How Long Do Yorkies Live?

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Yorkshire Terriers live a longer life expectancy than most other dog breeds. How long do Yorkies live? The average household Yorkie dog lives for about 13 – 16 years. Males tend to live longer than female Yorkies. The Yorkshire Terrier is lucky in that it doesn’t have many genetic problems or diseases. The biggest threat to their life is infections, which are not life-threatening. The national average canine longevity in the United States is 10 – 13 years. That makes the Yorkie have a life expectancy greater than the national average.

What Do Yorkies Usually Die From?

Not too long ago, the University of Georgia concluded a decades-long study to find the top causes of death in dogs. Out of the thousands of dogs chosen in the study, a few hundred of them were Yorkshire Terriers (also known as “Yorkies”).  

The result of the research showed that there are numerous causes of death in Yorkshire Terriers. Particularly those who are under the age of one year. The number one root cause found was, unsurprisingly, infection. And that seemed to be a commonality among small pups.

For adults, one of the leading emerging causes is trauma. Especially among adults, trauma has been alarmingly increasing. But these are not the only two causes of death among Yorkies. Let’s take a deep look at the most common infections that causes premature death in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy or an adult.


The Parvovirus infection wreaks havoc on a Yorkie’s immune system and gastrointestinal tract. It leads to severe diarrhea and vomiting that causes fatal and extreme dehydration. It’s one of the most contagious diseases in a Yorkshire Terrier.

From the time when a Yorkie doesn’t receive immunity from its mother’s milk to the time before its first vaccination, there is a considerably high chance that the puppy will catch the parvovirus infection. It’s usually a prime time for a puppy to contract various other infections as well. This infection spreads easily from an infected dog’s feces or an infected puppy.

However, if you believe in properly cleaning your puppy and providing an infection-free environment, you can guard your puppy against parvovirus. Early vaccinations are an effective way to deal with your puppy catching parvovirus. And as soon as you notice a thing or two odds about your young Yorkie, take it to a nearby vet.


Leptospirosis is another infectious disease that your Yorkie is capable of catching. It’s one of the more deadly diseases in the canine world. Leptospirosis can develop into a variety of forms capable of dangerously impacting your puppy’s health.

A lethal leptospirosis strain can cause kidney and liver damage, effectively increasing the chances of your puppy’s death. Kidney and liver damage can severely affect blood circulation and can cause high blood pressure, resulting in a strain on a puppy’s heart. It can also lead to organ failure.

Skunks and raccoons are frequent and common carriers of leptospirosis disease. In case your puppy contacts any of the two, there is a high probability it will end up catching this deadly disease. Moreover, a puppy can also contract leptospirosis via infected urine. It is vital to understand that any type of kidney or organ failure in a puppy requires immediate veterinary attention.


Distemper causes severe respiratory and gastrointestinal tract problems. The more common symptoms of distemper found in puppies are sneezing, coughing, and weakness. However, it possesses the ability to turn into a severe form of diarrhea and vomiting, eventually causing dehydration.

If you don’t treat this disease cautiously, chances are high it will spread to the spinal cord, and then your puppy will have brain seizures, followed by trembling, and eventually, your Yorkie’s death.

So, how does a puppy get distemper? If your puppy comes directly in contact with an infected dog’s saliva, urine, and blood, it will end up contracting distemper.

There are other ways to contract distemper, too. If your puppy drinks or eats a contagious dog’s food, or the infected dog sneezes or coughs on your little Yorkie, the latter will get sick.

To avoid distemper, there is a distemper vaccination for puppies. During its initial stage, a Yorkie is highly likely to have had its first distemper vaccination dose before you even own him. It is worth noting to refrain from going out into those public spaces where you suspect the virus could be living.

Especially, if your Yorkie has not been vaccinated up until this point, avoid other wild dogs too. Try to regularly clean and disinfect your home. This will immensely help you to ensure the eradication of viruses from the puppy’s living environment.

