How to Care for a Yorkshire Terrier

By Jane Meggitt

Tiny and frankly adorable, a Yorkshire terrier can steal your heart. His size makes him eminently portable, so he can accompany you in all sorts of situations. Caring for the Yorkshire terrier involves not only the proper amount of food and exercise, but understanding the temperament of these petite pooches. Originally bred as vermin killers, underneath that froufrou exterior -- complete with hair bows -- they're tough little dogs.

The Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are tiny -- weighing approximately 7 pounds at maturity -- but they're true terriers. "Feisty" might sound like a cliche, but it's an apt description of the typical Yorkie temperament. He makes a good watchdog -- at least he barks a lot -- but he can act aggressively toward other canines. Since the odds are that the strange dog is larger than he is, part of caring for a Yorkie is protecting your dog from himself.

Hypoglycemia in Yorkie Puppies

Yorkie puppies are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. It's important to feed your puppy a healthy diet on a regular schedule and not let him miss any meals. Puppies suffering from hypoglycemia appear disoriented and might shiver or suffer a seizure. An affected puppy could collapse and die. Keep a bottle of corn syrup on hand and rub some of the syrup on his gums if he experiences a hypoglycemic episode. That will elevate his blood sugar, but he must go to the vet. Yorkies usually outgrow hypoglycemia by the age of 4 months, but it can occur in an older dog.

Yorkie Feeding

Your vet can recommend a high-quality dog food to feed your Yorkie. For skin and coat health, your pet should eat a food containing the right amount and balance of essential fatty acids. Keep your Yorkie at a healthy weight and avoid giving him table scraps or excessive treats. It doesn't take much in the way of excess consumption for a tiny dog to become obese.

Yorkie Grooming

If you show your Yorkie, you'll have to keep him in a floor-length coat, which requires a great deal of maintenance. This includes using special oils and wrapping hairs in protective materials to keep them from breaking. If you don't show, grooming is somewhat easier, as the coat can be cut short. Even then, your Yorkie requires regular bathing for his fine, silky hair to stay in top condition. Give him a thorough brushing at least twice a week. He's small, so it won't take long.

Yorkie Training and Exercise

Active and curious, Yorkies are quintessential investigators. If you want to take long walks with him, he's game. A few short walks daily will suffice, if he can scope out the neighborhood. Yorkies are bright and take well to training, with one important exception. They aren't the easiest canines to house-train. Stay calm and patient and your pet eventually will learn when and where to go, at least most of the time. Always use positive rewards when training your Yorkie. If you like competition, Yorkies can excel at agility.

Heath Issues

Yorkies are prone to various health issues common in small dogs. Middle-aged Yorkies often suffer from tracheal collapse, a condition in which the rings of the trachea weaken, causing a honking cough and breathing difficulties. Taking your pet for walks with the leash attached to a harness rather than collar can help prevent this problem. Yorkies frequently experience dental issues, the result of 42 adult teeth jammed into one tiny mouth. Slipped kneecaps, or luxating patellas, another small dog worry, affect the breed. Younger Yorkies might exhibit signs of Leggs-Calvé-Perthes disease, in which the rear leg bone doesn't receive adequate blood, resulting in lameness. Surgery is usually necessary to correct the condition.