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Yorkshire Terriers: A Complete Guide To Owning This Silky-Haired Charmer - PawSafe

Yorkshire Terriers: A Complete Guide To Owning This Silky-Haired Charmer

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Yorkshire Terrier breed

Are you considering bringing a Yorkshire Terrier into your home, or perhaps you’re just curious about this charming breed? Either way, you’re in for a treat! As a potential Yorkie owner or a dog enthusiast, you’ll find this guide packed with essential information.

Our Yorkie expert, Meghan Graham, a dedicated Yorkie owner with extensive experience, shares her personal insights into what it’s like living with these spirited, loyal companions. Whether you’re browsing for a Yorkie puppy for sale or just aiming to understand this toy dog breed better, we’ve got you covered. So, dive into the world of Yorkies with us.

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Yorkshire Terrier Key Points

  1. Whether you go standard or teacup, Yorkies pack a ton of style into a tiny package. These pups are as fashionable as they are petite, making them perfect for both apartment living and strutting their stuff in doggy couture.
  2. Yorkies are more than just pets; they’re lifelong companions. Always ready to cuddle or cheer you up, they’re ideal for anyone from singles to seniors. Just remember, their puppy energy might be a bit much for the very elderly!
  3. Their luxurious silky coats require regular grooming, from daily brushings to frequent trims. While it’s a commitment, keeping your Yorkie well-groomed prevents tangles and maintains that adorable pooch panache.
  4. Don’t let their size fool you; Yorkies have the brains to match their bark. They’re quick learners, although their spirited nature means they sometimes have their own ideas about following commands!
  5. it’s not all silky coats and smart tricks; Yorkies come with their own set of health considerations, from dental woes to joint issues. Regular vet visits and preventative care are musts to keep these little dynamos thriving.

Is a Yorkshire Terrier Right for Me? (Pros and Cons)

Pretty Yorkshire Terrier with bow on hair

When deciding whether a Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie) is the right dog for you, it helps to consider both the delightful benefits and the possible challenges you might face. Let’s dive into what makes Yorkies a special companion and what demands they might place on their owners.

The Perks of Yorkie Parenthood

1. Compact Companionship

Yorkies are renowned for their loyal and affectionate nature. As Megan Graham, a seasoned Yorkie owner, notes, “Yorkies make amazing companions. They always want to be with you, whether you’re happy or sad.” This makes them fantastic pets for those living in apartments or limited spaces — they’re the quintessential indoor dog.

2. Travel-Friendly Pooches

If you love to travel, a Yorkie could be your perfect pet. Megan shares her experience with her Yorkie, Alfie, “He’s extremely portable. I can put him right into a little bag, and he goes under the seat. He’s very good for traveling.” This makes Yorkies ideal for those on the go.

3. Minimal Shedding

Yorkies are often celebrated for their hypoallergenic qualities. They shed very little, which Megan confirms, “They’re not constantly losing hair around the house, like some other breeds.” This makes them a good option for those with allergies or who prefer a cleaner home.

Consider the Challenges

1. High-Maintenance Hair

Yorkies boast a beautiful, silky coat that requires significant upkeep. Megan points out, “They need to be groomed every day… If you don’t groom your Yorkie for one day, it’s going to look like a little disaster.” Regular brushing and frequent baths are essential to keep their coat in top shape.

2. Stubborn Streaks in Training

While Yorkies are intelligent, their independent nature can make training a challenge. As Megan candidly explains, “I have had five Yorkies, and none of them were easy to house train.” Patience and consistency are key when training a Yorkie.

3. Vocal Personalities

Yorkies have a lot to say, and they don’t shy away from expressing themselves vocally. This can be problematic in noise-sensitive living situations. Megan uses a penny can to curb barking but admits, “When you tell them to stop barking, they look at you and trust me, they do not stop.”

Pros and Cons Of Having A Yorkie

This table captures the key factors to consider if you’re thinking about welcoming a Yorkie into your home, balancing their endearing qualities against the commitments and challenges they bring.

