Yorkshire Terriers, commonly known as Yorkies, are beloved for their small size, adorable appearance, and vibrant personalities. If you’re a proud Yorkie owner or considering adopting one of these charming little dogs, you might wonder about their lifespan. How long can your Yorkie live? In this article, we will explore the factors that influence the lifespan of Yorkshire Terriers and offer tips to ensure your furry companion lives a long and healthy life.
How Long Do Yorkies Live on Average?
Yorkshire Terriers have a relatively long lifespan compared to many other dog breeds. On average, a Yorkie can live between 12.6 and 14.5 years. However, with proper care and attention, it is not uncommon for Yorkies to live up to 17 or 18 years.
These estimates are based on two studies conducted in the UK and Japan. The UK study gathered information from over 15,000 dogs and focused on owner-reported data to determine age and cause of death.
The Japanese study evaluated 12,039 dogs and collected data on breed, sex, and age to determine average lifespan and common causes of death.
Factors Influencing Yorkie Lifespan
Several factors influence a Yorkie’s lifespan:
1. Genetics and Breed Lines
One of the most significant determinants of a Yorkie’s lifespan is its genetics and breed lines. Reputable breeders focus on breeding healthy dogs with fewer genetic predispositions to diseases. When choosing a Yorkie, research the breeder’s reputation and ensure they prioritize the health of their dogs.
2. Diet and Nutrition
Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the longevity of your Yorkie. A balanced diet rich in high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals is essential for maintaining their health. Consult your veterinarian to create a suitable diet plan tailored to your Yorkie’s specific needs.
3. Regular Exercise
Yorkies may be small, but they are energetic dogs that require regular exercise. Engaging in daily walks and playtime not only keeps them physically fit but also mentally stimulated, which is crucial for their overall well-being.
4. Routine Veterinary Care
Regular check-ups and vaccinations are essential for preventing illnesses and catching potential health issues early. Your veterinarian can guide on vaccinations, dental care, and parasite prevention to ensure your Yorkie’s health is in top shape.
5. Dental Health
Dental problems can be a significant concern for Yorkies. Poor dental hygiene can lead to various health issues. Brush your Yorkie’s teeth regularly and provide dental chews or toys to promote oral health.
6. Environmental Factors
The environment in which your Yorkie lives can also impact their lifespan. Keep them away from toxic substances, provide a safe and comfortable living space, and protect them from extreme weather conditions.
Leading Causes of Death in Yorkie Puppies
Yorkie puppies, like puppies of all breeds, are more susceptible to diseases and health issues in their first year of life. Some of the leading causes of death in Yorkie puppies include infectious diseases, trauma, and hypoglycemia.
1. Infectious Diseases
Parvovirus, a highly contagious disease, is a common threat to Yorkie puppies. It is usually transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog or through contaminated animal waste.
Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, pain, weight loss, and inflammation of the eyes and mouth. While medical assistance can help puppies survive, the disease can be fatal, especially in puppies under 6 months of age.
Another infectious disease to be aware of is canine distemper, which affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. It closely resembles rabies and is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, and shared food or water bowls.
Distemper symptoms include vomiting, nasal discharge, coughing, fever, lethargy, convulsions, seizures, and paralysis. Distemper survivors may experience permanent nervous system damage.
Leptospirosis, caused by spirochete bacteria, is usually found in damp areas with standing water. Dogs can become infected by coming into contact with the urine of infected animals or drinking contaminated water.
Puppies under 6 months old are most at risk. Not all unvaccinated dogs will become ill when exposed to this bacteria, but severe cases can occur.
Trauma is, unfortunately, a leading cause of death in Yorkie puppies. Due to their small and fragile bodies, injuries from falls, accidents, or mishandling can be fatal. It is crucial to closely monitor interactions between children and Yorkie puppies and teach children how to handle them gently.
Additionally, taking precautions to avoid accidents and injuries, such as using pet steps or cushions to prevent falls, can help protect your Yorkie puppy.
Hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels, is more common in Yorkie puppies under 5 months old.
When blood sugar levels drop too low, puppies can experience distress, which can be life-threatening if not corrected quickly. Regular feeding schedules and providing small, frequent meals can help prevent hypoglycemia in Yorkie puppies.
Leading Causes of Death in Adult Yorkies
As Yorkies mature into adulthood, they may face different health concerns. Some of the leading causes of death in adult Yorkies include respiratory diseases, cancer, trauma, and congenital diseases.
1. Respiratory Disease
Respiratory diseases are a significant concern for Yorkies, with a large study finding that 16% of Yorkshire Terriers died from respiratory issues.
