The Yorkshire terrier, often called the Yorkie, was once a hardy little working dog in the north of England. Bred to hunt vermin, today's Yorkie generally haunts restaurants and chic shops with his owner. Along with the change of scenery, some of that hardiness was lost.
Like many little dogs, Yorkies often suffer from dental and periodontal disease, the result of 42 adult canine teeth crammed into one tiny mouth. Some of his diet should consist of dry kibble to help keep his teeth clean. Start brushing his teeth with special doggie toothpaste when he's a puppy so it becomes part of his routine. Because of his tooth issues, your Yorkie should have an annual dental exam at the vet. If he has typically bad Yorkie teeth, he might require an annual cleaning as well, which means putting him under anesthesia.
When the puppy is still in his mother's womb, the liver shunt delivers nourishment to the growing fetus. The blood vessel into the liver diverts around the organ, known as shunting the liver. Normally, this shunt disappears after birth and the liver starts doing its job. If it doesn't, this condition sends toxins that the liver should have filtered into the dog's body. Symptoms of liver shunt in a puppy or young Yorkie include constant thirst and urination, drooling, lack of appetite, depression, vomiting and lethargy. Also known as portosystemic shunt, this life-threatening condition can be alleviated only by surgery. After your dog has fully recovered from a liver shunt surgery, give him plenty of exercise and don't let him get overweight.
This hip joint disease often affects Yorkies. In Legg-Calve-Perthes, the ball of the hip joint is deformed, with the eventual lack of blood supply to the bone causing it to die. Your Yorkie may experience pain and exhibit lameness. While many small dogs are prone to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, it's most common in the Yorkie. It generally affects dogs who haven't reached their first birthday. In most cases, surgery can restore mobility to the joint.
Always walk your Yorkie with a harness and leash, rather than a leash attached to his collar. This avoids you accidentally tugging on his leash, causing pressure on the trachea, commonly known as the windpipe, which may collapse. Signs of a collapsed trachea include blue gums, coughing with a honking sound, difficulty breathing, and becoming winded after slight exercise. While many breeds are prone to collapsed trachea, it occurs quite often in Yorkies, generally affecting middle-aged dogs. After your vet makes a diagnosis, he usually starts out giving your dog antibiotics, cough suppressants and steroids to reduce inflammation. If no improvement is seen in a few weeks, or your dog's condition is very serious, tracheal surgery is an option.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.