If you hate finding hairs all over your home or the mere sight of a dog makes you sneeze, you're right to be concerned about those ubiquitous doggy hairs. Blessed with long, silky hair often primped and tied back in spiffy topknots, Yorkies are highly sought after for their coats.
Dogs come in two coat varieties: single and double coats. Double-coated dogs have a layer of stiff, long guard hairs known as the top coat and an inner layer of shorter, finer hairs known as the undercoat. These coats do a pretty decent job of repelling water and keeping pooches toasty in the winter. Single-coated dogs, on the other paw, are equipped only with the outer guard hairs and lack the undercoat layer. Yorkies are generally single-coated dogs with long, silky hairs and no undercoat. In some cases, the coat of the Yorkie may have a woolly, cotton-like texture and it's not unheard of for some Yorkies to be double-coated, but this isn't the norm for the breed and the United Kennel Club categorizes it as a fault.
Not only do Yorkies lack an undercoat, they also don't have fur in the real sense of the word. In other words, unlike many other breeds of dogs, Yorkies have hair that is somewhat similar to human hair: it continues to grow until it either dies or is cut. Don't assume, though, that a Yorkie's coat is easier to care for; on the contrary, this pooch's coat requires oodles of tender loving care.
The lack of an undercoat and the presence of hair rather than fur may sound appealing, but it comes at a cost. While it's true that you won't find many stray hairs around the home, this breed still sheds; it's just not so visible. What happens is that when the hair dies, instead of making it to the ground, it simply remains trapped in the coat with the end result of intertwining with other hairs. Regular brushing and combing is a must with these pooches to prevent them from becoming a matted mess.
To avoid grooming challenges, you may wish to take a "short cut" by trimming the Yorkie's coat into a puppy cut, schnauzer cut or Westie cut. You'll likely need a professional groomer to achieve the look you want—unless you don't mind your Yorkie looking a little rough around the edges as you improve your skills.
A Yorkie boasting a flashy pink sweater isn't just making a fashion statement; most likely she's also trying to stay warm. The lack of an insulating undercoat makes Yorkies much more vulnerable to chilly weather conditions than their double-coated buddies. Make sure you habituate your Yorkie pup to wearing a sweater from a young age; nothing is worse than chasing a Yorkie around the house when temperatures plummet simply because she dreads wearing a sweater.
Just because a Yorkie lacks an undercoat doesn't mean she is hypoallergenic. The myth of the hypoallergenic dog is hard to debunk. The truth is that any dog who produces saliva, urine and dander has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. However, the good news is that Yorkies, being on the smaller size, tend to produce less dander and shed considerably less than most breeds, making them a good candidate for allergy sufferers who love dogs.
- Happy Dog: Caring for Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit; Billy Rafferty, Jill Cahr
- Pedigree: All About the Yorkie’s Hair
- Dog Grooming For Dummies; Margaret H. Bonham
- Yorkshire Terrier Club of America: Grooming the Yorkshire Terrier
- Pedigree: Single-Coated Yorkies and Changing Seasons
- Yorkshire Terriers For Dummies; Tracy Barr, Peter F. Veling
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.