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Yorkshire Terrier Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Yorkshire Terrier

Start your Yorkshire Terrier puppy off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.


Jump down to this list of
Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems


Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Yorkie puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Yorkshire Terrier lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.

Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Yorkie
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.

Dry kibble and canned dog food Kibble or Canned Dog Food – Almost As Good As Homemade?
Are you looking for the best dry kibble or canned dog food?

NomNomNow homemade dog food service Feed Homemade Dog Food Without Needing To Make It
Would you like to feed your dog homemade, but think you don't have the time or skill to make it? I have the solution for you....

Pet insurance Should You Buy Pet Insurance? An Honest Review
My advice on the pros and cons of pet insurance, and the best pet insurance company I've found.

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Yorkshire Terrier puppy really need? Does your adult Yorkie need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.

Information on choosing the best vet The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed

Complete list of Yorkshire Terrier health problems

Like most toy breeds, Yorkshire Terriers are usually long-lived, with a typical lifespan of 12-15 years.


Accidents and injuries

The leading health issue in toy dogs is INJURY. You must keep Yorkshire Terriers under constant surveillance and leash/arm control. Too much can happen to these small creatures in the blink of an eye.

  • Bone fractures or a concussion can occur from jumping off furniture, or falling or leaping from your arms, or being hit on the head by a thrown or falling object, or being stepped on.
  • Yorkies can choke on the tiniest object and it takes very little to overdose them with anything toxic.
  • Yorkies can squeeze through the smallest crack of a door or fence and be gone.
  • If you allow them to act foolishly aggressive toward larger dogs, their neck can be broken with a single grab.
  • If you let them off-leash, their excitable chasing instincts may send them under the wheels of a car.

Liver shunt

After accidents, the major concern in Yorkshire Terriers is liver shunt. The liver's job is to remove toxins from the bloodstream. You might wonder how toxins get into the bloodstream in the first place? They're the waste by-products that result from eating food. They're not harmful as long as the liver does its job of filtering and eliminating them.

But when a Yorkie has a liver shunt, the blood that's supposed to be filtered bypasses the liver. That means the waste products aren't filtered out. Instead they build up in the bloodstream and have toxic effects on the dog's brain and other organs.

Occasionally, a liver shunt is mild enough (just a partial bypass) that it can be managed with a careful diet. But usually it requires surgery – very tricky and expensive surgery.

At one veterinary teaching hospital, a full one-third of their liver shunt patients are Yorkies. As a prospective Yorkie owner, you're taking a big risk if you buy or adopt a Yorkie without doing a simple blood test that tests for a healthy liver.

Orthopedic disorders

Many toy breeds inherit loose knee joints, where the kneecap pops in and out of its socket. It's called luxating patella, which means dislocating kneecap. It can be mild, causing temporary bouts of lameness, or it can be crippling and require expensive surgery.

Yorkshire Terriers have the 2nd highest rate of luxating patella of all breeds, with 1 in 5 Yorkies affected.

Even more serious are two degenerative hip diseases that occur in Yorkies – hip dysplasia and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.

Dental disease

Miniaturized dogs often don't have enough room in their mouth for strong, healthy teeth. Instead we see teeth pointing in various directions, malformed teeth, and teeth crammed together. Plaque and tartar build up rapidly on those teeth, causing gum disease. Then the teeth wiggle around in their loose sockets and need to be extracted by the vet.

Repeatedly putting a small Yorkshire Terrier under anesthesia to have teeth pulled is both worrisome and expensive. You should brush your little dog's teeth weekly and scrape the tartar off his teeth before it builds up.

Collapsing trachea

Tiny breeds such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and Maltese can have a genetically weak trachea (the windpipe through which they breathe). A windpipe is a long tube and if it's weak, it can temporarily collapse in on itself, limiting the amount of air that gets through. Then the dog coughs and gasps, producing a distinctive goose honking sound.

Collapsing trachea is a serious condition that always gets worse over time. Sometimes surgery can help, but more often not.

To make matters confusing, Yorkshire Terriers are also prone to a condition that resembles collapsing trachea, but is completely harmless. It's called reverse sneezing. It tends to occur when the dog is excited or when he's eating or drinking.

Eye diseases

In Yorkies, we see cataracts (often progressing to blindness), retinal dysplasia, dry eye, and occasionally progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which always leads to blindness.

Heart disease

The Big 3 heart diseases in Yorkshire Terriers are patent ductus arteriosus, mitral valve disease, and cardiomyopathy.

Hypoglycemia

Tiny dogs can have difficulty regulating their blood sugar. In Yorkshire Terriers, tiny not only means a young puppy, but even an adult Yorkie who weighs less than 3 or 4 pounds.

If blood sugar drops too low, a tiny dog can have a hypoglycemic attack, which might be mild if immediately treated, or which can progress to coma and death.

Other health concerns in Yorkshire Terriers

  • epilepsy
  • thyroid disease
  • Cushing's disease
  • diabetes
  • allergies (which cause itchy skin)
  • urinary stones
  • colitis

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Yorkshire Terrier have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of luxating patella and eye diseases, your Yorkie has less risk of developing those conditions. And the dog himself should have a simple bile acids blood test that tests his liver function.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog.

My best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Yorkshire Terrier puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.