Hereditary diseases

Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems

Mercè Garcia
By Mercè Garcia. July 6, 2022
Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems

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As a companion dog, the Yorkshire Terrier has undergone very intensive selection. Therefore, this breed is usually very resistant. However, like any dog, it can be susceptible to genetic diseases. Here you will learn about some of the most common genetic diseases that affect Yorkshire Terriers, so you can recognize the symptoms as soon as possible. Dogs with any of these diseases should not be allowed to breed, as they can pass these diseases on to their puppies.

The following AnimalWised article describes and explains the most common Yorkshire terrier health problems.

You may also be interested in: Health Problems in Belgian Shepherd Malinois


  1. What causes hereditary diseases in the Yorkshire Terrier breed?
  2. Most common health problems in Yorkshire Terrier
  3. Less common health problems in Yorkshire Terrier
  4. Rare health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

What causes hereditary diseases in the Yorkshire Terrier breed?

The Yorkshire Terrier (often abbreviated as Yorkie) is one of the smallest dog breeds of the terrier type, indeed of any dog breed. The breed developed in Yorkshire, England in the 19th century and has become increasingly popular as a companion dog in recent years.

Modern dog breeds, such as the Yorkshire Terrier, originated and continue to originate from a relatively small number of founder animals, often selected from different breeds to add interesting characteristics to the new breed that are present in the originals. The diseases discussed in the following sections are considered hereditary or relatively common in the breed. In other words, these diseases are more common in this breed than in other breeds or compared to the general dog population.

It should be noted that these popular breeds are typically bred indiscriminately, resulting in a higher incidence of hereditary diseases.

If you want to know more about this breed, its main physical characteristics, character, origin and care, continue reading our Yorkshire Terrier breed file.

Most common health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

This is the list of the most common diseases of the Yorkshire Terrier, where efforts are being made to eradicate them as much as possible. These diseases can seriously affect the health of the animal and require veterinary or surgical intervention. Most symptoms of these diseases worsen as the dog gets older. That is why it is so important to detect them as early as possible.

The most common hereditary diseases in the Yorkshire breed are the following:

  • Retinal dysplasia: Retinal dysplasia is an abnormal development of the retina that is present in dogs from birth. There are 3 types of retinal dysplasia and in some cases it can lead to blindness. With their keen sense of smell and hearing, dogs are very capable of compensating for visual difficulties, especially in familiar environments. Owners may not even be aware of the extent of the visual impairment.

  • Entropion: Entropion in dogs is the inversion of the eyelid margins to the inner side of the eye, causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea. This can lead to corneal ulceration and even loss of vision in the medium and long term.

  • Portosystemic shunt: Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a congenital defect in blood flow to the liver. In animals with PSS, there is abnormal blood flow through the liver. This has very important implications because one of the main functions of the liver is to remove toxins from the bloodstream. As a result, PSS is characterized by neurological symptoms as the toxins affect the brain's ability to stay awake. The most definitive method of treating PSS is surgery. The surgeon identifies the blood pathway through the liver and closes it, forcing the blood to take the new normal path through the liver.

  • Tracheal collapse: Tracheal collapse is a narrowing of the internal diameter of the trachea that varies with the phase of the respiratory cycle. The rings of the trachea (made of cartilage) lose their ability to maintain their shape and collapse when the dog breathes, causing a loud cough. Most cases can be successfully treated medically, with the use of bronchodilators, nebulizers, or vaporizers.

  • Patellar luxation: Patellar luxation in dogs occurs when the kneecap, a small bone in front of the knee joint that must be properly positioned for proper function of the animal's limbs, slips, causing pain and functional weakness in the dog. Over time, your dog may develop other degenerative joint changes, such as osteoarthritis. Depending on the severity of the case, the dog may need surgery.

Read the following article, in which we describe the most common symptoms and treatment of hepatic encephalopathy in dogs, to learn more.

Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems - Most common health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

Less common health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

In addition to the above diseases, the Yorkshire Terrier is also susceptible to the following pathologies, generally with a lower incidence:

  • Hydrocephalus: In hydrocephalus, there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the cavities of the brain (the ventricles). This leads to increased pressure in the brain, which causes the clinical signs of this disease such as dwarfism, a bulging skull, abnormal movement, visual disturbances, and seizures. There are several medications that can decrease the production of CSF.

  • Cataract: A cataract is a clouding or loss of transparency of the lens of the eye. The most obvious and well-known symptom is that when the lens loses transparency, the pupil takes on a whitish-bluish color rather than being black. Cataracts can be surgically removed. The decision whether or not to do this depends on several factors: whether the cataract is progressing, the degree of visual impairment, and the temperament of the dog.

  • Alopecia due to thinning of color: It occurs in dogs with light brown coats that are thinnings of dark brown or black coats, such as the Yorkshire, and is a result of changes in the genes that determine color. Alopecia means hairlessness, affected dogs have poor, patchy coats that develop into permanent and widespread hair loss. There are no known treatments that can effectively cure the disease.

  • Congenital Hypotrichosis: Dogs affected by congenital hypotrichosis have hair loss from birth or at a few months of age due to defective development or complete absence of some or all of the hair follicles where hair normally grows. In some dogs, other structures such as sweat glands or teeth are also affected. The hair loss is permanent. If the animal later develops seborrhea, it can be treated with anti-seborrhea shampoos.

  • Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism means that one or both testicles of a dog have not migrated into the scrotum. If this is not the case by week 8, the dog is usually diagnosed as cryptorchid, although the testes may continue to descend for up to 4 months. Although the condition only occurs in male dogs, both may carry the cryptorchid gene. The only treatment for this condition is removal of both testicles (castration).

  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease: Also called avascular necrosis of the femoral head, occurs in the hip joint and usually develops in young dogs (4 to 12 months) of small breeds. A young dog affected by this disease will gradually become painful and limp on one leg. Treatment is surgical and consists of removing the affected femoral head and neck.

  • Idiopathic generalized tremor: is a condition in which dogs develop a generalized, sudden-onset intention tremor that worsens with exercise, stress, and excitement and disappears during sleep. Most dogs recover completely with early treatment with corticosteroids and/or benzodiazepines.

  • Urolithiasis: Urolithiasis in dogs is a disease in which crystals in the urine form stones, also called concretions or uroliths. These can be located anywhere in the urinary tract, where they cause irritation and secondary infection. The medical approach is to gradually dissolve the stones by changing the pH of the urine, i.e. making it more or less acidic (depending on the type of stones), with the help of medication and dietary changes.

As you can see, many of the diseases of the Yorkshire breed are related to the eyes. You can learn more about them in this other article about the most common eye problems in dogs.

Rare health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

Finally, we will discuss the following two less common diseases that rarely affect the Yorkshire breed, but are still worth knowing about.

  • Corneal dystrophy: Corneal dystrophy in dogs is a hereditary anomaly affecting one or more layers of the cornea. Usually, both eyes are affected, although not necessarily symmetrically. Depending on which layers of the cornea are affected, chronic or recurrent superficial ulcers may occur. In dogs suffering from painful superficial epithelial erosion, treatment is aimed at removing the lesions. There are surgical treatments that can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist if erosions persist or recur frequently despite medical treatment.

  • Dermal sinus: The dermoid sinus is a tubular indentation of the skin in the middle of the back that may extend into the spinal canal. This condition is due to an abnormality in the early stages of embryonic development in which there is incomplete separation of the tissues that will develop into the skin and nervous system. If the tract invades the spinal canal, the infection can cause meningitis or myelitis. The only successful treatment is surgical removal of the entire tract.

If we notice certain changes in the eye coloration of our dogs, we should know that this is not a normal sign and could be a result of corneal dystrophy or other eye diseases. Continue reading this other article to learn more about what it means when your dog has blue eyes.

Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems - Rare health problems in Yorkshire Terrier

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems, we recommend you visit our Hereditary diseases category.

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Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Problems