One of the most famous velcro dog breeds in the US is the Yorkshire Terrier or simply Yorkie. Year after year, this popular toy dog has been among AKC’s top 10 dog breeds. And for several reasons. Their bubbly personality, loyalty, and luscious, silky hypoallergenic coat are just a few reasons why many love them. But, how long do Yorkshire Terriers live?
How long do Yorkies live? The average lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier is between 13 and 16 years old, with a median of 14.5 years. The female Yorkies’ average lifespan is typically 1.5 years longer than that of male Yorkies. There are cases of Yorkies that have lived for more than 20 years. The oldest Yorkshire Terrier on record has lived for up to 28 years.
How long do Yorkies live?
Due to their extremely small size, the Yorkies are fortunate to live long lives. Their small size is one of the main reasons why they have a longer lifespan as compared to other dog breeds.
There are actually three Yorkie breed sizes:
- Giant Yorkie. Weigh over 7 pounds; height of over 9 inches tall.
- Standard Yorkie (also known as Toy Yorkie). Weigh 7 pounds; height of 7 to 8 inches tall.
- Teacup Yorkie (also known as Mini Yorkie). Weigh 2 to 4 pounds; height of 5 to 7 inches tall.
While the average Yorkie life span is between 13 and 16 years old, it’s important to note that they are susceptible to several common health problems.
Although the Yorkshire Terriers have good genetics when it comes to their lifespan, proper care and love from their owners are still necessary to ensure that they live for as long as they can.
Yorkie life expectancy: How long does a Yorkie live?
The Yorkshire Terrier life span is between 13 and 16 years old, with an average life expectancy of 14.5 years.
Fortunately, with great care and love, some Yorkshire Terriers have lived for more than 16 years. Some Yorkies, whether due to health issues or care, do pass away years earlier.
As mentioned above, their size does play a major factor. Let’s delve deeper and take a look at the lifespan of the Teacup, Standard, and Giant Yorkies next.
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Teacup Yorkie lifespan: Miniature Yorkie lifespan
When it comes to Yorkshire Terriers, a Teacup Yorkie is also known as a Miniature or Mini Yorkie.
These names are used interchangeably to refer to the same-sized Yorkie. The mini or teacup Yorkies are the smallest size of the Yorkshire Terrier dog breed.
If you’re wondering, “How long do Teacup Yorkies live?” or “How long do Miniature Yorkies live?” the answer is that their average lifespan is between 7 and 9 years old.
It is generally known in the canine world that smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan than larger dogs. However, this isn’t true for the teacup or mini Yorkies.
If we compare their average lifespan to that of the standard (toy) Yorkies and the giant Yorkies, Teacup Yorkies’ lifespan falls short of a few years.
Let’s see what the standard and giant Yorkies’ lifespan is next.
Life span of a Yorkie (Standard): Toy Yorkie lifespan
The standard Yorkshire Terrier is also known as toy Yorkshire Terrier and they are the mid-sized Yorkie.
When it comes to their size, they are considered the original Yorkshire Terrier.
If you’re wondering, “How long do Toy Yorkies live?” or “What is the average lifespan of a Yorkie?” the answer is that their average lifespan is between 12 and 15 years old.
Other small dog breeds that also have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years include Pomeranians, Maltese, and Poodles.
In the canine world, these small dog breeds can expect to live for a very long time.
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Giant Yorkie lifespan
As the name of this Yorkie suggests, the giant Yorkie is the largest size of the Yorkie dog breed.
While we use the word, “giant” to describe their size, the giant Yorkie isn’t really giant at all.
Instead, they are only a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier than the standard or toy Yorkie.
The average lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier that is giant size is between 13 and 16 years, which is a bit longer than the standard (toy) Yorkie.
With that said, it’s important to also point out that female Yorkies tend to live longer than male Yorkies.
On average, female Yorkshire Terriers tend to live 1.5 years longer than male Yorkies.
This is why it’s not surprising to learn that the oldest Yorkshire Terrier to ever live is a female Yorkie by the name of Bonny.
What do Yorkies usually die from?
Yorkshire Terriers usually pass away from heart failure, especially when they’re reaching their senior years. The heart weakens over time.
Sometimes, the heart valves don’t close properly and this can lead to leakage, thus providing a strain on the Yorkie’s heart.
Fortunately, heart problems in Yorkies can be treated, however, this health issue must be detected early on. Remember that early detection is key.
