When considering adding a Yorkie to your family, knowing their potential life span is crucial to understand before choosing to make the commitment of adding him or her to your family. You must be ready to provide care to your Yorkie for the longer end of that potential life span.
This article will help you understand what you should know about a Yorkie’s life span and aging before you commit to caring for a Yorkie or to better understand the Yorkie you already have.
Can a Yorkie live 20 years?
While it is possible for a Yorkie to live 20 years, it is not common. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Yorkies live approximately 11 to 15 years on average.
Of course, individual dogs will live longer than 15 years or less than 11 years, depending upon their genetics, health, nutrition, and the care they are provided by their owners.
Why do small dogs live longer than big dogs?
Biologist Cornelia Kraus states that large breed dogs age at a more rapid pace than smaller dogs; this faster pace means that they deal with health issues more often than, and usually before, smaller breeds. As such, they tend to fall victim to these conditions earlier in life.
The faster growth rate of large breed dogs can mean that malignant cells, such as cancer cells, are able to gain traction more efficiently than in small breed dogs.
How old is a Yorkie in human years?
The old adage of 1 year = 7 years is very incorrect. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs age the approximate equivalent of 15 human years in their first year of life! This makes providing proper care from the beginning of your dog’s life crucial to maximizing their potential life span.
In the second year of life, they age approximately 9 human years. In the third year and all years thereafter, most dogs age approximately 5 human years per year of life. While the 5 human years per year after age 3 is a rough estimate, the larger the dog, the more human years he or she will age per year in life.
As such, the larger the dog, the more swiftly they tend to age, making small breed dogs generally longer lived. This makes a toy size dog, such as the Yorkie, an excellent choice for dog owners in search of a longer-lived companion.
To better understand how your Yorkie ages, this growth chart may be helpful to you:
When does a Yorkie stop growing?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), small breed dogs that weigh 20 pounds or less grow to approximately 75% of their adult size in the first 6 months of his or her life. This question also answers why puppies nap frequently; how exhausting this growth must be!
How long do teacup Yorkies live?
Generally speaking, “teacup” Yorkies will live on the shorter end of the potential 11 to 15 year life span of Yorkies. There are always individual dogs who will fall short of or exceed this potential life span.
However, it is important to note that Yorkies that are referred to as “teacup” size may not have been bred in an ethical manner, and as such, they may be shorter-lived than Yorkies who are not referred to as teacup or miniature.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize “teacup Yorkies” in their official breed standard for the Yorkshire terrier. This means that “teacup Yorkies” are bred completely independently of the breed standard because they were created by breeders acting separately from the AKC’s standard.
Sometimes breeding separately from the breed standard set by the AKC is not necessarily a bad thing. Any breeder who breeds “pet quality” dogs of any breed is breeding purebred dogs who could not be shown because they do not conform exactly to the breed’s standard as a “show quality” dog must qualify to compete.
However, when dogs are bred for a selective trait that is based upon the preference of humans rather than the health of a dog, unethical practices may have been used. If a breeder is breeding for the purpose of fulfilling a certain preference of humans, they are likely more focused on profit than breeding healthy dogs for the love of the breed, as is the focus of ethical and responsible breeders.
For example, a breeder focused on profit may choose to breed the smallest Yorkies that they are able to locate without regard for the health of those dogs, therefore creating a litter of puppies with genetics that may not result in the most healthy, potentially longest-lived Yorkies possible.
What Can I Do To Help My Yorkie Live Longer?
While genetics contribute to a dog’s lifespan, the care they receive can also influence their life span. The more care and planning that went into your dog’s breeding, and the better care your dog receives, the chance of their life span continuing longer increases. Examples of proper care are:
- Feeding a high quality diet.
- Providing exercise daily.
- Performing grooming regularly and as needed.
- Providing shelter (keeping your dog indoors).
- Arranging for regular preventative veterinary examinations and care.
- Arranging emergency veterinary care as needed.
- Knowing your dog well, which allows you to understand when he or she is acting off, giving you a chance to arrange for veterinary care efficiently.
According to Dr. Silvan Urfer for the American Kennel Club (AKC), maintaining a healthy weight and regular veterinary dental cleanings also play major roles in the life span of any breed of dog.
A Yorkie’s life span is longer than I would prefer but I would still enjoy a pet. What do you recommend as a pet instead of a Yorkie?
If the 11 to 15 year commitment of a Yorkie is longer than you feel comfortable committing to, there are many other pets that you may choose from, the most popular alternatives to small dogs often being:
- Rabbits live approximately 5 to 10 years according to The Spruce Pets.
- Guinea pigs tend to live approximately 5 to 6 years, with well cared for individuals living to 8 or 10 years according to VCA Hospitals.
- Hamsters live approximately 2 to 3 years according to PetMD.
The potential life span of the Yorkshire terrier, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), is 11 to 15 years. Factors that influence a dog’s life span are their genetics and the care that they receive in their lifetime.
Dr. Sara Ochoa
This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.