Can a Yorkie Live 20 Years? (+Top Tips to Live Longer)

On average, Yorkshire Terriers live for 12.6 to 14.5 years. With proper care and the necessary precautions, it is possible for a Yorkie to live for 20 years, although the odds of this happening are very slim.

How Long Do Dogs Live for Anyways?

Due to the vast number of variations among different dog breeds, it is quite hard to give a definite, valid average of the life expectancy for all dogs. Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, a Florida-based veterinarian who runs the blog at Not a Bully, broke down the averages according to dog size:

  • Big dogs, like the Afghan Hound and Alaskan Malamute, live for 7 to 10 years.
  • Medium-sized dogs, like beagles and Basset Hounds, live for 11 to 14 years.
  • Small dogs, like chihuahuas and dachshunds, live for 14 to 20 years.

Why Do Yorkies Live Longer Than Other Breeds?

First and foremost, Yorkies are a small dog breed, which tend to outlive bigger dogs. Some research suggests that the reason why smaller dog breeds tend to outlive bigger dogs lies in the rates of the development of the two. Since bigger dogs grow faster, they’re more susceptible to developing genetic mutations, which can lead to life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

Furthermore, Yorkies are in general a very healthy dog breed. They don’t have any inherent genetic problems that can be passed onto their offspring when breeding for purebreds. Most of the diseases Yorkies are susceptible too aren’t fatal as well.

What Kills Yorkies?

Despite being one of the healthier dog breeds, Yorkies are still vulnerable to a plethora of infectious diseases. The University of Georgia conducted a study to record the top causes of death in pet dogs. The research spanned two decades, and studied 74,556 dogs, within which several hundred were of the Yorkshire Terrier breed.

This research gave a good understanding of what Yorkies die of, and made it known that a lot of the causes of their death are preventable. The results were grouped into two groups: puppies and adults.

What Causes Yorkie Puppies to Die?

Like with all dog breeds, Yorkie puppies are more likely to die in the first year than in the next four years. Infections and trauma are the primary reasons behind death in Yorkie puppies.

Parvovirus in particular is a troubling infection that affects that gastrointestinal tract. It is transmitted through direct contact with another infected animal, or with infected animal waste. 90% of puppies can survive Parvovirus with medical assistance, but the symptoms they experience are harsh and painful: intense diarrhea that leads to dehydration, vomiting, weight loss, inflammation of the eyes and extreme pain are just some of them.

Distemper is another acute disease that is caused by a virus which attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of puppies. It spreads when infected animals cough or sneeze, or share food bowls with healthy puppies. Symptoms include coughing, seizures, and paralysis. Furthermore, survivors of distemper are left with permanent nervous system damage.

Leptospirosis, which is caused by the spirochete bacteria found in damp areas and standing waters, also poses a threat to Yorkie puppies. It is transmitted by wildlife like rats and raccoons, and can even be transmitted if the puppy drinks the contaminated water.

Trauma is an unfortunate key cause for death in Yorkie puppies as well. People often overestimate the fragility of Yorkie puppies and end up unintentionally hurting them when playing. Their tiny, delicate bodies can be fatally injured if not handled with care and attention.

What Causes Death in Yorkie Adults?

Respiratory diseases are the prime culprits responsible for death in Yorkie adults. As is with puppies, trauma is again a leading cause of death in adults as well. Cancer is another reason.

Collapsed tracheas are common across all small dog breeds, and can cause intense breathing difficulties. Pulmonary fibrosis is another disease which affects older dogs. It causes the lungs to thicken and become stiff, rendering them unable to efficiently do their job.

How Should I Take Care of My Teacup Yorkie?

The average lifespan of a teacup Yorkie is between 7 and 9 years, which is quite below the average Yorkie life expectancy. This is because teacup Yorkies are more prone to health problems, death by trauma injuries, and attacks by larger dogs.

The best way to take care of a teacup Yorkie is to be keenly aware of the dog’s surroundings, and if possible, have the Yorkie be the only dog in the house.

How Do I Extend My Yorkie’s Lifespan?

Getting your Yorkie vaccinated according to the vet’s recommendation, without any gaps in the immunization schedule. The vet will recommend the core vaccinations for parvovirus, distemper, rabies and hepatitis. Keeping up with regular wellness visits to your vet is also necessary, especially if you think something’s wrong with your Yorkie.

Maintaining a good diet is also a must. Ensure there are no carcinogens present in the food you give your Yorkie. Regular exercise is also recommended for good Yorkie health; at least 20 minutes of exercise each day is vital for fitness.

How Do I Know My Yorkie is Dying?

The most obvious sign is labored breathing; it takes great effort for the Yorkie to breathe properly and evenly. A lack of attention towards their toys and food is another pointer. The ultimate indicator is the Yorkie being unable to control its bowel movements and bladder.

Does Dental Health Have Anything to Do with Yorkie Life Expectancy?

Good oral health is often underestimated by many. If an infected tooth is left untreated, it starts to decay and can cause infections. Brushing the dog’s teeth to keep plaque away is essential if you want your Yorkie to live a long, healthy life.

What Other Precautions Should I Take with Raising My Yorkie?

In addition to the tips discussed above, ensuring nothing harmful is lying around your house is necessary too. Make sure nothing toxic to the Yorkie is lying around, like alcoholic beverages, antifreeze, mouthwash, raw salmon etc. Ingesting these can cause diarrhea and dehydration, and even hypoglycemia.