Yorkshire terriers are known for their silky coat that is more like human hair than dog fur. Dog shows feature long, flowing tresses that reach the floor. A wavy, or "cotton," coat is a major fault in the show ring per the American Kennel Club breed standard. Whether your pup will have a wavy or straight coat is determined entirely by genetics. You can buy a purebred puppy and still end up with a wavy-haired dog.
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Grooming a curly hair Yorkie
Even if you don't want to show your Yorkshire terrier, whether your dog's coat is wavy or straight can make a major difference when it comes to grooming. Yorkies with cotton or wooly coats require more grooming because they tangle more easily. Their hair should be trimmed short to make grooming easier.
A curly hair Yorkie also traps more dirt and debris than one with a smooth coat. This means that regular baths and brushing are vital to preventing skin allergies and other skin conditions. Smooth-coated dogs require bathing every week or two.
Meet the parents
Show-quality Yorkshire terriers are usually not bred if they carry genes for wave or curl. Breeding dogs should have no-curl genotypes, which prevents them from transmitting any curl to their offspring. If you are buying your Yorkie puppy from a breeder who shows his dogs in the show ring, you're likely to wind up with a straight-haired puppy.
You are more likely to find a curly hair Yorkie through a home breeder. Checking out the appearance of the parents can give you a clue to the likelihood of whether your dog will have wavy or straight hair. A combination of a wavy-coated dog and a straight-coated dog is likely to produce a litter with both types of hair. However, even two straight-coated parents can produce pups with wavy coats if they carry the gene for curliness.
Home DNA tests can determine whether dogs carry the genes for curl. Reputable breeders will gladly show you the results of any testing they've had performed, including the results for the likelihood of any common health issues passed on genetically through the breed.
Know the mix
Because wavy hair is passed down genetically, a cross with a poodle or other curly or wavy-coat dog makes it more likely that your dog will have wavy hair. Yorkie-poos and Corkies — a cocker spaniel mix — are more likely to have wavy hair. These adorable puffballs still require everyday grooming, so make sure you're up for the task before bringing one home.
If your Yorkie pup is mixed with a straight-haired breed, such as a pug or Jack Russel terrier, she's more likely to have straight hair. Be aware that hair texture will be more coarse and your dog might shed more than a straight-haired Yorkshire terrier.
Feel the difference
Although Yorkie puppies shed their coat and grow adult hair as they reach their first birthday, you can often tell whether a puppy will be straight-haired or sport a wavy coat within the first few weeks of life. Wavy-coated pups will often sport cowlicks, waves, or whorls in their puppy coat.
Wavy-haired Yorkies are often called cotton or wooly coated for a reason. The silky hair texture common to straight-coated Yorkies is a thicker texture that feels more like cotton or wool when rubbing it between your fingers.
Cotton-coated Yorkies can also look like cute little fluffballs, as their textured hair tends to stand out from their body. Pups with smooth, straight hair that lies close to their skin will develop the straight, silky coat common to the Yorkshire terrier breed.
- American Kennel Club: Yorkshire Terrier
- UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory: Curl
- Yorkie Info Center: Yorkshire Terrier Hair and Coat
- The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America: Grooming the Yorkshire Terrier
- Merryfield School of Pet Grooming: Dog Grooming Courses on How To Navigate Grooming A Curly-Furred Animal