There's no denying that Yorkies are adorable little characters, full of mischief and fun. As with many pure breed dogs, the Yorkshire Terrier is prone to suffer from certain disorders and health issues. If you are just about to get a puppy or offer a rescue dog a second chance at finding a loving home, it's important to know about these conditions because the earlier a problem is diagnosed, the sooner your pet would be treated which means the prognosis is better too,
Yorkshire Terriers can live up to the age of 16 years old and sometimes much longer! Some Yorkies are prone to eye infections and tooth decay. This is because, as they have a small jaw, their mouth can often become overcrowded with teeth and plaque can build up easily. Because of this you need to be sure to feed some dry food or dental treats to make sure they are cleaned.
They also often have a poor tolerance of anaesthetic. Any falls or knocks can cause fractures of fragile and delicate bones so care must be taken and careful observation if this occurs.
Some of the health issues are hereditary, others are congenital and several of them are what is termed "acquired". Sadly, even with the best breeding programme in place, there is never a guarantee a puppy would not develop an inherited disorder due to the fact that genes responsible for the disorders may skip a number of generations. The other thing to bear in mind is that just because Yorkies are more predisposed to certain health issues, it does not mean that your dog would develop any of the disorders.
The key to getting a health issue diagnosed and treated earlier rather than later, is to recognise any symptoms there may be a problem and then getting your dog to the vet for them to carry out a thorough examination to establish what is going on. Below is a list of health issues that affect Yorkshire Terriers:
Hypoglycaemia is a health issue that affects many toy breeds including Yorkshire Terriers. Puppies up to the age of 4 months old are more usually affected which is why it's important to watch out for any symptoms during the first few months of their lives. However, older Yorkies too can develop the condition although this is quite rare which is lucky because there are certain complications which makes the condition that much harder to treat when dogs develop the condition later in their lives.
Legg-Perthes disease affects the hip joint and is caused by an inadequate amount of blood reaching it which results in the dog's femur bone weakening eventually causing it to collapse due to the cartilage around the joint becoming malformed or cracked. Clinical signs there is a problem are quite obvious and includes limping, pain and discomfort. Vets typically take X-rays to establish whether a Yorkie is suffering from the condition before recommending the right sort of treatment or therapy.
Retinal Dysplasia affects a dog's eyes which causes "rosettes" to form in the retinal tissue (these are sometimes called folds). The condition may be triggered by several factors but is typically a genetic disorder which is why dogs with the condition should not be used for breeding purposes. Although the condition does affect a dog's vision, it does not cause any pain or discomfort neither is it a progressive disorder.
This is a condition that affects a dog's kneecaps where they become dislocated or slightly out of position. Although it is an hereditary condition that Yorkshire Terriers often suffer from, trauma and injury can also cause Luxating Patella. If the condition is very severe, a vet would recommend surgery.
A lot of toy breeds are predisposed to suffering from a collapsed trachea which causes the windpipe to narrow. The condition typically occurs as a result of cartilage rings softening which can occur when Yorkies wear a collar and a lead. When these little lunge forward it puts pressure on their throats and the result is the trachea rings often collapse inwards. This is why it's recommended these little canines wear harnesses rather than collars with their leads.
Portosystemic shunt is a hereditary abnormality which affects the liver and blood. In severe cases, blood flow totally bypasses the liver allowing it to flow through the entire body which results in poisoning vital organs, namely hearts, lungs and brains with the toxins that are being carried in their unfiltered blood. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from the condition, you should get them to the vet so a correct diagnosis can be made followed by the right treatment.
Yorkshire Terriers are fragile little dogs and as such they are prone to fractures which is why handling them gently is so important. Although the list of health issues seems very long, not all Yorkies will ever develop any of the conditions mentioned above. However, if you are thinking about getting a puppy, it is really important to contact a well established and reputable breeder who takes great care in their breeding programmes because this will reduce the chances of your dog developing any health issues as they mature.