What Is the Difference Between a Parti Yorkie & a Regular Yorkie?

Yorkshire terriers are famous for their long, silky hair, tiny bodies, and big attitudes. They make great companions and are notably loyal and brave, particularly for a little dog. While most people are familiar with the "traditional" Yorkie coloring which is made up of two of either black, tan, and blue, these are far from the only colors the breed can come in. A parti Yorkie simply has different coloring than a "regular" one.

Yorkshire Terrier Dog on the green grass
Yorkshire terriers are famous for the small size and big attitude.
credit: Attila Fodemesi/iStock/GettyImages

The Yorkshire terrier breed

The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that Yorkshire terriers are compact terriers that should weigh no more than seven pounds and be seven to eight inches at the shoulders. Their most notable characteristic is their shiny, silky coat, which is called "hair" rather than "fur," due to its texture and length. In fact, while many owners choose to crop the hair short to make their dogs easier to care for, the coat can naturally grow long enough to touch the ground, making it look more like a human's hair than the fur of most dogs. This coat doesn't just look pretty, it also has the benefit of being hypoallergenic as well.

While the Yorkie is particularly small, it doesn't have the shy, nervous personality many small dogs are known for. Instead it is more like its fellow terriers, filled with feistiness, bravery and a touch of bossiness. While they are small enough to fit in even the tiniest loft apartment, their tenacious personality makes them great watch dogs and their loyalty and spunkiness make them a great companion. These are only a few reasons why Yorkies are continuously ranked as one of the most popular, if not the most popular, dogs in America.

Caring for a Yorkie

Yorkshire terriers are healthy dogs overall, generally living 11 to 15 years of age, and their popularity ensures that it is easy to find a reputable breeder in almost every area. They can be prone to eye problems and luxatina patella, which is the fancy word for a dislocated knee cap. Breeders should be screening their dogs for these conditions and eliminating affected dogs from the breeding stock. If you adopt a Yorkie, be sure to talk to the veterinarian about these two potential health issues.

Feed your Yorkie a high-quality food in a quantity appropriate to her size. If you notice she is getting overweight, act to slowly reduce the amount of food you provide in order to ensure she stays a healthy weight. While Yorkies do well with positive reinforcement and treats during training, remember that too many treats can lead to obesity and also provide plenty of praise, which some dogs will enjoy just as much as snacks.

Socializing your Yorkie

It's important to socialize your Yorkshire terrier from an early age, slowly and calmly exposing him to new situations, dogs, and people. This can easily be done during walks, which are important for Yorkies, although their small size means that a few short walks a day might be preferable for exercise rather than one or two longer walks each day.

These dogs like to have their mind stimulated, so they may also enjoy exercise that incorporates agility or obedience, as well as simply playing with toys. They also enjoy affection, and caring for their coat is a great way to bond and keep your pup looking its best at the same time. Long coats need to be brushed daily and the hair on their head should be put in a topknot or cut short to avoid irritating the dog's eyes. While dogs with short hair cuts won't need daily brushing, all Yorkies should be bathed weekly.

About the parti Yorkie

So what exactly is a "parti" Yorkshire terrier and how does it differ from a regular Yorkie? Well, the same way a chocolate or black lab is still a Labrador retriever, Yorkie Life explains that the parti Yorkie is just a different color of the same breed. Traditional Yorkies, which were once the only color variation accepted by the AKC, are black and tan, black and blue (a silvery color), or blue and tan, but parti coloration comes in any combination of these colors as well as white or chocolate. While the most common coloration of parti dogs is black, white, and tan, they can have any number of colors, or even be a solid shade, which is why you may sometimes see an all-chocolate Yorkie or an all-blonde Yorkie.

The gene for parti coloring is recessive, which means that both parents have to carry the parti genes in order to have a parti pup in the litter. That being said, many traditional-looking yorkis carry the parti gene even if they don't display any of the coloration and two of these dogs can still produce a litter with parti pups in it. Similarly, if two parti Yorkies breed, the litter could have traditional-looking Yorkies in it with no parti coloring. If either of the parents does not carry a parti gene, the resulting litter will not have any parti pups, although the puppies may carry the gene and have parti puppies of their own one day.

History of parti Yorkies

Parti coloring has always been a part of the Yorkshire breed, but for a long part of the breed's history, these pups were considered low-quality and not real Yorkies. Historically, Elvis Yorkshire terrier notes that many Yorkshire terriers were bred with Maltese dogs to improve the length and quality of the breed's coat. Unfortunately, while they appeared in the breed's history since as far back as the 1800s, many breeders believed these oddly-colored Yorkies were a result of genes left over from the Maltese or other cross-breeding, meaning they weren't true purebreds. Some breeders would secretly give away these supposedly miscolored dogs, but some would even kill the dogs in a misguided attempt to protect the purity of the breeding line.

After one legitimate breeder refused to put down their parti pups in the 1980s, more and more breeders started following suit and finally acknowledged that purebred Yorkies could still produce parti pups. After researching these claims and conducting a DNA test, Yorkie Mag says that the AKC began to accept the parti coloration in 2000. Once the AKC changed its view, so did many breeders and suddenly parti Yorkies became popular and widely accepted.

While some modern breeders still believe parti Yorkies are not true Yorkies and that the breed shouldn't even have a gene for white coloring, most of the breed's fans have accepted the parti colorations with open arms and, in fact, there are some claims that the majority of AKC Yorkshire terrier registrations are now for parti-colored dogs.

Where Biewer terriers fit in

The Biewer terrier (also called Biewer Yorkies or German terriers) are similar to parti Yorkies, but they are actually recognized as a distinct breed apart from the Yorkshire terrier. As the AKC explains, the breed was started by Mr. and Mrs. Biewer (which is where they get their name), who were German Yorkie breeders in the 1970s. When the couple produced dogs that were black, white and, tan, they liked the coloring and started purposefully breeding dogs to reproduce this look. This rare parti coloration took a lot of effort to consistently create, which is how they ended up breeding the dogs until they became a new breed.

Biewer terriers are distinctive for having tri-color coats in black, white, and tan; or blue, white, and tan, and the breed standard calls for full-length tails unlike the docked tails of Yorkies.