Here’s What No One Tells You About Common Health Problems In Yorkies

Sick yorkie

There are certain health issues that are more common in the Yorkshire Terrier.

It is smart to be aware of these problems so that you can spot them if you see the signs in your dog; that way you can get medical care if needed.

According to the American Kennel Club,

“Yorkshire Terriers are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as eye anomalies and Luxating Patella, a dislocated kneecap once called a “trick knee” in humans.”

Common Health Issues

Most likely your Yorkie is healthy, so you should not be worried. Some of these issues can be inherited, congenital or acquired.

However, the following are some problems that have been seen in this breed:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Legg-Perthes Disease
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Luxating Patella
  • Collapse Trachea
  • Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Skin Allergies

The following is a description of these issues and what you should be aware of. Learn more at YorkieMag.



Affecting other toy breeds as well, hypoglycemia is a condition where the blood sugar drops very quickly.

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

If it is in the worst stage, hypoglycemia can lead to coma.

What can be done? You should keep honey on hand so that if you spot these symptoms, you can rub it on the dog’s gums.

Warming the puppy with a heating pad will also help until he is stabilized and you can take him to the vet or emergency room.

Small meals, rich in protein, fed throughout the day, can help to avoid hypoglycemia.

Legg-Perthes Disease

This affects the joint of the hip and can be developed along certain lines of the breed.

Because the bones in the hip area are not getting adequate circulation, they become weaker and collapse after a period of time.

It usually appears in a puppy between five and eight months old. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Limping
  • Signs of pain
  • Leg becoming lame

Yorkie in the woods

Legg-Perthes can be diagnosed with x-rays. The treatment is surgery, from which most puppies recover fully, although recovery may be slow.

Retinal Dysplasia

Common to many other breeds, this disease happens when the retina of the eye has an irregularity.

It is an inherited disease and is passed through the generations.

The eyeball is covered with a thin layer of tissue, causing irregularities in vision and in extreme cases, blindness. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, and there are no visual signs that you will notice.

However, if the dog keeps bumping into objects, stumbles or seems to be confused, he might have this condition.

A vet can diagnose it with a full examination. Only the moderate or severe cases will affect your Yorkie.

A test by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation can be performed by a certified ophthalmologist.

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.


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.


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.

Luxating Patella

Also known as kneecap dislocation, the kneecap moves in or out and affects the motion of the leg.

Symptoms can appear and disappear. If the dog is walking oddly, limping or is in pain, he should go to the vet. Diagnosis is with ultrasound and x-rays.

Helping the dog build stronger muscles by walking uphill often helps with this condition.

Collapsed Trachea

This happens in the toy breed. There can be several reasons:

  • Genetic weakness
  • Collar or leash is pulled back too hard

You will hear sounds such as gagging, breathing noisily, coughing and trouble with breathing.

To avoid problems such as this, your Yorkie should be walked with a harness in place of a collar.

Skin Allergies

Be sure that your Yorkie is shampooed with a good shampoo.

If you notice itching, scratching or skin irritation, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to find out the cause. It could be a bee or wasp sting as well as allergy.

Sick yorkies

Pancreatitis and Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Both of these conditions are very serious and your Yorkie should go to the vet immediately.

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite in your dog. Vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the abdominal area are symptoms of Pancreatitis.

Additionally, your Yorkie could have dental issues, so brush his teeth.

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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