Top 12 Common Health Problems in Yorkies You Must Be Aware Of

There are three types of health problems in Yorkies – inherited, congenital, or acquired. A few breed-specific vulnerabilities are hereditary, forcing Yorkshire Terriers to carry abnormalities since birth.

There are also diseases that these dogs are at high risk of during their life. With proper awareness, you can prevent health hazards from overwhelming your Yorkie.

Your knowledge of these issues also helps in early diagnosis and swift treatment.

The following are some of the most genetic and acquired common health problems in Yorkies.


Abnormally low level of blood sugar is a common health problem in Yorkies and similar toy dogs.

Yorkshire Terriers are at an enhanced risk of hypoglycemia in the first five months of their birth. Adults too can have the issue, especially when they have liver disease or are pregnant.

Yorkies with hypoglycemia are prone to frequent low-energy levels, weakness, drowsiness, and fainting.

It affects the brain as well as motor skills and can happen at the puppy stage. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Confused behavior
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Tremors

You may rub honey or sugar syrup on the gums of your dog as a short-term treatment. Many dogs require a thorough medical investigation and long-term dietary changes. Feeding high protein food after every few hours also helps.

Legg-Perthes Disease

Considered one of the genetic health problems in Yorkies, the disease is marked by hip joint problems. The head of the femur bone turns weak due to the lack of blood supply there.

As a result, the hip joint loses its vitality and becomes deformed. The degeneration gradually takes about 4 to 6 months to appear.

A Yorkshire Terrier suffering from it turns lame, limps while walking, and suffers from pain. Surgery is the most effective treatment for the disorder.

Skin Allergies

Skin health problems in Yorkies occur when they develop allergy following exposure to chemicals, fleas, molds, pollen, or other known triggers.

Excessive itching, scratching, irritation, or hair loss hints at the possibility of skin allergies. Certain allergies caused by wasps or bees are life threatening for your dog.

What are the allergy triggers in your Yorkshire Terrier? Make sure your pooch remains away from them.

Treat severe symptoms immediately to avert any possibility of anaphylactic shock.

Retinal Dysplasia

Another inherited health problem in Yorkies, retinal dysplasia leads to vision problems. The primary reason is abnormal retinal development causing irregularity in the eyeball functionality.

Usually breeders avoid getting offspring from a Yorkshire Terrier with this problem.

The problem can be detected with a thorough eye investigation. If the retina is partially affected, the dog may have smaller blind spots without any major impact.

However, in some dogs, it causes severe vision problems or even blindness.

It has no treatment. You have to train your dog to deal with the vision problem.

If your dog has it, you can take steps to make his life easier.

  • Place water as well as toys in the same place.
  • When walking your Yorkie, take the same route every day.
  • Keep furniture in the same place and avoid moving it around.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is a genetic condition that can lead to bilateral (two-sided) retinal degeneration and vision problems as well as blindness.

If the puppy has PRA, it will be spotted after the first two months.

The owner can watch for changes in personality connected to vision; it is the vet, however, who can diagnose PRA, especially in puppies.

There is no cure, however, but the dog can lead a quite decent lifespan, as other senses become more fully developed in the event of blindness.

Liver Shunt

Also known as Portosystemic Shunt, the problem arises due to a portal vein abnormality. Considered one of the hereditary health problems in Yorkies, it obstructs blood flow to the liver.

As a result, the liver fails to cleanse the blood. Unfiltered blood causes toxin inflow to heart, brain, and other body parts.

Symptoms of a liver shunt in Yorkies include seizures, behavioral changes, jaundice, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, cognitive issues, vision loss, and severe weight loss.

The disease can be life-threatening for Yorkshire Terriers unless treated early. Antibiotics, other medications, and dietary control are primary treatment options. Surgery is the permanent option to treat the problem.

Kneecap Dislocation

Another congenital health problem in Yorkies, kneecap dislocation, results in the kneecap popping out of the knee joint too often.

Birth defects cause improper development of tendons and tissues around the kneecap, allowing it to become unstable.

Kneecap slips out under duress though it returns to normalcy soon. Your Yorkshire Terrier may make a high-pitched sound due to pain. The dog may limp or avoid walking for a few minutes.

Rest and physical therapy can help him overcome the problem to some extent. Surgical correction can be carried out for a permanent solution.

Collapsed Trachea

Common mostly in undersized dogs, the disease is one of the genetic health problems in Yorkies. The windpipe or trachea looks abnormally narrow in a Yorkshire Terrier affected by the disease.

Researchers, however, indicate the hereditary weakness of rings holding the windpipe as the main reason for this disorder.

When you use a dog collar, the problem becomes acute causing respiratory blockage in your Yorkie.

If your dog has noisy or troubled breathing, it may have a collapsed trachea. Frequent coughing and gagging sound too indicate the problem.

Don’t use anything that may cause respiratory problem in your dog. Use body harness instead of a dog collar.

Keep your dog away from respiratory irritants, such as perfumes, smoke, and extremely cold environment. A vet may suggest medication or surgery depending on symptoms.


If your Yorkshire Terrier has abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, pancreatitis may be the cause. It is not a hereditary health problem in Yorkies, which is usually caused by the inflammation of pancreases.

The plausible reasons include excessive fat, toxicity, or bad dietary habits.

Medications help treat symptoms. Dietary changes and precautions provide long-term relief.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Severe diarrhea with vomiting and loss of appetite in your Yorkshire Terrier could be due to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

It causes rapid dehydration putting your dog at the risk of death.

The condition is among health problems in Yorkies requiring immediate medical attention.

Teeth Problems

Most small dogs have teeth issues, and your Yorkshire Terrier is no exception. Check for food remnants and cavity development periodically and clean teeth and gums at least once a week.


These develop slowly and give the dog a chance to adjust to the changing vision. A change in the structure of the protein in the lens of the eye is the cause.

Cataracts can be corrected surgically if caught early. Checkups and regular visits to the vet can spot cataracts.

Be sure to take your Yorkie for his vaccinations and keep an eye on him. Groom him regularly and avoid rough play.

With good care, your little friend should lead a healthy, happy life.

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