Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire terrier is a small dog breed of terrier type, developed in the 19th century in the historical area of Yorkshire, England. The defining features of the breed are its small size, less than 3.2 kg or 7.03 pounds, and its silky blue and tan coat. The breed is nicknamed Yorkie and is placed in the Toy Terrier section of the Terrier Group by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and in the Toy Group or Companion Group by other kennel clubs, although all agree that the breed is a terrier. A winning show dog and a popular companion dog, the Yorkshire terrier has also been part of the development of other breeds, such as the Australian Silky Terrier.

Yorkshire Terrier Coat

For adult Yorkshire terriers, the importance is placed on its coat colour, its quality, and its texture. The hair must be glossy, fine, straight, and silky. Traditionally the coat is grown-out long and is parted down the middle of the back, but "must never impede movement."

Yorkies have very soft coats. Yorkies have two types of coats; a silky or a soft. The silky coats are the coats of the show dogs. The soft coats are short and do not need to be brushed very often.

From the back of the neck to the base of the tail, the coat should be a dark gray to a steel-blue, and the hair on the tail should be a darker blue. On the head, high chest, and legs, the hair should be a bright, rich tan, darker at the roots than in the middle, that shades into a lighter tan at the tips. Also, in adult dogs, there should be no dark hairs intermingled with any of the tan coloured fur.

Adult Yorkshire terriers that have other coat colours than the above, or that have woolly or extra fine coats, are still considered to be Yorkshire terriers, and will be just as good of a companion as a dog with the correct coat. The only difference is that atypical Yorkshire terriers should not be bred. In addition, care may be more difficult for "woolly" or "cottony" textured coats, or coats that are overly fine. One of the reasons given for not breeding "off-coloured" Yorkies is that the colour could be linked to a genetic defect that may affect the dog's health.

Yorkshire Terrier Puppy coats

A newborn Yorkie puppy is born black with tan points on the muzzle, above the eyes, around the legs and feet and toes, the inside of the ears, and the underside of the tail. Occasionally Yorkies are born with a white "star" on the chest or on one or more toes. These markings fade with age, and are usually gone within a few months. A white "star" on the chest is generally an indication that the puppy will be a good coat grower in quantity, but not necessarily quality.

It may take up to three years or more for the coat to reach its final colour. P. H. Coombs, writing in 1891, complained about show wins awarded to puppies, when the dog's coat does not fully come in until three or four years old, "and the honour of winning such a prize (for a puppy) can therefore be of but little practical benefit to the owner" since the adult dog's colour cannot be exactly predicted.

Hypoallergenic coats

The typical fine, straight, and silky Yorkshire terrier coat has also been listed by many popular dog information websites as being hypoallergenic. In comparison with many other breeds, Yorkies do not shed to the same degree, only losing small amounts when bathed or brushed. All dogs shed, and it is the dog's dander and saliva that trigger most allergic reactions. Allergists do recognise that at times a particular allergy patient will be able to tolerate a particular dog, but they agree that "the luck of the few with their pets cannot be stretched to fit all allergic people and entire breeds of dogs." The Yorkshire terrier coat is said to fall out only when brushed or broken, or just said to not shed. Although neither of those statements agree with what biologists, veterinarians, and allergists know about dog fur, allergists "think there really are differences in protein production between dogs that may help one patient and not another", meaning that some allergic people may not have allergic reactions to a specific dog, like the Yorkie.

Yorkshire Terrier Coat care

If the coat is the correct silky texture, maintenance for it is relatively easy, requiring a daily brushing and a bath every month. Owners may trim the fur short for easier care. For shows, the coat is left long, and may be trimmed to floor length to give ease of movement and a neater appearance. Hair on the feet and the tips of ears can also be trimmed.

The traditional long coat is extremely high maintenance. To prevent breakage, the coat may be wrapped in rice paper, tissue paper, or plastic, after a light oiling with a coat oil. The oil has to be washed out once a month and the wraps must be fixed periodically during the week to prevent them from sliding down and breaking the hair. Elaborate care of the beautiful coat dates from the earliest days of the breed. In 1878, John Walsh described similar preparations: the coat is "well greased" with coconut oil, the dog is bathed weekly, and the dog's feet are "carefully kept in stockings."

Other colours

The Yorkshire terrier is a tan dog with a blue saddle. Parti colors exist, although they are not correct for the breed standard. The parti colour coat Is white with black/blue and tan. It's very rare to get a a parti color Yorkie, and if they are found they tend to be very expensive. The breed is defined by its color, and colors promoted as "rare" may indicate health problems or cross-breeding with other breeds of other colors. The AKC registration form for Yorkshire terriers allows for four choices: blue and tan, blue and gold, black and tan, black and gold. Color alone will not affect whether or not a dog is a good companion and pet. Even though off-colored Yorkshire terriers are advertised at premium prices, being of an unusual or untypical color is neither new, desirable, nor exotic.

Until recently, mismarked Yorkshire terriers could be crossed with Biewer terriers, a new breed originated in Germany from parti coloured Yorkshire terriers. Although the American Kennel Club will not deny registration of a Yorkshire terrier on colour alone, the Yorkshire terrier Club of America has a directive that "any solid colour or combination of colours other than blue and tan" for adult dogs is a disqualification, and "dogs of solid colour, unusual combination of colours, and parti-colours should be disqualified.


A number of health issues, some of them hereditary, have been found in individual Yorkshire terriers, and are listed below. There is no data on the percentage of dogs with these ailments, and it is not suggested that all Yorkshire terriers have all of these ailments, or that any particular dog has any of these ailments. Puppy buyers are advised to ask breeders if tests have been done for these diseases.


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. In addition they may have skin allergies.

Genetic defects

Certain genetic disorders have been found in Yorkshire terriers, including distichiasis, hydrocephalus, hypoplasia of dens, Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome, luxating patella, 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, 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.[28] Onset of the condition may occur at any age, producing signs ranging from neck pain to quadriplegia.
  • Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome, 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 defect considered to be genetic in Yorkies, although it may also be caused by an accidental fall. 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 condition.
  • 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 diarrhoea, behavioral abnormalities, seizures (especially after a meal), and blindness, which could lead to a 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 syndrome, 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.


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, uncoordinated, since the brain relies on sugar to function. During a hypoglycemic attack, the puppy usually has very pale or grey gums. The puppy also may not eat unless force-fed. Hypoglycemia and dehydration seem to go hand-in-hand, and force-feeding or injecting fluids may also be necessary. 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 given sugar in the form of corn syrup or NutriCal and 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.


The life span of a healthy Yorkie is 12–15 years. Extremely under-sized Yorkies (3 pounds or less, and often promoted as "Teacups") generally have a shorter life span (3-7 years on average), as they are especially prone to health problems such as chronic diarrhoea and vomiting and are more easily injured. Even the normal small size of a Yorkshire terrier means that it can have a poor tolerance for anesthesia, and it is more likely to be killed or injured by falls, other dogs, and owner clumsiness.


Traditionally, the Yorkshire terrier's tail is docked to a medium length. Opposition to this practice began very early in the history of the breed; Hugh Dalziel, writing about Yorkshire terriers in 1878, declared that "There is no reason for mutilating pet dogs, and perfect ears and tails should be bred, not clipped into shape with scissors." Often, a Yorkshire terrier's dewclaws, if any, are removed in the first few days of life, another controversial practice.

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