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Guide to Yorkshire Terriers

Time to read: 8 mins

Key Stats

Life expectancy: 1316 years

Height: 15 – 18 cm

Weight: 1 – 3 kg

About Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers or Yorkies as they are affectionately known might be small, but they are not lacking in personality. They are very affectionate and love their family, but they can be weary of strangers. When introducing your Yorkie to new people it is best to do it slowly and in a calm manner. Their size means that Yorkies are a favourite for city slickers as they can live in a small flat or apartment. Yorkies love to please their owners which is important to bear in mind when training your Yorkie. They will respond well to positive reinforcement and of course treats. This, coupled with their high intelligence, makes for a great little pup to train.


What to consider when owning a Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies can be shy and skittish at first. This is why they are suited to a family with older children that understand the Yorkies needs and personality. Yorkies are hypoallergenic which makes them compatible for people that might be allergic to other breeds.



Shelters are full of pets waiting to be adopted, where possible, adopt rather than shop as Yorkies can be found in shelters all across the UK. If buying is the intention then Yorkshire Terrier puppies can cost anywhere from £1,500 and upwards depending on the lineage of the puppy.

On top of the purchase price you’ll also need to consider initial costs of your pet such as vaccinations and neutering, as well as ongoing costs of food and preventative healthcare. Some of these extra charges include:


Yorkies don’t have a typical fur you see on most dogs; their coat is more like hair. Because of the texture of their coat and it being made from long hair, much like human hair, it needs to be brushed daily. It requires regular washing and trimming. You might see a Yorkie with a ribbon or bun on top of their head. This is not just a fashion statement, but it helps the Yorkies to see as the fur stays out of their eyes and does not cause any irritation.


Yorkies have a lot of energy to burn. They will require an hour of exercise each day. Due to their small size these walks can be separated into multiple walks, so they do not overexert themselves.

Yorkshire Terrier health concerns

In common with other breeds, Yorkshire Terriers can be born with genetic defects. Some to look out for include:



In common with other breeds, Yorkshire Terriers can be born with rare genetic heart defects that may not be apparent at birth. These can include:

PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus) or ‘hole in the heart’. A vet may hear a heart murmur during routine check-ups. Surgery is needed to prevent heart failure.

PSS (Porto-systemic shunt). This is when part of the circulatory system doesn’t develop normally, affecting the liver, digestion and normal growth. Puppies can fail to thrive, although sometimes this condition is only picked up at 1-2 years old. An affected puppy or dog may not want to eat, could vomit, have fits or collapse. Surgery can correct the problem successfully.

2. Bones

Legg-Perthes disease causes the ball of the hip to break down because of a defective blood supply. Dogs will be lame on their hind leg(s). Surgery to reshape the ball of the joint can allow dogs to walk well again within 4-6 weeks of surgery.

If the ligament holding the kneecap in place is not in normal alignment it can cause the kneecap to snap in and out of place (luxating patella).  Dogs may sometimes ‘leave out’ one of their back legs when walking or running or even not use that leg at all. Some dogs find this painful, plus it can put a strain on other parts of the knee and cause arthritis. Surgery can help to correct the problem. Maintaining a healthy body weight and using food supplements for joint health can help.

3. Throat

Small breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are prone to tracheal collapse, where the sturdy cartilage rings that keep the airway open and allow free movement of the breath collapse and obstruct the airway. This produces a honking kind of cough and may cause the dog to give up on exercise earlier than they previously did. It can be life-threatening in severe cases, and surgery may be required to correct the problem. Using a harness rather than a neck lead may help to prevent this developing in some dogs.

4. Mouth and teeth

Like other toy breeds, Yorkies have small mouths and sometimes their deciduous (puppy) teeth get overtaken by the adult teeth coming through and don’t fall out the way they ought to naturally (retained deciduous teeth). This can lead to pain and difficulty eating, and this may need treatment by the vet.

The adult teeth in a Yorkie’s small mouth can also be overcrowded, creating optimum conditions for other problems such as inflamed gums. This is caused by a build-up of food, plaque and minerals along the gumline that combine to form a hard brown deposit called tartar. Tartar undermines the gum and causes gum disease (gingivitis), leading to pain and tooth loss. With time, pockets form around the teeth where bacteria can grow and cause periodontal disease. This isn’t just a problem for the mouth though – these bacteria can spread around the body causing organ damage, including a fatal infection of the heart (pericarditis). Luckily, regular lifelong tooth brushing with descaling treatments where needed can help to avoid this.

