/Tips For Training
Yorkies are intelligent dogs, though they have been known to be difficult when it comes to house training. Because of their small size, people will often let accidents slide, but that is not recommended. Being firm with them from the start is your best bet. It is suggested to paper/pad train your Yorkie, since they are sensitive to extreme temperatures and sometimes need to avoid being outdoors. If you do ever struggle with training your Yorkie, there are professionals and certified trainers you can reach out to for guidance and tips.
Beyond general house training, Yorkies are great when it comes to learning tricks, agility, and obedience trials, especially if you make the process fun for them. They do love showing off and having a good time.
How To Feed My Yorkie
Yorkies have a reputation for being “picky eaters.” It may take a little trial and error finding what food your Yorkie likes best, but in this process there are definitely some tips, suggestions, and cautions to keep in mind.
For your Yorkie (and every dog breed really), you want to be sure you are giving them raw, natural food. They are living beings with digestive systems that stem from their “wolf” heritage (this can be hard to believe for a yappy Yorkie, but it is true). Processed foods do more harm than good for them overtime.
Raw food tastes better to them. Its ingredients are simple, it is good for their health and keeping their coats nice and shiny, it keeps them satisfied and happy and ultimately it saves you money (a pretty good perk)! For more information on how to provide your dog a good, safe, raw food diet, check out our page here.
For dog food in general (especially if you insist on sticking to bagged, kibble food) you want to be sure healthy meats are the highlight ingredient and that the food is not stuffed with additives and ingredients you cannot even pronounce. You especially want to avoid grains and artificial flavorings. Just as you want to be careful with what foods you are putting in your body, so should you also be for your little furry companion.
Feeding Your Puppy
In general, when your puppy is 8-12 weeks old, he likely will be needing to eat at least 3-4 times a day. You want to be sure you are feeding your puppy the amount he needs, but also not too much. You should be able to feel, but not see their ribs and they should have a visible waist when you are looking down at them.
Feeding Your Adult
By 6 months you will want to start reducing the amount of food you feed your Yorkie to fit an adult Yorkie feeding plan (about 2 meals a day). Make it a routine, feeding your Yorkie around the same times every day. You should be feeding your Yorkie 1/2-3/4 cups of food a day, split between the two meals. It is recommended to avoid giving them table scraps and “people” food, as this can cultivate begging habits and a tendency for weight gain and health problems. This is a rule that should be implemented from the very beginning and be understood by everyone in the family and members of your social circle who spend time around your Yorkie.
It should be noted that the amount of food you feed a dog ultimately depends on their size, weight, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Be sure you know your Yorkie and its individual needs, especially when it comes to feeding.
Health Concerns For Yorkshire Terriers
It is important to note that small breeds such as Yorkies can come with the potential for big health issues if not properly cared for. Every breed has their own health conditions they are prone to. Some common issues that can come up for Yorkies are:
- Weakened collapsing trachea
- Hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (when the kneecaps pop out of place)
- Dental issues
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (when there’s reduced blood supply getting to the head of the rear bone leg, causing degeneration)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood pressure)
Yorkies have also been known to suffer from a liver defect known as portosystemic shunt, which can require expensive medical care.
Taking the proper precautions and being sure to get frequent health and medical examinations from trusted veterinary professionals is important in your Yorkie’s care.
Being an attentive, perky breed, Yorkies can experience levels of anxiety. This can happen due to lack of activity, separation and a general uptight and/or unpredictable environment. Be sure your Yorkie gets an adequate amount of exercise (especially before you need to leave somewhere your furry friend can’t go) and keep his living space as stress-free as possible.
As mentioned, Yorkies have a tendency to develop tarter on their teeth and require frequent brushing and dental care in order to keep their dental health in tact and to prevent their teeth from falling out when they are older. Gently bushing their teeth daily can prevent tarter build-up and can also strengthen their gums.
Yorkie Rescue Groups
If possible, it is always a good idea to check local Yorkie rescue groups before going to a breeder. There are many sweet, young to old Yorkshire Terriers that are waiting for a loving home. Some people purchase a Yorkie without researching their breed and knowing their various needs. This is generally why they end up in a shelter or rescue.
