Yorkshire Terriers are mighty mites!
Popular for good reason!
Depending on who you ask, Yorkshire Terriers are either perfect companions, content to be carried, pampered, and spoiled, or independent, feisty little dogs who are oblivious to their diminutive size.
Both are right! Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies) are true terriers; intelligent, independent, curious, and reluctant to walk away from a spat. They're also toy dogs, bred to be companions and versatile enough to enjoy being carried around town, walking in the park, or spending the evening watching television on the couch.
According to American Kennel Club statistics, Yorkshire Terriers were the sixth most popular breed in the United States in 2013 and have resided in the top 10 for many years. The peak of their popularity, at number two, was in 2008.
Working man's dogs
Far from the pampered pets of the upper classes, Yorkshire Terriers' original job was controlling rats in the fabric mills of Yorkshire, England. Most histories credit Scottish immigrants, looking for work in England in the mid-19th century, with introducing their small terriers to the region. The Yorkshire Terrier was developed by working-class people, and was expected to work to earn its keep.
The first Yorkie registration in the American Kennel Club came in 1885 and its popularity has been consistent since, except for a dip during the 1940s. A Yorkshire Terrier war hero is credited with reviving interest in Yorkshire Terriers.
All terriers are independent hunters and Yorkies are no exception - whether their prey is the vermin of their original purpose, or a tiny tennis ball around the house. They are sturdy dogs for their size and adapt to almost any environment.
Yorkies: The World's Second Most Popular Breed!
True Terriers, Yorkies are strong-willed spirits
Yorkshire Terriers are true terriers and the instinct to chase prey is still part of the nature of the dog. This makes Yorkies fun to play with, energetic little dogs who can be a challenge to train. The best way to train a Yorkie is to convince him that it's all a game - and one he can win every time! Yorkies can be wonderful performance dogs - excelling in dog sports like Agility, Obedience, and Rally. They are also starting to make a mark in Barn Hunt and NoseWork - two relatively new dog activities that rely on their keen sense of smell.
In fact, the smallest hero-dog is Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier that served with her owner in World War Two. There is a memorial statue featuring Smoky's likeness honoring all war dogs.
Some concerns with toy dogs
Yorkshire Terriers do vary in size - we've heard of dogs as small as two pounds and as large as 15 pounds. The official U.S. standard for the breed, as set by the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, says they should not exceed seven pounds, and does not recognize any "teacup" designation.
Tiny dogs (under two pounds) come with a host of health problems and are truly fragile creatures - if they survive puppyhood. They require constant and ongoing care and are at risk for hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus, and other issues.
Fortunately, the Yorkie community is a large and friendly one. Help and support can be found in local clubs and online forums. The largest of these is YorkieTalk.com which boasts over 120,000 members and over 4.4 million posts in its forum.
One health issue common to all toy dogs is "collapsing trachea syndrome" which causes breathing and eating issues. To avoid it, veterinarians recommend using a harness instead of a collar when walking a Yorkie.
Is a Yorkie right for you?
If you're enchanted by the looks, personality, and spunk of the Yorkshire Terrier - it may be time to add one to your family!
Puppies should never be an impulse purchase - it's worth some time and effort to find a healthy specimen of the breed. Your Yorkie will be with you for as much as 18 to 20 years - they should be happy, healthy ones for both of you!
First find out if there's a Yorkshire Terrier Club in your area. You can start with either the national Yorkie club (Yorkshire Terrier Club of America) or the American Kennel Club. Even if you have no intention of getting a "show dog" - this is the best place to start. Responsible breeders have signed a Code of Ethics to ensure healthy breeding, and go to great lengths to get their dogs health-tested and produce sound puppies.
The local and national clubs all have "breeder referrals." You can contact the breeders in your area and ask about meeting their dogs and their breeding practices. Please don't take offense if they ask you even more questions than you have for them - responsible breeders are careful that their dogs have wonderful, "forever families."
If you have small children in the house you may get some resistance from toy dog breeders about placing a puppy with your family. Don't take offense - toy dogs can be fragile and they're just trying to avoid heartbreak and tragedy. And consider carefully whether, in fact, a toy dog is the right fit for your situation.