Compact Companion: Ideal for apartment living and for people with limited space.High-Maintenance Grooming: Long coated Yorkies require daily brushing and regular baths to maintain their silky coat.
Travel-Friendly: Easy to take along on trips due to their small size; fits comfortably under airplane seats.Training Challenges: Known for their stubborn streak, making house training and obedience a test of patience.
Loyal and Affectionate: Forms strong bonds with owners; excellent for families and singles alike.Vocal Nature: Tends to bark a lot, which can be an issue in noise-sensitive environments.
Low Exercise Needs: Perfect for owners who prefer less active lifestyles; requires only moderate exercise.Health Concerns: Prone to various health issues like dental problems and fragile bones due to their small size.
Allergy-Friendly: Sheds very little, which is better for people with allergies (but remember, no dog is completely hypoallergenic).Sensitive to Cold: Requires protective clothing in colder climates due to their small size and lack of undercoat.
Long Lifespan: Can live a long life, providing companionship for up to 15 years or more.Territorial: Can be very protective of their space and their people, sometimes to the point of aggression towards other animals.

Yorkshire Terrier vs. Teacup Yorkie: Size Matters

Teacup Yorkie puppy for sale sleeping in owners hand

When considering a Yorkshire Terrier, many potential owners encounter the term “Teacup Yorkie” and wonder about the difference between this and the standard Yorkshire Terrier. Here, we clarify these distinctions, focusing on size, health, and care requirements.

Yorkshire Terrier: The Standard Breed

The Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as a Yorkie, adheres to a breed standard that emphasizes a small, well-proportioned toy terrier appearance with a distinct blue and tan silky coat.

According to the official breed standard, these dogs must not exceed seven pounds (approximately 3.17 kg). They are known for their vibrant personality, compact size, and elegant long hair that requires regular grooming.

Teacup Yorkie: Size and Controversy

Teacup Yorkies are essentially Yorkshire Terriers bred to be even smaller than the breed standard, often weighing only 2 to 4 pounds (about 0.9 to 1.8 kg). This categorization is not officially recognized by major kennel clubs and is generally used by breeders to denote exceptionally small Yorkies. These tiny sizes often come from selectively breeding the smallest individuals, which can lead to numerous health issues.

Health and Ethical Concerns

Teacup Yorkies often face severe health challenges, including but not limited to hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), tracheal collapse, low blood sugar, and heart problems. A study highlighted in ProQuest addresses these concerns, noting the higher incidence of such conditions among extremely small dogs.

Furthermore, the demand for ‘teacup’ puppies can lead to unethical breeding practices, including breeding from runts or individuals with dwarfism, and a higher likelihood of coming from puppy mills.

While most normal Yorkies live well into their teens, teacup Yorkies often have shorter lifespans of only up to six years old.

Care Requirements

Despite their small size, Teacup Yorkies require the same level of care as standard Yorkies, if not more, to manage their health issues. They need regular grooming to maintain their coat and prevent matting, as well as vigilant health monitoring and frequent veterinary visits.

Caring for a Yorkshire Terrier’s Coat & Grooming Needs

Long haired Yorkie being groomed how to maintain a Yorkie's coat and groom a Yorkshire Terrier

Maintaining the health and beauty of a Yorkshire Terrier’s coat is an essential part of their care. Yorkies are known for their fine, silky hair, which, while gorgeous, requires regular and diligent grooming. Here’s a detailed guide on how to keep your Yorkie looking their best.

Regular Grooming is Key

Regular grooming is not just about keeping your Yorkie looking good; it’s crucial for their overall health. Brush their coat daily to prevent tangles and mats. This daily routine helps distribute natural skin oils throughout the coat, keeping it healthy and shiny.

Bathing Techniques

Yorkies should be bathed every three to four weeks. Use a high-quality dog shampoo that’s gentle on their skin to avoid drying it out. After shampooing, apply a conditioner to keep their hair smooth and easy to manage. Ensure thorough rinsing to prevent residue buildup, which can cause irritation.

Dental and Anal Hygiene

Yorkies often have dental issues like crowded teeth or retained baby teeth, making dental hygiene especially important. Regular brushing and veterinary check-ups can help manage these issues. Additionally, keep the hair around their anus trimmed to maintain hygiene and prevent fecal matting.

Nail and Ear Care

Clip your Yorkie’s nails regularly, including their dewclaws, to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Check and clean their ears weekly to avoid buildup and infections. This routine helps in preventing ear issues, which are common in small breeds with floppy ears.

Eye Care

Regularly wipe around your Yorkie’s eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge and prevent tear staining. Keeping this area clean is crucial as it can prevent infections caused by irritants trapped in long facial hair.

