Yorkshire Terriers have an average life span of 12 to 16 years.
This breed is susceptible to various congenital and hereditary conditions such as tracheal collapse and portosystemic shunts.
There is no way to know for certain if your Yorkie will suffer from any of these illnesses, but the possibility is always there. Every dog will require special care as it gets older.
Yorkshire Terrier Pet Insurance
The right pet health insurance plan can help keep you from the added burden of financial worries when your dog requires medical care.
The first step to a healthy and happy Yorkie is finding a reputable breeder who can provide genetically fit puppies.
The second step is to train your dog well and give it plenty of healthy food, exercise, and love.
The third step is to purchase a pet health care plan that helps to keep vet bills predictable. Ensuring that you can focus on helping your sick dog recover, rather than worrying about the high costs of treatment.
When choosing pet insurance for your Yorkie, see if it covers the hereditary conditions mentioned above. Genetic health problems account for over 90% of pet insurance claims so you’ll save lots of money and headaches by enrolling your pet in a plan that offers hereditary coverage.
See if pet insurance can help you manage medical costs and find the best care for your Yorkie.
Need help choosing the right health insurance plan for your Yorkshire Terrier? Take a look at our Pet Insurance comparison chart.
Yorkshire Terrier Physical Characteristics
Yorkies are attractive small dogs characterized by a long coat that is parted on the face and from the base of the skull to the end of the tail. Their hair hangs straight down and it should be blue and tan.
- The average size of Yorkshire Terriers is 8 to 9 inches and they weigh approximately 7 pounds.
- Hair coat. Yorkies have a silky, glossy, and fine hair coat. Their hair should be straight with a length that reaches the floor. The hair on the muzzle is very long and it should be trimmed on the tips of ears and may be trimmed on the feet to give them a neat appearance. According to the AKC, puppies are born black and tan and are usually darker in body color, showing an intermingling of black hair in the tan until they mature.
- Yorkshire Terriers have a small head with a flat top. Their skull should not be too prominent or round, and the muzzle should not be very long. The nose is black. They have small V-shaped ears that carried erect.
- Eyes. They have medium-sized eyes that are not too prominent. The eye color is dark and sparkling with a sharp, intelligent expression. The eye rims are dark.
- Legs. According to the AKC, Yorkies have straight forelegs with elbows that are neither in nor out. The hind legs are straight when viewed from behind, but the stifles are moderately bent when viewed from the sides.
- Tail. The AKC states that the tail of Yorkshire Terriers should be docked. However, Pet Insurance U, as well as many veterinary medicine professionals, strongly oppose performing cosmetic surgical procedures on animals. The American Veterinary Association (AVMA) states that “performing a surgical procedure for cosmetic purposes implies the procedure is not medically indicated…there is no obvious benefit to our patients in performing this procedure…the only benefit that appears to be derived from cosmetic tail docking of dogs is the owner’s impression of a pleasing appearance”. You can read more about the welfare implication of tail docking here.
Sadly, even the most conscientious breeders cannot guarantee that a puppy will not develop congenital and hereditary illnesses like these.
Also, these dogs react poorly to anesthetics, which can complicate treatment by making surgery difficult or impossible.
Some pet insurance plans cover up to 90% of your Yorkie’s vet bill if an accident or illness occurs.
To read more about the Yorkshire Terrier’s breed standard, download the Official Standard of the Yorkshire Terrier by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Info
Current Breed Function: Companion
Also known as: Yorkie
Original Breed Function: Small vermin hunting
Life Span: 12 to 16 years
Average Size: 8 to 9 inches
Average Weight: 6 to 7 pounds
Common Health Issues:
- Patellar luxation
- Portal shunt
- Tracheal collapse
- Leggs–Perthes disease
Other Common Health Issues:
- Breathing Problems: Yorkies have short snouts that can restrict air flow, and if the condition is severe enough, surgery may be required to reconstruct the airway.
