If you’re looking for an enthusiastic and affectionate dog but don’t have lots of space, you might want to consider the Yorkshire terrier—a big dog in a small package.
History of the Yorkshire Terrier
We all know Toto, the adorable Yorkie from The Wizard of Oz. What you may not know is that the Yorkshire terrier traces its roots to the Waterside Terrier, a larger Scottish breed with a long blue-gray coat, brought to Yorkshire, England in the mid 1800s. The breed’s official debut in 1861 in an exhibition and was previously referred to as the “Broken Haired Scotch Terrier.” By 1870, Yorkshire claimed the breed, which had changed a bit in size and appearance, as its own.
Originally the Waterside (similar to an Airedale) was intended as a ratter used to kill vermin in clothing mills, and to assist hunters is rooting out burrowing animals like badgers. But the smaller adorable Yorkie quickly became a favorite house pet among England’s growing middle class. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1885 and remains a beloved pet in the US, ranking 9th in popularity among dog breeds in 2016.
Breed Characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are small, standing on average at 9” tall at the shoulder and weighing 7 to 11 pounds. They have a coat of long silky hair in a color mix of smoky grays, silvery blues, and tawny browns. They are gregarious and, like many small breeds, do vocalize quite a bit. Yorkies have a reputation for being good-natured both with children and with other pets; and they are easy to train, provided you are consistent with them. (Spoiled or poorly trained Yorkies can get balky and bossy.)
If there is one outstanding breed characteristic, it is that Yorkies love human interaction. They’re very curious and will likely want to know what you’re doing. The one drawback of their gregarious personalities is that they do not enjoy spending extended periods alone. They can get moody and destructive when bored.
Is a Yorkshire Terrier the Right Dog for You?
Like many small breeds, Yorkies tend to have a longer lifespan than their larger cousins, living on average 13 to 20 years. With proper care, your companion should be with you for awhile. And despite the long tresses, Yorkies don’t shed unless hairs are brushed or broken. And because their fur is hypoallergenic, it is deemed less likely to trigger allergies.
Yorkies don’t need lots of running room, so they make good apartment pets for city dwellers. The one catch is that they don’t enjoy being alone, so you might want to consider adopting a pair. Yorkies do tend to get along well with other pets in the home, so if you already have a dog or cat, a Yorkie would be a good companion. Yorkies are smart and task-oriented—and because they are better behaved when they’re not bored, you may want to stock up on dog toys.
Yorkies are prone to a few health issues, some due to their small size. For example, falls can be a problem; and they tend to have a delicate digestive system, so pick a diet that works and go easy on sharing table scraps. They are also slightly more prone to eye disorders (like cataracts) and to bronchitis and kennel cough. Nevertheless, the Yorkie is still relatively low maintenance.
So if you have limited space but want an intelligent, people-oriented dog that loves to cuddle and chase toys, you may want to join the ranks of today’s Yorkie lovers.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.