Whether Yorkshire terriers should wear collars remains a debate that sometimes causes dog owners to get "hot under the collar". While some pampered Yorkies may look like movie stars with their fancy, pink collars, others may look far from cool when they start gagging, choking and honking like a goose.
The law makes it clear in many cities: your pampered pooch must be always on leash in public areas. Of course, your leash must attach to something and that something is called a collar. Because many stores have a big selection of collars, enough to make your head spin, choosing the best one for your Yorkie may turn out feeling almost like an arduous task. Buckle collars, limited-slip collars, choke chains, and break-away collars are just a few. To make a fashion statement, and allow your posh pooch to stand out from the crowd, leather collars studded with rhinestones, pearls and even diamonds are now sold in many pet boutiques.
A collar on its own is a pretty innocuous item that just sits around your Yorkshire's neck. Problems start when the collar starts putting pressure on your dog's neck and trachea, which are very delicate in this breed, especially in puppies. If your Yorkie starts getting very excited when he goes on walks, the pressure on the airway derived from pulling on the leash may trigger episodes of wheezing, gagging and coughing.
Yorkies are predisposed to an ailment known as tracheal collapse. Just as a vacuum cleaner's hose, your pampered dog's trachea is flexible and made of rings of cartilage. In certain circumstances, these cartilage rings become flatter and flatter until eventually, the trachea collapses. This could cause your Yorkie to develop a harsh, dry cough that sounds like a goose honking, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Any pressure on the trachea will make this condition worse; therefore, it is important to avoid any type of collar that could potentially press on the airway.
If you are concerned about your Yorkie potentially coughing, wheezing and gagging or developing tracheal collapse, then you may want to invest in a harness. While a collar mainly encircles your Yorkie's neck, a harness will surround the torso as well which will help prevent choking. For this very reason, the use of harnesses has grown in popularity among many owners of toy-breed dogs. With a pretty harness and a lively gait, your Yorkie's remarkable "joie de vivre" will finally shine through without any disrupting coughing spells.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.