Yorkshire terriers are truly among the cutest of dog breeds. Tiny but feisty, the Yorkie stands a whopping 7 to 8 inches tall and weighs 4 to 7 pounds. They're just the right size for us to fuss over, dress up, and tuck into a shoulder bag.
One of the most popular breeds in America and worldwide, the Yorkie is ranked No. 9 in popularity among the 193 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Brave, outspoken, and impish, they pack a lot of personality into a very small package.
A little Yorkie history
Today's pampered and coiffed Yorkies are a far cry from their ancestors, who were bred as working dogs in Yorkshire, England. Their job was to catch rats.
The Yorkie's job description today reads more like: eat, sleep, play, poop, and be adorable. There's no shortage of fancy collars, necklaces, dresses, and coats to outfit your little Yorkie like the fashion plate she is.
Styling your Yorkie does not stop with her wardrobe. If you're new to the world of Yorkies, you'll soon find that there's an extensive menu of Yorkie hairstyles from which to choose. From cute to elegant and practical to fussy, you can choose the look that's right for your Yorkie and change it when it becomes "so yesterday."
The nature of Yorkie hair
Along with Malteses and poodles, Yorkies are one of the breeds that does not shed. Their coat closely resembles human hair. Most Yorkies' hair is quite long, and, like ours, it grows continually. This means that combing should be a regular part of your routine.
It also means that Yorkie hair is particularly adaptable to many different styles. Haircut choices are limited only by the imaginations of you and your groomer. Add embellishments like barrettes and bows, and your Yorkie can have a different look each day of the week.
Considering Yorkie hairstyles
Some things to consider when choosing a look for your Yorkie are gender, coat type, and lifestyle. All Yorkies have a bit of tomboy in them, but there are haircuts that look more feminine and haircuts that look very boyish. If you want your Yorkie to look one way or the other, you can choose accordingly.
Most Yorkies have the classic long, straight, silky coat. In fact, this type of coat is one of the AKC's requirements for Yorkie show dogs; however, other Yorkies have what is called a "cotton coat." This type of coat is of medium length, soft, and thick. Some haircuts are better suited to long coats and others to the shorter cotton coats.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the haircut you choose for your Yorkie should take your lifestyle and his lifestyle into consideration. If he's primarily an indoor dog, and you love to fuss over him, you could go with a higher-maintenance cut than if he's always running around the yard and playing in the dirt.
Sanitary cuts for good hygiene
Sanitary trims are the most basic of haircuts. They're really necessary for any dog with long hair "back there." The groomer trims the hair under the tail, around the anus, and a little bit between the hind legs.
This will keep little pieces of rogue poop from clinging to your dog's hair when she does her business. Sanitary cuts are pretty quick and easy for a groomer to do, so some charge less for it than for a full-body trim.
The Yorkie teddy bear cut
The Yorkie teddy bear cut, also called a puppy cut, is the most popular look for Yorkies. Apart from making your Yorkie look like a cute little teddy bear, it's easy to maintain. All of your dog's hair will be cut to the same length. You can tell the groomer what length you prefer.
The teddy bear haircut works well for both long-coated and cotton-coated Yorkies. The standard teddy bear cut follows the natural curves of your Yorkie's face. If you like to dress up your Yorkie, you can request that the hair on top of his head be kept long to accommodate bows and such.
A variation on the standard puppy cut is the square puppy cut. All of the body hair is still cut to one length, but the hair around the face is trimmed so that the face appears square. This is a particularly saucy look for male Yorkies.
Different breed cuts
Breed cuts imitate the way schnauzers, West Highland terriers, and Chinese crested dogs are traditionally groomed.
To achieve the schnauzer look, your Yorkie's body, head, and the top (black) portions of her legs are shaved. The lower (tan) part of her legs is left long, along with the hair on her tummy and face. The hair just above her eyes will resemble bushy eyebrows, and the long hair on her face will resemble a beard. This is a more masculine look.
For the Westie cut, all of your Yorkie's hair will be trimmed to the same length, like a teddy bear cut. The difference is that the hair around her face will be precisely trimmed to create a perfectly round silhouette. For the Chinese crested look, the entire body is closely shaved, but tufts of long hair are left around the ankles, head, and face, and tail hair is left long.
Three-layer cut and show trim
The three-layer cut is so named because the hair is cut in three sections, or layers. The hair on your dog's head, body, and legs is cut separately so that three distinct layers emerge. This is an elegant Yorkie hairstyle that compliments both boy and girl Yorkies. It requires more upkeep than the teddy bear cut or breed cuts, and it's not doable on cotton-coated Yorkies.
The show trim is a bit of a misnomer because this style involves very little trimming. The hair is left long to grow straight to floor length and beyond. This look is achieved mostly by taking scrupulous care of your Yorkie's coat and combing it a lot. A little trimming is done around the ears and to eliminate split ends.
