Build and proportions
The Yorkshire Terrier head should be rather flat and not too
round. The teeth should have either a “scissors bite” or
a “level bite” (no underbite or overbite). The Yorkie’s
dark eyes are not too prominent, but should be sparkling,
with sharp intelligent expression, and placed to look
directly forward. The small, V-shaped ears are set high
on the head, not too far apart, and should be carried
erect. In some kennel clubs, ears that do not stand up are
cause for automatic disqualification.
The breed standard dictates that a Yorkshire Terrier must
weigh no more than seven pounds for the AKC show ring. A
Yorkshire Terrier of this weight is typically between 8 and
9 inches tall. There is no distinction made in the standard
between Yorkies of various sizes (i.e. there is no "teacup"
or "standard" within the breed standard). The compact body
of a Yorkie is well proportioned with a level back that is
the same height at the base of the neck than at the base of
the tail. The tail is carried slightly higher than the
level of the back. In a standing position, the Yorkie’s
front legs should be straight. The back legs should be
straight when viewed from behind, but moderately bent when
viewed from the side.
Often, a Yorkie’s dewclaws, if any, are removed in the
first few days of life. The AKC and UKC breed standards
explicitly permit dewclaws to be removed, while the
standards of other kennel clubs do not mention it.
Traditionally, the Yorkie’s tail is docked to a medium
length. In America, almost all breeders dock the tails
of puppies. However, since the 1990s, there has been a
growing movement to ban the practice of cosmetic tail
docking. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association
and the European Convention for the Protection of Pet
Animals oppose tail docking. As of 2007, several
nations have enacted prohibitions on docking, including
Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece,
Luxembourg, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and
Switzerland. A docked tail is part of the AKC,
ANKC, CKC, NZKC and UKC breed standards for Yorkshire
Terriers. The FCI and KC breed standards
indicate the tail is customarily docked, but the KC standard
gives specifications for an undocked tail (“as straight as
possible; length to give a well balanced appearance”).
Although a toy breed, the Yorkie still retains much of
its terrier ancestry in terms of personality. Individual
dogs will differ, but they are generally intelligent,
independent and courageous. Yorkshire Terriers are quick to
determine where they fit in a household's "pack." Their
behavior towards outsiders will vary - they often will be
inclined to bark at strangers, but some Yorkies are outgoing
and friendly towards new people while others are withdrawn
and aloof. The differences in behavior in this regard are
largely based on how the owner trains or conditions (and
socializes) the Yorkie. A few individual Yorkshire
Terriers may be timid or nervous, rather than bold, but the
vast majority do seem to meet the breed standard for a
confident, vigorous and self-important personality. The
following distinctive qualities are likely to be present in
a Yorkshire Terrier.
Yorkies will not assert themselves as the "alpha" dog. Yorkies typically get along well with other dogs and love to
play together with them. Rather, a Yorkie's bold character
comes from the its mix of great inquisitiveness, or an
instinct to protect, and self-confidence. Some Yorkies
are unaware of their small size and may even challenge
larger, tougher dogs. In one case a 12-pound Yorkie
pushed open a screen door (to investigate a commotion
outside) and rushed to the aid of an elderly woman who was
being attacked by an 80-pound Akita. When the Yorkie
snapped and growled, the Akita turned his attention on the
small dog long enough for the woman to escape.
Unfortunately, this boldness can get Yorkies into trouble,
as small dogs can be seriously injured. Due to their small
size, Yorkies may not make suitable pets for very young
children. Some people also find the dog's boldness to be a
source of great nuisance, leading to the dog sometimes being
regarded as "yappy." As a breed they are generally quiet and
intelligent, rather than noisy, choosing only to bark at
real or perceived dangers to their family. They make well
rounded family pets.
Yorkshire Terriers as a breed are intelligent dogs.
According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert on animal
intelligence, the Yorkshire Terrier is an above average
working dog, ranking 27th (32nd including ties) out of the
132 breeds tested. His research found that an average
Yorkshire Terrier could understand a new command after
approximately 15 repetitions and would obey a command the
first time it was given 70% of the time or better. This
capacity as working dogs enables Yorkies to excel in sports
like obedience and agility, which require the dog to
understand communication from the handler and carry out a
complex series of commands. Additionally, Yorkies learn
to recognize numerous words and can be taught to distinguish
and fetch separate toys in a box by their names.
