How to rescue a Yorkshire Terrier

Written by david barnes
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How to rescue a Yorkshire Terrier
Gracie was rescued from a puppy mill and now lives happily with her adopted family in a loving home. (George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most popular of all dog breeds, and, unfortunately, that means there are more of them than many other breeds in need of rescue. There are dozens of groups in the United States and other countries devoted to saving these tiny waifs from abuse, neglect and abandonment and placing them in loving homes. You can help them in their efforts and, perhaps, find a rescue Yorkie that's just right for you.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Learn as much as you can about the breed. Because of their small size, averaging about 3 kilogram, Yorkshire terriers are classified as a Toy breed. More than 100 years ago, miners in Northern England developed this scrappy little terrier and carried the dogs on their shifts underground to deal with the numerous rats the miners encountered in the tunnels. Over time, their small size, intelligence and devotion to their owners made Yorkies popular as companion dogs, especially with 19th century English society ladies, who carried them everywhere on their arm or in specially designed "doggy purses."

  2. 2

    Understand that Yorkshire Terrier rescue groups are very selective about placing their dogs with owners who have the right home environment and will care for them properly. Modern Yorkies require frequent grooming because of their fine silky hair (not fur) and delicate skin. They don't shed, making them a good choice for dog lovers with allergies, but their hair never stops growing, so they need to be brushed daily, bathed often and clipped periodically to keep them clean, tangle-free and healthy. They also have a true terrier personality, making them active and playful. They love a short daily walk, but they can also make ideal apartment dogs because they don't require much space to be happy. They may not be ideal around small children because they don't tolerate rough handling, and because they instinctively go after small animals, such as hamsters and pet rats.

  3. 3

    Apply to join a Yorkshire terrier rescue group in your area. Be aware that these groups screen their volunteers as carefully as they do their adoptive families. As a member of the group, you will have the opportunity to participate in rescues from animal shelters, abusive or neglectful situations, unscrupulous puppy mills and from owners who voluntarily surrender their Yorkies when they can't or won't properly care for them. These groups cooperate with animal control officers, the Humane Society and other animal protection agencies to identify Yorkies in need of rescue. See the Resources section for rescue group networks and applications to join.

  4. 4

    Consider providing a foster home to keep rescued Yorkies until they can be adopted. This may require some specialised skills and equipment to care for injured, sick and traumatised dogs. Nursing a Yorkie back to health and helping socialise an abused or neglected little dog so he can become a loving pet for the right owner can be a very rewarding experience. Rescue groups are happy to provide training and help in these areas.

  5. 5

    Realise that becoming a rescuer will almost certainly increase your desire to adopt a Yorkie yourself. You'll have to go through the same screening process as any other prospective adoptive owner, but if you've already qualified as a rescuer, this should be no problem.

Tips and warnings

  • According to the rescue groups. most rescue Yorkies are abandoned or given up because of cosmetic or health issues. Some owners become disappointed when their cute little puppy grows into a dog larger than the standard Toy size or, because of improper and careless breeding, doesn't conform to the ideal Yorkshire Terrier conformation. Inbred Yorkies from puppy mills often suffer from congenital defects and chronic health problems, especially liver disease.
  • Rescue Yorkies are almost always adult dogs. Very few puppies come into the hands of rescue groups.
  • Don't try to start a Yorkshire Terrier rescue operation on your own. Many compassionate people have attempted to become one-person rescue centres, but they soon become overwhelmed with too many dogs and not enough resources to handle them. This sometimes results in the ironic situation where Yorkies have to be rescued from the would-be, but ill-equipped, rescuers.

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