Dog Breed Profile: Health and Fitness Tips for Yorkshire Terriers
Commonly named ‘Yorkies’ for short, Yorkshire Terriers are one of the smallest dog breeds of terrier type.
Developed in the northern English counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the mid-1800s, Yorkshire Terriers were originally known for their working ability to skillfully track and hunt down pests in coal mines and mills where rat infestation was a major problem.
Yorkshire Terriers were then recognised as fashionable companions for women, mainly due to their beautiful locks and enduring personality. Since then, this small dog has become one of the most popular small dog breeds for their confident and affectionate personality who suit family life and small apartment life.
Happy to cuddle on your lap, Yorkshire Terriers are certainly a big dog in a small body who are inquisitive in everything they do. Terriers after all, they love affection from their family and will protect them no matter what. They need lots of stimulation to keep up with their brave, intelligent mind but will reward you with lots of kisses.
Size & Colour
A compact, sturdy body, Yorkshire Terriers have a small, delicate head with v-shaped ears. They generally weigh between 5 to 7 pounds and 8 to 9 inches tall for both male and females.
A Yorkshire Terrier puppy will typically present a different colour to adults and display their final coat colour as they mature, starting when they are 6 months old. Puppies are born with black and tan colouring, whereas the adults are most commonly blue and gold. However, they do present other colours and combinations including;
- Black and tan
- Black and gold
- Blue and tan
- Blue and gold
- Parti (black, white and tan)
The coat of the Yorkshire Terrier varies greatly. Some have a long, silky coat that hangs quite straight and evenly down their sides and others present a curlier and wavier coat.
A unique species of dogs, the coat of a Yorkshire Terrier actually more resembles the hair of humans that continuously grows rather than dogs with fur.
They don’t have an undercoat which means that they don’t shed a lot like most dogs do, but this doesn’t necessarily mean their coats don’t need high maintenance and care.
The Silky Coat - The most desirable coat of the Yorkshire Terrier that is fine, long, smooth, straight and glossy.
The Curly Coat - Known as the woolly or wire coat, it is more dense and curly than the silky coat that doesn’t grow long.
Yorkshire Terriers need a lot of maintenance, especially if they have a silky, long coat. Regular brushing is essential for this breed that not only removes debris but it helps to ensure that their coat is healthy and happy to prevent skin conditions.
The Silky Coat - If your Yorkshire Terrier resembles the longer, silkier coat, you should brush their hair in individual strips which will ensure that all the hairs are brushed and cleaned properly.
Once a month your Yorkie will need professional grooming because their hair will continuously grow. If left uncut, it will grow so long that they will need a hairband to prevent vision obstruction.
The Curly Coat - If your Yorkie has a wavy, woolly coat, unfortunately they will tend to get more dirty because it catches debris more easily. You should brush daily towards the growing part of the coat and use a long pinned brush or comb to gently brush any excess or hidden dirt.
Hairstyles - There are many hairstyles of the Yorkshire Terrier including The Show Hairstyle seen in many dog grooming competitions, The Teddy Bear - the hair is cut short and The Shave Down Cut which is popular in the summer months.
Bathing - You shouldn’t bathe your Yorkie too often because it will strip away essential oils which keeps their coat healthy and silky. Aim to bath them every one to three months and grooming should also include nail trimming and checking for signs of infections and skin problems.
The Yorkshire Terrier does not do well on their own and they can be very vocal. They need a lot of attention which includes regular exercise and mental stimulation. This includes 2 walks a day up to an hour overall that is mixed with a long moderate paced walk with a shorter stroll to keep them fit and satisfied.
While they don’t need an extensive amount of exercise, they need a moderate amount because they are active dogs and not couch potatoes. Always keep an eye on your Yorkie if you let off the lead because they can run after small animals and they can get into displays of dominance around other dogs, particularly larger dogs which can be dangerous.
Throughout the day, you should also offer them mental stimulation games including hide and seek using treats that have an appealing and tasty smell so they can pick up their scent more easily, including sprats, liver treats, various meaty strips, and sausage surprise to just name a few.
Frisbee and catching games are great for this breed but bear in mind that they are a small dog breed and if they jump too high, it can cause injury. Social interaction is very important with Yorkshire Terriers to prevent them from developing bad habits or unhappiness, so make sure you have plenty of interactive dog toys.
The typical lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier is 13 to 16 years. As previously stated, you should limit the amount of jumping your Yorkie does because they are known for developing luxating patella, which is a dislocation of the hip socket and joint.
Other common health conditions of this breed includes;
- Collapsing Trachea
- PSS (Portosystemic Shunts) - Abnormal connections seen in other small breeds
- Skin Allergies
- Intervertebral Disc Disease - Herniated back disks
- Hypoglycaemia - Abnormally low level of blood sugar
Are You a Match with a Yorkshire Terrier?
Early training and socialization with people and other dogs is very important for the Yorkshire Terrier, which will help to control their big, enthusiastic personality. The Yorkie is not suited for individuals or families who haven’t got too much time on their hands since they need a lot of attention and suffer from separation anxiety if less alone for too long.
While if you have the time and ability to keep up with their grooming requirements, Yorkies are such a wonderful, funny breed that will most definitely put a smile on your face. The Yorkshire Terrier is a loyal, beautiful breed that are excellent companions if trained right and cared for.
If you want to know more about dog breeds, have a look at our previously breed profile on the German Shepherd.