Here are some of the most reputable rescue groups for the Yorkie breed:
- Rescue Me Yorkie Rescue
- United Yorkie Rescue
- Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue
- YTCA Rescue Inc
Frequently Asked Questions About Yorkshire Terriers
Q. When will my Yorkshire terrier be fully grown?
A. You can roughly estimate how big your Yorkie will be when it is full grown by doubling its weight at 3 months. For example, if your Yorkie weighs 3 pounds at 3 months old, he will likely be 6-7 pounds full grown. It can take a Yorkie anywhere from 6-9 months to become full grown.
Q. When will my Yorkshire terrier calm down?
A. Yorkies naturally have a high-energy personality, though if your Yorkie seems to be exceptionally hyper, there is a few things you can do. Be sure your Yorkie gets at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, reward him for calm behavior, don’t react or make eye contact when they’re super jumpy (though it is a natural reaction for Yorkies to be a little bouncy, especially when greeting their favorite humans), give them the attention they need, etc.
Q. Why do Yorkies shake?
A. If your Yorkie is shaking, it could be due to hypoglycemia, or a rapid drop in blood sugar. It is most common in Yorkies aged between birth and 4 months and can be caused by stress, nutrient deficiency or being too small in size (a runt). Your Yorkie could also be shaking due to being cold (Yorkies can be especially vulnerable in extreme temperatures), fear, or excitement.
If the shaking is due to hypoglycemia, you easily remedy it by giving your Yorkie a small bit of honey. If the shaking proceeds and is concerning, however, you should consider seeking out veterinary professional guidance.
Q. Can Yorkshire terriers eat bread, cheese or eggs?
A. Yes, these foods will not necessarily be harmful for your Yorkie, though there are chances your Yorkie could be sensitive to lactose and/or grains, in which case cheese and bread could cause digestive upset. If you do give your Yorkie these foods, it is best to give it to them in very small amounts and only on occasion.
Q. Can Yorkshire terriers live outside?
A. No. Yorkies are very sensitive to extreme temperatures and are specifically bred to be indoor dogs. If you are not in a situation where having a dog indoors is ideal, a Yorkie should not be considered as an option.
Q. Where are Yorkshire terrier dogs from?
A. The Yorkie’s origins are in the name – they were originally from Yorkshire, England, formally known as “Clydesdale Terriers” and mainly used to catch rats and rodents in factory and mill settings. Though they are not used for this purpose anymore, there is a reason your Yorkie may instinctively perk up when small critters are running about.
Q. Are Yorkshire terriers hypoallergenic?
A. There is really no breed of dog that is 100% hypoallergenic, though some breeds can be more hypoallergenic than others and Yorkies happen to be one of those breeds. So yes, Yorkies are considered hypoallergenic, though keep in mind they may not be entirely hypoallergenic.
Q. Are Yorkshire terriers aggressive?
A. Yorkies can have the tendency to be over-protective and snappy when feeling threatened. This can lead to a bit of aggression and fight-picking, though if you work with their behavioral instincts and triggers from a young age, this sort of feistiness can be tamed.
Q. Will Yorkie ears stand?
A. Yorkies are naturally born with floppy ears. Their ears typically begin to stand up between 6-8 months naturally, on their own.
Q. Why does my Yorkie lick everything?
A. Licking is a natural and common habit of dogs, though if the licking seems to be excessive, it could be due to things like attention seeking, affection, stress (like when there are changes in their environment), compulsion (it could have been a learned habit from when they were a puppy, you would need to discover the trigger and direct the unwanted behavior from there), or medical reasons (like if they are continuously licking a specific part of their body, it could be because of pain or discomfort).
If the excessive licking seems concerning, consider seeking aid from a veterinary professional.
Needless to say, Yorkshire Terriers are attentive, affectionate, high-energy, mischievous, little “big” balls of fun. If you get the opportunity to claim one (or more!) as a friend, you have got yourself one of the most loyal companions you could ever ask for.
Have any additional questions? Feel free to reach out to us!