Leading causes of shorter lifespan in Yorkie puppies
Just like any other puppy, Yorkie puppies are prone to catching diseases. When your Yorkie puppy has a weak immune system, getting sick might be fatal for her and this may lead to a shorter lifespan.
Infectious diseases pose a significant risk to the health and longevity of Yorkshire Terriers due to their small size and delicate physiology.
Yorkies, like all breeds, are susceptible to various viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.
However, the consequences can be more severe for them.
For instance, conditions such as Canine Parvovirus (Parvo), which causes severe gastrointestinal distress, can quickly become life-threatening in Yorkies due to their rapid dehydration and smaller reserves.
Similarly, respiratory infections might progress rapidly, leading to complications.
It is essential for Yorkie owners to be vigilant about vaccinations, regular check-ups, and maintaining a clean environment to ensure their pets are protected.
Early detection and treatment of infectious diseases can be the difference between a long, healthy life and a tragically shortened one for these cherished companions.
This next section will discuss the various infectious diseases Yorkies can be susceptible to, including canine distemper, leptospirosis, tracheobronchitis (kennel cough), and giardiasis.
Parvovirus in puppies
Canine parvovirus is very common among puppies. Simply known as parvo, this virus targets your puppy’s immune and gastrointestinal systems. It is very contagious and can spread through dog-to-dog contact.
When infected, your puppy will experience symptoms such as a loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, feeling lethargic, or having no energy to play or walk.
If you suspect your Yorkie puppies have parvo, we highly recommend that you contact your vet as soon as possible. Yorkie puppies with parvovirus will need immediate medical attention since parvo acts very quickly.
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If you have other pets in the house, make sure you quarantine and monitor them as well.
The good news is that there is a vaccine for parvovirus that is administered to puppies, so this can all be prevented.
Want more information? Check out How Do I Know If My Puppy Will Survive Parvo? to find out the symptoms and signs that your puppy has parvo.
Leptospirosis in puppies
Leptospirosis in puppies is caused by the Leptospira bacteria. It can be contracted through the urine of rats, skunks, and raccoons.
Yorkie puppies infected with the Leptospira bacteria can experience the following:
- Frequent urination.
- Heavy breathing.
- Develop severe lung disease.
- Swollen legs.
- Bleeding disorders.
- Muscles weakness.
While Leptospirosis infection can be treated with antibiotics, there is still the potential risk of permanent kidney and liver damage. You should also be careful when taking care of your puppy that is infected with Leptospira bacteria because Leptospirosis can be transmitted from dogs to humans through contact with urine.
Fortunately, a vaccine is available to prevent your puppies and dogs from getting Leptospirosis. We recommend that you speak with your vet and make sure your Yorkie puppies are vaccinated against Leptospirosis during their vet visits.
It also helps if you avoid exposing your puppies and dogs to unsanitary environments. Here’s why:
“The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Many different kinds of wild and domestic animals carry the bacterium.”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Distemper in puppies
Distemper attacks a puppy’s gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, and nervous system. Distemper in puppies usually looks like an ordinary cold at first, however it gets serious as the incubation period lasts longer.
The symptoms include the following:
- Runny nose and eyes.
- Thickened skin.
- Cracked skin.
- Loss of appetite.
- Behavioral changes.
- Seizures (in severe cases).
If your puppy has a seizure, then it could mean that the virus has reached his nervous system.
It’s important to note that puppies below four months of age that come from shelters or animal rescues are more likely to contract this infection because they come from a stressful place and distemper is very easy to transmit.
It’s best to contact your vet as soon as possible once you suspect your pup has distemper. You may want to bring him to the nearest veterinary hospital for a thorough checkup. If your puppy with distemper is not treated immediately, this infection may cause permanent neurological damage.
Immediate medical attention is required and early detection with proper medications like antibiotics, fluid therapy, and anti-seizures will increase your Yorkie puppy’s chances of survival.
Make sure to get your Yorkie puppy vaccinated as early as six weeks old with a three to four weeks interval until they are 16 weeks old to avoid getting Distemper.
Distemper virus is usually transmitted through the air and can spread very quickly. While older dogs can survive a distemper infection just fine, this can be very fatal to Yorkie puppies because their immune system is not yet fully developed.
Hypoglycemia in puppies
Yorkie puppies less than three months old require high glucose levels for their metabolism. However, their ability to regulate blood glucose is not yet fully developed, so they are at risk of juvenile hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia means that your puppy has low blood sugar. It can be caused by physical abnormalities, malnutrition, or intestinal parasites.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia in puppies may include the following:
The good thing is this can easily be treated at home. All you have to do is feed your pup a little bit of sugar or honey and the effects of hypoglycemia can be reversed. However, make sure to still set an appointment with the vet so that the vet can perform a thorough checkup and test your pup’s blood count.
