Close this search box.

Yorkshire Terrier vs Chihuahua: Comparing Tiny Breeds Characteristics

Enter your email below to get the FREE "7 Day Happy Dog Challenge" eBook

Table of Contents

After years of dog ownership, I still get asked if Yorkies and Chihuahuas are basically the same. Here’s why a long-time dog lover like me says absolutely not!

Choosing between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Chihuahua is a decision that many potential dog owners face. Each breed has distinct characteristics that appeal to different lifestyles and preferences. Yorkshire Terriers, fondly known as Yorkies, boast a long, silky coat and a personality that mixes spunk with affection. They are small in size but carry a confident demeanor, often displaying an intelligent and alert expression that reflects their keen awareness of their surroundings.

A Yorkshire Terrier and a Chihuahua face off, barking fiercely with raised fur and tense stances

On the other hand, Chihuahuas are known for their compact size and varied coat types, ranging from smooth to long-haired versions. Despite being one of the smallest dog breeds, they have a bold and vivacious personality, often forming strong bonds with their owners. Chihuahuas are adaptable to living indoors and are fiercely loyal, making them excellent companions for those who prefer a dog with a strong presence in a small package.

When comparing the Yorkshire Terrier vs Chihuahua breed, prospective owners should consider the differences in grooming, temperament, and activity level. Yorkshire Terriers require regular grooming to maintain their fine, flowing coats, while Chihuahuas can vary in grooming needs based on their coat type.

Both breeds share a need for affection and attention, but their energy levels and playfulness can differ, with Yorkies often being more active. Understanding these nuances is crucial for anyone considering either of these charming and charismatic breeds as their next canine companion.

Choosing the right tiny companion is a big decision for experienced owners like us. Let’s break down the key differences between the Yorkshire Terrier and the Chihuahua.

And if you cannot decide between these small breed dogs, you can always get a Yorkshire Chihuahua mix. Yes, that mixed breed is a reality.

Breed Origins and History

Two small dogs, a Yorkshire Terrier and a Chihuahua, stand side by side, each with distinct features and characteristics. The Yorkshire Terrier has a long, silky coat while the Chihuahua has short fur and large, alert

When examining the Yorkshire Terrier and the Chihuahua, it’s evident that both breeds boast a rich history, with their distinct origins adding to their charm. Each breed carries a legacy steeped in its respective historical context and cultural significance.

Yorkshire Terrier Origins

Yorkshire Terriers emerged in the 19th century in Northern England, specifically in the county of Yorkshire, hence their name. These small yet energetic dogs were primarily bred to catch rodents in clothing mills. Their bold and tenacious nature also made them suitable for hunting small animals such as rodents and foxes. Over time, the breed evolved from a working-class terrier to a favored companion of Victorian English ladies, leading to its recognition by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1886.

Chihuahua Origins

The Chihuahua hails from Mexico, with its history shrouded in some degree of mystery. Despite various theories about their exact lineage, there is a consensus that Chihuahuas are descendants of an ancient breed, possibly the Techichi. These compact dogs were highly valued in pre-Columbian cultures and are known to be one of the smallest breeds in the world. Their rich history in Mexico has left them with a tangible cultural imprint, personifying the Mexican heritage in their stature and spirit.

Yorkshire Terrier vs Chihuahua Physical Characteristics

When comparing the Yorkshire Terrier and the Chihuahua, distinct physical traits set these two popular breeds apart, such as their size, coat, and appearance.

Size Comparison

Yorkshire Terrier:

  • Weight: Approximately 4 to 7 pounds
  • Height: 7 to 8 inches at the shoulder


  • Weight: Generally ranges from 3 to 6 pounds
  • Height: Stands about 6 to 9 inches tall at the shoulder

Coat Varieties

Yorkshire Terrier:

  • Coat Type: They have a fine, silky coat
  • Coat Length: Often grow a long, floor-length coat
  • Coat Color: Typically steel blue and golden tan


  • Coat Type: Chihuahuas can have either a smooth coat or a long coat
  • Coat Length: Varies from short and close to the body to a more lengthy, feathered appearance
  • Coat Color: Comes in a variety of colors including black, white, fawn, chocolate, and more

Appearance Features

The Yorkshire Terrier exudes elegance with a straight, fine, and glossy coat that is parted on the dog’s back. Their head is small and flat on top, with a short muzzle adorned by a pair of dark, sparkling eyes and a tiny black nose.

