A purebred Yorkshire terrier may appear petite and cuddly, but they are also curious, charming, and confident. If a Yorkie is not adequately trained, their assertive instincts to be the ‘leader of the house’ can take over. A bold move for such a small dog. Yorkshire terriers are highly intelligent, so learning commands, as well as their place in the pack from puppyhood, is essential for this breed.
How Large Can Yorkshire Terriers Get?
Generally, Yorkshire terriers are depicted as beribboned lap dogs, groomed, and pampered. Although Yorkshire terriers were consistently on the smaller side, they were not always cute lap dogs. Do you know the original purpose of Yorkshire terriers? Their initial job is why purebred Yorkies often have a stubborn yet resourceful streak.
The Yorkshire Terrier Breed Origins
This petite breed came as a terrier mix brought with Scottish weavers when they migrated to Northern England’s Yorkshire county in the 1800s. Unfortunately, there is little documentation regarding precisely how the Yorkshire terrier came about. Based on what is known, breeders speculate the Clydesdale, Paisley, and Skye terriers are all part of the Yorkshire terriers parentage.
Yorkshire terriers were known as small, expert hunters. Before their auspicious days as a lap dog, they were ‘ratters.’ Working in textile mills and coal mines of the Industrial Revolution, chasing rodents out of their tiny dens and burrows. Yorkies were working-class dogs, earning their keep.
Their miniature size and assertive nature made Yorkies a popular breed during the 19th century. It was the late 1860s when the Kennel Club of England officially recognized the Yorkshire terrier breed, and they became fashionable lap dogs for royalty and Victorian-era English ladies. The long gleaming blue and tan hair adorned with ribbons made the Yorkshire terrier a status symbol. It’s interesting to note, as Yorkies grew in popularity as a pampered pet, they decreased in physical size.
What is the Ideal Size of a Yorkie?
Yorkshire terriers are considered a toy breed and one of the smallest in that group. The prominent kennel clubs in the world standardized the characteristics expected for each recognized breed. These standards are used for determining purebred pedigree, also for confirmation in sponsored dog show events or competitions. According to three internationally recognized kennel clubs, the ‘ideal’ standard for a Yorkshire terrier is 7 pounds (3.17 kilograms).
According to these Kennel Clubs, there is not a height standard set for Yorkies. Adult Yorkshire terriers reach an average height between 6-9 inches (15.24 to 22.86 centimeters) by four years of age.
It’s important to note; the American Kennel Club considers Yorkshire terriers bred intentionally smaller than 7 pounds (3.17 kilograms) to be unethical. These Yorkies are called ‘teacup’; however, this breed is not formally recognized by the American Kennel Club. The adult ‘teacup’ variety is typically around 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms) or under, and susceptible to a wide range of health concerns due to their miniature size.
Numerous conditions may affect how big a Yorkshire terrier can get. Let us look at some circumstances that could determine an adult Yorkie’s size.
How Does a Purebred Yorkie End Up an Uncommon Size?
Even carefully bred Yorkshire terriers with well-documented histories can produce uncommon puppies. Infrequent as it may be, size and weight variations do occur. Yorkies in the ‘teacup’ range are tiny, usually 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms).
Yorkshire terriers this small have health concerns that can shorten their lifespan such as, a compromised immune system, fragile bones, and the inability to regulate temperatures. These tiny little creatures need extra special attention during warm weather and cold weather. Due to these issues, it is not encouraged to pass-along the ‘teacup’ genetics.
Sometimes an unexpected ‘throwback’ from a distant generation can create a larger than average Yorkshire terrier. Genes can go back five generations or more, and occasionally a trait from a distant relative ‘jumps in.’ DNA testing helps to mitigate some of these surprises, but not all of them. When this happens, Yorkshire terriers can be as large as 10 pounds (4.53 kilograms), or larger. Huddersfield Ben, the ‘father of the breed,’ was considered larger than most Yorkies.
Another factor to consider when determining an adult Yorkshire terrier’s weight is pairing. If Yorkies are not matched correctly for breeding, irregularities can result. For instance, if the dam and sire are not close in size, they may not have a consistent, standardized litter. Or if the dam becomes impregnated by two different dogs, known as a ‘double sired’ litter, where one is not a purebred Yorkshire terrier, it will cause erratic consequences for the offspring and future generations.
Breeding is not the only issue to consider when trying to determine how big Yorkshire terriers get.
Is My Yorkshire Terrier Overweight?
As with all living creatures, variations are normal. Purebred Yorkshire terriers are no exception; they mostly fall into an ‘average size’ range. Standards set by the American Kennel Club are intended for shows and competitions. Not every Yorkshire terrier is going to meet those rigorous standards. Of course, if your Yorkie is a competitive show dog, those standards are for you.
A typical house Yorkie that weighs between 8 to 9 pounds (3.63 to 4.08 kilograms) can be completely healthy, especially if they’re in the 10 to 11-inch height range (25.4 to 27.94 centimeters). However, if a Yorkshire terrier is over 10 pounds (4.54 kilograms), they should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Although it is uncommon for Yorkies to carry excess weight, it can happen.
If your Yorkshire terrier is diagnosed as overweight by your veterinarian, the weight loss program should be slow and incremental. Two leading suggestions for overweight Yorkies are lower calorie intake and gradually increase exercise. Remember, before you change your Yorkshire terrier’s diet or exercise routine, you need to visit your veterinarian for a prescribed plan.
An easy way to reduce excess calories is to limit the number of treats or opt for healthier alternatives. Some Yorkies like fruits and vegetables such as baby carrots or blueberries. If you are prone to share food from the table with your Yorkshire terrier, be aware of these extra calories. They add up quickly, especially if sharing table scraps is a daily routine and includes sugary foods. Too many high-sugar foods will raise their blood sugar, leading to future health concerns.
If your Yorkshire terrier has put on a little extra weight, they might be feeling lethargic. As long as you have the ‘okay’ from your veterinarian, gradually increase exercise. Playing at the park for an extra 10 minutes a day, or adding 10 extra minutes to each walk, will improve muscle and bone strength. With this additional playtime and exercise, your Yorkie will be back in shape in no time.
Yorkshire terriers are still a popular toy dog breed. Their feistiness and tendency to bark make Yorkies good guard dogs. While their small size, charisma, and energetic personalities make them great companions. If you are considering a little dog who is both a working dog and a lap dog, Yorkshire terriers are an excellent choice, even in a smaller home or apartment.