Breed Spotlight: Yorkshire Terrier

This beautiful, tiny dog breed weighs in at no more than seven pounds. What this small dog lacks in size it makes up for with its personality: feisty, brave, and tenacious. It has definitive terrier tendencies from its past as a working breed. And people love the Yorkie for all these reasons! It’s often voted the top breed in cities across America.

What’s the History of the Yorkshire Terrier?

According to the AKC, “Sure, today they may wear bows in their top knots and their self-important air may make them seem like they have royal roots, but Yorkies have a rather unglamorous background of catching rats and other vermin in underground tunnels.”

The Yorkie is reportedly derived from Scottish folk who migrated to England and brought their Scottish terriers. These are not the Scottish Terriers we know today. These are now-extinct terriers along with known terriers such as the Dandie Dinmont. These terriers were used to hunt rodents in textile mills.

In 1886, the Kennel Club of England recognized the Yorkie officially. This notoriety pushed the Yorkshire Terrier into the public eye, and they became quite fashionable to own. Yorkies came to America in the 1870s, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) recorded its first Yorkie in 1885.

Exercising this Little Dog

On the spectrum of most active to least active dogs, Yorkies fall somewhere in the middle. They do need daily exercise, but a couple short walks at a moderate pace or a jaunt in the yard. This makes them ideal for most people’s lifestyles. If you don’t want a dog you need to exercise too much, the Yorkie is a good choice of breed.

Grooming is Crucial

The Yorkie coat is very reminiscent of human hair. Their long coat needs daily brushing, and to avoid eye issues, the hair around their eyes needs to be trimmed short. Some people choose not to trim the hair but instead pull the hair into a knot. Their ears should be checked for dirt and cleaned weekly. You can find more detailed instructions on how to bathe Yorkshire Terriers online.

They Have a Feisty and Proud Temperament

The Yorkie has an interesting temperament for its size. They make wonderful watch dogs because they are attentive, protective, and curious. They don’t seem to have the submissive temperament of most lapdogs. They can have problematic behaviors if not well-trained. For this reason, Yorkies don’t make great pets for children. Instead older families with children above 10 seem to have the best results with this breed.

Despite their big personality, Yorkies are easy dogs to train. They are working dogs, after all, and enjoy tasks without much prompting from their owners. They are also very food and praise motivated, so if you’re up to the task, be ready to work on lots of obedience skills. While Yorkies have a reputation for being yappy dogs, they are quite the opposite when properly stimulated and trained.

They are Great in Homes of All Sizes

Due to their size and adaptability, Yorkshire Terriers make great dogs for urban apartment living as well as a typical single-family home. They thrive on attention and are happy to accompany you on a walk to your favorite cafe or park. Be wary of other dogs, however. Yorkies can be timid around other dogs, and will stay close to their handler for comfort.

Health Issues to Be Aware Of

There are some genetic issues Yorkie owners should be aware of:

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Syndrome: A degenerative disease of the thigh bone resulting from insufficient circulation. This appears in the puppy’s first year of life with signs including lameness, limping, or pain.
  • Luxating Patella: Also known as slipped kneecaps, this congenital defect is often due to weak tendons and ligaments. Surgery is the main treatment.
  • Distichiasis: With this issue, eyelashes form in abnormal spots, such as the edge of the eyelid, and it can cause irritation and inflammation. Treatment usually includes removal of said eyelashes.
  • Portosystemic Shunt: The portal vein that brings blood to the liver is malformed. For this disorder, the blood doesn’t get filtered properly and it poisons the dog. While the symptoms are diverse and inconsistent, a shunt is treated with relative ease in surgery.
  • Tracheal Collapse: This happens when the walls of the trachea slowly weaken. It’s common in many toy breeds. For these dogs, a harness should be used for walking instead of a collar since tracheal collapse risk is increased with injury caused by your dog pulling too hard.
  • Bladder Stones: Bladder stones are common among many canines. The stones vary in size and may be caused by infection, diet, genetics, or a combination of those things. Surgery is usually needed to remove the stones.
  • Hypoplasia of Dens: This occurs when the pivot point in the second cervical vertebrae doesn’t form. This leads to spinal cord damage. It can occur at any age in a Yorkie and signs include everything from pain to quadriplegia.

These health issues shouldn’t dissuade you from getting a Yorkie. However, it should make you mindful of finding a reputable breeder who will do proper genetic testing to ensure the health of the dog. Good breeders will offer some sort of health guarantee. Do all your research and find recommendations when looking for a breeder, and you’ll have no problem finding a healthy, jovial Yorkshire Terrier!

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