Respiratory Disease

One of the leading causes of death among adult Yorkies over time is a respiratory disease. According to research, Yorkshire Terriers are the third most susceptible dog species to respiratory disease, trailing only Bulldogs (18%) and Borzoi (16.2%). The total number of Yorkie Terriers accounts for a startling 16% of the total.

There are three types of respiratory diseases that Yorkies are susceptible to:

·         Pulmonary Fibrosis

This happens when scar tissues replace the normal tissues in a dog’s lungs. It allows the dog little to no daily activities. Although it is unknown why it occurs in dogs, the consensus is that it is the result of an abnormal healing process following a lung injury. There is another belief that genetics plays a major role in developing Pulmonary Fibrosis among Yorkies.

·         Collapsed trachea

It’s a slow and steady, yet effective weakening of tracheal rings. It’s one of the most common conditions for puppies and it’s not the most dangerous either. however, if you don’t treat it well, it can be.

Chances are that if you use a traditional collar on your Yorkie instead of a harness, the collapsed trachea will get worse. Traditional collars place additional stress on a Yorkie’s neck and the toy breed, in general, has even weaker tracheas that are bound to face such problems.

·         Brachycephalic airway syndrome

This is an inhaling problem that occurs after a series of upper airway abnormalities. If the Yorkie owner does not treat it on time, this can cause inflammation to the airways following problems with the heart.

If your Yorkie has this infection or even the symptoms of it, try and maintain a good weight by giving him a healthy diet and low-stress exercise. In addition to that, keep your Yorkie inside an air-conditioned house on hot and sunny days. Heat and humidity will only aggravate the infection.


Cancer is the second most common cause of death among Yorkies. Although it is not the leading cause of death, it accounts for a whopping 11.1% of all deaths among Yorkies. Cancer diseases that are common in Yorkies include mammary gland tumors, cell tumors, lymphoma, bone cancer, mast cell tumors, and tissue sarcomas.

There is no doubt that cancer can be scary and unpredictable. However, 50% of cancer diseases in Yorkies are curable if treated early on. Doctors recommend that you check your puppy once a month to see if there are any new bumps or lumps. There can be skin lesions that may not heal well.

It’s vital to pay attention to your Yorkie’s behavior. If you notice any unusual behavior or signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting, take your Yorkie to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The earlier you diagnose the disease; the better your Yorkie’s chances of survival are!


Among Yorkie pups, trauma is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause for Yorkie adults. A total of 10.8% of Yorkie deaths are because of trauma. But as would all expect, almost all the cases were preventable.

Healthy Yorkie

Traumatic deaths include fatal injuries to a body part or a puppy’s head. Other injuries include: being dropped, stepped over, hit by a car, accidentally falling down the stairs, tripping over, etc. As you can see, all the incidents were avoidable. Incidents like these are the main reason why Yorkies do not live longer.

Congenital Disease

This is the fourth leading cause of death among Yorkshire Terriers. 10.5% of all Yorkie deaths are caused by congenital diseases. It includes diseases and other conditions that may have been present when your Yorkie was born.

Portosystemic shunts, also known as liver shunts, are one of the most common congenital diseases in Yorkies. It prevents the puppy’s liver from receiving an adequate blood supply. When the blood bypasses the liver, the toxins go unfiltered and they spread to the other body parts, which are the puppy’s brain.

Specifically, in the US, the probability of a Yorkie developing a congenital disease is 36 times more than all purebred dogs. It is important to note that, even if the Yorkie is born with the disease, the symptoms will not become obvious until or after the dog’s birthday.

Therefore, if your Yorkie shows any weakness, seizures, constipation, diarrhea, excessive drooling, or any other behavioral changes, make sure to take it to the vet immediately. Clinical conditions, in particular, manifest their symptoms 2-3 hours after a meal. Because the toxins destined for the liver will now march toward the puppy’s brain.

Congenital disease, like any other Yorkie disease, reduces the average life span of the Yorkie breed. There is a possibility that your Yorkie will live with the symptoms for as long as you treat the disease by non-invasive means. But that derangers your puppy’s life span. And if your puppy has moderate to severe symptoms, it will require immediate surgery.

Can a Yorkie Live to Be 20 Years?

If you’re worried about your Yorkie not being able to live long, for more than 13-16 years, let us tell you the good news that chances are high that they could live to be 20 years old. However, it’s easier said than done. There are numerous things that you can do to achieve a Yorkie lifespan of 20 years, or even beyond that.

take excellent care of your Yorkie

Being responsible and showing great care towards your Yorkie from day one, stretching to its adulthood and into its senior years, will only increase its lifespan. In fact, it will have had a long-lasting and positive impact on your puppy’s health.

Frequent Vaccinations

As discussed at great length above, infectious diseases are the number one thing you should be wary of. They are the most common causes of a Yorkie’s death. Therefore, you should ensure to stay on top of Yorkie’s vaccinations. If you live in a wildlife-rich area, keep in touch with your veterinarian about the possibility of receiving the leptospirosis vaccine.

Yorkie Vaccinations

Make sure that your Yorkie stays inside the boundaries of your house, especially for the first two weeks after you bring it home. And, if you see any animals lurking around your property boundaries, you should keep your puppy inside, under close guard. Do not allow him anywhere near any feces or urine from other pets or animals.

Prevent Injuries

Various injuries led to deaths among the Yorkshire Terriers. That is why it is essential that you pay as much attention as possible to prevent injuries to your Yorkie.

As mentioned above, deaths due to trauma among Yorkies are the second highest. Therefore, it is essential to teach your Yorkie all the basic and informative commands, like “come” and “listen”, etc. If your Yorkie is crossing a road with you, an authoritative command such as this could potentially save your puppy’s life.

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small dog

House members should be aware of the fact that Yorkies can appear out of nowhere. You could be sitting on the sofa and while you’re standing up, your puppy could be right under your foot without you knowing it. Make sure to look before you walk, especially when your Yorkie is around. In addition, your Yorkie should have its playpen so that it can be restrained while you sleep to avoid any nighttime incidents.

One of the major causes of deadly injuries among Yorkies is death from a fall. Yorkshire Terriers are a fragile breed, especially the teacup Yorkie. A mere drop can be detrimental to their health. Make sure that when you’re picking them up or holding them in your hands, you should pay proper attention.

If you have kids in your home who like to play with a puppy, teach them the basics of picking up and holding a puppy to avoid any potential injuries. In a split second, they can jump out of their hands and fall; young ones tend to do that very often.

When you’re in public, always ensure you never let them off their leash. One of the greatest causes of trauma deaths is being hit by a car. Keep them in close proximity and don’t leave them alone. You wouldn’t know, but your Yorkie is fully capable of digging into the ground.

Control Hypoglycemia

Toy-breed dogs, such as Yorkies, are often the carriers of hypoglycemia. It usually occurs after the first 4 months of the puppy’s birth. This health issue can potentially develop into a deadly one if the new owner of the Yorkie doesn’t pay attention to it.

Although it is rare among adult Yorkies, there is still a chance they will end up catching hypoglycemia. Especially among females during pregnancy, this disease develops quickly. Most often, hypoglycemia occurs because of liver disease, sepsis, or Addison’s disease. Other symptoms include confused behavior, fainting, tremors, depression, etc.

A Yorkie owner should know that it isn’t necessary for all the symptoms to appear simultaneously. Some could go unnoticed. That is why you should always keep your Yorkie in close proximity should any of the symptoms appear out of nowhere. Take the Yorkie to the vet if you notice them.

However, in the case of an emergency, doctors advise Yorkie owners to rub honey on the Yorkie’s gums. Try to place warm heating pads near the Yorkie’s body to drive up the temperature. This process will help you buy time to call the vet or take the Yorkie to the animal hospital.

