The Yorkshire terrier or simply the Yorkie is a well-known companion dog. This cute buddy is dubbed as the most popular toy breed in the United States. But did you know that these dogs were originally bred to chase rats in mines and clothing mills?
Interestingly, the newer generations of Yorkies still possess the penchant for hunting. They have that natural instinct to capture and scout around, so don’t be surprised if your pet is obsessed with hunting mice.
In today’s post, we’ll put more emphasis on Yorkies – their traits, the things to love most about them, and the things to consider when getting one. Read on to know their average lifespan as well as the things you can do to extend a Yorkie’s life.
The Life Expectancy of Yorkshire Terriers
A Yorkie has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. This range is common among toy breeds whose lifespans are longer than those of larger dogs. On average, a female Yorkie lives a year and a half longer than a male.
With utmost care and subsistence, a Yorkie can live up to 15 years and even more. In Britain, a Yorkie named Jack lived up to be 25 years old! Jack the Yorkie is not the oldest Yorkie, though. In 2011, there was a 28-year-old Yorkshire terrier who was living with his pet parents in the Netherlands.
What to Love about Yorkies
The Yorkshire terrier might be small but it has a big personality. It is an ultimate lap dog that needs lots of cuddles and attention. This is the breed to get if you are a fan of cute toy breeds. On top of all, the Yorkie is an intelligent breed that can be easily trained.
Like other breeds, Yorkies can also develop negative traits. Sometimes, these traits are the result of improper training and handling. Barking, for instance, is a common issue with Yorkies but you can use that negative behavior to your advantage. A Yorkie actually makes a great guard dog because it is intelligent and often barks at strangers.
It is hard to resist a dog as cute as a Yorkie. But apart from their charming appearance, Yorkies have a lot more to offer. They also possess a likable personality because of their playfulness and love towards their owners. When trained right and socialized at an early age, your pet can be faithful to you.
When you’re a bit sad and need something to brighten up your day, take your Yorkie for a walk or play with him indoors, he will surely entertain you with its funny antics. Above all, who would not want to be with this elegant-looking buddy?
Common Health Problems of Yorkshire Terriers
The good thing about Yorkies is that they are generally healthy. Like any other dogs, a Yorkie can still get certain ailments but the good news is that these are not as life-threatening as cancer. Here are the conditions to keep an eye on when you have a Yorkshire terrier:
- Dental problems – nearly 80% of dogs suffer from periodontal problems at the age of two, and Yorkies are not an exception. The tartar could build up on the teeth and even infect the gums in severe cases.
- Respiratory infections – parvovirus and distemper are the two kinds of gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections that affect a lot of Yorkies. Infections are even dubbed as the leading cause of death in this breed.
- Hypoglycemia – this condition, characterized by low levels of blood sugar, often happens when the dog is not getting enough of this nutrient from his food. This often happens to Yorkies, especially to the younger ones because many of them are picky eaters. Giving your pet a high-calorie supplement can help if he is suffering from hypoglycemia. Making the food more palatable could also encourage a Yorkie to eat more.
- Portosystemic shunt – this liver problem is very common among Yorkshire terriers. With this condition, the liver cannot get rid of the toxins from the bloodstream the way it is supposed to. Along with conventional meds, there is a special diet given to Yorkies suffering from this disorder.
- Patent Ductus Arteriosis – this type of heart condition occurs when the vessels supplying blood to the heart do not close properly. The usual signs are shortness of breath, fatigue, and coughing.
How to Help the Yorkie Live Longer
Help your Yorkie reach the optimal life expectancy and enjoy his senior years with the help of the following care tips:
Feed him high-quality dog food.
The recommended feeding frequency for Yorkies is twice to three times a day. There is no exact feeding amount for Yorkies but on average, a half a cup of meal per serving will be enough for them.
Yorkies less than the age of one should be given 400 calories each day so they could grow in fine fettle. The caloric requirements of Yorkies decrease as they grow older. A Yorkie that stays active until adulthood should have roughly 200 calories daily. However, if he does not engage much in physical activities, the Yorkie should only have around 150 calories per day.
Many Yorkies have a sensitive stomach, so be careful when introducing anything new to your pet’s diet. A Yorkie’s stomach can easily become upset when fed commercial food with lots of preservatives. If you’re worried about the possible outcomes of commercial dog food, you can sustain your Yorkie with homemade dog foods.
For treats, the homemade pumpkin biscuit is a healthy alternative to ready-to-eat biscuits for dogs. Pumpkin is packed with nutrients that will help boost your buddy’s immunity and keep his coat stay healthier and more beautiful.
