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Everything to know about the adorable Yorkie

Do Yorkie dogs make good pets? The answer might surprise you

Yorkies are one of the more recognizable dog breeds. Maybe it’s their teeny-tiny size or the numerous celebs like Kristin Cavallari and Giselle who have allowed their Yorkies to ride in their designer handbags, perhaps on top of some fancy lipstick.

Parenting a Yorkie dog can be a rewarding experience. Small in stature, this breed boasts a massive personality. However, Yorkies, short for the breed’s proper name of Yorkshire terrier, also have a big (and sometimes bad) reputation. Despite their tiny size, they’re known as rather vocal dogs and thought of as high-maintenance pets. Some of these claims are unfair — perhaps due to the reputations of some of their famous best friends — but others have some truth.

Like all breeds, Yorkies are great fits for some homes and not for others. Here’s what to know if you’re considering making a Yorkie dog your new best friend.

Yorkie dog with their head on an armrest

The history of the Yorkie dog

Yorkshire terriers are British toy dogs. As their name implies, the first Yorkies probably called Yorkshire, a county in northern England, home.

The Yorkie’s story began when Scottish weavers traveled to England during the mid-1800s to find work. These migrant workers brought multiple types of terriers with them. Yorkshire terriers may be small and have high-maintenance reputations these days, but these toy breed dogs were bred as working animals. Yorkies’ small stature came in handy in the 19th century because it allowed them to hunt mice and other small rodents inhabiting the nooks and crannies of textile mills and coal mines.

In 1885, the American Kennel Club was the first kennel club to recognize the Yorkie. English Kennel Club followed in 1886. After that, the tiny dogs became a favorite of the Victorian upper class, paving the way for supermodels and reality TV stars to embrace the little terrier dog.

A cute yorkie on the floor

A complete guide to the Yorkshire terrier

Celebrities love Yorkies, but is the breed right for your family? Learning about a breed’s physical and social characteristics can help you make an informed choice.

Yorkie dog physical characteristics

Purebred Yorkies must meet breed standards, including:

Height: 7-8 inches

Weight: 7 pounds

Coat: Floor-length, silky, and shiny. Adult Yorkies have steel blue or tan fur.

Lifespan: 11-15 years

Common health problems in Yorkies

These lively pups have pretty long life spans — 11 to 15 years. However, Yorkies have some common health problems you’ll want to know if you plan to bring one into your home. No one wants to think about their dog getting sick, but knowledge is power — and it can help you get your pet prompt care. Yorkies are prone to:

  • Bronchitis
  • Luxating patella (a dislocated kneecap)
  • Lymphangiectasia (an intestinal issue hallmarked by diarrhea)
  • Portosystemic shunt (a liver problem often diagnosed at birth)
  • Cataracts
  • Digestive issues
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Yorkies are tiny, so any procedure that requires anesthesia is generally riskier for them. Your vet can provide you with the best insights. You can reduce health risks for Yorkies by:

  • Scheduling regular vet checkups
  • Keeping your Yorkie up to date on vaccines and monthly preventatives
  • Daily tooth brushing
  • Feeding your Yorkie a diet of AAFCO-approved dog food
  • Limiting treats to 10% of their daily food consumption
  • Leaving out fresh water
  • Brushing their hair daily — their long coats require extra grooming

Social characteristics of Yorkies

Yorkies pack a ton of personality into their tiny bodies. These dogs absolutely adore their families and are very loving toward the people in their household. Believe it or not, Yorkies are generally good with small children and make great first pets.

Still, you want to monitor interactions between pets and small children, including Yorkies. Even the tiniest hands can look big to a Yorkshire terrier, and small children often lack awareness about how to treat a pet. A Yorkie and a small child can become lifelong buddies with love, care, and patience.

Yorkies are yappy and make fantastic watchdogs. However, a friend of yours is a friend of your Yorkies — they’re open to strangers. These tiny pups are hit or miss with other dogs in the home. Some Yorkies prefer to be the only pet in your house, while others will at least tolerate another furry friend.

Yorkies are very playful and energetic. Though they’re often considered lap dogs because of their size, they were once working dogs. They require frequent mental and physical stimulation, so prepare for lots of short walks and play sessions.

Finally, don’t let the rumors fool you. Yorkies are whip smart, eager to please, and take well to training. All dogs benefit from training ASAP, including this breed.

A Yorkshire terrier lies on a fluffy dog bed and looks ahead

Closing thoughts on the Yorkie dog

No two dogs are alike. Even dogs in the same litter will have unique personalities and physical traits, just like human siblings. However, breeds do generally have similarities. Therefore, researching and getting to know specific breeds is a great place to start your search for a pet. From there, reach out to local shelters and rescues, reputable breeders, and even a vet if you have one. They can provide you with information on breeds and aid in your decision.

It’s always a good idea to have everyone in the home meet a potential new dog — any current dogs included — to ensure everyone is on board. Yorkies tend to have long life spans, and you want to ensure you can provide a proper home for one every day.

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