Last month we shone the spotlight on the Bichon Frise; this month the honours go to the Yorkshire Terrier – vigorous exterminator or delicate toy dog made for pampering?

The Yorkshire Terrier is classified as a toy dog but has the personality of a pure terrier – lively and inquisitive, mentally and physically quick, and a tad bossy and scrappy. It’s a classic ‘big dog in a little dog’s body’. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) the ideal Yorkie has a long blue and tan coat that hangs straight and parts down the middle; weighs about 5-7 pounds and its “high head carriage and confident manner should give the appearance of vigor and self-importance” (we just love these descriptions!).

Yorkshire Terrier history

The Yorkie was developed in the mid-19th Century in Yorkshire as a ‘ratter’ in the clothing mills. It used to be called the Broken Haired Scotch Terrier, then simply Toy Terrier before being renamed after the place it came from – The Yorkshire Terrier.

Yorkshire Terrier selling points

  • Small, elegant, easy to carry and doesn’t take up much space.
  • Sheds very lightly so is one of the best breeds for allergy sufferers.
  • Doesn’t need a lot of exercise – but they like to be active and will happily go for long walks if that’s what you want.
  • Makes a great watchdog – maybe a tad too quick off the mark sometimes though (and the bark can be very shrill!)
  • Is generally good with other house pets

Things to consider before buying a Yorkshire Terrier

Toy breeds of dogs can be very fragile – there’s a fine line to protecting their safety but also letting them stand on their own two feet (or four paws). You can seriously injure a Toy Yorkie just by stepping or sitting on them accidentally.

When out walking, a Yorkie should always be kept on a leash – they’re too easy for another dog to injure if they’re not under complete supervision (and because of their terrier nature they like to have a go at much bigger dogs).

Yorkies aren’t suited to young children – no matter how well-meaning or loving the child, they could literally cuddle poor Yorkie to death.

The Yorkshire Terrier can be pretty difficult to housetrain.

Early socialisation is key – some Yorkies are friendly and outgoing, but many have the suspicious nature of a true terrier. They need to be extensively exposed to people and to unusual sights and sounds from early on. Otherwise their suspicion can lead to a shrillness in bark, or even nastiness.

– if you like a long-haired Yorkie, you’ll have to brush it every day or you’ll end up with a matted mess. If the brushing is too tedious you can get the hair trimmed often, or better still sheared short and you won’t need to brush it at all (it’s not going to win any shows this way though!).

Health – Yorkshire Terriers can live a good long life (12 – 16 years), but are very prone to a severe liver disease called liver shunt. Other health concerns include knee problems, low blood sugar, and eye diseases.

Yorkie fun facts

The smallest dog in history was a Yorkie – Sylvia was 2.5 inches tall, 3.5 inches long and weighed 4 ounces.
Audrey Hepburn owned a Yorkie – it even appeared on one of her most famous movies ‘Funny Face’.

Tell us about your Yorkshire Terrier quirks and traits
As always, we’d love to hear from you. Email Hilary on