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Yorkshire Terrier Common Health Issues

Your Yorkshire Terrier will probably stay pretty healthy most of his life, but every dog can have health problems. Get to know common Yorkshire Terrier health issues, so you can get your dog the right treatment quickly. When addressed promptly, most conditions can be treated successfully.

As a breed, Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to certain conditions, but that doesn't mean that every Yorkie will get sick. Most never have any of these illnesses, but if you recognize any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Portosystemic (Liver) Shunt
    Some unlucky Yorkies are born with this potentially fatal congenital condition in which the blood bypasses the liver. When this happens the toxins never get cleaned out of the blood.

    The symptoms of liver shunt include: small size and poor weight gain; digestive system problems; urinary system problems including excess thirst and urination; and depression, listlessness, uncoordinated movements, or seizures that usually appear shortly after eating.

    Please keep in mind that a Portosystemic Liver Shunt is a congenital condition, which means it is a birth defect. It is NOT a genetic or hereditary condition which is inherited from either of the dog's parents. Dogs can be genetically tested for health conditions that they could possibly pass to offspring. There is NO genetic test available for liver shunt. Therefore, there is no way to prevent, predict or control this condition.


  • Luxating Patellas (Loose Kneecaps)
    Dogs with luxating patella have kneecaps that slip out of place. Like most conditions, this one can vary in severity.

    Symptoms can include kneecaps slipping when the vet handles/pushes it, and it immediately returns to its proper alignment. (Grade I); kneecap slips out of place when walking or running (Grade II); kneecap slips out of place frequently enough to cause lameness (Grade III), and kneecap slips and stays out of place (Grade IV).

    Unless absolutely necessary (Grades II or III) NEVER have surgery done on luxating patella's until the dog reaches at least 18 months old. Puppies that display Grades I or II often outgrow this condition. Furthermore, I would personally never attempt surgery on Grade I regardless of age.


  • Hypoglycemia
    Yorkie puppies are especially vulnerable to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Episodes are triggered by not eating regularly, stress, strenuous activity, or digestive track illnesses.

    Symptoms include confusion or disorientation, shivering or a staggering gait, and drowsiness. In the worst case, he may have a seizure, fall into a coma, or even die.

    If your puppy has a hypoglycemic episode, your need to quickly boost his blood-sugar level. Give him a drop or two of Karo syrup or honey. If the episode is severe, however, and your Yorkie falls into a coma or has a seizure, call the vet immediately.


  • Collapsing Trachea
    A windpipe that periodically closes on itself. This condition typically appears as your dog gets older.

    Symptoms include shortness of breath, honking coughing fits (attempts to re-open the trachea), and, because of the restricted air flow, fatigue.

    Due to this possible condition, NEVER connect a leash to a collar!! Harness ONLY! Collars should be used for "bling" or "fashion" purposes only.


  • Retained Primary Teeth
    Yorkie's OFTEN, don't lose their baby teeth on their own. When your Yorkie's around 6 or 7 months old, have your vet check to make sure all her baby teeth are gone. If they're not, they need to be pulled. This can be easily done when you take your Yorkie in for their spay or neuter.


  • Underactive Thyroid
    If your Yorkie's thyroid isn't functioning properly, you may notice a dull coat, hair loss, lethargy, extreme intolerance for cold weather, weight gain, and chronic skin disorders.


Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and you should never take my advice over your veterinarian unless you choose to do so. You'll find many of my own personal opinions, advice, views, suggestions and recommendations here at Precious Family Jewels, all based on my personal research, experiences and years of raising and breeding Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terriers. In no way do they replace the advice and expertise of your Veterinarian or any other pet care professionals. Any diagnosis or treatments should be left to a professionally trained veterinarian. If you have ANY concerns you should ALWAYS consult a vet. The information provided on this website is intended as a point of reference for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY!