The Yorkshire Terrier has a life expectancy of 12 to 16 years with a median of about 14 years. Females live on average 1-1.5 years longer than males. It should be noted that the average life expectancy of all domestic dogs, depending on the country, is significantly less, from 11 to 12.5 years.
Why do Yorkies have a life expectancy significantly higher than the national average? This is due to two main factors:
Small dog breeds such as Chihuahua, Yorkie, and Dachshund have a longer life span than medium to large dog breeds. Larger dogs such as the Labrador and German Shepherd have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years.
The Yorkshire Terrier is a fairly healthy breed. Most of the health problems that Yorkies face are not fatal.
The Main Causes Leading to the Death of the Yorkshire Terrier
A very interesting and useful study was carried out by the University of Georgia over 20 years to establish the main causes of death in dogs. In the course of the study, 82 dog breeds were documented. More than 70 thousand animals were studied, several hundred of which were Yorkshire terriers.
The findings provide a good idea of what Yorkshire Terriers and other breeds are most likely to die from, and surprisingly, many of these causes are preventable.
The results are divided into two large groups: puppies under 1-year-old and adult dogs 1-year-old and older.
The Main Causes of Death of Yorkie Puppies
There are 2 main causes of death in Yorkshire Terrier puppies:
Infections. Unfortunately, the most common cause of death for Yorkie puppies is infectious diseases. This includes a number of diseases, including parvovirus, canine distemper, leptospirosis, and a few others. Many viruses and infections are carried by other dogs and animals, therefore it is recommended to release the puppy outside only after completing the full course of vaccination.
Injury – Various injuries and injuries are the main cause of death in adult Yorkies as well.
Top 4 Causes of Death for Adult Yorkshire Terriers 1 Year and Over
Respiratory Diseases – About 16% of Yorkies have died from respiratory diseases. Diseases that have been fatal to dogs:
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- The collapse of the trachea
In dogs over 7 years of age, degenerative diseases that interfere with normal lung function can make the lungs more vulnerable to airborne pathogens and toxins.
Note that tracheal collapse is a common condition in small dog breeds. In some cases, it can be fatal when the illness leads to chronic bronchitis and other serious health problems. One of the causes of collapse is collar injury to the neck. For this reason, it is recommended to use a harness for Yorkies.
Cancer – About 11% of Yorkshire Terriers are cancer victims. A Yorkie’s life can be cut short by a variety of cancers, including lymphoma, skin cancer, breast cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, and bone cancer.
It is important to note that 50% of all cancers are curable if diagnosed early. The risk of developing breast cancer can also be drastically reduced if the dog is spayed. Therefore, with regard to this cause of death, many cases can be prevented.
Injury is the second leading cause of death in Yorkie puppies and the third leading cause of death in adult Yorkshire terriers. A horrendous 10.7% of Yorkies died due to injury, and in almost every case, it was preventable.
According to statistics, almost 11% of Yorkies die due to damage and injury, so their owners should be clearly aware of this. Trauma deaths in most cases were due to fatal head and/or body injuries when the dog:
- the dog was stepped on
- thrown or dropped from a height
- accidentally knocked down the stairs
- hit, hit by a car
- fatal injury sustained by a dog while being a passenger in a car
As you can see, this cause of death in puppies and adult Yorkies is most often avoidable. The life expectancy of the breed will increase dramatically if possible injuries are minimized.
Congenital diseases. About 10.5% of Yorkies died due to a congenital disease, which is the 4th leading cause of death for Yorkies over 1-year-old. Yorkshire Terriers, like other purebred breeds, are prone to several diseases, but the most common is the hepatic shunt.
It is worth noting that small dogs have a higher chance of developing liver shunts. It is a condition where the dog’s liver does not have adequate and sufficient blood flow.
Puppies born with this defect may not show any signs until they reach 1 year of age or a little later. Liver shunt symptoms include:
- Low growth rates
- Severe drooling
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Strange behavior (such as walking in circles)
- Seizures, convulsions
Many Yorkies develop clinical signs 1–3 hours after a meal, as toxins normally filtered by a healthy liver reach the dog’s brain. The disease is diagnosed with X-rays, ultrasounds, and blood tests.
Medical treatment is possible only in the case of mild cases, but it should be borne in mind that any non-invasive methods of treating the disease will drastically shorten the dog’s life span. More than 50% of cases of a hepatic shunt in Yorkies are quite severe cases requiring surgical intervention. According to statistics, the survival rate after surgery is about 95%.
How to Increase the Life Span of a Yorkshire Terrier?
There are many things you can do to make your Yorkie live as long as possible. The care you give him from day one and into adulthood will have a big impact on your dog’s health and lifespan.
Vaccinations. Since infections are the leading cause of death in Yorkie puppies, it is important to ensure timely vaccinations. Puppies should not leave the home for at least 2 weeks after they have received all the necessary vaccinations.
Prevention of injuries. Injury is a major cause of death for both puppies and adult terriers. Your focus should be on creating a safe environment for the dog. Your family and everyone in the house should be clearly aware that there is a small dog “underfoot”. Teach your Yorkshire Terrier all the basic commands, and if the dog is in danger, one of the teams will be able to protect it from possible injury and mutilation.
Oral hygiene. If a dog’s tooth or gums begin to ache, and food decomposition begins in the mouth, and tartar forms, the infection can enter the body through the bloodstream, including reaching the heart and brain. Dogs with poor oral hygiene and aching teeth can suffer from pain in various parts of the body, and older dogs with missing teeth have difficulty eating. For these reasons, brushing your teeth correctly and regularly is very important and can be an important step you can take to increase your Yorkshire Terrier’s lifespan.
Sterilization. For both males and females, despite some conflicting studies, most veterinarians recommend sterilization in order to increase longevity. Dogs that have been spayed before 6 months of age live up to 20% longer than their normal counterparts.
Correct diet. What your dog eats day after day has a huge impact on his overall health, and therefore longevity. Use only quality food or home cooking. Avoid feeding your Yorkie leftover food, for example, after dinner – this can quickly lead to poisoning, obesity, and other health problems.
Be mindful when walking and exercising. Regular exercise, coupled with a healthy diet throughout the life of a Yorkie, can significantly extend his or her lifespan. Any activity will keep your dog’s heart and muscles in good shape, and of course will contribute to his emotional health.
Don’t delay your vet visit. Many serious illnesses have a favorable prognosis if they are detected early enough. This is especially true for liver shunts and cancer. Make sure you have an adequate budget for unexpected medical issues. Many owners are embarrassed to bring their dog to the veterinarian, even because of the relatively small financial burden.
Consider the age of the dog. Time is passing quickly, but many owners are reluctant to admit that the Yorkie is getting older and maybe in the final stages of its life. For aging dogs, it is often recommended to adjust not only nutrition but also exercise and daily routine in general. Yorkshire Terriers over 10 years of age are recommended to be seen by a veterinarian twice a year.
Aging and Sick Dogs
Unfortunately, most owners have to make a decision about the “end of life” for their dog. Not all dogs die of natural causes during sleep, so many dogs will have to make extremely difficult decisions about euthanasia or euthanasia to end their suffering.