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How to Take Care of Yorkshire Terriers

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How to Take Care of a Yorkie

The Yorkshire terrier is a popular toy breed that’s suitable for apartment spaces and known for their devotion to their owners, as well as their elegant looks. Dogs of this breed are affectionately called Yorkies. 

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Yorkies are usually 8 to 9 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh 4 to 6 pounds when fully-grown. Their life expectancy is generally around 12 to 15 years. Though they’re typically a healthy breed, they can still encounter some health issues.

Want to learn how to best take care of these lovable little dogs?

Read on for some useful tips!

Caring for a Yorkshire Terrier

Even though they’re small in size, Yorkies tend to have the personality of a much bigger dog.  For that reason, it’s not recommended to have Yorkies around small children unless they’ve been trained and exposed to them from a very young age. It’s advisable to socialize your Yorkie as soon as possible. 

Walking and playing outside are activities enjoyed by Yorkshire terriers, and it’s a great way to introduce them to people when they’re still puppies. You don’t need to put tons of energy into keeping them active, as these tiny dogs can get their exercise indoors as well. They’re very receptive to training, especially in agility or obedience trials.

Making a Safe Environment for Your Yorkie

Smaller dogs can’t regulate their temperatures as well as larger dogs, so Yorkies need to be kept away from extreme heat or cold. It’s a good idea to exercise them indoors when the weather isn’t suitable. 

Fetching toys either indoors or outdoors is very much enjoyed by Yorkshire terriers. Squeaky toys in particular are the love of a Yorkie’s life, but these little dogs can chew things to shreds, so you need to check that they don’t get a hold of the squeaker itself, as these can be choking hazards.

Feeding a Yorkie

An adult Yorkie can eat ½ to ¾ of a cup of dry food a day. This could, however, depend on the size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level of your Yorkie. A highly active Yorkie may end up needing more calories than a couch potato dog.

Generally, a Yorkie’s diet should be enriched with proteins, vitamins, and minerals. You can follow the instructions on the bag of dog food you purchase to figure out exactly how much you should feed your puppy as it grows. And always ask your vet for advice if you have any questions about what diet is best for your particular Yorkie.

Grooming a Yorkie

A Yorkshire terrier’s silky coat should be brushed daily, especially if the coat is kept long. Brushing the coat every day helps to prevent mats and keeps the Yorkie clean, and the hair on the upper head should be trimmed short or kept in a hair band to avoid eye irritation and excessive tear stains. They should be given a bath approximately every few weeks to keep them clean and healthy.

When you bathe your Yorkie, wet their coat thoroughly and apply a small amount of shampoo. Lather their coat and run your fingers gently through their fur to lift any dirt out.

You should also trim your Yorkie’s nails monthly to prevent any pain or health issues.

Small breeds like Yorkies are prone to dental problems, so ideally you should brush their teeth every day or at least a few times a week.

You should also check your Yorkie’s ears regularly for cleaning and for signs of possible infection.

Daily Brushing

There are many benefits to brushing your Yorkie’s coat daily. It keeps the coat silky soft, and tangles, mats, and debris will be freed after brushing as well. It shouldn’t be done when the Yorkie’s coat is completely dry, however. This can cause the fine hair to break. It’s best to brush when the hair is still damp after a bath or you can wet the brush. 

Are Yorkshire terriers high maintenance?

Yorkies are among the top high-maintenance dog breeds. Whether it’s a Yorkie with a long, elegant coat or a short puppy clip, this breed needs frequent brushing and regular baths. 

It may be preferable to pay regular visits to a professional groomer to trim the silky coat properly and keep hair out of the eyes. These dogs don’t shed, and for most people they are hypoallergenic.

Can Yorkies be left alone for a long time?

It’s possible that your work situation might force you to leave your Yorkie at home alone during the day, but Yorkshire terriers really shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. 

They can become confused, scared, and anxious if left for too long, and might take this anxious energy out on your furniture. Yorkie puppies shouldn’t be alone for longer than 2-3 hours a day, while you can leave adults (Yorkies over 18 months) for no longer than 4-6 hours a day.

How to Make Your Yorkie Feel at Home

You need to make sure your home is a comfortable place for a dog. You can call this doggy-proofing your home. Your Yorkie should have the freedom to explore his surroundings at an early age, while being carefully watched of course. 

