When it comes to the Yorkshire Terrier, or the Yorkie, most people think of the usual small blue and tan dog with the long coat. While it is true that this is the only breed of Yorkie that is officially recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC), you will now find lots of different types of Yorkie being sold.
You will often see them referred to as designer Yorkies but they are basically mixed breed dogs – other breeds mixed with the Yorkie. One of the problems with them is that they can often suffer from more health problems and shorter life expectancy than pure bred Yorkies. They may also have different temperaments and personalities.
Types of Yorkies
Here are the different types of Yorkie you will find:
A parti-colored dog is simply one that has different colors to the normal colors of its breed. The Parti Yorkie is a tri-colored Yorkshire Terrier with the usual blue and tan colors but also white. While many people claim that they are not pure bred Yorkies, those who breed them insist that they are. They are healthy and active dogs and they only differ from the regular Yorkie in their colors. They can be registered with the AKC.
The term White Yorkie is usually used to refer to a Parti Yorkie (see above) due to the fact that the third color in a Parti Yorkie is white.
Although adult Yorkshire Terriers are blue and tan, the puppies have a black and tan coat. As the Yorkie puppy ages the coat gradually changes from black to blue. The color change will begin when the puppy is about six months old and will usually be complete when the dog is about one or two years old, although sometimes it may take up to three years. Occasionally you will find an adult pure bred black Yorkie but these are rare and most adult black Yorkies are as a result of cross breeding with breeds that have a black coat.
The Silver Yorkie has a coat where the blue is lighter than normal and is actually a silver-blue color.
Teacup Yorkies are very small Yorkshire Terriers. Even the adults weigh less than three pounds. Teacup Yorkies can be registered with the AKC as the rules only state a maximum weight of seven pounds for the Yorkie, with no minimum. The Teacup Yorkie is more likely to suffer from health issues and as a result has a shorter life span than the standard Yorkie. The average life expectancy for the Teacup Yorkie is about three to seven years.
The term Miniature Yorkie is interchangeable with the term Teacup Yorkie, and so refers to a Yorkie that is less than three pounds at adulthood.
As mentioned above, there are many different types of designer Yorkies sold that are cross breeds. For example, a Yorkie crossed with a Poodle is a Yorkie Poo, while a cross between a pure bred Maltese and a pure breed Yorkie is called a Morkie. These hybrid Yorkie mixes are not considered true breeds by the AKC.
Yorkie personality and temperament
The Yorkshire Terrier is a very popular small dog breed. This is not only because they are so cute and lovable, but because they are also bright, playful and happy little dogs. They are also independent and brave dogs that are full of energy and always looking for adventure. You can see some beautiful pictures of cute Yorkies here.
If you are not firm with Yorkies and let them take over the house they can start to show signs of small dog syndrome, so it is important that you establish yourself as the pack leader at an early age.
The Yorkie is classed as a toy dog. They are about six to seven inches tall and weight about seven pounds. Because of their small size, Yorkies are fragile dogs and care must be taken not to stand on them, or even accidentally sit on them. Care must also be taken that they do not hurt themselves by jumping out of your arms from too great a height. And you must be alert when around other dogs too, as larger dogs can very quickly injure a Yorkie. They are not suited to young children because their size just makes them too prone to being stood on, dropped or squashed. The natural boisterousness of children can also stress out Yorkies.
The Yorkie needs to be brushed and combed often to stop their coats becoming tangled and matted. Fixing matted hair is a time consuming process and is stressful both for the owner and the dog. It is best to avoid having to do so, by brushing and combing daily if the Yorkie has a long coat, and once every couple of days if the coat is shorter. The hair around the anus area should be trimmed on a regular basis to prevent it becoming matted with faeces.
The nails will need to be trimmed once every few months. Keep an eye on them to see how fast they are growing and do not let them grow too long. If you do, they can become ingrown which will be painful and uncomfortable for your dog.
The ears should also be checked on a regular basis. Any excess hair in the ears should be removed. You can pluck them out with a pair of tweezers. If the ears show signs of any discharge of liquid or redness, or they have a strong odor, then they could be infected and you should consult a vet. Similarly, if your dog shows signs of pain when their ears are touched then this is another indication of a possible ear infection.
The typical Yorkie lifespan is about thirteen to sixteen years. The life expectancy of undersized Yorkies (teacup Yorkies, also known as miniature Yorkies) is less than this as they are more likely to suffer from health problems.
