Yorkshire Terrier - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideYorkshire Terrier - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideYorkshire Terrier - Trupanion Dog Breed Guide

Yorkshire Terrier

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Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier Breed Highlights

A small Yorkshire Terrier playing with a pink ball in the park

  • Before becoming popular with Victorian ladies, the Yorkie was a working-class favorite for hunting rats and other vermin in factories and coal mines.

  • Yorkshire Terriers have a coat similar to human hair which only sheds small amounts during bathing or brushing, making them a great choice for people with allergies to fur. However, dog dander and saliva are a common trigger for allergy-sufferers, so a Yorkie might still trigger some sneezing or a stuffy nose.

  • A Yorkshire Terrier named Lucy received the Guinness World Record for the world's smallest working dog. She worked as a therapy dog and weighed just 2 ½ lbs.

  • A 4-lb. Yorkie named Smoky was a war hero during World War II and even acted as a therapy dog for wounded soldiers recovering in military hospitals in the South Pacific. In 2005, a memorial was erected over her burial site in Ohio, with a sculpture of Smoky sitting atop a GI helmet. The dedication reads “Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and the Dog of All Wars.”

Unique Physical Features

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed illustration - physical

Yorkshire Terriers are a tiny breed.

Yorkies have a gorgeous and silky coat when left to grow long and can rock a poofy topknot.

Unique Personality

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed illustration - personality

A Yorkshire Terrier might not understand quite how small they actually are — they are terriers after all! Full of vigor and with a feisty personality, this breed loves a challenge and is quite intelligent. Often subdued when meeting new people, Yorkies bond closely with their humans and are affectionate and cuddly with those they trust, if not a bit demanding of their attention.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - high (tri-athlete)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

Labs are known to do very well with children.

With Other Pets

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Having other pets in the household is just fine with Labs. Be sure to socialize Lab puppies with other animals to set them up for success.


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They do best in a home with a yard and active family but can adapt to city life if they’re given appropriate outlets for their energy.

Average Lifespan

11 to 16 years

Average Size

4 - 12 pounds

Breed Group


Similar Breeds

  • Silky Terrier

  • Maltese

  • Australian Terrier

  • Biewer Terrier

  • Norfolk Terrier

History of the Yorkshire Terrier

Two small Yorkshire Terriers being held by their owners

Yorkies were originally developed during the mid-1800s in the county of Yorkshire in Northern England after Scottish weavers brought along their own Scottish terriers to live with them and work as ratters in their shops and factories. The breeds used in creating the Yorkshire Terrier aren’t known for sure, but it’s suspected that the Maltese was added to the mix to make the breed smaller, along with the Paisley Terrier (also known as the Clydesdale Terrier), a now-extinct Scottish breed, that gave the Yorkshire its long, lustrous coat. Shown along with other terrier breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier was recognized as a separate breed by the Kennel Club in 1886. This recognition helped the Yorkie transition from a working-class breed to a lapdog favorite of Victorian ladies, which contributed to the smaller size of the breed we see today.

U.S. History of the Yorkie Over Time

As Americans embraced the Victorian ways of England, the Yorkshire Terrier made its way across the Atlantic, arriving in the United States in the early 1870s. The American Kennel Club recognized the Yorkshire Terrier in 1885, and the breed remained popular until the 1940s when small dogs fell out of favor for a while in the United States. The Yorkie has made a comeback over the last few decades, thanks to their wonderful plucky temperament, small size, lifelong puppy-like looks, and being carried as arm candy by the glitterati. They consistently rank in the top 10 most popular breeds in the United States.

Yorkshire Terrier Behavior and Training

Yorkshire Terriers were originally used as ratters, which required tenacity, high prey drive, and the ability to work independently. These aspects of the breed are still seen in modern-day Yorkshire Terriers. They make wonderful watchdogs and revel in their role as a cuddle buddy.

Plays Well with Others?

