Originally bred to hunt and kill rats in 19th-century England, Yorkshire Terriers -- affectionately known as Yorkies -- have become pets. Their name derives from the English county they came from. The physical and mental characteristics and needs of these pint-size dogs will affect how well the animals will fit into your lifestyle.
A healthy Yorkie weighs up to 7 lbs. and stands about 6 or 7 inches tall as an adult. They have a small, somewhat flat head and a medium sized muzzle. Check their teeth to make sure they meet in a level bite. These animals display a black nose, dark-rimmed eyes and small, V-shaped ears. Their bodies are well proportioned and compact with a long, silky coat of steel blue and tan hair. A healthy Yorkie has straight front and back legs without any bowing. Many breeders and owners dock the Yorkie’s tail to a medium length.
While a small dog, Yorkies display a high level of energy and like to be kept busy playing fetch or other games. These dogs also show cleverness, bravery and loyalty to their masters. Since they are intelligent dogs, they often train easily. However, you may have a problem housebreaking them due to stubbornness. Affectionate towards their master, Yorkies can be aggressive towards strangers and other unfamiliar animals. These pets are also very social dogs, which means they need a lot of attention from their masters. When they don’t receive this attention they may become yappy, demanding, overprotective or neurotic.
Certain breeds of dogs are often prone to certain illnesses. Before buying or adopting a Yorkie, know that your dog may suffer from slipped stifle—a dislocated joint in the hind leg —bronchitis, eye infections, premature tooth decay and sensitive digestions. This means your dog may need surgery, regular visits to the vet to treat infections, professional tooth cleaning and a limited diet. If you’re thinking about breeding your Yorkie, females require a cesarean delivery of their puppies.
Yorkies require a limited amount of exercise. You must walk them daily in addition to playing with them. If your Yorkie displays behavior problems or runs around the house at top speeds, you need to walk it more often or take it for longer walks. You also need to groom your pet regularly. This means brushing and combing your pet’s hair weekly so it doesn’t tangle and mat. You can perform these tasks yourself or hire a professional groomer. They also need their teeth cleaned on a regular basis.