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Yorkies: A Family Medical History

Yorkshire terrier recommendations for wellness and preventative care (see below for explanation)

Heartworm Prevention: all year long


Dental Exams: Yearly for all Yorkies


Chest X-rays: Yearly for adult dogs with heart murmurs


Yearly Complete Physical Exam: until age 7, then every 6 months


Bloodwork: (complete blood count and organ chemistry profile): Yearly after age 7 and before any anesthetic procedure.


ECG (EKG): After age 7, before any anesthetic procedure.

Buccal Mucosa Bleeding Time: before the first surgical procedure Certain diseases and conditions “run” in certain families, and knowing these predispositions can help in choosing appropriate health screening tests. This is certainly true of the Yorkshire Terrier breed.  Yorkies have specific genetic tendencies to certain diseases compared to other breeds- here are some of the things you should be wary of: 


Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Blood Disorders:

  • Tracheal Collapse: Small, less-than-firm windpipes can predispose some Yorkies to chronic respiratory infections or chronic coughing. A few dogs have such severe disease to require surgical repair to allow adequate breathing.
  • Patent Ductus- Arteriosus (PDA): This congenital disease of the heart occurs when a shunting tube that does not close at birth. This problem causes a significant murmur and heart dysfunction. This defect can be surgically repaired.
  • Mitral or Tricuspid Valve disease: This defect in the valves of the heart can occur from birth or develop over time. The improperly working valve can lead to eventual heart failure.
  • Von-Willebrands: This inherited clotting disorder usually does not affect a dog except during severe trauma or surgical episodes. A decreased amount or complete lack of a blood protein causes the blood to initially clot, but then begin to bleed again in a few hours. This usually does not affect dogs in their every day life, but can make surgery or significant trauma very dangerous. A blood test for this protein is the definitive way to diagnose this disease, or a Buccal Mucosa Bleeding Time is often used as a screening test before surgical procedures.
  • Heartworm Disease: While any dog is predisposed to this mosquito born disease, the Yorkies’ small size makes clinical symptoms much worse.

Ocular Disorders:

  • Keratoconjunctivis Sicca (Dry Eye): This lack of proper tear production can cause damage to the cornea, or outside surface of the eye.
  • Cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) both occur in Yorkies, and can be detected on most routine physical exams. Cataracts affect the lens, or center part of the eye, while PRA affects the rear portion, or retina; both can lead to blindness.
  • Corneal Dystrophy: This disease causes eye injuries to be difficult to heal, and sometimes require surgical intervention.

Muscle, Bone and Nerve Disorders

  • Medial Patellar Luxations (MPL): Due to a shallow groove, the kneecap of some Yorkies wobbles, and can slip or become stuck out of place. Minor luxations may only lead to mild arthritis later in life, but severe luxations may require surgical intervention. Some Medial Patella Luxations occur from birth, and others may develop and worsen over time.
  • Legg-Calves’-Perthes: This spontaneous degradation of the femoral head (the “ball” of the ball and socket joint of the hip) typically leads to a spontaneously broken hip.
  • Meningoencephalitis: This disease of the spinal cord and brain can lead to seizures and paralysis.

Skin Disorders

  • Color Dilution Alopecia: This hair defect causes a sparse, thin, gray hair coat and a predisposition to skin infections.
  • Atopy: This allergy to environmental substances, such as pollen, dust mites or even people dander, typically presents as itching at the feet and or repeated ear infections, though it can have many presentations.

Oral and Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Portosystemic Shunt (Liver shunt): The large blood vein which bypasses the liver usually closes before puppies are born, but if it remains open the liver cannot function properly. Without treatment (surgery,) this disease leads to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver failure.
  • Retained Primary Teeth: Many Yorkies do not lose their baby teeth as they should, which can cause the adult teeth to be misplaced, impacted, and crowded which leads to severe tooth decay.
  • Dental Tartar: Yorkshire Terriers are very prone to developing dental tartar, gingivitis, and eventual tooth loss. Regular dental cleanings and at home care are required to prevent tooth loss.
Hormonal Diseases
  • Cushings Disease: Excessive cortisone production by the adrenal glands can cause excessive thirst and urination, excessive hunger, muscle loss and poor hair growth. Untreated it can lead to diabetes and many other life threatening metabolic changes.

Urinary and Reproductive Diseases

  • Cryptorchidism: Yorkies have a high incident of having retained, undescended testicles. These testes have a greatly decreased fertility and a much greater chance of becoming cancerous. Neutering, which typically produces health benifets, is a requirement for affected dogs
  • Bladder Stones: Yorkies have a greater than average chance of spontaneously producing calcium oxalate bladder stones, as well as having them occur secondarily to a bladder infection.