All dog breeds are prone to some health issues. The Yorkshire Terrier is typically a healthy little dog, but some of the health problems they can suffer from are:
Portosytemic shunt is a condition where the dog’s liver is bypassed by its circulatory system. The end result is that toxins are never cleaned from the blood and the unfiltered blood flows through the body, poisoning the dog’s organs. Symptoms of this condition include small size and lack of weight gain through loss of appetite. Other symptoms are general listlessness, digestive problems, and excessive thirst and urination. The condition can be treated through surgery.
Low blood sugar levels are most common in young toy dog breeds, such as Yorkie puppies. You will see it most often from birth up until the age of about four months. It can have a range of causes such as stress, not eating properly, strenuous exercise or just from the puppy being much smaller than normal. Symptoms of hypogylcemia include fainting, shaking, confusion, shivering and drowsiness. If you notice your Yorkie suffering from hypoglycemia, you need to raise their blood sugar levels as quickly as possible. You can do this by rubbing Karo syrup or honey on their gums. If you have a Yorkie puppy, it is a good idea to make sure you always have honey available for this exact situation.
Legg-Perthes disease is a disease that affects the Yorkie’s hip joint with the result that the hip does not receive enough blood circulation. This causes the femur to weaken and it starts to collapse. The cartilage around the bone can also be affected. If a Yorkie suffers from this disease, the symptoms usually start to show when the dog is between four and eleven months old. The symptoms include lameness, limping, the dog showing signs of pain, and muscle wasting.
Retinal dysplasia is a hereditary condition that can affect just one or both retinas. It affects the tissue of the retina and can cause vision problems and, in extreme cases, even blindness. In mild cases, you may not even notice a problem and it may only be diagnosed through an eye examination. In more severe cases, you may notice your dog bumping into things. There is no cure for retinal dysplasia.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy is a group of genetic diseases that affect the retina. It is an inherited, genetic disease that causes gradual loss of vision, ending with blindness.
Luxating patella is a condition where the kneecap slips out of place. It may remain out of place, or slip back into place. If it remains out of place, the dog may continue walking; it is only when the kneecap slips that the dog will show any pain. The severity of luxating patella can vary, and most cases can be successfully treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. If it keeps re-occurring, then surgery may be needed to fix it.
It is important that you do not let this list put you off the Yorkie, as not all Yorkies suffer health problems. It is good advice to make sure you buy a Yorkie from a reputable breeder. They will make sure that they only breed dogs that do not suffer from these health issues and so there is less chance of their puppies inheriting them.
Yorkies make for great watchdogs as they are alert and their senses are keen. Their barking can end up becoming a pain though, as they can start to bark at every sound and sight if you are not careful. If your Yorkie is showing signs of this, you need to stamp down on it quickly before it becomes a habit.
The best way to do this, is to train your Yorkie so that they realize that barking means they will not get any attention or praise, whereas not barking will result in getting treats, praise and attention. So when your Yorkie is barking, stand by them but ignore them and do not give them any attention. If they stop barking for a few seconds, give them lots of praise and a treat. If they start barking again, ignore them again.
It is important that you do not try to get your dog to stop barking by shouting at them, as they will just think you are joining in the barking with them. Stay calm and composed, and speak quietly and calmly, but firmly.
When it comes to Yorkie training, the procedure is pretty much the same as any other dog obedience training. In brief, this means being consistent so that your dog does not become confused. It also means having patience and not transmitting any stress to your dog. Not all dogs learn at the same rate, even within the same breed, and so you must not become impatient if your Yorkie does not pick things up as quickly as you would like.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a Yorkie, petting your dog and giving it treats when it responds well. Always avoid shouting at your dog and never physically hurt it. Ignoring bad behavior and recognizing good behaviour with attention, treats and rewards is the best way to teach your Yorkie what is acceptable behavior. That said, certain bad behaviors will be rewarding to your dog even if you ignore them – for example, chewing on shoes or slippers. In this case, you should not tell your Yorkie off for such behaviors, but rather try and distract them instead, for example by throwing their ball or kicking their favorite toy.
Yorkies do not realize how small they are and should be socialized with other dogs at an early stage to stop problems with them confronting other dogs later on. They should also be socialized with people early on too.
As Yorkies are susceptible to small dog syndrome, it is vitally important that you are dominant and establish yourself as the pack leader very early on. You should set your dog boundaries and make sure that they stick to them.
Finally, Yorkies have relatively short attention spans and you should try to keep training sessions short and to the point. Only try to teach one command at a time.