Tell me about the breed
At the end of the alphabet but tops among the three in AKC registrations, the Yorkie is by far
the most popular terrier in the US. More than 43,500 Yorkies were registered in 2000, up
seven percent from the 40.6 thousand registered the previous year. Many of these Yorkie
owners would be astonished to learn that this groomed, pampered breed began life as a
working dog as their Scottish masters moved south of the border into Englandâ€™s Yorkshire
and Lancashire counties to work in the mines and mills.
The Scotsmen brought their Clydesdale and Paisley terriers to their new country; these dogs in
turn bred with English terriers to create a 10-to-14-pound, wire-coated dog that was eventually
dubbed the Yorkshire Terrier.
The breed became popular as a pet and show dog in the mid-19th Century, and downsizing
began. Todayâ€™s Yorkie weighs seven pounds or less, has a long, silky coat that just wouldnâ
€™t make it on the farm or in the mills or mines, and is a highly favored apartment and lap dog.
The Yorkie has one color pattern: adults are always dark steel blue with tan markings, but
puppies are born black and tan and may have some random black hairs before they mature.
The blue color covers the body from the back of the neck to the tail; the rich, golden tan
markings cover the head, chest, ears, and legs.
The luxurious, silky coat is the breedâ€™s most striking feature. Parted along the back, the
long straight drags on the floor if not trimmed. The fall on the head is long and is usually tied with
one bow in the center of the forehead or parted in the middle and tied with two bows.
The flowing coat and diminutive size lead to misunderstanding: Although the Yorkie does like to
be pampered, it is not a wimpy dog. Writing in the online version of Dog and Kennel Magazine,
Richard Beauchamp describes several instances of tough Yorkie attitude and constitution and
"The Yorkshire Terrierâ€™s size and doll-like appearance â€“ to say nothing of the dainty
ribbons with which it is often adorned â€“ belie its toughness and determination. Toy breed
fanciers are wont to boast that their tykes are actually â€˜big dogs in little dog suits,â€™ but the
Yorkie is one dog that can walk the talk."
Like most toy breeds, the Yorkie is long-lived breed with relatively few serious health
problems. It is susceptible to a toy dog structural abnormality known as patellar luxation
(dislocated or slipping kneecaps), so puppies should be purchased form breeders who test
breeding stock for this problem. Other potential problems include hypothyroidism, portacaval
liver shunt, hypoglycemia, allergies, diabetes, progressive retinal atrophy, and tooth and gum
Yorkie temperament is similar to that of other terriers â€“ this little dog not only wants to be in
charge, it will be in charge. Nothing sways it from its self-appointed superiority, not a Great
Dane or a Rottweiler or a wimpy owner. He can be scrappy with other animals, manipulative if
not trained, and stubborn. Poorly-bred Yorkies can also be snappy, territorial with food and
toys, and hard to housetrain. For these reasons, Yorkies are not the best choice for a family
with babies or young children.
Yorkies also need more daily care than most terriers. Although it doesnâ€™t shed much, the
long, silky hair will tangle and mat if not properly brushed. Diet is important; soft foods can
exacerbate problems with already weak teeth and gums.
So why are they so popular? Yorkies can be perfect for apartments, for families with older
children, for individuals or couples without children, and even for families on the go. They fit
nicely in backpacks and shoulder bags and can even ride under the seat in special airline-
They are bright, perky, fun dogs indoors, are alert watchdogs, and need little outdoor exercise.
And for the competition-minded, they can hold their own in obedience and agility events.
For more information about the Yorkie, visit the breed club website at www.ytca.org.