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The tiny Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as the Yorkie, is a brave and often entertaining companion. Prior to his role as a lap dog, Scottish weavers, who emigrated to England in the mid-19th century, are said to have used the Yorkie to hunt rodents in textile factories, according to the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. Today, they are popular lap dogs.
A full-grown Yorkie is 7-8 inches tall and weighs around 7 pounds, but his energetic and lively personality doesn’t reflect his short stature. Perhaps the most notable physical feature is the Yorkie’s long, straight, blue and brown hair, which is often shortened to a “puppy cut.”
Caring for a Yorkie
Yorkshire Terriers are wonderful pets for families, whether you live in an apartment or a big house with space to run around. They are affectionate, playful and sometimes bossy little dogs that have lots of energy and need mental stimulation. Yorkies need a lot of care due to their long, hair-like coat and do not tolerate cold well. Therefore, you may need to protect them with dog coats or stylish sweaters.
Yorkie Health Issues
Yorkshire terriers are a predominantly healthy breed, but they also have their medical problems. Pet health insurance could be a good investment if you’re bringing home a Yorkie puppy.
Small breeds and dwarf dogs are at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Puppies are particularly sensitive and should be fed frequently. Signs of hypoglycaemia may include:
If hypoglycaemia is suspected, contact your vet. They can tell you to put a high-sugar liquid, such as corn syrup, on your dog’s gums on your way to the clinic.
Dental diseases are one of the most common diseases in old age dogs, particularly in small breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier. Bacterial tartar and plaque lead to inflammation of the tooth tissue and ultimately to tooth and bone decay. The best way to prevent dental disease is to brush your teeth daily with animal-specific toothpaste.
Routine teeth cleaning under anesthesia is recommended for Yorkshire Terriers to examine the mouth, remove plaque and tartar, polish teeth to prevent future deposits, and to treat or extract significantly unhealthy teeth.
The patella (kneecap) is a small bone that normally sits in a groove in the femur bone at the knee. Dogs with patellar dislocation move (or “loosen”) the kneecap outside its intended groove when the knee is bent.
This improper movement can cause discomfort and lead to osteoarthritis. For small breeds, anti-inflammatory drugs and joint supplements may be enough to control pain. If you have severe dislocations, your dog may need surgery to secure the kneecap.
A tracheal collapse occurs when the trachea (windpipe) flattens out. This can happen due to a weakening of the cartilage rings or a sagging of a membrane along the trachea. Symptoms include a dry cough, which may be worse when your Yorkie has finished eating or when he is agitated. Most cases are treated with medication. However, in severe cases where breathing is obstructed, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Yorkshire Terriers are likely genetically predisposed to tracheal collapse. Weight control is required to prevent and treat this condition. When walking, use a harness instead of a collar, as pressure on the windpipe can cause further damage.
Lebershunt (Portosystemischer Shunt)
A liver shunt occurs when there is an abnormal connection between the blood vessels around the liver and the blood bypasses (or “conducts”) the liver. Because the blood is not filtered by the liver, toxins (such as ammonia) build up in the bloodstream. Signs of a liver shunt include slow growth, disorientation, circular formation, and sometimes seizures. These symptoms tend to be worse after a protein-rich meal.
Most cases of liver shunts in Yorkies are caused by a birth defect. Diagnosing a liver shunt may require numerous blood tests, abdominal ultrasounds, CT/MRI scans, or even exploratory surgery. In some cases of liver shunts, the only necessary treatment is a change in diet, as well as a drug to absorb ammonia. In other cases, surgery is required.
What to give a yorkie to eat
Feeding commercial dry or wet food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a good way to ensure that your Yorkshire Terrier is getting a complete and balanced diet.
Puppies should be given a diet that is specifically designed for puppies or is intended for “all stages of life.” For adults, your vet may recommend dental diets to prevent dental disease.
How to feed a yorkie
Since Yorkies are small dogs, they do well with two to three feedings per day. Yorkie puppies, however, should eat three to four small meals a day to maintain their blood sugar.
How much should you feed a Yorkie?
