Yorkie Russell

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Yorkie Russell
Lil Shepherd / Flickr.com

The Yorkie Russell is also called the Jorkie and is a mix of the spirited Jack Russell and the sweet-natured Yorkshire Terrier. While both parent breeds are terriers, they have quite different personalities and appearances so each Yorkie Russell will bring something different to the table. Though small, these dogs have larger than life personalities and are a perfect blend of two of the best-loved English pedigree breeds.

Yorkie Russells are a small breed with intelligent eyes and a medium to long coat that is generally brown and black or brown and white. They are a high energy hybrid and are brave and curious, always on the lookout for the next adventure. They do require dedicated owners who have a lot of time available and may not be the best option for those who work away a lot of the time.

About & History

The Yorkie Russell is a designer dog that has only existed for a handful of decades. While there is not much to write about their limited history, we certainly know plenty about each of their parent breeds, both of whom are incredibly popular pet choices the world over.

The Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell was established at the start of the 19th century from the Fox Terrier, a taller dog with much longer limbs. Hunters utilised these shorter canines to track and hunt smaller prey closer to the ground, as they were particularly good at flushing foxes and rabbits out of hiding.

They would use their persistent barks to drive the prey out but were not bred to attack or kill them. Jack Russells are today kept as companion animals and also commonly compete in canine sporting events, such as agility and flyball, in which they excel thanks to their intelligence, tenacity and athletic nature.

The Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers or ‘Yorkies’ were also develop in England at a similar time to the Jack Russell. They were bred from a now extinct breed known (rather unimaginatively) as the Black and Tan Terrier and several other small Terrier breeds and types.

Though it may be hard to imagine these delicate and dainty dogs doing any sort of work, the original Yorkies were fantastic ratters and were employed as vermin hunters in factories and other places where rats and mice would be found. Yorkies are one of the smallest breeds of dog and are classed within the Kennel Club’s Toy Group. They make loving and dedicated pets and are often seen in the show ring, where they are exhibited on top of ornamental boxes.


Yorkie Russell Large Photo
Lil Shepherd / Flickr.com

A crossbreed, there is a good deal of variability when it comes to the appearance of each Yorkie Russell, though most will share similar traits. They are small and not as stocky or robust as their Jack Russell parent. Their heads are not particularly large and they have medium-length muzzles. Their dark brown eyes are one of their most endearing features and allow their faces to be incredibly expressive. Their ears are set far apart and typically stand semi-erect or flop forwards. They are a sweet, triangular shape. Their limbs are short and stocky, while their rectangular body is quite compact. Their tail is short to medium in length and can be carried proudly above their rump when alert and active.

While the coat of the Yorkie is long and silky and that of the Jack Russell is short and easy to care for, the Yorkie Russell tends to inherit a fur type that is somewhere in between these two extremes. For most, they will have a medium to long coat that is straight and somewhat ‘scruffy’ in appearance. Many colour combinations are possible and the most commonly seen fur colours include white, brown, black and grey. A mature Yorkie Russell stands to a height of 20cm to 30cm and weighs between 3kg and 8kg when finished growing.

Character & Temperament

A delight to be around and never one to shy away from the action, the Yorkie Russell is vivacious and confident. They can be rather independent and are rarely timid or fearful. They enjoy spending time with their family and can be very affectionate but rarely become over dependent on people. This is likely in part down to their working background.

Some refer to Terriers as ‘terrors’ and while this may be a little harsh, it is undeniable that they are very high-energy and can be a handful at times. Vocal, active and stubborn Yorkie Russells benefit from lots of exercise and an experienced owner. Behaviour and destructive behaviours are not uncommon in those that are under-stimulated, as these smart canines get bored very easily.

Most will tolerate children well as long as they have been introduced to them from a young age but should always be closely supervised in their company. ‘Passive supervision’ is not enough when it comes to young children as some dogs will snap if they feel threatened.


Photo of Yorkie Russell puppy
a-chan / Flickr.com

Training can be a little bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the Yorkie Russell as they are quick to learn but can bore easily and some are headstrong. They do best if they enjoy the task at hand so owners should provide them with fun and interesting training sessions, remembering to reward them richly for good behaviour.

Training recall outdoors can sometimes be a challenge as the prey drive of the Yorkie Russell remains high in some and they can be easily distracted by the local wildlife. Owners should always keep their young dogs on a lead when outside until they know they can be completely trusted.


Most Yorkie Russells enjoy very good health and will live well into their teens. Nevertheless, we need to watch out for certain health issues that can crop up in some.

Patellar Luxation

The patella is also known as the kneecap and is a bone that should sit firmly in one place. However, in some dogs, it will move out of place (luxate) causing discomfort and localised inflammation within the knee joint. There are four grades of patellar luxation, with grade four being the most serious and often requiring surgery.

Those that are mildly affected can typically be managed with lifestyle changes. For example, they should not be allowed to get over-weight and can benefit from daily joint supplements added to their food.

Porto-Systemic Shunt

Normally, the liver processes a dog’s blood before it is transported around the rest of the body. It helps to perform a wide range of functions, including detoxification. When a shunt (or abnormal blood vessel) is present, the liver is bypassed and the blood is not processed as it should be.

This can cause a wide range of issues, potentially even result in neurological symptoms, such as seizures. Blood tests and specialised imaging can diagnose the condition and the treatment option of choice is usually surgery to correct the shunt.

Cushing’s Disease

A hormonal condition, Cushing’s is the result of too much cortisol (a stress hormone) being produced. Dogs will pant excessively, drink and eat a lot and tend to have a pot-bellied appearance. They are also prone to chronic infections, particularly skin infections.

Blood tests can diagnose the condition and medication is usually very successful at controlling the symptoms. Leaving a dog unmedicated is not advised as their quality of life tends to suffer and leaving the condition untreated can lead to other health issues, such as diabetes and hypertension.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Though one may assume that such a small breed can be kept in a small home with minimal exercise, this is far from the truth. In fact, despite their size, the Yorkie Russell has a relatively high demand for exercise and should be provided with a couple of 45-minute walks or runs each day. On top of this, they will need play time and plenty of mental stimulation to keep them content.


Grooming requirements will largely depend on the fur type inherited but, as a rule of thumb, a Yorkie Russell will need regular brushing several times a week. These dogs can shed a fair amount and brushing outside helps to reduce the amount of fur lost inside the house on a day to day basis. Those with floppier ears will be more prone to waxy build-ups and may well need their ears cleaned out a few times a month.

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