It’s good to create an environment that lets your Yorkie rest at bedtime by keeping lights low and reducing noise to a minimum, especially when they’re puppies and need lots of sleep.

Providing quality dog food and fresh water will go a long way in making a Yorkie feel at home, but talking to him like he’s a person can really make him feel like he’s part of the family

You’ll know your Yorkie is feeling happy if her eyes and eyelids are relaxed and frequently blinking. A smooth, soft expression can also be read in their eyes when they’re feeling over the moon. 

They may show destructive behavior when you’re not around at home if they create a strong bond with you, so try to have someone babysit if possible. Give them treats when they deserve it, and take them out for regular walks to keep them at their happiest and healthiest.

The Yorkie Bond

Yorkies usually bond very strongly with one person in particular. This doesn’t mean that they’re only playful with their owners though. Yorkies are quite friendly and sociable dogs who can easily make new friends. 

Yorkies love to be held and cuddled, and they’re as playful as they are sweet. One of their main character traits is being affectionate and loveable. The breed displays a range of personalities, however. As often as you may find calm and cuddly ones, there are also some mischievous and outgoing Yorkies.

It’s better to not spoil them so you can reduce this behaviour in your Yorkie. Starting training at an early age can correct the bad habits that can be picked up. In the same vein, exposure to different people, sights, and sounds at a young age can go a long way towards ensuring your Yorkie will be happy and friendly. 

Yorkies typically aren’t suited for families with very young children, however. Since it’s too easy for children younger than 6 years old to drop them, squeeze them, or step on them, it’s not advisable to keep these tiny dogs around kids. They can get along well with other pets, even cats, when they’re socialized early.

Health Problems In Yorkshire Terriers

Although they’re a healthy breed, there are some health issues that your Yorkshire terrier could encounter throughout their life. Common problems include eye infections, tooth decay, and gum problems. 

Here are some things that you should keep an eye out for with your Yorkie:

Tooth Decay

This is a very common issue in the toy breeds. They’re prone to tooth decay because of their tiny jaws, which can cause overcrowding of the teeth and plaque buildup. This is why daily brushing is a vital part of your care for a Yorkie. It’s better if you start this process at an earlier age to build up tolerance for the activity.

If you spot that your Yorkie has very bad breath or gum discoloration, it could be due to a rotting tooth or some other periodontal disease. Similar to people, poor oral hygiene is a risk if your Yorkie’s teeth aren’t brushed regularly. You should see your vet if the situation isn’t improved with daily brushing.

Patellar Luxation (Slipped Stifles)

A common problem in small dogs, this condition can occur when the knee cap (patella) isn’t lined up properly in its groove. This can cause pain or a strange gait, and it’s present at birth. There are four grades of patellar luxation, with surgical repair usually required for grade IV severity. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually leads to blindness. The disease is hereditary, and there is no treatment or cure for it, but, fortunately, dogs with this disease usually adjust very well to it. Reputable breeders avoid breeding dogs susceptible to the disease, and have certificates of annual checkups for PRA by veterinary ophthalmologists.

Cataracts

Cataracts typically occur in older dogs and are caused by slow changes in the protein structures in the lens of the eye. Regular visits to the vet can help spot cataracts at an early stage of the buildup. Surgery can correct the problem if found early enough.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

This is a congenital disease of the hip joints that can occur in smaller dogs like Yorkies. It happens due to a blood supply shortage that causes the hip joint to become deformed. Signs include limping and suffering from pain while walking. The most effective treatment is surgical operation. 

Hypoglycemia

It’s not unusual for toy breeds to suffer from hypoglycemia, but it’s typically more of an issue when the Yorkie is a puppy. They can suffer from the condition when stressed, and signs include weakness, confusion, and seizure-like episodes. 

Hypoglycemia is caused by low blood sugar. It can be a serious health concern and can even be deadly unless it’s treated early. Honey, syrup, or sugar should be provided when an acute attack happens and the dog is still conscious. Your vet should be alerted if your dog has many hypoglycemic attacks.