Just like humans, the recommended calorie intake for a Yorkie varies from dog to dog and depends on your puppy’s physical size, metabolism, castration status, and activity level. The best way to determine the amount of food is to talk to your vet, who can calculate the calorie requirement of your Yorkshire Terrier.
In addition, the feeding guide labels on dog food provide valuable information. Remember: With small breeds like the Yorkie, the calories in treats add up quickly.
Nutrition tips for Yorkies
Yorkshire Terriers need a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats to stay healthy and slim. Yorkies can benefit from including omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) in their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids act as natural anti-inflammatories that support the skin, coat, kidneys, joints and heart. They are found in skin and joint supplements, fish oil, and some specially formulated dog foods.
Behavior and training tips for Yorkies
Yorkie personality and temperament
The Yorkshire Terrier is a brave and bossy breed that is exceptionally affectionate towards both family members and strangers. They are usually gentle with children and most other pets, although adult supervision is always important when dogs are around children or other animals. This is especially important for little Yorkies, who can be accidentally injured while playing with children.
Despite the small stature of Yorkies, they regard themselves as watchdogs due to their oversized personality and can bark excessively. But if you teach them to be quiet, Yorkshire Terriers are an easy partner for living in an apartment as long as they are mentally stimulated and given the opportunity to play. In most cases, Yorkies are curious and self-confident companions.
Despite their remarkable intelligence, Yorkies aren’t always easy to train. They can be stubborn and many are not particularly diet-motivated, which can make training difficult. It is most successful when it is based on positive reinforcement through praise and delicious treats.
Fun Activities for Yorkies
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Yorkie Care Guide
Yorkies have a long, silky coat that is sometimes cut short in a “puppy cut.” They require a significant amount of grooming and home care, especially if they have a continuous coat.
Some Yorkies develop dry, scaly skin. Bathing your dog with a moisturizing shampoo and/or giving him an omega-3 supplement can help prevent this. However, they should not be bathed more than every two weeks, as this can remove the natural oils from the skin.
Yorkies are prone to clogged pores in their skin, which can cause bumps and inflammation. Special shampoos, such as those containing benzoyl peroxide, can be used to rinse out pores.
When kept at full length, the coat must be brushed daily to prevent tangles and knots. If the coat is cut short, it is enough to brush it once a week. Professional grooming is often used to maintain a healthy and attractive coat.
Yorkies often collect a large amount of dirt at the corners of their eyes. If you wipe your eyes daily with a damp cloth or use a saline solution, you can prevent deposits. Regardless of coat length, the hair around a Yorkie’s eyes should be kept short.
Cleaning the ears every 2-4 weeks helps prevent ear infections. If you notice a heavy amount of dirt or redness, schedule a visit to the vet.
Considerations for pet owners
Yorkies are wonderful family dogs who are generally affectionate and patient with children, albeit a bit bossy and barking. Before you bring a Yorkie puppy home, you should find out about pet insurance plans, as this small breed is susceptible to some health issues, such as liver shunts and hypoglycemia. Particular attention should also be paid to their oral hygiene, as daily brushing delays dental disease. And remember: Yorkshire Terriers need frequent brushing and regular grooming, even if you cut their coat short.
How big do Yorkies get?
Yorkies typically reach 7 to 8 inches in height and weigh around 7 pounds.
How long do Yorkshire Terriers live?
The average life expectancy of a Yorkie is 11-15 years.
How much do Yorkshire Terriers cost?
Buying a Yorkshire Terrier puppy from a breeder can cost between $800 and $2,500. Dogs of certain ancestry may cost more. Many Yorkies and Yorkie mixes can also be found in rescue facilities and animal shelters.
Where do Yorkies come from?
Yorkshire Terriers were developed in the UK. They were used by Scottish weavers to hunt rodents that migrated to England in the mid-19th century.
Are Yorkies a good family dog?
The Yorkie is an excellent dog for families. They are loyal, playful and affectionate. Most people get along well with young children.
Are Yorkies maintenance-intensive?
Yorkies can be easy to care for when it comes to their grooming needs. This is particularly true if they keep their long, floor-length coat, which must be brushed daily to prevent knots and stay shiny. A short “puppy cut” is much easier to handle for busy pet parents.
Featured image: iStock/Violetastoimenova