The Chihuahua is known for its distinctive apple-shaped head and expressive eyes. Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have a robust body structure, with a slightly rounded skull and ears that are large and held erect.

Yorkshire Terrier vs Chihuahua Personality and Temperament

A Yorkshire terrier stands confidently, while a chihuahua appears alert and feisty, showcasing their contrasting personalities and temperaments

When considering the personalities and temperaments of the Yorkshire Terrier and the Chihuahua, potential owners should note that both breeds offer distinctive traits making them suitable companions with equally strong but distinct characteristics.

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament

The Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as the Yorkie, exhibits a temperament that is both confident and fearless. They are renowned for their energy and playful nature, often displaying a vivacious spirit that belies their small size. Despite their tiny frame, Yorkies form strong attachments, leading them to be particularly loyal to their families. This breed typically shows a great deal of affection towards their owners and can be quite friendly with familiar faces. However, their loyalty can sometimes translate to an independent streak, and they may exhibit stubbornness when it comes to dog training if not approached with consistency and positive reinforcement.

Chihuahua Temperament

Chihuahuas are known for their charming and sassy personalities. The breed tends to be incredibly affectionate with their owners, often forming a close, intense bond. They have a playful and energetic nature but can be considered more independent compared to other breeds, which sometimes leads to them being perceived as aloof or self-reliant. Chihuahuas are typically friendly with their family but they might be cautious or reserved around strangers, displaying a less welcoming side. Additionally, they are known to have a notably stubborn character, which can pose challenges in training if patience and consistent strategies are not applied. Despite their size, some Chihuahuas may exhibit aggressive behavior, often as a defensive response due to their small stature.

Exercise and Training Requirements

Both the Yorkshire Terrier and the Chihuahua are small dog breeds with unique exercise and dog training necessities. They require a balance of physical activity and mental stimulation to remain healthy and well-behaved. Proper training is crucial to ensure these breeds are well-socialized and responsive to commands.

Yorkshire Terrier Exercise Needs

The Yorkshire Terrier dog breed, despite its small size, has a moderate energy level and demands regular exercise. Ideally, this breed should receive about 30 minutes of physical activity per day. A balance of short walks and play sessions caters to their need for exercise and mental stimulation. Their playfulness makes interactive games a perfect method to keep them both entertained and active.

Chihuahua Exercise Needs

Chihuahuas possess a lower energy level compared to Yorkshire Terriers but also benefit from daily activity. They usually require roughly 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day. These sessions can include leisurely walks and periods of indoor play. Due to their size, they adapt well to indoor play and can have some of their exercise needs met with toys and games in a smaller space.

Training Approach

Regarding trainability, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas display a high level of intelligence, which makes them relatively receptive to learning new commands and behaviors. For effective training, owners should use positive reinforcement techniques, as both breeds respond well to rewards and praise. Consistency in training is key to ensure they understand expectations. Early socialization is significant for these dogs to develop good manners around people and other animals. It’s important to note that while both breeds can be stubborn, their desire to please, coupled with a confident, knowledgeable, and clear training approach, often leads to successful outcomes.

Grooming and Care

When considering the Yorkshire Terrier breed and Chihuahua breed, prospective dog owners should pay close attention to the grooming requirements and prevalent health issues that are characteristic of these breeds to maintain their overall well-being.

