The Yorkshire terrier’s flowing blue-and-tan coat is a familiar sight to anyone who has watched a dog show. Small and elegant, her head topped with a bow, she prances across the floor to the delight of the audience. However, the dainty Yorkie is a true terrier. Athletic, intelligent, hardy and an excellent mouser, the Yorkshire terrier is an excellent all-around pet, worker and competitor.
The Yorkshire terrier was developed from a number of different, now extinct, breeds: the Waterside terrier, the black-and-tan English terrier, the Paisley terrier and the Clydesdale terrier. The Waterside terrier was a “broken coated” terrier, which eventually evolved into the Airedale terrier. The blue-and-tan Clydesdale terrier and the solid blue Paisley terrier were both silky-haired varieties of the Skye terrier that were liberated from the parent breed to become breeds of their own. All three Skye-related breeds were bred and shown in several size divisions, ranging from under 5 up to 16 pounds. The evolving Yorkshire terrier, however, was primarily descended from the smaller representatives of these breeds. Shown variously as the “Broken Haired Toy Terrier,” the “Rough Coated Toy Terrier,” the “Broken Haired Scotch Terrier” and the “Yorkshire terrier” in its early days, as well as being entered in the smaller Clydesdale terrier variety classes, the breed settled into its current identity in the late 1870s. Although some of the breed's ancestors may have been used to control the rodent population in clothing mills, the Yorkshire terrier as we know her today was destined to be a companion from the very beginning, based on her “fancy terrier” progenitors and her size.
This very small toy terrier should weigh no more than 7 pounds as an adult. Unlike her Skye terrier ancestors, the Yorkie is a compact breed, possessed of a short back. This confident dog has a high head and tail carriage that reflects this self-assured manner. Her small head, slightly flattened over the eyes, has a muzzle of moderate length and erect “V-shaped” ears. It is the Yorkshire terrier’s coat, however, that is her crowning glory, shining with a high gloss even when kept in a pet trim. When allowed to grow out into a full show coat, the Yorkshire terrier’s long, straight hair brushes the floor at her sides. The coat on top of the Yorkshire terrier’s head is also grown long to form a jaunty topknot held in place with a bow or barrette. The muzzle hair of a dog in full coat is also long, falling in generous mustaches that may reach to the bottom of her chest. The Yorkshire terrier standard recognizes only blue-and-tan dogs, disqualifying any other color combination. Dogs that may be sold as “rare” colors, such as chocolate and tan, or dogs with a white base coat, are disqualified by the standard: dogs with these colors are dogs of mixed breeding in recent or distant past and are not “true” Yorkshire terriers. The blue portion of the coat is a deep steel blue when the dog is an adult; never silver. Puppies may have black hairs intermingled with the blue as the coat transitions to its adult color. The blue portion of the dog’s coat begins at the back of her neck, behind the head, and extends to the end of the tail. The tan is deep and golden, lightening gradually between the root of the hair to its tip. It must be limited to the dog’s head from muzzle to the back of the ears, the front of the dog’s chest, from the elbow to the toes on the front legs, and from the bend of the stifle down to the toes on the hind legs. The standard of perfection for a show dog is exacting: No tan hair must be found among the blue hairs, and vice versa. Pet dogs, as long as they have the correct colors in approximately the correct areas, are no less Yorkshire terriers than their cousins in the show ring.
Your Yorkshire terrier’s coat must remain clean and free of knots, especially if you plan to keep it long. Daily combing with a metal “greyhound” comb is recommended, especially if the dog is active or goes outside on a regular basis. In addition to regular combing, your Yorkshire terrier should be bathed weekly or every other week to aid hair growth and to prevent skin disease. No special shampoo is needed, as long as it can be rinsed thoroughly from your dog’s coat. Follow your dog’s bath with conditioner to help with comb-out. Towel-dry your Yorkshire terrier’s coat by patting it free of excess moisture; never rub your dog’s coat dry, as doing so can form tangles and mat or can break the hair. Once the excess moisture has been removed, you can gently comb the coat out using the greyhound comb and allow it to air dry. Alternatively, you can use a hair dryer set on low heat to blow your dog’s coat dry. Blow the air along the coat in the direction of its hair growth, using a gentle stream of air. Your dog’s coat should part naturally along her topline, starting at the back of the head and ending at the root of the tail. If it doesn't, use your comb to part it, and then comb it into two distinct sheets on either side of the body.
Your Yorkshire terrier is a small athlete, capable of taking part in many sports. While Yorkshires are a small breed requiring only moderate exercise, your dog is still a terrier and will enjoy keeping her mind and body active. Daily walks are recommended to keep your dog trim and healthy. However, your Yorkie's also capable of participating in dog agility or in terrier racing programs as long as she's properly trained and conditioned. Look on the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club websites to find clubs (see links in Resources) for trainers and events in your area.