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 Yorkshire Terrier standing in black and white

Yorkshire Terrier - Breed Facts & Characteristics

Full of character, Yorkshire Terriers are a popular breed and make great companion dogs. They are affectionate, devoted and love interaction with humans. Their diminutive size can make them ideal for small flats or houses, and they are just as at home in urban areas as they are in the countryside. They are known to be stubborn which can make training and obedience more challenging. However, with the correct training and home environment, they can be a wonderful family dog.

Quick stats


Avg life span
16 years

Country of origin 
United Kingdom


Group 3 - Terriers

Group section
Section 4 - Toy Terriers


Top traits

Key facts
Requires a lot of grooming
Tenacious and brave
Can be finicky eaters


Up to 3.2 kgs

18 - 21 cm

Medium and dark

Small and v-shaped


Born with a black and tan coat that turns more tan and blue as the breed matures
Flat with not too long of a muzzle. Teeth well placed with even jaws


When were Yorkies first seen?

The Yorkshire Terrier comes from the same area as the Airedale Terrier and was first seen during the 1850’s. The old Black and Tan Terrier was a base for the Yorkshire Terrier, together with other breeds such as the Maltese and the Skye Terrier. The current name was accepted in 1870.

Their previous roles

It is believed that Scottish workers brought terriers to Yorkshire, where they were employed to work in mills and mines. Due to their small size, miners would take Yorkies into mines to help with pest control. They would also be used by hunters to seek out animals that lived in burrows hidden on the forest floor.

When did they become a household pet?

Slowly but surely, the name of the Yorkshire Terrier became popularised and the breed was gradually brought into normal households as a family pet. During the Victorian era, many people considered small dogs to be of great value, which resulted in a surge in popularity for Yorkies, particular in wealthier households.


Yorkshire Terriers can be picky when it comes to food, but still require a precise nutritionally balanced diet. Our Yorkshire Terrier breed products have been specially formulated to ensure the correct amount of proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are included to support many areas, such as skin, coat and digestion.

Small jaw

Dental sensitivity

Fussy appetites

Unique skin and coat

Long life spans

Yorkshire Terriers have a number of traits and physical features which benefit from a specifically formulated diet. Click the link below to learn more about the factors which need to be taken into account when choosing a diet for your Yorkshire Terrier, and how Royal Canin's Breed Health range can support them through their life.

Nutrition suitable for all ages

We know how important it is to make sure your puppy is being fed nutritious food, as the correct diet will support their health and wellbeing throughout their whole life. Which is why we have created a range of Breed Health products to meet the needs of Yorkshire Terriers. Learn more about the benefits of switching to a breed-specific range.


Whilst Yorkshire Terriers are small in size, they have a larger-than-life personality. Energetic, vocal and sometimes stubborn, they are lovers of attention and can be great for pet owners who want a 'companion'.

Always keen to be part of the action, they are generally best suited to families with older children as they can be feisty at times. Depending on how they are raised as a puppy and with the correct training and nurture in their home environment, many can live peacefully with other dogs, cats and children.

Living with a Yorkshire Terrier

Adult Yorkies are known to be very adaptable, and can easily make themselves comfortable living in urban or country environments, provided they are given the right amount of physical and mental exercise.

Because of their small size, make sure Yorkies are easily able to access any essentials, such as water and food, especially if they're left alone in the house. It's also important to make sure they're not left unsupervised near areas where they could fall and injure themselves, such as at the top of a staircase.

A Yorkshire Terrier is less likely to do well in a household where it's left alone for most of the day. This is a breed that requires lots of attention and does best when kept near a human companion. If left alone for long periods, they may experience separation anxiety, behavioural issues and develop bad habits.

Common health issues

As with most breeds, Yorkshire Terriers may experience some health concerns over the course of their lifetime. Whilst these health issues may not affect every dog, it's important to know the signs of such concerns and understand where you can take proactive measures to ensure your dog is happy and healthy in every stage of their life.

