Small in size but big in personality, the Yorkshire Terrier makes a feisty but loving companion. The most popular toy dog breed in the U.S., the “Yorkie” has won many fans with his devotion to his owners, his elegant looks, and his suitability to apartment living.
- Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
- Height: 8 - 9 inches tall at the shoulder
- Weight: 4 - 6 pounds
- Life Span: 12 - 15 years
The Yorkshire Terrier, nicknamed the Yorkie, seems quite full of himself, and why not? With his long silky coat and perky topknot, the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most glamorous representatives of the dog world, sure to attract attention wherever he goes. Because he's so small he often travels in style — in special dog purses toted around by his adoring owner. The long steel-blue and tan coat may be the Yorkie's crowning glory, but it's his personality that truly endears him to his family. Oblivious to his small size (weighing in at no more than seven pounds), the Yorkshire Terrier is a big dog in a small body, always on the lookout for adventure and maybe even a bit of trouble. Yorkshire Terriers are affectionate towards their people as one would expect from a companion dog, but true to their terrier heritage, they're sometimes suspicious of strangers, and will bark at strange sounds and intruders. In consideration of your neighbors, it's important to tone down their yappiness and teach them when and when not to bark. They also can be aggressive toward strange dogs, and no squirrel is safe from them. Despite their bravado, Yorkshire Terriers have a soft side too. They need lots of attention and time with their family. Long hours of being left alone is not for them. It's not a good idea to over-protect your Yorkie, however; they'll pick up on your feelings very quickly, and if your actions say the world's a dangerous place for them, they can become neurotic. Because of their size, Yorkshire Terriers do better with older children who've been taught to respect them than with toddlers and small children. They can become snappish if they're startled or teased. As long as they get some exercise every day — perhaps a good play session in the living room or a nice walk around the block — Yorkies make fine apartment dogs. No matter what home they live in, they'll get along with other resident dogs and cats — so long as they were raised with them. Yorkies may become possessive of their owners if a new pet is brought into the house. Being terriers, they may want to challenge the "intruder," and if a fight breaks out, the terrier spirit is to fight to the death. Take a lot of care when you're introducing a Yorkie to a new animal. A glamorous coat, small size, spunky personality, and undying loyalty to his people. Is it any wonder that Yorkshire Terriers are the second most popular dog breed in the U.S. today?
Yorkies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Yorkies, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Patellar Luxation: Also known as "slipped stifles," this is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts — the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not properly lined up. This causes a lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait in the dog. It is a disease that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of Patellar Luxation ranging from grade I, which is an occasional luxation causing temporary lameness in the joint, to grade IV, in which the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives the dog a bowlegged appearance. Severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical repair.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degenerative eye disorder. Blindness caused by PRA is a slow process resulting from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Reputable breeders have their dogs' eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
- Portosystemic Shunt: Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is an abnormal flow of blood between the liver and the body. That's a problem, because the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, metabolizing nutrients, and eliminating drugs. Signs can include but are not limited to neurobehavioral abnormalities, lack of appetite, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), intermittent gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract problems, drug intolerance, and stunted growth. Signs usually appear before two years of age. Corrective surgery can be helpful in long-term management, as can a special diet.
- Hypoglycemia: Like many toy and small breed dogs, Yorkies can suffer from hypoglycemia when stressed, especially when they are puppies. Hypoglycemia is caused by low blood sugar. Some of the signs may include weakness, confusion, a wobbly gait, and seizure-like episodes. If your dog is susceptible to this, talk to your vet about prevention and treatment options.
- Collapsed trachea: The trachea, which carries air to the lungs, tends to collapse easily. The most common sign of a collapsed trachea is a chronic, dry, harsh cough that many describe as being similar to a "goose honk." Collapsed trachea can be treated medically or surgically.
- Reverse sneezing: This condition is sometimes confused with a collapsed trachea. This is a far less serious condition and lasts only a few minutes. Reverse sneezing primarily occurs when your dog is excited or tries to eat or drink too fast. It also can occur when there are pollens or other irritants in the air. Secretions from the dog's nose drop onto their soft palate, causing it to close over the windpipe in an automatic reaction. This can be very frightening to your Yorkie, but as soon as he calms down, the reverse sneezing stops. Gently stroke his throat to help him relax.
- Eye infections, teeth, and gum problems also can occur.
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