Choosing the Right Cut

When it comes to professional grooming, you have a few style options:

  • Show Cut – Maintains the hair at floor length, showcasing the Yorkie’s silky texture. This cut requires intensive maintenance.
  • Teddy Bear Cut –  A popular, low-maintenance style that involves trimming the hair shorter around the face and body, giving them a cute, puppy-like appearance.
  • Puppy Cut – A practical and easy-to-maintain style where the coat is clipped short evenly over the entire body. This cut is ideal for active Yorkies or those living in warmer climates.

Coat Management

Managing a Yorkie’s coat is an ongoing commitment. Consider whether you have the time and resources to commit to regular grooming before deciding on keeping their hair long. If you’re unsure, shorter cuts can reduce grooming time while still keeping your Yorkie comfortable and stylish.

By adhering to these grooming practices, you ensure that your Yorkie not only looks great but also stays healthy. Regular grooming sessions also provide a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bond with your pet, making them feel loved and cared for.

Training a Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier trained to sit up on back legs how to train a Yorkie

Training a Yorkshire Terrier can be a delightful experience, thanks to their alert personality and above-average intelligence. According to Stanley Coren’s rankings in “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Yorkies are placed at #27, showing they can learn new commands with 15 to 25 repetitions. Here are some effective training tips and strategies to help you and your Yorkie succeed.

Start with Basic Obedience

Begin training your Yorkie with basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down.” Due to their intelligence, Yorkies grasp these commands relatively quickly. Be consistent with commands and use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, or playtime as rewards.

Address Their Alert Personality

Yorkies are naturally alert and can be quick to bark at new stimuli. It’s important to train them not to react excessively:


Gradually expose them to various sounds, sights, and experiences to lessen their reactivity.

Quiet Commands

Teach your Yorkie a “quiet” command to stop barking. Reward them immediately after they stop barking to reinforce the quiet behavior.

Use Short, Engaging Training Sessions

Yorkies respond best to short, engaging training sessions. Their small size and energetic nature mean long sessions can lead to boredom or distraction. Keep training sessions around 5 to 10 minutes long and focus on one command or behavior at a time.

Consistency is Key

Be consistent with the rules and boundaries you set for your Yorkie. This breed can be somewhat stubborn, so consistency helps reinforce learning and behavior modification. Ensure all family members follow the same guidelines during training to avoid confusing your dog.


According to Dr. Deborah Duffy, one of the main reasons that Yorkies can have behavior issues is simply because small breed owners often neglect their dogs early socialization and training.

Socialization is crucial for Yorkies to help them become well-adjusted adults. Introduce your Yorkie to a variety of people, environments, and other animals, especially during their critical socialization period up to about 16 weeks of age. Well-socialized Yorkies are generally more adaptable and less anxious in new situations.

Challenge Their Minds

Yorkies are intelligent and enjoy mental stimulation. Incorporate puzzle toys, games, and trick training into their routine to keep their minds active. This not only reinforces training but also helps prevent behavioral issues stemming from boredom.

By understanding and leveraging the intelligence and characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier, you can develop a training program that enhances their natural abilities and deepens the bond between you. Remember, patience and persistence are key, and the rewards of training your Yorkie will be a well-behaved and happy companion.

Dietary Needs Yorkshire Terriers

owner feeding a Yorkshire Terrier a treat what can Yorkies eat what dog food is best for Yorkies

Choosing the right food for your Yorkshire Terrier is crucial to support their energetic nature, silky coat, and overall health. Yorkies, with their unique needs, require a diet that addresses their predisposition to conditions such as obesity, heart issues like mitral valve disease, and liver shunts. Here’s how to select the best nutrition for your Yorkie, keeping these factors in mind.

Nutritional Needs of Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkies are a small breed, which means they have specific dietary requirements to maintain their health and vitality:

High-Quality Protein

Opt for diets rich in animal-based proteins to support muscle maintenance and coat health. This is especially important since Yorkies are prone to muscle loss associated with liver shunts.

But note that dogs with shunts need plant and dairy-based proteins as they can struggle to break down animal proteins!

Controlled Fat Content

While fats are essential for energy, it’s important to monitor the amount because Yorkies are susceptible to obesity. The right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids also supports their coat and skin health.

Complex Carbohydrates and Fiber

Carbohydrates should come from sources that provide sustained energy and help manage blood sugar levels. Fiber is crucial for digestive health but should be moderated to prevent any digestive upset as well as diseases like diabetes.

Low Sodium

Given their risk for heart disease, a low-sodium diet can help manage blood pressure and reduce the burden on their cardiovascular system.

