Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems: What You Should Know
About Your Yorkie’s Health
Yorkshire Terriers are usually a long-lived breed, living between 12 and 15 years. However, that doesn’t mean
that there aren’t some health problems along the way. Like all dogs, the Yorkie can be subject to health problems.
Some of the problems are similar to the health issues found in other toy breeds. Other problems are particular to
Yorkies. You can read below for a closer look at Yorkshire Terrier health problems.
1. What kind of Yorkshire Terrier health problems do Yorkies have?
Yorkshire Terriers can be subject to a condition called patellar luxation, which is a slipped stifle, or
kneecap. This condition can vary in severity. In some cases it’s not very severe and you may notice your dog “bunny
hopping” occasionally. In other cases it is much more severe and may require surgery. Yorkies can also be prone to
retinal dysplasia, an eye problem, as well as cataracts and distichiasis, which is a problem with eyelashes growing
where they are not supposed to grow.
This can lead to irritation and cause corneal abrasions. These are two main Yorkshire Terrier health problems.
The breed’s parent club in the United States, the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, has urged breeders to do
testing for these conditions. Dogs that are tested for eye problems are CERF tested annually. Dogs that are tested
for patellar luxation will have their results sent to OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).
There are also some optional tests for breeders to have done on their dogs for hip dysplasia, Legg Perthes,
thyroid disease, and to have the dog’s blood sent to the Cornell DNA blood bank. Testing for these diseases is
considered optional because they do not occur as commonly in the breed as the other health problems.
2. What other Yorkshire Terrier health problems do Yorkies have?
Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome is a degenerative disease that affects part of the thigh bone. It occurs in certain
families of Yorkies. It seems to be caused by circulatory problems. It usually begins to appear when a dog is
between five and eight months old. The symptoms are limping, lameness, and pain. Surgery is used to treat the
condition. Following surgery most dogs recover virtually the full use of their leg.
3. What is portosystemic shunt?
Portosystemic shunt is another one of the Yorkshire Terrier health problems. In this case, a Yorkie is born with
the problem, making it congenital. The portal vein which carries blood to the liver to be cleaned, is malformed at
birth. In portosystemic shunt, some of the blood that should go to the liver misses the liver and this unclean
blood goes through the body and poisons the dog’s heart, lungs, and other organs.
Symptoms may include a puppy who fails to grow, lack of appetite, poor muscle development, a puppy that is
unable to learn, a lack of coordination, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. There may also be seizures and even
blindness. Eventually the problem may lead to a coma or death. Portosystemic shunt can often be treated by
4. What is tracheal collapse?
Tracheal collapse is another one of the Yorkshire Terrier health problems. In this case, tracheal collapse also
occurs in many other small breeds. Because of the dog’s small neck and thin tracheal walls, the trachea can
sometimes collapse, especially if there is too much physical strain placed on the neck.
This can occur if your Yorkie pulls strenuously against the leash. For this reason some trainers recommend that
a Yorkie should wear a harness instead of a collar and leash. If your Yorkie is making a sound like a honking goose
when you walk him on a leash, this is often one of the first signs that there is a problem. Your Yorkie may also
develop a nearly-constant cough.
5. Is hypoglycemia a problem for Yorkies?
Yes, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is another of the Yorkshire Terrier health problems, especially in
puppies. It is also called transient juvenile hypoglycemia. It is typically caused by the dog going too long
without eating. It occurs most often in Yorkshire Terrier puppies when they are between five and 16 weeks old.
Smaller puppies are at greater risk. It is hard for the puppy’s body to regulate itself when it is so small.
A number of factors may lead to hypoglycemia such as stress, cold, a lack of good nutrition, a change in diet, a
change in feeding schedule, as well as an infection or parasite, or even portosystemic shunt. Symptoms may include
a puppy that is sleepy, shaky, who has a loss of coordination, and who has pale gums. The puppy may have a low
temperature and could have a seizure. If your puppy shows these signs you need to give him sugar immediately, such
as corn syrup or a food supplement such as NutriCal. Take him to the vet right away. This condition can be
Yorkshire Terriers are often very sturdy little dogs, but they do have some serious health issues. If your dog
shows some of these signs you should take them very seriously. If you are planning to get a dog from a breeder you
should talk to the breeder about these conditions. Ask about any testing done and about the health of the breeder’s
dogs. There are no perfect dogs but good breeders do try to put the health of their dogs first.
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