Is a Yorkshire Terrier The Perfect Dog For You?

By Karen Soukiasian

The combination of a few small terrier breeds, created the original Rodent Control Engineers for the mines and factories in Yorkshire, England. Yorkshire Terriers are the epitome of yin and yang rolled into one.

Their acute hearing, independent nature, and tenacity make them a fearless warrior, guarding their home and family one minute and a darling, little cuddle, bunny the next.

Only inches tall and weighing up to 7 pounds, depending on their size, they are in the Small Terrier and Toy groups.

They could be the cover boy or girl for any book on Small Dog Syndrome. Yorkies, as they are affectionately called, need fair, firm and consistent leadership at all times. Heads up! If they sense the least bit of weakness in their owner’s leadership, they will take over! Ask dog trainers who they get the most phone calls for help from. Most will tell you frantic owners of Yorkies and Chihuahuas.

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Photo Credit by: Paul J Everett

Photo Credit by: Paul J Everett

It’s not their fault. They are free-spirited little creatures that were bred to think independent of their handlers. They can be a challenge to obedience train and housebreak. For obedience training and socialization, you need to get your Yorkie pup into a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten as soon as possible. Like many terriers, they can become aggressive, snappy and timid if not socialized. A scared, unpredictable Yorkie usually becomes a biter.

As cute and tough as they are, they are extremely fragile. It is not the best dog for a family with small children or for the elderly. Lots of Yorkies are killed every year, by being dropped or/and humans stepping on them. They are also major victims of dog attacks and not good candidates for anesthesia.

They have their share of health problems, including: bronchitis, eye infections, tooth decay, cataracts, luxating patella, slipped stifle, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, hypoglycemia, tracheal collapse, keratis sicca and portosystemic shunt (which can be fatal.) Be careful with vaccinations. Yorkies can also have severe reactions to injections. To avoid severe tooth decay, they do need their teeth brushed regularly and annual professional dental cleaning.

The average lifespan is 13-16 years. Those less than 3 pounds reportedly have a shorter lifespan.

Their shedding is minimal, but if you decide to keep their long, silky coat, expect to spend a lot of time grooming them. Most people today, prefer the cute puppy cut look.

They are a good choice if you have allergies to dogs.

If they are well-balanced and well-adjusted, you will enjoy a fearless, watchdog, that is also a bold, self-confident, devoted, affectionate, loving, little clown. They tend to bond with one person more than others in a family.

Yorkies do have a high-prey drive, so supervision is needed around other small animals. They can be relentless barkers, so be prepared to curb it. Give them a free bark or two, to reinforce that need to protect, then let them know you will take over from there.

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Without adequate exercise, a couple of brisk walks a day and firm leadership; your Yorkie can develop inappropriate and neurotic behavioral problems quite quickly.

These little guys are sensitive to the cold, so bundle them up if the weather is chilly or wet.

Bottom line: Do your homework. Avoid puppies from flea markets, pet stores and backyard breeders. Yorkies are a favorite for many. It’s worth the few dollars more to find a reputable, trustworthy breeder. Because of inappropriate behaviors, many do end up being surrendered to shelters and rescues. Check them out. If you are willing to devote time and energy to help them get back on track, who knows, your new best friend may be there patiently waiting for you.

Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! – DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training – Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida – AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator http://www.freewebs.com/gooddogsite, http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Saint-Augustine-FL/GOOD-DOG-DOG-TRAINING/95917282486?ref=sgm

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