Grooming Needs

Yorkshire Terrier

  • Coat: Their fine, long, and silky coat requires regular brushing to prevent tangles—a practice often needed daily
  • Shedding: They shed very little, which may be preferable for owners with allergies


  • Coat: Depending on whether it’s a long-coat or short-coat Chihuahua, grooming needs vary from occasional to frequent brushing
  • Shedding: Short-haired Chihuahuas shed more than Yorkshire Terriers but still less than many larger breeds

Health Considerations

Yorkshire Terrier

  • Dental Health: They are prone to dental health issues; thus, regular teeth cleaning is essential
  • Patellar Luxation: A common problem in small breeds, proper care and regular vet-checks can help identify this issue early on


  • Hypoglycemia: Chihuahuas can experience low blood sugar, especially puppies, and need monitoring for signs of this condition
  • Weight Gain: They are also susceptible to weight gain, which can be managed with proper diet and exercise

Both breeds should have routine check-ups to monitor for health problems that can be common in small dogs, such as heart issues or allergies, to ensure they stay healthy throughout their lives.

Health and Lifespan

When it comes to Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, potential owners should be aware of each breed’s common health issues and their typical lifespan. These factors are crucial for ensuring a healthy life for these dogs.

Common Health Issues

Yorkshire Terriers are prone to certain genetic health problems, including:

  • Collapsed trachea: This condition is characterized by a weakening of the tracheal rings, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing
  • Portosystemic shunt: A condition where blood bypasses the liver, leading to unfiltered blood reaching the systemic circulation
  • Dental issues: Due to their small size, they tend to have problems with teeth overcrowding

Chihuahuas also face a number of breed-specific health concerns:

  • Hydrocephalus: Also known as water on the brain, where cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain
  • Open fontanel: Many Chihuahuas have a soft spot on the top of their skull which can remain, posing a risk of injury
  • Heart murmurs and pulmonic stenosis: These conditions affect the heart’s function, potentially leading to other health complications

Life Expectancy

Both breeds typically enjoy a long lifespan compared to other dogs.

  • Yorkshire Terriers have an average life expectancy of 13 to 16 years
  • Chihuahuas are known to have a similar lifespan, usually ranging from 14 to 18 years

Owners should note that proper care, including regular veterinary checkups, a healthy diet, and proper exercise, can play a significant role in preventing and managing these health issues, thereby potentially extending these dogs’ lifespans.

Social Behavior

When comparing the social behaviors of Chihuahua vs Yorkshire terrier puppy, it is important to consider their differences in interacting with children and other animals, their natural protective instincts, and their unique socialization requirements.

Interaction with Children and Animals

Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies):

  • Children: They tend to be affectionate with children they know, but their small size makes them delicate, and they may not tolerate rough play
  • Other Dogs: Social by nature, Yorkies often get along with other dogs if properly introduced; however, their terrier instincts can lead them to chase


  • Children: Kid-friendly when socialized, but small children must be taught to be gentle with these petite dogs
  • Other Dogs: Can be pet-friendly but might show aggression towards larger dogs if not properly socialized

Protective Instincts

Yorkshire Terriers:

  • They can be alert little watchdogs but often lack the size to be true guard dogs
  • Their barking at unfamiliar sounds makes them good at alerting owners to strangers


  • Possess a strong guarding nature and are known to be good watchdogs despite their small stature
  • May show protective behavior that needs to be managed through training

Socialization Needs

Yorkshire Terriers:

  • Require early socialization to be well-rounded and stranger-friendly
  • Regular exposure to various people and environments can mitigate potential timidity or aggressive instincts


  • Must be socialized early to boost confidence and reduce territorial tendencies when meeting new people or animals
  • Consistent and positive experiences with different settings contribute to their companionship traits

Breed Popularity and Ownership

This section examines the prevalence and factors affecting the ownership of Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, delving into their rankings by the American Kennel Club and aspects influencing their popularity as pets.