Special Considerations for Liver Health

Yorkies with liver shunts require diets that support liver function while preventing complications from liver disease. Liver shunts is an extremely common issue in Yorkies and often goes undiagnosed until it’s too late Here are some dietary adjustments recommended for Yorkies with liver issues:

  • Moderate to Low Protein Content –  While protein is essential, it’s important to provide a moderate amount to avoid exacerbating hepatic encephalopathy. Choose high-quality, easily digestible protein sources like egg, dairy, or certain fish, which are less likely to produce ammonia as a byproduct.
  • Vegetable-Based Proteins – Incorporating some vegetable-based proteins can help manage protein levels without overburdening the liver.
  • Energy Requirements – Ensure that the diet meets your Yorkie’s energy needs without causing weight gain. Calculating the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) can help determine the right amount of calories.

Choosing the Right Food

When selecting dog food for your Yorkshire Terrier, consider these factors:

Age and Health-Specific Formulas

Puppy, adult, and senior foods cater to the changing nutritional needs throughout a Yorkie’s life. For example, puppies need more calories and essential nutrients for growth, while seniors might require fewer calories but more joint support and fiber.

Wet vs. Dry Food

Wet food can be beneficial for hydration and is often more palatable, but it may contribute to dental issues, a common problem in Yorkies. Dry food helps reduce tartar build-up. Depending on your dog’s preference and health, you might choose one type or a combination of both.

Special Diets for Medical Conditions

For Yorkies with liver shunts or heart disease, veterinary prescription diets may be necessary. These foods are specially formulated to manage specific health issues and are often the safest choice.

Dietary Supplements

Supplements can also play a role in your Yorkie’s diet:

  • Omega Fatty Acids: Supplements like fish oil can enhance skin and coat health while supporting heart health.
  • Probiotics: These can aid in maintaining a healthy gut flora, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Antioxidants: Supplements with antioxidants like vitamin E and C can help combat oxidative stress and improve overall health.

Best Dog Food for Yorkshire Terriers

So, what are some of the best food options for your Yorkie?

1. Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier Adult

  • Why It’s Good: Specially formulated for Yorkshire Terriers, this food includes omega fatty acids for coat health, and the kibble size and shape are tailored for a Yorkie’s small mouth.

2. Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws for Small Breeds

  • Why It’s Good: Provides balanced nutrition tailored for small breeds like Yorkies, with high-quality protein for muscle maintenance and natural fibers for healthy digestion.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult

  • Why It’s Good: Made with real meat as the first ingredient, this food offers a precise blend of antioxidants and vitamins tailored to the health needs of small breeds.

4. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Small Breed

  • Why It’s Good: Grain-free and rich in protein, this food supports energy needs without unnecessary fillers, making it great for Yorkies with sensitive stomachs.

5. Orijen Small Breed

  • Why It’s Good: Contains 85% poultry and fish ingredients to provide a high protein diet, which is excellent for a Yorkie’s muscle health and overall energy levels.

Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems

Yorkshire Terriers, affectionately known as Yorkies, are known for their vibrant personality and beautiful silky coat. However, like all breeds, they come with their own set of health concerns. Understanding these can help you provide the best care for your pup. For an in-depth understanding, Dr. Alex Gough’s book provides comprehensive insights on various breed-specific conditions.

Dental Problems

Yorkies are particularly prone to dental issues such as periodontal disease due to their small mouth, which can lead to crowded teeth and retained baby teeth. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are crucial to prevent severe dental diseases that can affect their overall health.

Joint Issues

This breed is susceptible to patellar luxation, where the kneecap slips out of place. Avascular necrosis of the femoral head is another concern, known as Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, which can lead to lameness and joint pain.

Cardiovascular Problems

Yorkies often face various heart conditions, including mitral valve disease and patent ductus arteriosus. These conditions require careful monitoring and treatment to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Dermatological Issues

Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and color dilution alopecia are also common in Yorkies, often requiring lifelong management with medications and special shampoos to control symptoms and avoid complications.

Gastrointestinal Conditions

Yorkshire Terriers are prone to conditions like chronic hepatitis and pancreatitis, which can affect their digestive and overall health significantly. A diet well-suited for their specific needs is crucial, especially for those with chronic conditions.

Tracheal Collapse

A common issue in many small breeds, tracheal collapse leads to a chronic, dry, harsh cough and can severely affect the Yorkie’s quality of life.

Liver Issues

Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a significant concern in Yorkies, where blood vessels bypass the liver, leading to numerous health problems. Early diagnosis and proper management are crucial for a positive outcome.