Support your dog's health


The coat of a Yorkshire Terrier is truly unique as it does not have an under-coat. This requires close attention when creating a grooming routine, with the main purpose being hygiene, followed by aesthetics.

Due to their long, silky coat, Yorkshire Terriers require a lot of grooming and daily brushing to remove tangles, dead hairs and to keep their skin and coat in a good condition. However, owners who choose to keep their Yorkshire Terrier's coat short will still need to carry out regular maintenance of their dog's coat.


Whilst Yorkshire Terriers are small in size, they still have a lot of energy, but this can be easily managed with the correct training. To ensure you raise a well-behaved and considerate Yorkshire Terrier make sure you're aware of the following training tips:

Start training early

Ideally, training needs to begin as soon as you bring your puppy home as they will be more receptive to learning new skills at a young age. Whilst training an older dog is possible, it will take more time and dedication from both the owner and dog for any new skills and behaviours to stick.

Reinforce good behaviour

Make sure you let your Yorkie know when they have done something good, either by giving them some much-loved attention or with a little treat (from their daily kibble allowance). This will encourage your dog to repeat this good behaviour in the future.

Stay committed

Yorkies are known for their bold personalities, which may pose a challenge when trying to teach them obedience and good behaviour skills. However, with patience and the correct training methods, all dogs can be taught how to be a good companion.


As Yorkshire Terriers are small dogs they don't have high exercise requirements, however, that's not to say they can or should stay indoors for prolonged periods of time. 

A short walk every day will be enough to meet their fitness needs and keep them in good shape. Alongside physical exercise, you should also consider how to mentally stimulate your dog which is just as important in maintaining their wellbeing. Engaging in daily games and activities, indoors and outdoors, can help your Yorkie's mind stay active throughout their life.

Yorkshire Terrier puppies are small and delicate, so extra care must be taken to ensure they are safe at all times. Consider setting up a playpen while they are very small to ensure they are kept out of harm's way. They will need to be kept warm and fed regularly.

Like all puppies, Yorkie's will need to sleep a lot - up to 21 hours a day - in order to rest, develop and grow properly. Try to keep the environment calm, with no sudden loud noises which may frighten your puppy. Keep televisions, radios and other devices as quiet as possible. This will allow your puppy to relax, sleep and stay calm.

Ensure that you follow the vaccination and worming guidelines recommended by your vet. Young puppies are vulnerable, but with the right support, are protected as they grow and develop into adult dogs.

As well as being loyal companions, Yorkshire Terriers can also be strong-willed and occasionally feisty. Starting a programme of socialisation and training as early as possible will help to minimise any unwanted behaviours and be beneficial in establishing good long-term habits.

Balanced puppy nutrition

As your puppy develops, make sure they are fed a diet which supports their growth and their young immune system. Royal Canin's Breed Health Puppy product ensures their natural defences are supported with an exclusive blend of antioxidants, including vitamin E.

Maturing from an adult to a senior

Yorkshire Terriers are considered to be ageing dogs when they reach eight years of age, midway through their life. As they age, you may notice your dog begins to experience some degree of hearing loss and vision impairment. Don't worry, this is common in most older dogs and if you have any concerns you should always seek the advice of your vet.

Ageing will impact their lifestyle and how much they are able to do, so you may notice some form of reluctance when it comes to exercise, which is often due to stiffer joints. It's essential to make sure your ageing dog is kept as comfortable as possible to ease any joint pains they may develop.

Ageing with Royal Canin

The Yorkshire Terrier’s diet will need to be adapted to balance a decrease in exercise, along with a fussier appetite that is often seen in older dogs. Royal Canin's Yorkshire Terrier Breed Health Adult 8+ diet ensures their new diet contains all the important nutrients required to stay healthy. It’s a good idea to arrange regular check-ups with a vet at this stage, as they will be able to advise on any nutritional changes or health problems that ageing may bring.