The first Yorkshire terriers were brought to the United States in the early 1870s, and they came as parlor dogs — companions to the wealthy families that were so keen on them. Their popularity slowly grew and then skyrocketed in the 1950s. Over the past few decades, Yorkies have ranked among the most popular dogs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Yorkies have a certain look. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the general appearance of the ideal Yorkie includes the following traits:
- A long, blue and tan coat that hangs straight and parts down the middle: Much of the breed standard relates to the condition, quality, and presentation of the coat.
- Compact and well-proportioned stature: Size and body structure matter. The breed standard stipulates that Yorkies must not be over 7 pounds and, on average, adult Yorkies fall between a petite 5–7 pounds. (Remember, however, that some Yorkies are smaller and some are larger.) In terms of body structure, everything should be in proportion and just, well, fit.
Want to know about how much your Yorkie pup will weigh when he's full grown? Take his weight at three months and double it. If your 3-month-old Yorkie weighs 3 pounds, he'll weigh close to 6 pounds as an adult. A 4-pound 3-month-old will weigh about 8 pounds, and a 14-pound 3-month-old probably ain't a Yorkie at all.
- Self-assured manner and carriage: As terriers, Yorkies have a lot of spunk, confidence, and intelligence — traits that are no more evident than when they move across a room in sassy little steps with their heads held high. You often see this demeanor in dog shows (see Figure 1).
©Isabelle FrancaisFigure 1: The self-assurance (some would say self-importance) of the breed is evident in this dog's demeanor.
Few, if any Yorkies, actually meet all the standards of the breed. And a 14-pound Yorkie with a silver coat and a floppy ear is as wonderful a companion as the pint-sized prizewinner with the erect ears and dark steel blue silky coat.
After the general description of the breed, the breed standard outlines what the specific body parts should look like (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Highlights of the Yorkshire Terrier breed standard.
If you plan to show your Yorkie, get a hold of the actual breed standards from the AKC or the kennel club that sponsors the show you're competing in.
The Yorkie's head is small and slightly flat on top. The skull isn't too round, and the muzzle isn't too long. The teeth should be good, and the dog shouldn't have an underbite or a pronounced overbite. The nose is black, the eyes are dark, sparkly, and intelligent, and the ears are small, V-shaped, pointed, and erect.
The body should be well proportioned and very compact, with a relatively short, level back (that is, a back that doesn't slope too much from the shoulders to the rump, or one that doesn't look humped back).
Legs, feet, and tail
The front legs (forelegs) are straight; the hind legs are straight when seen from behind, but the stifles (the upper thighs) of the hind legs are slightly bent when seen from the side. Yorkies' feet are round and have black toenails (think Yorkie Goth).
The tail is docked (cropped short) and carried slightly higher than the level of the back. (In the United Kingdom, Yorkie tail docking is neither required nor recommended.)
To meet the breed standard, you should keep your Yorkie's hair long, as shown in Figure 3. Of course, if you don't plan to show your dog and don't want the hassle of grooming even a moderately long coat, you can keep your Yorkie in a puppy cut (a short-coat style that many people prefer for convenience). Remember, though, that the long hair is a hallmark of the breed's appearance.
©Isabelle FrancaisFigure 3:This show-quality coat is pleasing to the eye, soft to the touch, and time-consuming to maintain.
Like human hair, Yorkie hair just keeps growing. In fact, a Yorkie's coat can grow long enough to drag on the ground. If you don't wrap up your Yorkie's hair, it'll break off and stay at a length about even with the ground.
Wrapping is a task for those owners who are serious about creating a show-quality coat. To wrap, you need latex bands, wax-paper squares (or some other appropriate paper, like rice paper or bakery tissue), and a comb.
Texture is also important. Yorkies' coats should be silky and hang straight down each side of their bodies. The straighter the hair hangs, the better.
In addition, Yorkies have one long, straight part that extends the length of their bodies, starting at the base of their skulls and going all the way back to the tips of their ever-wagging tails. Have you ever tried getting a straight part on a pencil-thin wagging tail? Fortunately, when you keep the coat long, the part usually falls into place.
Although Yorkie pups are born black and tan, their color changes as they mature. The ideal coat color for adult Yorkies is blue (actually a deep, steel gray; no silver, black, or bronze mixed in) and tan. The AKC also recognizes black instead of blue and gold instead of tan. Bottom line? Your Yorkie can be any of these color combinations: blue and gold, blue and tan, black and gold, and black and tan.
Not only are these colors the only accepted colors, but they also must appear in the accepted places:
- On the body: Blue or black from the back of the neck to the tip of the tail.
- On the head: Golden tan or gold on the fall, with a richer tan/gold on the ears and muzzle.
- On the chest and legs: Tan or gold on the chest. On the legs, the tan/gold should go no higher than the elbow on the front legs and the stifle on the hind legs.