Unfortunately, puppy trauma is the second leading cause of a Yorkie with shorter lifespan. These traumas include accidentally being stepped on, getting hit by a car, running into hard surfaces, or getting dropped onto the floor.
Puppies are naturally very active and curious so you’ll find them running around or jumping around without being aware of what they’re running into or bumping into.
To prevent any accidents, you may want to have your Yorkie puppies stay inside a crate when you’re busy around the house or outside at work, or running an errand.
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Make sure you also close the doors behind you, including your dog gate, so your pups won’t be able to escape.
Caused by the Giardia parasite, this disease affects the gastrointestinal system. Infected dogs with giardiasis will typically have diarrhea, which can be especially dangerous for small breeds like Yorkies due to the risk of rapid dehydration.
Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)
This is a respiratory infection that can be caused by various viruses and bacteria.
Given the Yorkie’s small trachea, they may be more susceptible to severe symptoms or complications.
It manifests as a persistent cough and can lead to pneumonia if not treated.
Leading causes of shorter lifespan in adult and senior Yorkies
The life span of a Yorkshire Terrier ranges from 13 to 16 years old, with a median life expectancy of 14.5 years. This is relatively longer than most dog breeds in the US.
However, health complications may develop as your Yorkie grows older which can shorten his or her lifespan. Here are some of the leading causes of a shorter lifespan in adult and senior Yorkies:
Smaller dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are more at risk of getting tracheal collapse, a progressive and fatal disease of the windpipe which causes chronic coughing. When a Yorkie has tracheal collapse, the cartilage in their windpipe weakens.
Tracheal collapse is often diagnosed in Yorkies while they are still a young adult. However, your Yorkies may not show symptoms until they are in their mid to senior years in life.
Yorkies with tracheal collapse will often sound like a goose honk when they cough. As your Yorkie (with tracheal collapse) gets older, here’s what can happen:
- The trachea may get narrower which causes more difficulty in breathing.
- Retching or vomiting.
- Blue-tinted gum.
- Pale gum.
If you suspect your Yorkshire Terrier has tracheal collapse, we highly recommend that you contact the vet right away. These symptoms can be managed by getting your Yorkshire Terrier the right medications to suppress coughs.
For more severe cases, make sure you consult your vet before going forward with a more complex and specialized surgical treatment.
Air quality can also affect your Yorkies with tracheal collapse. In fact, dirty air quality can worsen your Yorkies’ cough so you’ll want to invest in a high-quality air filter to ensure your Yorkshire Terrier is breathing in clean air at home.
We use the GermGuardian air purifier with HEPA filter in our home to keep the air clean and free from dust and odors. We have tested multiple units over the years and this one is by far the best and most cost-effective. It will definitely help your dog’s breathing.
Respiratory disease in Yorkies
Aside from a trachea collapse, there are other types of respiratory diseases that can shorten a Yorkshire Terrier’s life.
One of which is a lung infection. Senior Yorkies are most prone to lung infection because their lungs are more vulnerable to allergens, lungworms, and other toxins.
Studies show that about 16.1% of Yorkies have shorter lifespan due to respiratory diseases.
While most respiratory diseases can be linked back to genetics, lung infection in Yorkies can be prevented by keeping your environment clean, giving your small canine companion a proper diet and exercise, and going to the vet for a regular check-up.
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Another underrated preventive measure is to switch from using collars to using harnesses. This way your furry friend won’t get too much pressure on the neck area which can cause difficulty in breathing.
Want more information? Check out What Are The Different Types of Dog Harnesses?
Brachycephalic airway syndrome
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is another respiratory disease that is most commonly experienced by dog breeds with shortened heads. Here’s how VCA Animal Hospitals defines brachycephalic:
“Brachy means shortened and cephalic means head. Therefore, brachycephalic dogs have skull bones that are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a pushed in appearance. Due to the shorter bones of the face and nose, the anatomy and relationship with the other soft tissue structures are altered; some of these changes can cause physical problems for the affected dog.”VCA Animal Hospitals
Yorkshire Terriers with brachycephalic airway syndrome will have abnormalities in their upper airway, making it difficult for them to breathe.
Too much obstruction will cause the bronchi in their lungs to weaken and collapse.