The show trim is the most beautiful and highest maintenance of Yorkie hairstyles. It's required if you're going to show your Yorkie in any AKC-sanctioned shows. In addition to the body hair being long and straight, the head and facial hair is also kept long. Bows or barrettes will be necessary to keep long hair out of your Yorkie's eyes.
Designer Yorkie hairstyles
Designer cuts are where the fun begins. These cuts may be variations on typical Yorkie haircuts, or they may be completely outside of the box. Almost anything goes. Because these cuts are customized, they can be done on Yorkies who have long, straight hair and those who have cotton coats.
One designer look shaves the legs and cuts the long, straight body hair bluntly and evenly around the body to just above the knees. A Yorkie sporting this look appears to be wearing a little dress.
A variation on this style is to shave the feet up to the ankle and then blunt cut the rest of the leg hair. This version will make your Yorkie look like he's wearing pants.
More designer Yorkie hairstyles
One particularly sweet and feminine-looking designer style involves trimming most of the coat to a short or medium length but leaving the hair long on top of the head and on each side of the face.
The long hair on top of the head is held in place with a bow or other embellishment. The long sections hanging down the sides of the face can be braided, curled, or just left alone. Think "messy bun."
One utterly adorable designer cut trims the hair around your Yorkie's upright ears into round shapes that look like little mouse ears. The face and feet are also both rounded. The overall effect is beautiful and doll-like.
Razor pen designs
Shaving designs into your dog's coat is another option. The groomer uses a razor pen, which is a battery-operated, pen-sized, and pen-shaped tool that has a small blade at one end instead of a point. This is a great option for cotton-coated Yorkies who still want to express their individuality.
Hearts, paw prints, yin yangs, and peace symbols on the hip are popular. You can also have designs shaved into the entire length of your dog's body. This is usually done along the backbone but can also be on your dog's sides. Arrowheads, florals, and geometric designs are among the choices.
Some groomers use stencils to create razor pen designs, and others freehand it. Remember that when choosing a designer cut, your dog's comfort should come first. It's not worth trimming her hair too short to achieve a certain look if she winds up with skin irritation because of it.
Temporary tattoos are another creative way to create a completely individual look for your dog. (Do not subject your dog to a real tattoo, which can be a painful process and can get you into legal trouble.) Temporary tattoos come in myriad pet-safe colors. Some even include glitter.
Although the dyes and glued-on glitter used to apply temporary tattoos to dogs are nontoxic, this does not guarantee that your dog won't be allergic to them. Your groomer should test a tiny spot on your dog before applying the entire temporary tattoo.
Hair ornaments and embellishments
Take whatever haircut you've chosen for your Yorkie to the next level with bows, barrettes, hats, and hair clips. The choices are endless. Some find barrettes, clips, and bows with snaps easier to work with than the ones that have rubber bands. As you might imagine, colors, patterns, and material choices are endless.
If you're looking for particularly creative and unusual Yorkie top-knot ornaments, check out Etsy, the online store that specializes in handmade items from individual artists and craftspeople. There you'll find bows shaped like tiny tutus, pom poms, party hats, and more. Some can even be personalized with your dog's name.
Whatever you choose, make sure it's made of pet-safe materials. If this isn't specified in the ad, email the seller and ask.
Tips on choosing a groomer
Choosing the right groomer is even more important than choosing the right haircut. Interview potential groomers. Ask them how much experience they having styling Yorkies' hair. If you have any friends with Yorkies, ask them who they use.
When you've gotten to the point that you've narrowed down your choice to a couple of groomers, don't hesitate to ask the candidates for photos of their work. Most importantly, get your dog's opinion.
A little anxiety about going to the groomer is natural, but if your dog has been to a particular groomer and afterward he acts extremely upset or frightened or indicates through his body language that he simply does not want to go back there, then find a different groomer. It's possible that the groomer was impatient or rough. No matter how great his haircut, it's not worth forcing him to go back to a groomer he doesn't like.
Choosing and losing a haircut
If you're beginning to feel overwhelmed by the myriad Yorkie haircut choices, take some time to look at pictures of Yorkies online. You'll not only be able to find photos of the most popular styles, but you'll also find many creative designer cuts. Some styles even include braids and corkscrew curls.
If you choose a haircut that you don't like on your Yorkie, don't despair. Remember that her hair grows like ours. You can get her a brand-new look in just four to six weeks.
- American Kennel Club: Hypoallergenic Dogs
- American Kennel Club: Official Standard of the Yorkshire Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Yorkshire Terrier
- Canine Journal: Yorkshire Terrier: The Ultimate Companion Dog?
- Groomer to Groomer: Razor Pens: Queen of Color
- Yorkie Info Center: Yorkshire Terrier Hair and Coat
- YorkieMag.com: 100+ Yorkie Haircuts for Males and Females (Cute Yorkshire Terrier Hairstyles and Cuts)