Brush his teeth regularly.
Oral hygiene is very important because it helps prevent a number of dental diseases. When brushing your Yorkie’s teeth, make sure that you are only using toothpaste intended for canines. Human toothpaste can be poisonous to dogs because of its fluoride content.
It is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth once a day. Do it when he is relaxed so he will not associate brushing with a bad experience. You can also use dental wipes and dental chews to freshen up his breath.
Keep him well-hydrated.
Your pet’s water requirement will be different from that of other dogs because it will be based on his size and activity levels. But if you are looking for the recommended amount of water for Yorkies, you can be safe with giving him one to 1.5 ounces for every pound of weight each day. If your Yorkie will not drink his water, maybe try to make it a bit cooler so he will feel refreshed.
Keep in mind that sanitation is also important when giving water to your dog. You have to make sure your pet’s water bowl is free from diet and always refilled with fresh and clean filtered water. When going out with your dog, keep water handy by putting it in a dog water bottle.
Without enough water, the Yorkie will suffer from mild dehydration. This could have a negative impact on his energy level and this is also not healthy for his kidneys.
Use a mild shampoo and conditioner when bathing.
Grooming the Yorkie will depend on the length and appearance of his coat. If he often plays outdoors, he definitely needs more cleaning time. Many Yorkies have natural oil in their coats, which means you don’t need to condition them. Otherwise, you have to use a mild conditioner formulated for the dry and flaky skin.
Look for the non-toxic variety and check for the product to not have sulfates, parabens, and artificial dyes. Organic products are definitely safe for pets because of their mild formulations. A pet shampoo made of aloe, coconut, oatmeal, or tea tree is a good choice for the Yorkie.
Brush the Yorkie’s coat using a pin brush.
A bubble tipped pin brush is an appropriate brush for most Yorkies. It will not scratch the Yorkie’s skin because each pin has a protective ball. Avoid a slicker brush, especially for young dogs because it can be a bit harsh on their skin.
A Yorkie with stubborn mats can be groomed with a de-matting comb. Just use it carefully because it has blades that can injure the dog if used in the wrong way. This tool is created to trim fur mats. If you are uncomfortable with using this tool but your Yorkie has stubborn mats, it will be much convenient if you just take him to a professional groomer.
Vaccinate on time.
Vaccination is important to prevent the Parvovirus which causes severe dehydration and harm to your pet when left untreated. Because infections are quite common among Yorkies, it helps to give them shots that will boost their immune system.
Your buddy needs to get the core vaccines which can protect him against canine rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis. These vaccines should be given in the first year of your pup’s life. If you adopted an adult Yorkie, check his vaccinations record first before taking him to the vet to avoid over-vaccination.
Study the proper handling of Yorkies.
Be cautious when carrying your Yorkie because it has a very small frame. Their very tiny size makes them prone to injuries when handled incorrectly. If you have small children in the house, train them on how to handle the pet as well because many young kids can be a bit harsh when playing with tiny dogs.
Walk him regularly.
On top of all, you should not forget that your pooch also needs some time for physical activities. Stimulating his mind and keeping him active will help your pet live longer. The Yorkie is usually full of energy so accompany him for a couple of short walks each day.
A Yorkie can resort to chewing items in the house or racing on the stairs incessantly if they do not have enough physical activity. You can also play fetch with him when it is too hot or too cold to go outside for a walk.
Important Reminders before Getting a Yorkshire Terrier
There are certain things you have to consider before deciding to get a Yorkie. First, read a lot of books and blogs on caring for Yorkies. You will learn that a Yorkie may not be suitable for you if you live in a place that is too cold or where it always rains.
You can find many pet stores selling good quality Yorkies, but getting your pup from them comes with a risk. It’s possible that the pet store did not comply with all the genetic testing. Many pups from the pet store also have the tendency to develop bad habits because they lived in a cage for a while.
Your breeder should be able to present documents that will prove that the dog is not vulnerable to health issues common to its breed. An ethical breeder is concerned about the safety of the pups, which means they are kept in a comfortable place.
Beware of getting your Yorkie from online sellers. If you need help in finding a legit Yorkie breeder, you can get help from authorized groups. An example of a reliable source is the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America Breeder Referrals.
The Bottom Line
Yorkies have a long lifespan, but you can extend it with the help of a few strategies. A well-balanced diet, a safe environment, and a clean surrounding all contribute to the overall wellness of your pooch. Your pet’s lifestyle plays an important role in his overall wellness and life in general. Keep these things in mind to give your Yorkie a happy life even during his senior years.