Skip to main content

Everything to know about the adorable Yorkie

Do Yorkie dogs make good pets? The answer might surprise you

Yorkies are one of the more recognizable dog breeds. Maybe it’s their teeny-tiny size or the numerous celebs like Kristin Cavallari and Giselle who have allowed their Yorkies to ride in their designer handbags, perhaps on top of some fancy lipstick.

Parenting a Yorkie dog can be a rewarding experience. Small in stature, this breed boasts a massive personality. However, Yorkies, short for the breed’s proper name of Yorkshire terrier, also have a big (and sometimes bad) reputation. Despite their tiny size, they’re known as rather vocal dogs and thought of as high-maintenance pets. Some of these claims are unfair — perhaps due to the reputations of some of their famous best friends — but others have some truth.

Like all breeds, Yorkies are great fits for some homes and not for others. Here’s what to know if you’re considering making a Yorkie dog your new best friend.

Yorkie dog with their head on an armrest
Sig 3162 Cuper / Shutterstock

The history of the Yorkie dog

Yorkshire terriers are British toy dogs. As their name implies, the first Yorkies probably called Yorkshire, a county in northern England, home.

The Yorkie’s story began when Scottish weavers traveled to England during the mid-1800s to find work. These migrant workers brought multiple types of terriers with them. Yorkshire terriers may be small and have high-maintenance reputations these days, but these toy breed dogs were bred as working animals. Yorkies’ small stature came in handy in the 19th century because it allowed them to hunt mice and other small rodents inhabiting the nooks and crannies of textile mills and coal mines.

In 1885, the American Kennel Club was the first kennel club to recognize the Yorkie. English Kennel Club followed in 1886. After that, the tiny dogs became a favorite of the Victorian upper class, paving the way for supermodels and reality TV stars to embrace the little terrier dog.

A cute yorkie on the floor
felipe / Adobe Stock

A complete guide to the Yorkshire terrier

Celebrities love Yorkies, but is the breed right for your family? Learning about a breed’s physical and social characteristics can help you make an informed choice.

Yorkie dog physical characteristics

Purebred Yorkies must meet breed standards, including:

Height: 7-8 inches

Weight: 7 pounds

Coat: Floor-length, silky, and shiny. Adult Yorkies have steel blue or tan fur.

Lifespan: 11-15 years

Common health problems in Yorkies

These lively pups have pretty long life spans — 11 to 15 years. However, Yorkies have some common health problems you’ll want to know if you plan to bring one into your home. No one wants to think about their dog getting sick, but knowledge is power — and it can help you get your pet prompt care. Yorkies are prone to:

  • Bronchitis
  • Luxating patella (a dislocated kneecap)
  • Lymphangiectasia (an intestinal issue hallmarked by diarrhea)
  • Portosystemic shunt (a liver problem often diagnosed at birth)
  • Cataracts
  • Digestive issues
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Yorkies are tiny, so any procedure that requires anesthesia is generally riskier for them. Your vet can provide you with the best insights. You can reduce health risks for Yorkies by:

  • Scheduling regular vet checkups
  • Keeping your Yorkie up to date on vaccines and monthly preventatives
  • Daily tooth brushing
  • Feeding your Yorkie a diet of AAFCO-approved dog food
  • Limiting treats to 10% of their daily food consumption
  • Leaving out fresh water
  • Brushing their hair daily — their long coats require extra grooming

Social characteristics of Yorkies

Yorkies pack a ton of personality into their tiny bodies. These dogs absolutely adore their families and are very loving toward the people in their household. Believe it or not, Yorkies are generally good with small children and make great first pets.

Still, you want to monitor interactions between pets and small children, including Yorkies. Even the tiniest hands can look big to a Yorkshire terrier, and small children often lack awareness about how to treat a pet. A Yorkie and a small child can become lifelong buddies with love, care, and patience.

Yorkies are yappy and make fantastic watchdogs. However, a friend of yours is a friend of your Yorkies — they’re open to strangers. These tiny pups are hit or miss with other dogs in the home. Some Yorkies prefer to be the only pet in your house, while others will at least tolerate another furry friend.

Yorkies are very playful and energetic. Though they’re often considered lap dogs because of their size, they were once working dogs. They require frequent mental and physical stimulation, so prepare for lots of short walks and play sessions.

