When deciding to add a four legged furry friend to the family, when in search of a small dog, many people consider both the Chihuahua and the Yorkshire Terrier due to their comparable sizes. This article will compare the breeds based upon their characteristics and care needs to help you determine which breed would be best for you.
As a dog mom to both breeds, I can tell you they are both awesome little dog breeds with their good points and bad.
Chihuahuas and Yorkies both have big personalities in small packages. Both breeds are good with other dogs under the supervision of a responsible adult according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Unique to the Chihuahua
The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the Chihuahua as “graceful, charming and sassy”.
Chihuahuas tend to be stubborn. They are extremely loyal to their “human”. They have loads of personality and are lots of fun.
Unique to the Yorkie
The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the Yorkie as “sprightly, tomboyish and affectionate”.
Yorkies, being terriers have the protective personalities and are always on the watch for an intruder. They were bred to be “ratters” and so they think they are mighty hunters too. Yorkies can be feisty but are eager to please.
If you want your furry friend to be around for a long time, it is good you are considering a small breed. Generally speaking, the smaller the dog, the longer the life.
If you add a Chihuahua to your family, you may expect his or her companionship for 14-16 years according to the AKC, although there are some Chihuahuas who live to be 20 or even older.
If you add a Yorkie to your family, you may expect his or her companionship for 11-15 years according to the AKC.
If you are searching for a dog to take with you everywhere you go, a small breed is ideal. Having a dog small enough to safely use a shopping cart and small enough to be easy to carry makes taking your furry friend into stores much easier.
According to the AKC, Chihuahuas bred to conform to the breed standard weigh a maximum of 6 pounds and Yorkies bred to conform to the breed standard weigh 7 pounds.
Important Note on Size of Chihuahuas and Yorkies
Keep in mind that dogs who are not bred to the AKC breed standard, known as pet quality dogs, are often larger or smaller than the breed standard.
Please know that there is technically no such thing as “teacup” Chihuahuas or Yorkies; the AKC does NOT recognize “teacup” weight in either breed.
Exercise extreme caution when you see Chihuahua or Yorkie puppies advertised as “teacup”; it is likely that unethical breeding methods were utilized to make the puppies smaller, which means the parents were likely not treated well and the puppies may suffer from medical conditions. This is most often seen in puppy mill puppies.
Between the Chihuahua and the Yorkie, there is a dog for owners who want low maintenance, easy maintenance, and high maintenance grooming needs:
If you want a dog with low maintenance grooming needs, the smooth coat Chihuahua would be the best choice for you.
The long haired Chihuahua is the “goldilocks” of the 3 options; their coat requires more maintenance than the short hair Chihuahua but less than the Yorkie. Their hair is more like dog hair than human hair. They need to be brushed every few days, not daily. Chihuahuas do shed, but not as much as some other breeds.
To learn about grooming Chihuahuas, check out my article “Grooming Your Chihuahua“.
If you are ready for a significant grooming commitment, or ready to budget for grooming bills, you are ready for a Yorkie. Know that their coats are very similar to human hair, which means you must be prepared to brush your dog daily to prevent matting. The good thing about Yorkies, is that they don’t shed.
To learn about the Yorkie’s grooming needs in depth, refer to the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America’s grooming information article here.
Although both the Chihuahua and the Yorkie tend to be healthy and long lived breeds, most of these dogs will experience some medical conditions at some point in their lives.
Medical Concerns for Chihuahuas and Yorkies
Owners of both breeds need to be mindful of two medical concerns:
Chihuahuas and Yorkies are low energy dogs, which combined with owners frequently carrying them instead of walking them, and their talent for soliciting table scraps, it is very common to see overweight dogs of both breeds. Although certain medical conditions contribute to obesity, generosity is often the chief cause.
Be mindful of your Chihuahua or Yorkie’s daily food intake versus exercise. Remember that food should never be given to show love; only give food at meal times, as a snack or as a training reward.
Instead, express love by petting, cuddling, playing, etc.