Yorkie Lifespan

While Yorkies typically bring joy for many years, understanding their health needs can help extend their lifespan. On average, Yorkshire Terriers live about 12.8 years, according to research.

Fun Activities for Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are known for their energetic and playful nature. Despite their small size, they have plenty of energy to burn and thrive on interaction. Here are some fun activities to keep your Yorkie engaged and active:

1. Interactive Games

Engage your Yorkie in games like hide and seek or fetch with small, light balls suitable for their size. These games not only provide physical exercise but also stimulate their minds.

2. Agility Training

Despite their tiny stature, Yorkies can excel in agility training, navigating through obstacle courses designed for smaller breeds. This can help them stay fit and mentally sharp.

3. Daily Walks

Regular walks are essential, not just for exercise but for socialization too. Yorkies enjoy exploring and can be very curious about their environment.

4. Puzzle Toys

Keep their mind active with puzzle toys that challenge them to solve problems for treats. This is great for indoor activity and can keep them occupied for hours.

5. Dress-Up and Social Events

Yorkies often enjoy being the center of attention. Participate in local pet events or small dog meetups where they can socialize and strut their stuff in cute outfits.

The Cost of Owning a Yorkshire Terrier

Owning a Yorkshire Terrier can be a delightful but significant financial commitment. Here are the key costs associated with owning a Yorkie:

Initial Purchase Price

Depending on the breeder’s reputation, location, and the puppy’s lineage, the cost of a Yorkshire Terrier can range from $1,000 to $3,000 for pet-quality dogs. Show-quality Yorkies can cost even more, potentially exceeding $4,000 due to their pedigree and potential show prospects.

Veterinary Care

Initial costs include vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying or neutering, which can add up to several hundred dollars. Ongoing veterinary care, including regular check-ups and potential treatments for common health issues like dental problems and joint issues, should also be considered.


Yorkies require regular professional grooming every 4 to 6 weeks, which can cost $30 to $60 per session depending on your location and the services provided. This is crucial as their long, silky coat needs frequent maintenance to prevent matting and skin issues.

Food and Supplies

High-quality dog food suitable for a small, active breed like the Yorkshire Terrier typically costs around $20 to $40 per month. Additional costs for treats, toys, bedding, and other supplies can vary but often average an additional $30 to $50 monthly.

Training and Socialization

Costs for puppy classes and ongoing training can vary widely but expect to spend $100 to $200 for a basic training course. Proper training is essential for managing the Yorkie’s spirited temperament and preventing behavioral issues.


Pet insurance can help manage unexpected veterinary costs, particularly given the breed’s predisposition to certain health issues. Monthly premiums can range from $30 to $50, depending on the coverage level.

Yorkshire Terrier Breeders vs. Rescue

If you’re Looking for a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, your best resource if the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, who can point you in the direction of ethical breeders. Likewise, if you want to adopt, they have a great yorkie rescue program.

Let’s compare adopting a Yorkie to buying a puppy from a breeder.

Pros Of Getting A Puppy From A Breeder:

  • You can often obtain a puppy with known pedigree and health history.
  • Reputable breeders will provide genetic testing results and health guarantees.
  • Breeders can offer advice and support based on extensive experience with the breed.

Cons Of Getting A Puppy From A Breeder:

  • Puppies from breeders can be expensive.
  • Poorly managed breeding can lead to health and temperament issues.
  • The demand from breeders can sometimes support unethical breeding practices.

Pros From Rescue Centers:

  • Adopting a rescue can be more affordable and includes initial veterinary care.
  • Provides a home to a dog in need, potentially saving a life.
  • Rescue dogs often come with some basic training and are usually assessed for behavior and health.

Cons From Rescue Centers

  • Less likely to know the complete medical history or age.
  • Rescued Yorkies might come with behavioral issues due to past neglect or abuse.
  • Availability of puppies or specific traits can be limited.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Yorkshire Terriers are charming companions with spirited personalities and unique care requirements. From considering the initial costs and ongoing care expenses to choosing between a breeder and a rescue, prospective owners should thoroughly understand what it takes to ensure a healthy, happy life for a Yorkie.

Engaging in fun activities and proper grooming will enhance your bond with this fashionable, energetic breed. Whether you’re dressing them up or training them, each day with a Yorkie promises new joys and challenges. With the right preparation and commitment, owning a Yorkshire Terrier can be a rewarding experience filled with affection and delight.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.