When you think of a Yorkshire Terrier, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a small, dainty dog with very impressive hair. Maybe even wearing a bow, as they lay perched on a well-dressed human’s lap. But, like most small dogs, the Yorkie is so much more than just a cute companion and a pretty face.
Ratter turned beauty queen
It’s easy to forget that the Yorkshire Terrier is, well, a terrier. Terriers are known for their feisty temperament and strong work ethic, and neither quality really comes to mind when you think about a Yorkie. But in the mid-1800s, it was a different story. During the Industrial Revolution in England, Scottish workers came to Yorkshire to work in the coal mines and mills and factories. They brought with them a dog known as the Clydesdale Terrier, or Paisley Terrier. These dogs were mainly used for catching and killing rats, and were much bigger than the Yorkshire Terrier we know today. But through breeding with dogs like the Waterside Terrier and Skye Terrier, as well as many others, the Yorkshire Terrier was eventually born.
The Yorkie quickly became a favorite among socialites and affluent ladies, despite its working class background. This contributed to it eventually shrinking in size, as it became more and more well-suited to amuse and charm the wealthy while sitting on their laps. The Yorkshire Terrier was recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1874, and by the AKC in 1885.
Size and appearance of the Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier is definitely on the smaller side, standing only 8-9 inches tall. They can be a little inconsistent in size, though. It’s not uncommon for a single litter to have puppies ranging from 4 to 15 pounds. This is a dainty-looking dog, but they’re quite compact, proof of their working class roots. In terms of grooming, they’re renowned for their glorious, straight, floor-length coat. Which does require quite a bit of maintenance. The coat of a Yorkshire Terrier resembles human hair more than animal fur, which is good for those with allergies. But it also makes it prone to tangling. Make sure to brush your Yorkie’s coat on a regular basis, ideally every day. You could also opt for a so-called puppy cut, where the hair is the same short length all over the body.
The Yorkshire Terrier comes in a few varieties, color-wise, but they’re all shades of gray and tan. The most commonly seen is the striking, luxurious-looking combination of silver blue and strawberry blonde. Although, the colors can be more muted and darker, as well. At birth, the Yorkshire Terrier is black, and develops its colors over time. They have also been known to lighten as they grow older.
Temperament and personality
Being a terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier isn’t as docile as one might think. They tend to have a strong personality, and won’t be content with just sitting still all day. This dog is smart and self-assured, but different dogs can still have vastly different personalities. Some Yorkies may be cuddly and curious, while others become adventurous and full of mischief, instead. Training a Yorkshire Terrier needs to start early, as does socialization. You need to establish limits and boundaries, as the Yorkshire Terrier is prone to take advantage of any lack thereof.
The Yorkshire Terrier a popular city breed, as they do well in apartments and don’t need that much exercise. That said, they can be barky if they don’t get enough stimulation. Like with most small dogs, the Yorkshire Terrier doesn’t know how small it is, and will actually make for a pretty good watchdog. They’re also quite healthy, and can live up to 15 years.
Things to consider
It’s not difficult to see why the Yorkshire Terrier is so perpetually popular. They started out as ratters for weavers, and somehow found their way to the laps of the rich and luxurious. Now, they’re in the top ten most popular breeds in the US. The Yorkshire Terrier is loving and social, but still needs to be taken seriously. Sadly, behavioral issues of small dogs tend to be overlooked, due to their size. But like other terriers, the Yorkie isn’t naturally “yappy”. If you can provide the love, care, and attention for this feisty beauty queen, the Yorkshire Terrier might just be the dog for you.