Generally speaking, large dogs have joint problems and small dogs have dental problems. By brushing your Chihuahua or Yorkie’s teeth, arranging for veterinary care and professional veterinary dental cleanings, you can help prevent dental problems or address them early enough to save your dog from pain and discomfort.
Consult with your dog’s veterinarian on the best ways to support dental health. For example, some pet parents offer treats like apples, carrots, Bully Sticks and Dental Chews to support their Chihuahua or Yorkie’s dental health.
Medical Concerns for the Chihuahua
The American Kennel Club describes the Chihuahua as a generally healthy breed, however, the following conditions are often seen in the breed:
- Heart problems including patent ductus arteriosus and mitral valve disease.
- Eye Conditions.
- Patella Luxation (loose kneecaps)
- Idiopathic Epilepsy
Medical Concerns for the Yorkie
The American Kennel Club describes the Yorkie as a generally healthy breed, however, the following conditions are often seen in the breed:
Training dogs is always a very important part of dog ownership, but most especially when the dog is a long lived breed like the Chihuahua or the Yorkie. You will likely be sharing your life with this small furry friend for well over 10 years and if your dog is not well behaved, the time you share together will be stressful not fun.
Training the Chihuahua
The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes training the Chihuahua as follows:
“The Chihuahua is a very alert little dog of high intelligence. He is eager to please his humans and responds well to positive training practices. Chihuahuas seem well aware of how cute they are and learn how to get their way. From the very beginning you must enforce the fact that you are in charge. Never allow your Chihuahua puppy to do anything that will be unacceptable in an adult. They can have a bit of a ‘terrier’ temperament, so a firm but gentle hand is necessary when training…”
Training the Yorkie
The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes training the Yorkie as follows:
“Yorkies love their owners, and are very intelligent and eager to please. Offering effusive praise and treats for good behavior will work far better with the Yorkie than harsh corrections. Starting from an early age, the Yorkie should be socialized to strange situations, people, and other dogs. Take him into new situations slowly, and always in a calm and happy atmosphere. These should be positive experiences. Despite their small size, Yorkies can participate in and excel at canine activities such as rally, agility and obedience, and many Yorkies serve with their human partners in roles such as therapy work.”
Training Tips for the Chihuahua and the Yorkie
No matter which breed you choose, keep these tips in mind when training:
You will need preferably tiny, high value treats for training that should only be used for training to keep them as a special treat in your dog’s mind.
Training treats must be very small to avoid adding too many calories to your dog’s diet, which is especially crucial with low energy breeds like the Chihuahua and the Yorkie who are unlikely to burn all the extra calories off with activity. If you purchase training treats at a pet store, for dogs of this size, you can split the treats in half to reduce the calories your dog eats that day. If you choose to use human food like hot dogs or baked chicken, be sure to diced them into tiny pieces.
Socialization is crucial to raising a well rounded dog. The more positive experiences you offer your dog, the more socialized and well rounded he or she will be. Raising a well rounded, socialized dog prepares your dog to enjoy life rather than suffer through stress in unfamiliar situations.
Socialized dogs are easier to live with in general and they are more adoptable because they could be integrated into more homes.
When you begin training, be sure to be consistent with your dog. Enforce the same rules and only reward positive behaviors. If you are inconsistent with what you ask of your dog, he or she will not learn what you are trying to teach them.
Be Firm and Have Expectations
It is very easy to let a little dog boss you around. They’re so small that many people treat them like babies and do not expect as much as they would from a larger dog.
Be firm and do not let your Chihuahua or Yorkie walk all over you. When he or she does something, if you would not let a 100 pound dog do that behavior, do not let your 6 or 7 pound dog do it either.
Both the Chihuahua and the Yorkie make excellent pets. Before adding either breed of dog to your family, be sure that you are prepared to give your furry friend a forever home for their potential life span.
Which do you prefer? Chihuahuas or Yorkies? If you have both breeds, tell us about them in the comments. Do they get along?