- Bronchitis: the airways of Yorkies, like those of people, can become obstructed by fluid or inhaled objects, resulting in a cough. If the cough persists more than a day or two, consult your veterinarians, who can administer drugs to treat infections and relax the bronchial tubes.
- Lymphangiectasia: this condition results from improper functioning of the lymphatic system, which can result in inflammation and hypertension that can have secondary effects on the intestines and heart. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and edema in the legs and body. Diagnosis is made based on biopsies of the affected tissue; treatment includes special diets and oral administration of steroids and other drugs.
- Portosystemic shunt: Also called liver shunts, this congenital condition, which disproportionately afflicts smaller breeds, occurs when a blood vessel misdirects blood so that it bypasses flowing through the liver. Toxic compounds may, therefore, form accretions in the kidneys or circulatory system. Affected dogs may be lethargic and eat and drink abnormally. Treatment includes medication and special diets.
Health ConditionRisk ProfileAverage cost to treat and diagnose
Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease High $ 2,000 to $12,000
Patellar luxation High $1345 to $2955
Portosystemic Shunts High $2,500 to $8,000
Tracheal collapse High $3,400 to $6,555
Hydrocephalus Medium $ 5,000 to $10,000
You can learn more about this is other genetic diseases in Yorkshire Terriers and other breeds on the Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs published by The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
Yorkshire Terriers are energetic and tend to seek adventure, love, and attention. The Yorkshire Terrier is bold and stubborn by nature. This dog breed is highly devoted, so it can be a good companion or a watchdog.
A curious characteristic of Yorkshire Terriers is that they are sociable and shy at the same time. They usually love the family, and they bark every time they sense danger.
And speaking about barking, Yorkshire Terriers tend to bark often. This makes them excellent watchdogs, but it can also be annoying for those that prefer calmer dogs and silence.
Yorkies get along well with children, especially if they grow up together. A word of caution is necessary here.
A child needs to know how to properly play with them and respect them at the same time. This dog breed won’t hesitate in attacking a child if the child was somehow abusive or is teasing him or her.
Yorkshire Terriers do not usually get along with other pets either. Unless they grow together, it is difficult to have a Yorkshire Terrier with another dog breed or any other type of pet.
When the other pet is a cat, the problem gets worse. Yorkshire Terriers are not usually able to socialize with cats, even if the cats are docile or if they have been together for a long time.
The same applies to the relationship between Yorkshire Terriers and rodents. It is crucial to keep in mind that this dog breed was used for hunting rodents, so it is nearly impossible to turn any rodent into a Yorkshire Terrier friend.
Yorkies are adaptable and can live well in the city or the country, so a Yorkshire Terrier can live in an apartment. Their small size also makes this scenario easier.
Yorkies are also a very intelligent breed, so they tend to learn quickly. In terms of obedience, it is easy to teach Yorkies the basics.
Just like other hunting dogs, they thrive on human leadership and need to feel that they are part of a group—their family. Yorkies should be socialized and trained as early as possible.
They can become destructive if not trained appropriately. It is a good idea to train Yorkie puppies to heel on the leash so that they do not bolt out doorways and gateways before their masters. This will teach them who is the pack leader.
The long blue and tan hair coat of Yorkshire Terriers requires a lot of maintenance. If not brushed daily, their hair can become tangled and very difficult to manage.
Yorkies need to be brushed daily to keep their fur shiny and silky. It is also a good idea to use a conditioning dog shampoo and a dog hair rinse when you bathe your Yorkie. Ask your veterinarian about the best shampoo for your dog.
Bathing frequency depends on your dog’s lifestyle. Since this breed has abundant hair, you can dilute your shampoo before application, and this will help you achieve an even application.
Always dry your dog’s hair coat thoroughly, paying particular attention to the ears, because humidity can lead to ear infections.
In addition to regular baths and brushing, grooming this breed involves checking their ears, eyes, claws, and teeth. The AKC recommends grooming your Yorkie weekly to keep his or her coat clean, shining, manageable, and, more importantly, to maintain good health.