  • Yorkshire Terriers need proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy. Because they bond closely to one person (or a few family members), they tend to be protective and territorial when strangers approach. Their small size also makes many things in the environment overwhelming or scary, so early socialization during puppyhood is imperative for a well-adjusted dog.
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Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

  • A Yorkie’s small size makes living with children difficult, as they can easily be injured with any rough handling and tend to get revved up with lots of noise and movement. However, they can do well with older children if they are socialized with them as puppies from a young age and the children are respectful in their handling. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • Yorkies do best as an only dog in the home. However, if properly introduced and socialized from a young age, they can live with other animals successfully.
Graphic - a bouncing red ball

Exercise Requirements

Yorkies are full of energy, and even though they’re small they can go-go-go! A couple of daily walks along with time for games help Yorkies stay in shape and burn off that terrier energy. Yorkies are known for their love of toys, so investing in some great size-appropriate fetch toys and stuffies will make playtime fun for both dog and human.

Their small size means they shouldn’t be jumping from heights such as furniture or out of the car, as it’s easy for them to injure themselves. Yorkies can even be seriously injured in jumps or a fall from their owner’s arms. They’ll appreciate easier access to their favorite couch nesting spots with a ramp or dog stairs, and should be lifted in and out of cars and on and off furniture.

Mental Enrichment Needs

Yorkshire Terriers are quick-witted and love having a challenge to solve. Keep their brain engaged and sharp by joining training classes, dog sports, and providing lots of mental enrichment activities at home. Yorkies love food puzzles and interactive toys and excel in trick training!

Common Behavioral Issues

Yorkies can be quite demanding, and often this is encouraged by human behavior. Because they are so small and absolutely adorable, many owners don’t invest the time in training and Yorkies learn that barking or other demanding behaviors get them what they want. Simply investing some time in positive reinforcement training and providing enough physical and mental exercise will help Yorkies learn polite manners and prevent unwanted behaviors.

Yorkshire Terriers, like many other toy breed puppies, might have issues with housebreaking and take longer than other breeds to become fully housetrained. Consistency throughout puppyhood, frequent potty breaks, and patience will help them be successful and prevent house soiling.

Fun Activities Yorkies Enjoy

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed illustration - fun

Yorkshire Terriers enjoy and excel in quite a few activities:

  • Agility

  • Earth Dog/Barn Hunt

  • Canine Freestyle

  • Tracking

  • Rally Obedience

  • Trick Training

  • Hearing Service Dog

Yorkshire Terrier Coat Type

The Yorkshire Terrier has a smooth and silky single-layer coat. Similar to human hair, when left uncut it can grow up to two feet long!

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 1 of 5 piles of fur

1 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Regular Bathing
  • Daily Maintenance
  • Professional Grooming Required
icon brush with bubbles

Yorkies require daily brushing and regular grooming to keep their coat in tip-top shape, especially if kept long. Many Yorkie owners have a professional groomer clip the coat short for easier maintenance. Introduce your Yorkie puppy to grooming early to make their experiences positive and stress-free for everyone.

Best brush for a Yorkshire Terrier: Boar bristle brush, Slicker brush

Famous Owners of the Yorkie

  • Missy Elliott (Rapper/Producer)

  • Emmy Rossum (Actress)

  • Audrey Hepburn (Actress)

  • Joan Rivers (Comedian)

  • Stevie Nicks (Singer)

  • Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen (Football Player, Model)

  • Natalie Portman (Actress)

  • Britney Spears (Singer)

  • Steven Tyler (Singer)

  • Jay Mohr (Actor)

Famous Yorkies

Audrey Hepburn’s dog, Mr. Famous, starred alongside her and Fred Astaire in the movie Funny Face.

Doogie, Whitney Houston’s Yorkie, was featured with her on the reality show Being Bobby Brown.

Yorkshire Terriers in Books, Movies and TV

  • Toto, while played by a Cairn terrier in The Wizard of Oz, was supposedly illustrated as a Yorkie by W.W. Denslow.

  • Yorkie lovers will likely want to skip out on watching A Fish Called Wanda.

  • Moses in Meet the Fockers.

  • Mignon on Green Acres.

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Yorkshire Terrier Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for Yorkshire Terriers. Every Yorkshire Terrier is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Trupanion member Kelly


Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

- Lori

Trupanion member Axl


Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

- Nanette K.

Trupanion member Bella


Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

"Bella was treated for Cushing’s disease and a pituitary tumor with radiation therapy. Had we not had insurance for her, the decision for her medical care would have been more difficult, as each treatment was expensive. However, because we have Trupanion, these decisions were easier. Rather, we could focus our attention on her treatment and recovery instead of the financial impact these procedures would have on our family."

- Jason P.

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