The well bred and well handled Yorkshire Terrier
is content to be near its owner without being on a
lap or underfoot. Yorkies are energetic, but also need much rest and will
often prefer to spend downtime in privacy, such as in a
kennel or out-of-the-way corner. Early terriers were
expected to hunt in the company of handlers and other dogs,
but also to have the self-confidence to go out on their own
after prey. Very pampered and indulged Yorkies are more
likely to be clingy and demanding, and lack the true terrier
self-confidence. Yorkshire Terriers tend to be more
difficult to train than some breeds, due to
their characteristic independent nature. The independent
mindedness of Yorkies leads some trainers to consider them
to be among the hardest to house-break.
Health issues often seen in the Yorkshire Terrier include
bronchitis, lymphangiectasia, Portosystemic shunt, cataracts
and keratitis sicca. Additionally, injection reactions
(inflammation or hair loss at the site of an injection) can
occur. Another common health condition in some Yorkies
are their sensitive skin. The most common type of skin
conditions Yorkies face are brought on by allergic reactions
to seasonal pollen, pollution, food, and sometimes the air
itself. Their coats may get very dry due to
scratching and biting and eventually leading to massive hair
loss. Yorkies can have a delicate digestive system, with
vomiting or diarrhea resulting from consumption of foods
outside of a regular diet. These particular dogs are usually
picky with which foods they eat. They usually will not eat
what they don't like, it will be left aside. Trying to mix
foods is not a good idea because they tend not to enjoy
it. The relatively small size of the Yorkshire Terrier
means that it can have 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.
Due to their small size, Yorkies may be endangered if kept
in the house with an undiscerning or abusive person,
especially a child. Many breeders and rescue organizations
will not allow their Yorkies to go to families with young
children, because of the risk it poses to the dog.
The life span of a healthy Yorkie is 10-15 years.
Under-sized 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.
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 and uncoordinated,
since the brain relies on sugar to function.
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 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.
As with many purebred dogs, the Yorkshire Terrier is prone
to certain genetic disorders, including distichiasis,
hydrocephalus, hypoplasia of dens, Legg-Perthes disease,
patellar luxation, portosystemic shunt, retinal dysplasia,
tracheal collapse and bladder stones. The following are
among the most common congenital defects that affect Yorkies.
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, and
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
Legg-Perthes disease, 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 use.
Luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps) are another common
genetic defect in Yorkies. 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), blindness, 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 disease, 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 the trachea.
Yorkies are a popular breed to include in intentional
crosses with other dog breeds. In some
cases, the purpose of using a Yorkie in a cross is to try to
retain the non-shedding Yorkie coat in the offspring. Some
current mixes with the Yorkie are with the Maltese (Morkie),
the Poodle (Yorkie-Poo), and the Miniature Pinscher(Yorkie
Yorkshire Terrier at Dog Breed Information Center®
A cross between a shedding breed and a Yorkie does not
reliably produce a non-shedding dog. Most of the offspring
will shed to some extent. Because they often do not shed as
much as the shedding parent, they will usually require
regular grooming, including haircuts. People with dog
allergies who want a Yorkie mix should spend enough time
with the dog to ensure they will not have a reaction before
committing to ownership. Yorkies and Poodles are two breeds
that do not shed therefore their offspring should not shed.
Yorkshire Terrier information from the Dog Breed
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Standard American Kennel Club.
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Standard The Kennel Club (United
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Standard Australian National
Breed Information: Yorkshire Terrier Westminster Kennel
Yorkshire Terrier Description Dog Breed Information
The Torkshire Yerrier: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy
Yorkshire Terrier NetPets.
Go Pets America: Dogs that do not shed
Yorkshire Terrier Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standards.
Yorkshire Terrier Official U.K.C. Breed Standard.
Yorkshire Terrier New Zealand Kennel Club.
Terrier Federation Cynologique Internationale