Finally, don’t let the rumors fool you. Yorkies are whip smart, eager to please, and take well to training. All dogs benefit from training ASAP, including this breed.

A Yorkshire terrier lies on a fluffy dog bed and looks ahead

Closing thoughts on the Yorkie dog

No two dogs are alike. Even dogs in the same litter will have unique personalities and physical traits, just like human siblings. However, breeds do generally have similarities. Therefore, researching and getting to know specific breeds is a great place to start your search for a pet. From there, reach out to local shelters and rescues, reputable breeders, and even a vet if you have one. They can provide you with information on breeds and aid in your decision.

It’s always a good idea to have everyone in the home meet a potential new dog — any current dogs included — to ensure everyone is on board. Yorkies tend to have long life spans, and you want to ensure you can provide a proper home for one every day.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Do dogs know they’re dying? Here’s what experts say about a dog’s final days
This is what a dog's last days might look like
A woman hugs and kisses her senior dog

No one wants to think about their dog’s final moments, but it’s an inevitable part of life that every pet parent will have to face. Hopefully, though, knowing what to expect can replace some of the fear and uncertainty with a sense of peace. Thinking through this life transition may be emotionally taxing, but asking the important questions (such as, do dogs know they’re dying? Do dogs fear death?) can make the process as easy as possible for everyone -- especially you.
Take a deep breath, give your dog a little love, and scroll on if you’re feeling ready to learn about this important — yet difficult — time. We’ll let you know how to care for your senior dog, how your veterinarian will be helpful during this time, and what to expect as your dog's final moments draw near. Trust us -- you're not in this alone.

Do dogs know they're dying? You might be surprised
We know how scary this question can be, but Dr. Ann Brandenburg-Schroeder hopes to provide some serenity for pet parents going through a difficult time. After experiencing the peaceful passing of her own beloved dogs, she found her calling to provide an at-home euthanasia service to give that gift to other pets and owners. On her website, Beside Still Water, she assures owners, "When we assist an animal to die, we are really doing so at their request. Animals know when they are dying."

Read more
When to be concerned about an old dog breathing heavy and what to do about it
These 9 causes might explain your older dog's shortness of breath
An old brown dog lying on a comfortable bed

No matter how much we love them, how well we take care of them, or even how carefully we mind them, all dogs reach old age, eventually. You'll start to notice a few signs of slowing down once they reach senior age (which varies by size and breed). Health conditions like dental problems, arthritis, and hip dysplasia also become more common. While a senior dog's gray muzzle is adorable, an old dog breathing heavy can be downright terrifying — especially if this symptom comes on suddenly.

Certain breeds — primarily flat-faced dogs like French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and pugs — commonly suffer from breathing problems, but respiratory issues can occur in any breed. We'll walk you through the reasons your dog could be breathing heavily, what you should do about it, and when you need to contact your vet. 

Read more
A guide to great gut health: 5 benefits of probiotics for dogs you may not know about
Probiotics for dogs can have positive effects on the whole body: Here's what to know
Woman feeds her dog a treat on a walk

Cultured foods like yogurt are good for more than just your taste buds -- they can benefit your whole body. This is largely because of the probiotics they contain. In fact, probiotics (and prebiotics) are great for dogs, too! Your pup (like you) already has a gut microbiome to help with digestion, but you can give it a little boost with some supplements. Whether you add a probiotic to your dog's diet is something to discuss with your vet, but it's certainly worth considering.
What exactly are probiotics? And what about prebiotics?
Probiotics are bacteria and yeast that help you digest — that's why these are sometimes called "good bacteria." Prebiotics act as food for those microorganisms. You need both for your stomach to function and keep everything moving. While you have all these things naturally, it can't hurt to help your body along by introducing a little encouragement — and it's the same with Fido.

Should I add a probiotic to my dog's diet?
The good news is that your dog already has natural gut bacteria and they might be getting some extra help in their their fortified kibble as well. Just check the label to figure out what they already get in their diet. If your pup is having issues like loose stools, scooting, or anal gland problems, you might want to consider adding a supplement including probiotics for dogs. Talk to your vet first, however, to rule out more serious issues.

Read more