5. Digestion

Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Affected dogs can have recurrent bouts of the illness throughout their life and may go off their food, vomit, have diarrhoea and, in severe cases, go into septic shock. Your vet might recommend a low-fat diet if your dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis.

6. Endocrine system

Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus can’t produce insulin, a hormone needed to ‘unlock’ and use the energy in glucose from the diet and give the body energy. Early symptoms of diabetes include a dog losing weight despite being hungry and eating more, drinking and urinating more, and lacking energy. Luckily, dogs with diabetes can live a long and happy life with daily insulin and a good diet and regular routine of feeding and exercise.

Young Yorkie puppies, along with other toy breeds, can sometimes have the opposite problem where their blood sugar falls to a dangerously low level (hypoglycaemia). Although they usually grow out of it, puppies up to around 5 months of age that become weak, appear ‘spaced out’, staggering or having seizures (fits) could be hypoglycaemic and if you see this you should consult your vet immediately.

7. Eyes

Yorkies can be prone to inherited eye conditions including cataracts. This can be screened for by breeders (generalised progressive retinal atrophy). Dogs that do develop age-related or inherited cataracts should be monitored, vision can in some cases be restored by specialist surgery. For some dogs, the cataracts develop as a result of retinal dysplasia, where the retina at the back of the eye either doesn’t form properly and alters the dog’s vision or it detaches completely and causes blindness. You may see your Yorkie being reluctant to jump down off steps or furniture or bumping into things. If so, you should consult your vet.

Dry eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) is a very painful condition that prevents a dog from producing tears that would normally keep the surface of the eye clean, comfortable and protected. Although some dogs with the syndrome can produce some tears, many cannot, and if it’s left untreated it will get worse over time. You might notice your Yorkie’s eyes are dry, sticky, lack shine or look cloudy. They might keep their eyes closed or blink more than usual or have frequent eye infections – or even ulcers that can cause severe problems. Dogs with the condition will need replacement ‘false tears’ placing in the eyes several times a day alongside other prescription drops or medications. Severe cases may need specialist surgery.

8. Brain

Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM) is a very serious, painful condition where fluid-filled areas develop within the spinal cord near the brain. Often the first sign is dogs appearing to scratch at the air next to their ear, which may progress to circling, constant scratching and crying and seizures. It is most associated with dogs bred for particularly rounded skulls that may be smaller than the brain; it can also be a problem for some Yorkies and Yorkies crossed with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or Chihuahuas. There is a British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club screening programme in place for this condition.

9. Skin

Many Yorkies have sensitive skin that is prone to being itchy, flaky and dry and can lead to atopic dermatitis. Among the common causes are mites, food or environmental allergies. Your vet can advise on the right anti-parasite treatments and shampoos to use, and they can help find out the cause and prescribe medication if you think your Westie has allergic skin disease (atopy). These conditions can be painful and aggravating, especially if they go on for a long time, so if they don’t clear up in a few days then you should speak to your vet.

10. Urinary tract

Bladder stones (uroliths) can affect dogs of all ages, both male and female. Some breeds tend to develop kinds of stones that may need different treatment. The most common bladder stones in Yorkshire Terriers are struvite or calcium oxalate stones. They can form over a period, so you may not see any obvious signs until the dog starts to drink and urinate more; they may have blood (or a pink tinge) in their urine; they may pass small frequent amounts of urine and may strain and cry when doing so. In the worst cases the stones can prevent any urine from being passed and this is an emergency.

In most cases the stones will need to be removed surgically, although some struvite uroliths can be dissolved using a prescription diet. If you see your Yorkie showing any of these symptoms then you should consult your vet, as the longer they are left the more serious the condition can be.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s health do not hesitate to get in touch with our Careline. They will be able to answer any questions that you may have.


Pet insurance for Yorkshire Terriers

Like most pure-bred dogs, Yorkshire Terriers have their accompanying health issues. You never know what might happen as they get older. Find out how we can cover your pet from accidents as well as illnesses they may suffer from.

It’s normally best to insure your dogs from a young age, before any conditions become an issue. Insuring your Yorkshire Terrier from when they are a puppy tends to be cheaper. Although you can get insurance for older dogs too.

See how we can help you by getting a quote today.

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