Complete Guide To Yorkshire Terriers: Care, Feeding, Grooming and More

The Yorkshire Terrier may be categorized as a Toy Dog, but this little powerhouse is anything but a toy. Often referred to as a “tomboy” in the toy group, the Yorkshire Terrier is a big dog in a little body.

This dog is not only active but smart and thoughtful as well. Intelligent, high energy, and fiercely loyal, the Yorkshire Terrier can be well suited to an apartment and big-city life given the proper attention and exercise. While this dog may not be the best dog for young children, the Yorkshire Terrier is an excellent dog for owners who want a big dog personality.  

Not only am I a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience working with dogs, I adopted an older Yorkie in 2020 into our family. She’s been a huge hit and makes us laugh every day with her antics.

How Big Do Yorkshire Terriers Get?

  • Tipping the scales at just 7 pounds, this little terrier is categorized as a Toy Dog breed. Males and females are generally about the same height and weight.
  • Expect this pint-sized peanut to reach just 7 to 8 inches in height at the shoulder.

What Varieties Do Yorkshire Terriers Come In?

There are many different possibilities of coat colors in the Yorkshire Terrier:

  • Black and Gold
  • Black and Tan
  • Blue and Gold
  • Blue and Tan

What makes this dog stand out from other breeds is the long, silky fur. The smooth coat can come in several colors, but steel blue or golden-tan are the most commonly seen colorations. Yorkshire Terriers also come in black and black and gold varieties. This long fur is floor-length and is more similar to human hair instead of animal fur. Puppies will have a thicker and woolier coat, and their final silky coat won’t be fully grown until they are about three years of age.  

This dog is often called hypoallergenic because the fur is not like typical animal fur. While it is true that many allergy sufferers have an easier time with a Yorkshire Terrier, it is safe to say this dog is not truly hypoallergenic. Many people who are allergic to dogs will react to the dog’s saliva or dander. Even though the Yorkie’s coat is silky and similar to human hair, their dander and saliva can still trigger an allergic response.  

Can You Shave A Yorkshire Terrier?

Absolutely! In fact, I keep my little Yorkie shaved to about 1/2″ coat. It helps me keep her clean and I love the look.

How Long Do Yorkshire Terriers Live?

As a small dog, the Yorkshire Terrier has a relatively long lifespan. Expect this dog to live between 13 and 16 years. Of course, medical conditions and predisposition to certain diseases can shorten the dog’s lifespan.

What Health Conditions Can Yorkshire Terriers Be Prone To?

As a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience, I’ve seen quite a few Yorkies. Their most commonly seen health problems include:

  • Dental Disease
  • Obesity
  • Patella Luxation

Overall I consider the Yorkie a pretty hardy dog breed.

What Is The Personality of A Yorkshire Terrier?

I think that my little Yorkie, Binky, is pretty representative of the breed as a whole. She’s feisty, bossy, and energetic sporadically. While she also greatly enjoys being held as much as possible, walks are fun and adventurous with a Yorkie on the end of your leash.

Some Yorkies can be quite vocal as well so if barking is a concern this breed may not be right for you.

I’ve rarely run across a mean-tempered Yorkie. I think they’re wonderful dogs for not just the single dog owner but for families as well. They don’t need other dogs for company but can be playful when needed.

What Kind Of Grooming Does A Yorkshire Terrier Need?

Expect to have some pretty extensive grooming bills if you adopt a Yorkshire Terrier. The long fur on this dog must stay maintained to keep the fur silky, shiny, and tangle-free. The fur is continuously growing, so failure to properly groom your dog can lead to painful matting and skin infections.  

Many owners choose to keep the Yorkshire Terrier’s fur long. If you prefer the long fur, the hair must be brushed daily to keep the knots and tangles at bay. The fur in the head’s upper part should be trimmed short or kept tied together to prevent the fur from falling into your pet’s eyes, causing eye irritation. The Yorkie will also need to be bathed about once weekly to prevent dirt and danger building up in the fur, leading to infections and matting.  

This dog will require special grooming services from a professional groomer. If the fur is left long, a professional groomer will need to trim the fur about once every three weeks. This trim will help keep the long fur manageable. Many Yorkie owners prefer to have their dog’s fur clipped short and close to the body to help reduce the amount of brushing and tangles in the fur. Your Yorkie will need a new trim about once a month to keep the fur short. Although this dog must be brushed daily, it barely sheds, making it attractive for people with pet allergies.  