Collapsed Trachea

The trachea carries air to the lungs and has a tendency to collapse easily in smaller breeds. If you hear a chronic, dry, harsh cough, it could be that your Yorkie is suffering from a collapsed trachea. If the respiratory problem is mild, it can be treated symptomatically with medication. If your dog seems to be struggling to breathe, see your vet immediately.

Reverse Sneezing

This is a far less serious condition that usually only lasts for a few minutes. It occurs when your dog is excited or tries to consume food or drink quickly. This results in the soft palate closing in an automatic reaction. Although frightening at first for Yorkies, it almost always stops instantly. You can gently stroke his throat to make him feel relaxed again.

Skin Allergies

Exposure to chemicals, fleas, and other triggers can cause skin problems for Yorkies. Signs include excessive itching, irritation, or even hair loss. You need to be careful about allergic reactions to wasps or bee stings, as these can be life-threatening to Yorkshire terriers. To avoid anaphylactic shock, these symptoms should be treated immediately.

Pancreatitis

This inflammation of the pancreas can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in your Yorkshire terrier. It’s not hereditary, but is often caused by dietary changes. Try to avoid a high-fat diet, and if you want to significantly change your dog’s diet, consult a vet for the proper way to do so.

Yorkshire Terrier Training Tips

Though they’re small in size, Yorkies excel in activities that require intelligence and agility, but all training should be applied with meetable expectations and should be age-appropriate for toy breeds. Basic training such as housebreaking, commands, and socialization can begin as soon as your Yorkie is two months old. 

You’ll need a total of approximately 3 to 4 months of consistent training to have a well-trained Yorkshire terrier.

Estimation of Training Level 

One way to estimate the amount of training your Yorkie can handle is to allocate the same amount of hours per day as their age in months. For example, you can train a 2-month old puppy for a couple of hours a day. If it’s a 3-month old, you shouldn’t expect him to do more than 3 hours a day. 

Potty Training

You should take your Yorkie puppy outside for at least 15 minutes after they eat a meal. Their bladders are so tiny when they’re young that they’re likely to need to go potty very soon after they eat or drink. Taking them outside after a meal can help to avoid accidents inside.

You need to respect if your puppy has to go while training, however. They’re puppies, they’re learning, and they’re bound to make mistakes. Baby Yorkies might need to defecate 3 or 4 times a day, and urinate 10 to 12 times a day. Watch your dog carefully and try to correct an error as soon as they make it, otherwise they won’t understand what they did wrong.

If you’re struggling with your Yorkie peeing in the house, make loud noises to distract them and then immediately take them outside. Rewarding with praise if he urinates in the potty area also helps to leave a lasting mark for future behavior. 

Approximately four months is required to potty train your Yorkie. If you add another four months to that training, your puppy will be pretty much accident-free. 

Choose the Area and Time

It’s good to choose one specific area for training your dog. If you choose to train outside, for example, make sure you know what the weather will be like beforehand. That specific area should be reserved only for training your Yorkie, not for play. If you try to train your Yorkie in an area where you usually play with them too, you’ll have a harder time. 

Having a scheduled training regimen is always a good idea. You can time it so that your sessions are broken up into shorter chunks of time, like first thing in the morning, immediately after naps, and before eating. 

Reward Small Steps

Just like with people, rewarding desired behavior does a lot of good in training a toy breed. If you’re upset and spend too much time yelling at them, they’ll become scared and it’ll be difficult for them to learn anything. Celebrating every small step in the training phase can boost both you and your dogs’ enthusiasm and strengthen your bond. 

It should go without saying that you still need to show your Yorkie you’re the boss. Terriers can be stubborn, so make sure you’re respected and listened to so that your Yorkie’s behavior can be corrected if necessary. Placing her dinner dish down only after she responds to your “sit” command is one way to let a Yorkie know you mean business.

Conclusion

Learning how to take care of Yorkshire terriers is likely to be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Yorkies are loveable little dogs, but they can be a handful! Follow the above-mentioned tips and let your bond with your furry companion grow.

Good luck!

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Cathy Bendzunas with yorkie and yorkie mix

Cathy Bendzunas

Dog Blogger

I have always loved Yorkies and got my first on when I was 19. I bred and showed them back in the 80’s. Though I love other breeds too, Yorkshire Terriers will always be my first love. I have lived and worked with dogs all my life.

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