A Yorkshire terrier outside.

Beneath the silken, lustrous coat of the Yorkshire terrier, or “Yorkie,” lies the heart of a feisty companion equally as eager to work as to snuggle.

Hailing from Yorkshire, England, the Yorkie was bred in the 19th century by cotton and wool workers from Scotland who had immigrated in search of work. These workers needed a ratting terrier that was scrappy and could keep the mills and workspaces free of rodents and disease-carrying mice, so they bred black-and-tan terriers with what was then known as a Clydesdale terrier. And so the Yorkie was born.

Because of their small size and scrappy demeanor, Yorkies were the agile, lively and responsive ratter the workers needed, often catching vermin with ease. As their popularity spread and their work wasn’t needed as much, Yorkies became the favorite lapdogs of Victorians everywhere.

The “Tomboy Toy”

That popularity remains true today, as Yorkies are incredibly popular family pets. Their tenacious personalities and dogged determination have earned them the nickname “the tomboy toy,” and their confidence helps them excel today at all dog sports including agility and “Fast CAT,” a timed 100-yard dash. Because of their innate ratting abilities, Yorkies also often accompany hunters to flush out prey in the field.

The Yorkshire terrier is among the most popular toy breeds in America, and because of their size (between 5 and 7 pounds), they are often named the most popular dog breed in many American cities. City-dwelling Yorkies can often be seen sporting their long, luxurious coats, which are tan on the head and a steely gray on the body. Frequently compared to human hair, the coat of a Yorkie, when long, rarely sheds but does need constant grooming. Most owners prefer a “puppy coat” that’s clipped and scruffy for easier care.

The American Kennel Club recognized Yorkies as a breed in 1872, and as members of the Toy Group are described as alert, compact and spirited. Health issues can include bronchitis and a delicate digestive system, but given the right environment and attention, a Yorkie can be a companion who delights and entertains for years.

Yorkie quick facts.


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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.