A regular grooming schedule allows us to detect any skin abnormality, fleas, and ticks, ear infections, among other health problems. Grooming is also an excellent opportunity to bond with your Yorkie and to reinforce your leader position.
Most Yorkies need to have their hair coat professionally groomed every 4 to 8 weeks depending on their lifestyles.
Energy & Exercise
Training is necessary for hunting breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier. When not appropriately trained, Yorkies can become anxious and destructive.
To meet their exercise needs, you can take your Yorkshire Terrier on daily walks, jogs or runs. Remember to keep your dog walking beside or behind you; that way, your dog will learn that you are the pack leader.
If possible, teach your Yorkie to do a job around the house, for example, you can teach him or her to bring you the newspaper every morning.
Having daily chores will keep your dog busy, and it will prevent him/her from becoming anxious or developing destructive behaviors. To prevent obesity, it is essential to feed your Yorkshire Terrier according to his/her physical activity level.
Nutrition & Feeding
Your best options for feeding your Yorkshire Terrier are commercial dry food (kibble) or canned food, and homemade meals. There are several types of commercial dog foods—how should you choose the best one for your Yorkshire Terrier?
You should consider your dog’s size, age, and activity level. It is important to understand that dogs, just like us, need a nutritionally balanced meal with an appropriate amount of calories.
If you decide to feed your Yorkshire Terrier a commercial dry food you should consider buying small-sized kibbles that will be easier to eat and digest for a small dog.
Dog food contains a combination of ingredients, including meat, grains, vitamins, minerals, fats, and byproducts. This combination is balanced to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs.
If you prefer to feed your Yorkshire Terrier a homemade meal, you should make sure it is nutritionally balanced. Dr. Paula Terifaj from Founders Veterinary Clinic in California has developed a nutritionally balanced homemade dog recipe that you can use to feed your dog.
You may also want to consult your dog’s veterinarian before you start feeding your Yorkshire Terrier with homemade meals.
Yorkshire Terrier Breed Origin
The Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most popular and one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. It’s believed that the Yorkshire Terrier was developed in England, less than 100 years ago.
Yorkshire Terriers descended from the Yorkie, which was bred for the sole purpose of catching rats in the mines. Some decades later the Yorkie started to get used for hunting too, especially foxes and badgers.
The Waterside Terrier is also considered one of the Yorkshire Terrier ancestors. This small Scottish breed was brought to Yorkshire, England in the middle of the 19th century.
The first records of the Yorkie in England can be traced back to 1861 on a bench show. At that time, the breed was called “Broken-Haired Scotch Terrier”.
That name kept being used for nine years until a reporter commented that the breed should be renamed to Yorkshire Terrier due to the popularity of the dog in Yorkshire, and because the breed had improved and changed so much since its arrival in Yorkshire.
Today’s Yorkshire Terriers are very different. They are slightly smaller and are considered a fashion accessory. They are very popular among celebrities. That is a substantial change if you consider that the Yorkshire Terrier used to be mice hunting breed.
This popular breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885. The first Yorkshire Terrier was brought to America in 1872. In the 1880s the breed varied in size from 7 to as much as 14 pounds.
Breeders in America and other countries decided that the smaller size with long hair was preferred, and soon the Yorkie grew into the tiny dog with the lavishly long coat that it is today.
Is a Yorkshire Terrier For You?
A Yorkshire Terrier may be right for you if you want:
- a small-sized dog that can live in an apartment
- a dog with a beautiful hair coat
- an energetic and smart dog
- a sociable dog that is good with kids
- a playful dog
- a watchdog
A Yorkshire Terrier may NOT be right for you if…
- don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time and money in grooming
- you spend long hours working outside of your home
- you do not want to deal with potential congenital health problems
- don’t have time to train your dog
- a dog that barks often and tends to be stubborn
For other types of dogs, check out our full list of dog breeds.