Signs and symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include the following:
- Noisy breathing.
These symptoms become more intense when your Yorkies are exerting more effort like during play, exercise, when they get too excited, or when the weather is too hot.
Over time, the labored breathing will cause a strain on the heart and this can be extremely fatal.
Pulmonary fibrosis in Yorkies
Yorkies can also get pulmonary fibrosis, which is another type of respiratory disease that is characterized by the scarring of the lung tissue.
When Yorkies have pneumonia or chronic bronchitis, it may also cause scarring in the lungs that can progress to pulmonary fibrosis.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for pulmonary fibrosis. As your Yorkies get older, the scars will only be stiffer and thicker which will wear them down.
However, the symptoms can be managed with vet-prescribed steroids, cough suppressants, oxygen, and other sedatives that can help calm your Yorkshire Terrier down in case of too much anxiety from the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis.
Congenital disease refers to a condition of your dog that’s present at birth. A study done by the University of Georgia found that 10.5% of Yorkshire Terriers will pass away from congenital disease.
In fact, Yorkies are the fourth most likely dog breed to pass away from this disease.
One of the most common congenital diseases in Yorkies is the Portosystemic shunt (PPS) or liver shunt.
This happens when the blood supply from the dog’s intestine bypasses the liver while flowing to the heart.
This is problematic because the liver usually filters the blood from the intestine before it flows to the heart. The liver will also be unable to get rid of waste and chemicals from the dog’s body.
Congenital disease shunts the liver altogether which can cause progressive liver dysfunction, and negatively affect your Yorkies’ growth and development.
Symptoms of the congenital disease in Yorkies include the following:
- Weight gain.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Development of bladder stones.
Yorkies may also suffer neurological symptoms such as:
- Seizures (in severe cases).
Fortunately, this can be corrected by surgery, but be sure you monitor your Yorkies closely to watch out for signs of complications during post-operative care.
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Aside from liver shunt, another condition that can be caused by birth defects is heart disease. Genetics plays a huge part in birth defects because these can be inherited from the parents. Other commonly reported birth defects from Yorkies are skeletal deformities and neurological abnormalities.
The environment also plays a part in birth defects. For instance, when a pregnant dog contracts a particular disease, the pups can get infected as well through the placenta. This will cause the pups to have stunted growth and potentially other defects.
It’s important to note that some birth defects are curable, while others are more permanent that the symptoms can only be managed.
Surprisingly, trauma is one of the leading causes of shorter lifespan in Yorkies, and this could have been completely avoided too.
A shocking 10.7% of adult Yorkies pass away because of trauma. It ranges from being stepped on, being dropped, getting hit by a car, and being involved in a car accident with the Yorkie as a passenger.
When inside the house, make sure your Yorkie is out of the way when you’re going about your chores. It is well known that Yorkshire Terriers love to follow their humans around, so whenever you’re on the move, keep an eye out for them first.
Whenever you’re outdoors, make sure your dog fence is intact and has no damage to minimize the risk of your Yorkies running off into the streets.
If your town or county has zoning laws that prohibit the installation of physical fences, you can opt to use a wireless dog fence instead which will also keep your furry friends safe. In fact, many dog owners prefer the invisible dog fence because it is adaptable to different types of terrains and it doesn’t obstruct your views.
So whether you live on a mountainous terrain or a flat grassland terrain, your dog will still be contained within your premise. Best of all, you’ll still be able to enjoy your scenic and beautiful mountain views.
Cancer is not an uncommon disease for dogs. Cancer cells can develop on the skin, mammary glands, bones, lymph nodes, and the soft tissues of the body of your Yorkie. The good news is that most cancer cases in Yorkies and dogs, in general, are curable when they are caught in the early stages.
There are also preventive measures that can be done to minimize the risk of getting cancer. For example, a female Yorkie can be spayed to prevent getting mammary gland cancer.
Even so, it’s a good idea to regularly check your Yorkies and canine companions for any signs and symptoms of cancer. The most noticeable sign of dog cancer is the lumps that can be found on their body. When the lumps are already big enough to be seen, you’ll want to contact your Yorkies’ vet and bring them to the vet immediately to schedule a scan.
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With over five years of specialized experience as an animal writer, my expertise lies in dog nutrition, health, behavior, grooming, and training. I am dedicated to delivering helpful and informative content that caters to the well-being of our furry friends. My primary goal is to empower pet owners with knowledge and ensure our canine companions thrive in health and happiness. In my free time, I love volunteering at local dog rescue centers.