11 Fascinating Facts about the Yorkshire Terrier

Besides being an adorably cute canine, the Yorkie has the feisty attitude and courageous, brave heart of any terrier breed. Read on for 11 fun facts about this spunky little dog.

Nicknamed the “Tomboy Toy”

Although quite small at 5-7 pounds, the Yorkie loves activity, speed and being the center of attention. This breed can excel at agility, flyball, Rally O, freestyle dancing, obedience competition, conformation competition and Earthdog trials, and make excellent therapy dogs. The confident characteristics of the Yorkie earned this breed their nickname as the “Tomboy Toy.” Yorkies generally enjoy taking a dip in water, but make sure to keep your pet safe by putting a life jacket on him.

Original Job

The Yorkshire Terrier was bred to catch and kill mice and rats in coal mines and textile mills. Yorkies were ideal ratters because they could fit into small spaces and crevasses to root out hiding vermin. This terrier was a bit bigger in the early years of the breed, weighing in at a whooping 12-14 pounds. These plucky pups were also used by hunters, who carried them in their pockets and then sent them underground to flush out fox, badger, rats, rabbits and other small to medium sized critters.

Confidence of Big Dogs

Yorkies are the second smallest dog breed in the world, behind the Chihuahua. Yorkies don’t realize just how small they are, though, and have a big-dog attitude. They aren’t afraid to stand up to larger dogs or other animals, so it’s a good idea to supervise them around big dogs to make sure they don’t get into a fight they can’t win. One Yorkshire Terrier saved his owner’s life by nipping at the heels of a bear and distracting the animal after it attacked, giving the man and dog time to escape.


The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular breeds worldwide, and has consistently been in the top 10 in the United States.

Needs High Quality Food

Even though the Yorkie doesn’t eat a lot of food, this is an athletic pup who requires a quality dog food such as CANIDAE to get the proper nutrients for optimal health.

Small Dog Syndrome

A Yorkie should be socialized and trained to avoid developing small dog syndrome, and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with misbehaving just because he is little. This breed is stubborn, intelligent, confident and energetic. He likes to have his feet on the ground and loves going for walks for physical and mental stimulation.

Was Toto Really a Yorkie?

There will always be a spirited debate between Cairn Terrier and Yorkie fans when it comes to the original drawings in L. Frank Baum’s first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The point of contention is whether the drawing of Toto resembles a Cairn Terrier or a Yorkshire Terrier. Illustrator W.W. Denslow owned a Yorkie and the breed was quite popular at that time, so it makes sense that Denslow may have been inspired by his Yorkshire Terrier. However, it was a Cairn Terrier that was cast to play Toto in the movie.

WW II Hero Dog

In 1944, a Yorkie was found abandoned in a foxhole in the New Guinea jungle by a US soldier. He brought the tiny pup back to camp, and Corporal Bill Wynne gladly took the dog. Smoky earned her place in history as a war hero when she crawled through an eight inch wide, 70 foot long drainage pipe to pull a communication cable through the culvert. Credited with saving the lives of US soldiers, Smoky is also the world’s first documented therapy dog.

Unique Coat

Yorkshire Terriers have coats that are similar to and grow like human hair. Most Yorkie owners who don’t show their dogs tend to keep their coat trimmed short for convenience. The dogs have a single layer of fine, silky hair and no undercoat, which means they don’t handle cold weather well and would welcome wearing a warm sweater during the winter. Instead of shedding, Yorkies lose hair during a bath or when being combed.

AKC Group Designation

Even though the Yorkie is all terrier, the AKC has this breed in the Toy Group due to the dog’s small size. Never leave this breed outside unsupervised, as they are at risk of being carried away by coyotes and large birds of prey looking for a snack.

One of the First AKC Breeds Recognized

The Yorkshire Terrier is a fairly young breed developed in Yorkshire and Lancashire counties of Northern England in the mid-1800s. By about 1870, the Yorkie had migrated to America and was among the first dog breeds recognized by the year old American Kennel Club in 1885.