BREED PROFILE – Yorkshire Terrier
The typical picture that most people think of when they picture a “Yorkie” is a tiny dog with long flowing hair tied up in bows, usually wearing a pretty dress being carried around in their owner’s handbag. Many celebrities have chosen this tiny fierce dog as their companions as well as many homes across the United States, making it one of the most beloved dogs in the country.
As well-known and popular as this breed may be, its origin is largely a mystery. Almost a dozen different terriers are credited to its ancestry and although Yorkshire County in England is credited with the breed's origin, most of England and Scotland can claim ties to its origin. The reality is that this breed was designed to catch mice and rats and has a personality that defiantly contradicts those little bows we tend to force on them.
Physical Description and Grooming
The typical blue and tan Yorkie coat has very fine long hair that definitely needs its share of maintenance. A full show-quality coat needs hours of grooming and daily brushing to keep it healthy and tangle-free. If it isn't groomed properly, the coat will mat quickly and can cause the skin underneath to become infected. Grooming around the ears is especially important to keep the ears free of debris that could lead to ear infections. Most owners who do not want to compete with their Yorkie in dog shows decide to clip the coat short, so it only needs minor weekly grooming. Surprisingly, this breed sheds very little, if at all, making it a good choice for owners with allergies who still want to have a dog. In addition to the coat, a Yorkshire terrier's teeth need cleaned regularly to prevent them from falling out or needing removed. Making raw food a part of this dog's diet will also help to keep its teeth clean naturally between cleanings.
Temperament, Health and Care Considerations
Yorkshire terriers are little dogs that only weigh up to 7 pounds, but think they weigh 70. They have been witnessed standing up to people and animals many times their own size without much regard to how unlikely they are to win the battle. They will defend what they believe is theirs and like any other animal, will not hesitate to bite if pushed too far. They are not for households with small children who may be too clumsy to respect the dog's temperament as well as their fragile structure. For all the spunk that they possess, Yorkies are still very delicate. An accidental kick or fall can have disastrous results and even using a leash can cause a collapse in the dog's trachea. A harness is much safer, both on the dog's windpipe and in restraining the tiny terrier from chasing any small animals that might spark their rodent-hunting instincts.
Yorkshire terriers are in a family of dogs known as the toy breeds and lap dogs. They are small enough to do extremely well in apartments but can be sensitive to the cold or to physical trauma. They will defend their owners with all they have but will still curl up to enjoy some gentle attention and care. Their beautiful coats take some care and maintenance but look gorgeous and are safe even for owners with allergies. They aren't able to go for long jogs through the city, but if you are looking for a smaller breed as a companion and miniature watchdog for your home, a tiny Yorkie may be right for you.