What Is The Best Dog Food For Yorkies?

Most small kibble dry dog foods will be suitable for a Yorkie. Because of their small mouths, smaller kibble will be a better idea than one that may be larger and harder to chew.

Grain-free diets are a myth. Please do not feed your Yorkie a grain-free diet unless there are specific food allergies that would benefit from a grain-free diet. Always consult your veterinarian before you decide to make any major diet changes.

Some good brands that I recommend include:

I usually tend to go with the bigger dog food companies because of the amount of time and money they have to research and test their products. They also have a stronger history of safe foods (very rarely will they have recalls) over the newer, more boutique-style dog foods.

How Much Exercise Does A Yorkshire Terrier Need?

Although this is a small dog, the Yorkshire Terrier is an active and energetic terrier at heart. The dog was originally bred to be a working dog, chasing rodents out of textile mills. Much of this tenacity and energy is still inherent in the breed, and this dog will require a moderate amount of exercise to keep him or her happy.

Taking your Yorkie for a moderate walk is the perfect way to help burn off some energy. Keep the dog at a steady pace, and add some short bursts of activity to help keep your pet active. This dog is prone to overheating, so two short walks once per day will help to keep your pet exercised and cool. Be sure to always walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day, and avoid direct, afternoon sun, which can cause your pet to overheat. 

The Yorkshire Terrier is an intelligent breed of dog and will require mental stimulation as well. Chasing a ball in the yard will help hone some of his natural hunting skills and prey drive. This dog, despite its small size, does amazingly well at obedience and agility competitions. Not only will agility courses help to keep your pet physically healthy, but they will help to keep him mentally stimulated and engaged.  

This dog can make an excellent dog for apartment life because they are small and have relatively simple needs. Don’t assume, though, that they will be happy to sit on the couch all day binging Netflix series due to their small size. This little dog still needs some exercise and adventure. Taking your dog out for regular play will not only keep him healthy but will prevent nuisance barking and destructive behaviors at home.  

Where Can I Find a Yorkshire Terrier?

Like many popular dog breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier can be purchased from a reputable breeder. Always make sure you interview and research the breeder before adopting a dog. Not only will this ensure you adopt a healthy dog, but it will limit the production of puppy mills. Always steer clear of any breeder that advertises a miniature Yorkshire Terrier.  

There is only one breed of Yorkshire Terrier and not a miniature, or teacup, variety. A teacup variety is simply a long line of Yorkshire Terriers that have been repeatedly bred for their small size. Unfortunately, the small size also usually accompanies many dangerous health conditions and diseases. This irresponsible breeding can introduce undesirable traits and conditions into the breed.  

Yorkshire Terriers are a very popular dog breed, and there are plenty of rescues around the country. Rescuing a Yorkshire Terrier is the perfect way to help a pet in need but still get a purebred dog. Many reputable rescues specialize in Yorkshire Terriers, including The Yorkshire Terrier Club of AmericaUnited Yorkie Rescue, and Save a Yorkie Rescue.  

Special Considerations

The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds in America and currently ranks 10th out of 197 different dog breeds. This breed is a great dog for people living in cities and offers a big dog personality in a small dog body. The Yorkshire Terrier is a loving, affectionate, and intelligent dog.  

Owners of Yorkshire Terriers sometimes express frustration training this small dog. Although the Yorkie is intelligent and capable of learning new behaviors, the dog can also have a fiercely stubborn streak. When training a Yorkshire Terrier, positive training techniques are always recommended. Yorkies respond well to affirmations, positive reinforcement, and plenty of treats. Have patience and consistency when trying to house train your Yorkie. This dog can be difficult to house train, but it is possible with practice.  

Despite its small size, the Yorkshire Terrier makes an excellent service and therapy dog. The dog is intelligent and capable of learning new behaviors. Many Yorkshire Terriers can be trained to be medical alert dogs, alerting their owners to a pending seizure or low blood sugar levels. This dog can also help as a therapy dog, offering assistance and comfort to people suffering from high anxiety or panic attacks.  

Although this dog is small and friendly, it is not recommended for houses with young children. The dog’s small stature can make it prone to accidental stomps and rough play, injuring the dog. Further, this dog is prone to nip or bite because of the prey drive and terrier nature when it is unhappy. An unknowing child tugging at a Yorkshire Terrier could receive a painful bite if not careful.