One common respiratory disease in Yorkies is collapsed trachea, which causes breathing difficulties due to the narrowing of the cartilage rings in the trachea. Pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that scars lung tissue, can also affect Yorkies, especially the terrier breeds.
Brachycephalic airway syndrome, another respiratory issue, can affect Yorkies. This condition is characterized by abnormalities in the upper airway, commonly seen in dogs with shortened facial bones.
Symptoms typically arise between one and four years of age and can lead to airway inflammation and strain on the heart.
Cancer rates in Yorkies vary in scientific studies, with some suggesting high incident rates in the breed while others report lower numbers. However, it is important to note that many types of cancer in Yorkies are treatable if detected early.
Due to their small size, trauma remains a leading cause of death in adult Yorkies. It is crucial to protect your Yorkie from accidents and injuries, such as being dropped, stepped on, or involved in car accidents. Keeping a close eye on your surroundings and providing a safe environment for your Yorkie can help prevent traumatic incidents.
4. Congenital Disease
According to a study by the University of Georgia, Yorkshire Terriers are the fourth most likely to die from congenital diseases.
Liver shunts, a prominent congenital disease in Yorkies, occur when the blood cannot reach the liver properly, leading to inadequate growth and development. Early detection and proper management can help improve the quality of life for Yorkies with congenital diseases.
How to Prolonging Your Yorkie’s Lifespan
While genetics and predispositions play a role in your Yorkie’s lifespan, there are several steps you can take to prolong their life and ensure their well-being.
1. Regular Vet Visits and Vaccinations
Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are essential in maintaining your Yorkie’s health. Vaccinations protect against common infectious diseases, reducing the risk of illness and potential complications.
By following your veterinarian’s recommended vaccination schedule and attending wellness visits, you can detect any potential health issues early and address them promptly.
2. Minimizing the Chance of Trauma
Preventing accidents and trauma is crucial in ensuring your Yorkie’s safety and longevity. Educate children on how to handle Yorkies gently and supervise their interactions.
Limit the height from which your Yorkie jumps to prevent injuries, and consider using a body harness instead of a collar to reduce the risk of a collapsed trachea.
Additionally, attaching a small bell to your Yorkie’s collar can help prevent accidental stepping or tripping.
3. Spaying or Neutering Your Yorkie
Research suggests that spaying or neutering your Yorkie can increase their lifespan. A study conducted by the University of Georgia found that dogs that underwent sterilization had a longer lifespan compared to sexually intact dogs.
Spaying or neutering can also reduce the risk of death from infectious diseases or trauma. However, discussing the optimal timing for spaying or neutering with your veterinarian is important to ensure the best outcome for your Yorkie.
4. Providing a Nutritious Diet
A healthy diet is crucial in promoting your Yorkie’s overall well-being and longevity. Opt for high-quality dog food that contains real food ingredients and avoids fillers.
Human-grade food options, such as The Farmer’s Dog, Nom Nom Dog Food, or Ollie Dog Food, can provide the necessary nutrients for a healthy immune system and normal bodily function.
Avoid overfeeding your Yorkie, and be cautious when giving them table scraps or treats, as excessive calorie intake can lead to weight gain and potential health issues.
5. Regular exercise
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining your Yorkie’s health and vitality. Aim for daily walks or play sessions to keep them active and mentally stimulated.
Yorkies have moderate exercise needs, and 20 minutes of interactive playtime or walks should be sufficient. However, always consider your individual Yorkie’s energy level and adjust exercise accordingly.
FAQs about Yorkie Lifespan
1. What health issues are common in Yorkies?
Yorkies are prone to certain health issues, such as dental problems, collapsed trachea, and luxating patellas. Regular vet visits help detect and manage these issues early.
2. Is it true that smaller Yorkies live longer?
Smaller Yorkies may have longer lifespans, but it primarily depends on genetics, diet, and care.
3. Are there specific foods that promote a longer lifespan for Yorkies?
A well-balanced diet with high-quality dog food is essential for Yorkies. Consult your vet for recommendations tailored to your Yorkie’s needs.
4. What signs indicate that my Yorkie is aging?
Common signs of aging in Yorkies include gray hair, decreased activity levels, and joint stiffness. Regular vet check-ups can help manage age-related issues.
In conclusion, the lifespan of your Yorkie is influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, exercise, and healthcare. By providing proper care, attention, and a loving home, you can help ensure that your Yorkshire Terrier enjoys a long and fulfilling life by your side.