Adult Yorkies with hypoglycemia require regular small meals. Make sure you feed them complex carbohydrates, fat, and high protein throughout the day. It is vital to keep their blood sugar at normal levels. Otherwise, your adult Yorkie will suffer from a medical condition.

What Is the Normal Life Expectancy of a Yorkie?

As a Yorkshire Terrier owner, we understand that one of the most common questions you have is what is your Yorkie’s normal life expectancy? Gradually as your Yorkie gets older, how long can you expect it to be around?

How long do Yorkies live generally?

The normal life expectancy of Yorkies varies by several factors but in general, the Yorkshire Terrier’s average lifespan tends to be around 13-16 years. A general belief is that male Yorkies tend to live 1.5 years less than females.

The reason why they live a little longer than other dog breeds is that they are generally healthy and hardy dogs. Most of the health issues that a Yorkie puppy or adult encounters are treatable, but not all.

How Long Do Yorkies Live

Because they are a healthy and friendly breed doesn’t mean they don’t get sick. The above-discussed infectious diseases are some of the most commonly found among Yorkies that can potentially lead to their death. However, in comparison, their health issues are fewer and easier to manage.

The reason why Yorkies tend to survive longer than their counterparts is that they have a better metabolism and a better clearance system. For dogs, small breeds outlive the larger ones for up to a decade. And since the Yorkies are a small breed, they have more efficient systems that allow them to have less toxic accumulation and less DNA deterioration.

According to research by the University of Georgia, large breeds fall prey to death due to gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal problems, while pups like Yorkies are more likely to die from endocrine issues, such as problems with the thyroid, pancreas, or even pituitary glands. However, if you take excellent care of your Yorkie, chances are he’ll be around for as long as you can imagine.

What Age is Considered Old for a Yorkie?

There tends to be a lot of confusion with regards to how a Yorkie owner knows if his puppy is old or not. Since Yorkies tend to live longer than their larger counterparts, they usually have a lengthy lifespan.

An average dog will be around for 10-13 years. Whereas, small breeds like Yorkies can live longer. 12 to 15 years, After the age of eight, your Yorkie becomes mature and when he reaches ten, he officially joins the ‘old gang’.

However, that does not apply to all Yorkies out there. If your Yorkie has a healthy diet, if he keeps himself busy throughout, and if he’s active, chances are he will be around for approximately twenty years. And to make that a possibility, ensure your pup’s well-being from the very first day.

Many Yorkie owners wonder how they will know when their Yorkie has reached the end of its life cycle. If your Yorkie begins to act strangely – for example, extreme fatigue or appetite loss – chances are your Yorkie is getting old.

Just like other dog breeds, Yorkies tend to lose interest in their favorite activities. They tend to get tired only after playing for a short while. They slow and wear down quickly when they are old.

However, as he ages, there is a good chance that your Yorkie will lose bladder and bowel control. Now that could be an alarm about a potential disease. As soon as the Yorkie gets old, his once-strong immune system becomes weak, and thus, it becomes more susceptible to diseases.

In the case of any infectious symptoms, the smart thing to do would be to take your old friend to get veterinary help.

Wrap Up

As time passes by, it becomes difficult for a Yorkie owner to face the reality that their loving pet is aging and entering the final years of life. The best a Yorkie owner can do is ensure you provide your Yorkie with a tremendous environment in which he thrives. Ensure he has a healthy lifespan.

No doubt, Yorkies, like any other dog breed, battle with infectious breeds. However, since they are toy breeds, they have better immune systems, and thus, better efficiency that helps get rid of the disease at an early stage.

Your Yorkie looks to you for just about everything – comfort, protection, and care. In return, they try their best to reciprocate and give us their unconditional love. Therefore, an owner has to ensure their Yorkie stays out of trouble all the time.



Hi, I'm Marcus, here at YorkshireTerrier.Dog, we aim to help you solve common Yorkie problems, concerns, and issues. Additionally, we provide you with reviews and product recommendations so you can raise your Yorkie safely and healthily.