American Kennel Club Rankings

  • Yorkshire Terriers: These small dogs, noted for their lively spirit and flowing coats, consistently rank high in the American Kennel Club’s list of popular breeds. As of the last reported rankings, they are favored for their size and big personality
  • Chihuahuas: Despite their stature, Chihuahuas command attention with their bold demeanor and loyalty. They hold a spot as one of the more beloved small dog breeds within the American Kennel Club’s rankings, appealing to those seeking a small yet assertive companion dog

Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas make the list of desirable breeds year after year, reflecting their enduring status as preferred pets.

Popularity and Ownership Considerations

When considering the popularity of Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas as pets, potential owners often evaluate:

  • Size: Both breeds fall into the small dog category. Their diminutive sizes make them suitable for apartment living and easier to manage in terms of space and transportation
  • Temperament: Yorkshire Terriers boast a lively and affectionate nature, often with a dash of fearlessness. Chihuahuas, while small, exude a big personality defined by confidence and devotion
  • Maintenance: The long, silky coat of a Yorkshire Terrier requires regular grooming. Chihuahuas have shorter hair, with some varieties sporting a longer coat, but altogether have less intensive grooming needs
  • Health Considerations: Both breeds are known to be generally hearty but have breed-specific health concerns that may influence an owner’s decision
  • Lifestyle Fit: Yorkshire Terriers are active and enjoy engagement, while Chihuahuas can be the quintessential lap dog. Each fits well into different lifestyles, making them adaptable furry friends

The preference for Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas demonstrates their ability to meet a range of owner expectations, ensuring their continued popularity as companion dogs.

Considerations for Prospective Owners

When deciding between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Chihuahua, prospective owners should consider the living environment and cost of ownership to assess which breed suits their lifestyle and budget.

Living Environment

Yorkshire Terrier: These small-sized dogs adapt well to apartment living due to their size. However, they require regular exercise and mental stimulation. A Yorkshire Terrier prefers to be indoors and enjoys active play, making them suitable for urban living where space may be limited.

Chihuahua: Chihuahuas are also excellent for apartment living given their petite stature. They need less physical exercise than Yorkshire Terriers but should have enough space for indoor activities. They thrive in warm environments and can be sensitive to cold, demanding a cozy indoor atmosphere.

Cost of Ownership

Yorkshire Terrier

  • Price: Purchasing a Yorkshire Terrier from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500
  • Ownership Costs: Expect recurring expenses for grooming, high-quality food, veterinary care including vaccinations and health checks, and pet insurance. Yearly costs can amount to $500 to $1,000 excluding unexpected health issues


  • Price: The price for a Chihuahua typically ranges from $300 to $1,500
  • Ownership Costs: Similar to the Yorkshire Terrier, a Chihuahua requires expenditures for maintenance such as food, vet visits, and grooming. Due to their smaller size, costs might be slightly lower, but owners should still budget for $500 to $900 annually


When comparing the Yorkshire Terrier to the Chihuahua, potential dog owners should carefully consider the characteristics of each breed to determine the best fit for their lifestyle.

Size and Temperament:

  • The Chihuahua typically boasts a personable attitude and is well known for being child friendly
  • The Yorkshire Terrier possesses a confident demeanor and while affable, might not exhibit the same level of tolerance for children as the Chihuahua

Grooming Needs:

  • Owners of a Yorkshire Terrier should be prepared for more frequent grooming due to their long silky coats
  • Chihuahuas, on the other hand, require less maintenance in this respect, especially if they have short coats

Suitability for Owners:

  • Both breeds are excellent choices for new or inexperienced owners
  • Prospective owners should consider their ability to meet the breeds’ needs in terms of attention, space, and grooming

In summary, each dog breed possesses its own unique appeal. The Chihuahua is lauded for its friendliness towards children and lower grooming requirements, while the Yorkshire Terrier is admired for its confident expression and silky coat. These differences make each breed distinct, catering to different preferences and lifestyles. Fun fact, if you cannot decide, you can always get a Chihuahua Yorkie Mix.

Yorkshire terrier vs chihuahua infographic

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *