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Yorkie Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

At A Glance

Like most dogs, you can extend your Yorkie’s years if you know how to address their common health risks and provide them with a safe and caring environment. Make every day count and see your dog live to their fullest and longest!

  • Make sure you take your pooch for regular checkups
  • Give them a good diet supplemented by the recommended amount of exercise
  • Go for filtered and/or bottled spring water

Last Updated on: Aug 19, 2022

Yorkies can go on to live for 12-16 years.

As Yorkie owner Sheila Waskielis from Northridge, CA points out, with proper care, Yorkies can live for about 13 years. This figure is close to a report on the Yorkies’ average lifespan of 12.54 years based on a study by Britain’s Royal Veterinary College.

It’s inevitable for dogs to get sick in their lifetime. However, it’s good to be able to minimize or avoid the risk of complications and death that may likely result from it.

Knowing what usually kills Yorkies will help you prolong their years.

How long do yorkies live when they are stricken with disease? And what old age-related illnesses do they usually suffer and die from?

To answer, here’s a list of the usual death causes of young and adult Yorkies that you should watch out for. We’ve broken down the most vital info about each one to guide you in managing Yorkie life stages in relation to their health.

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yorkie lying on the floor

Common Causes of Death in Yorkie Puppies

The number one cause of death at 16% rate in Yorkshire Terrier puppies is respiratory disease according to an extensive study done by the University of Georgia.

The research categorized the cause of death of 74,556 dogs from 1984 and 2004.

If you see your Yorkie experiencing labored breathing even when at rest, it’s imperative to consult a vet.

Common Infections

Another prevalent cause of Yorkie deaths is common infections.

Nasties can find their way into your dog and cause damage internal damage. Like most dogs, Yorkies are prone to bacterial and viral infections that could also prove fatal if ignored.

Some infections that affect Yorkies can damage their vital organs like the liver and kidney. You can prevent that from happening by boosting your pup’s immune system and creating a clean environment for it to live.

Your Yorkie’ young life can fall victim to a contagious infection anytime within its first few months. It’s a reality you will have to prepare for if you wish for your pup to reach adulthood.


Your Yorkie can get Leptospirosis if it comes in direct contact with an infected animal’s urine or indirectly through soil or water contaminated with the infected urine.

The bacteria Leptospira can enter the Yorkie’s body through tampered skin or through the delicate lining of its eyes, nose, or mouth.

Once they enter the body, the bacteria multiply and reach tissues through the bloodstream.

The Yorkie’s immune system may be able to produce antibodies to fight the bacteria but in most cases, leptospirosis damages the kidneys severely that could quickly lead to death.

If your Yorkie has a mild infection, some of the bacteria may get excreted through its urine over a long period. In such cases, there is a fair chance of survival with proper treatment.

A small number of the bacteria can still survive in the recovered Yorkie’s tissue and in this case, your Yorkie will become a carrier for the disease.

It is important to always keep your pup’s place sanitary to prevent its urine from contaminating the soil and water around it.

Some of the signs of leptospirosis you should watch out for are:

  • Lethargy
  • General weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination and thirst
  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding (rare)

Leptospirosis, if diagnosed early, can be treated with antibiotics. The disease develops usually 5 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. Other treatment methods include dialysis and hydration therapy.

yorkie hiding under the blanket


Like Leptospirosis, canine parvovirus is every Yorkie puppy owner’s nightmare.

This deadly disease is easily transmitted through direct contact with other parvo-infected dogs or contact with anything like food bowls, leash or collars that’s contaminated with the virus.

A person who has touched an infected dog can also potentially infect any dog he handles through his contaminated hands or clothing.

This highly contagious infection spreads when a pup licks or sniffs infected feces, goes around mingling with humans and other dogs, and touches stuff lying around.

Given the Yorkie’s friendly, playful nature, it is particularly susceptible to parvo contamination and can even become an unwitting spreader.

But parvovirus is deadly.

It damages the dog’s gastrointestinal organs and may also spread to the bone marrow and the heart, causing the dog to succumb to it without much of a fight.

The sad thing is that parvo typically affects puppies under 6 months of age, when their small, fragile bodies cannot hold up against the virulence.

But since it rarely occurs in dogs older than two, taking extra steps to provide your pup with proper attention and a clean environment in its early months can save your Yorkie.

Also, there is an effective vaccine against parvo. Given between 14 to 16 weeks of age, it helps keep your dog safe. So get your pup vaxxed.

Watch out for early signs like

  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea with traces of blood
  • Dehydration

Viral shedding continues for up to 10 days after recovery. So it’s best to isolate your infected Yorkie from your other dogs until it’s fully safe for everyone.


Another virulent infection that can take Yorkie puppies’ lives is distemper.

This fatal disease affects unvaccinated pups that are less than four months old.

Symptoms range from

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Pus discharges from the eyes
  • Convulsions
  • Salivating and chewing fits
  • Muscle twitches
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

And these symptoms are eerily similar to rabies infection.

Distemper usually ends in death and while some pups survive, there is irreparable damage in the nervous system that affects the Yorkie for the rest of its life.

Sadly, there is no known and foolproof cure for distemper but there are treatments that reduce the severity of the symptoms, inhibit secondary infections, and counter dehydration through fluids supplication.

This infection is prevalent in the wild, especially among raccoons, foxes, coyotes, ferrets, skunks, lions, tigers, and wild cats.

Direct and indirect contacts between these wildlife and domesticated animals like your pet Yorkie can contribute to its spread. If an outbreak happens in a nearby wildlife area, domesticated animals including all dog types in the surrounding area are at great risk.

The best way to prevent this deadly virus from attacking your Yorkie is by building its immunity through a series of vaccinations administered promptly.

Pro Tip: Always exercise caution when letting your dogs socialize with other animals that may be unvaccinated or at risk of being infected.

yorkie lying in the bed

Manage Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia or lower than normal level of glucose in blood can be life-threatening for pups too.

It is a metabolic disorder that often occurs when a young Yorkie’s body uses up too much glucose or fails to produce enough glucose. A dog’s normal blood sugar level is 3.5-7mmol/L. A 3mmol/L level or lower means your pup has hypoglycemia.

Anne Agard, a pet owner from California shares that small pups are prone to hypoglycemia. However she adds that the condition is less dangerous if it prevails before the pups are weaned.

The Yorkshire’s small, toy-breed size also contributes to their susceptibility to hypoglycemia. Their disproportionately small muscle mass and limited hepatic glyconeogenesis (the body’s capacity to form glycogen) predispose them to it.

Hormones like insulin help regulate the balance of glucose in the body.

When there is excessive exposure to glucose or an imbalance of the amount of glucose production and consumption in the dog’s body, the sugar level goes out of whack.

Pancreatic tumor, overdose of diametic meds, or xylitol (an alternative sweetener) toxicity can lead to increase in glucose levels in your Yorkie’s body.

Hypoglycemia causes Yorkies to feel extreme weakness, fatigue, anorexia, vomiting, and seizures.

Treatment includes administration of intravenous dextrose solution to raise the level of glucose, or oral glucose supplement, depending on the vet’s assessment.

As a first aid response, you can give your pup honey or corn syrup through its mouth, including inner cheeks and lips while on your way to the doctor.

yorkshire terrier

Common Causes of Death in Yorkie Adults

How long do yorkies live when they reach adulthood?

Going past the delicate puppy years does not exactly reduce the risks Yorkies face as adult dogs.

While early mortality in dogs younger than two years is mostly associated with trauma, congenital diseases, or infectious causes, these, along with cancer can still occur anytime in a dog’s adult life according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).

There is no ‘safe period’ that lets you put your guard down when it comes to your Yorkie’s health.

What do yorkies usually die from when they are past their prime?

Respiratory Diseases

It’s not unusual for Yorkies to catch respiratory diseases in their senior years. This has a lot to do with their respiratory apparatus weakening due to old age.

If you see your dog having dry, honking cough and breathing difficulties even when at rest, chances are, it could be suffering from a respiratory disease.

The most common ones are chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, and tracheal collapse.

With age, a Yorkie’s sensation, reflex, and response capabilities become less efficient, compromising how air passes through its body.

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi tree that causes tracheobronchial secretions, retching cough, and structural changes in it. This causes the smooth muscle cells of the airways to enlarge and thicken, have abnormal tissue changes, and ulcerations.

Corticosteroids, antibiotics if infection is present, and cough suppressants all work on this disease.

However, in cases of chronic bronchitis, lung damage could be severe and irreversible and may eventually lead to death.

Pneumonia, on the other hand, is a bacterial or viral infection that causes the lungs’ air sacs to swell, usually with fluid and pus buildup, making breathing difficult and causing severe cough.

Treatment includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) to relieve pain and treat fever, bronchodilators, and expectorants.

The most common symptoms for respiratory diseases to watch out for are labored breathing, coughing, and mucus production.

how long do yorkies live - tweet


Cancer, or the appearance and uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body is the top cause of death in aging dogs.

According to the FDA, almost half of the deaths in dogs (and cats) over ten years of age is caused by cancer.

One out of four dogs get the disease in the course of their adult life.

Early detection and proper treatment is important for a dog to go from cancer stricken to a survivor.

The most common cancer in dogs is canine melanoma in the oral cavity. These tumors of pigment cells may be benign or malignant. An aggressive cancer is determined by the size of the local tumor, any spread to lymph nodes and other organs, and the extent of the spread.

The pigmented mass often appears in the lips, vulva, and anus. It is usually pinkish in color. If you see any mass in your Yorkie’s mouth, it’s best to bring it to the vet for a biopsy to confirm any malignancy and determine its type and stage.

Other common cancers affecting adult dogs including Yorkies are breast tumors and leukemia or lymphoma.

Breast tumors may be present in one or more of the dog’s breasts. Surgical removal of the lump or the rest of the breast tissue is the primary treatment.

On the other hand, lymphoma is a cancer that damages the white blood cells or lymphocytes. These cells circulate in the body through the blood and the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is responsible for recognizing the presence of infections and foreign bodies intruding the body making lymphoma twice the threat because it weakens the Yorkie’s defense mechanism.

Treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, combination therapy, and immunotherapy.

How long do yorkies live with cancer?

It depends on the stage and degree of severity of the cancer. Early or advanced stage diagnosis usually means years to just weeks or months respectively.

Watch out for early signs like sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, lack of energy, increased urination and thirst. Advanced stage signs include difficulty in eating and drinking, seizures, difficulty in breathing, skin lesions, and paralysis.

yorkie lying on the carpet

Congenital Disease

Aside from environmental and natural causes, Yorkies’ own genetics play a factor in their susceptibility to certain diseases.

One of the most common congenital diseases affecting Yorkies is portosystemic shunts, also called liver shunts.

This disease occurs when the venous blood in the intestines abnormally bypasses the liver. This results in liver failure or its inability to flush out waste products which then accumulate in the blood and impact other organs, like the brain.

Signs of this disease in Yorkies include drooling, head pressing against hard surfaces to relieve a headache, gloominess, disorientation, and muscle tremors.

Treatment includes surgery, intravenous fluids, special diet, antibiotics, lactulose.

Surgery involving ameroid constrictor has a high survival rate at over 95%.

The danger lies in the development of hepatic encephalopathy as a result of this disease. This affects the brain that could progress to dementia, stupor, coma, and eventually, death.

The key to saving your dog from this disease is being attentive to any behavioral change and the early physical signs. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your Yorkie doesn’t have to succumb to this disease.

Collapsed Trachea

This chronic progressive disease affects trachea or the windpipe making it hard for air to enter your Yorkie’s lungs. It weakens the trachea’s cartilage rings and may cause the membranes to sag, leading the trachea to collapse during inspiration.

Small, middle aged dogs like Yorkies are prone to tracheal collapse but it could also affect younger dogs of any breed.

Some of the most common signs are persistent, honking cough after eating or drinking.

When your Yorkie is over-excited, or is exposed to irritants like tobacco smoke, it worsens the cough and makes it harder for the airways to work right.

An x-ray or endoscopy could easily diagnose the disease.

Treatment options include surgery, medications like antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, bronchodilators, and to some extent, sedatives to minimize the discomfort and irritation caused by coughing.

The red flag here is that many dogs with collapsed trachea also suffer from liver disease due to oxygen deprivation.

Make sure to have your Yorkie’s liver condition regularly monitored. Also, because it is a progressive disease, the tracheal cartilage may continue to deteriorate and your dog’s survival will depend on how it responds to post-op therapy.

What the Fact! An obese Yorkie might suffer worse than normal collapse and coughing because its weight aggravates the already labored breathing. So keep your Yorkie to its ideal weight to lessen the risks.

yorkie in the window

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis is a chronic progressive disease affecting the lungs.

It causes the lungs to be scarred and stiff, making it hard to breathe in air. The cause for it is still unknown but a genetic predisposition may be the likely culprit.

Symptoms include respiratory distress, lethargy, bluish tongue, dizziness, fainting, lack of appetite, wheezing, and coughing.

The sad thing is that it is an incurable disease and treatments like steroids, bronchodilators, sedatives, and cough suppressants are only able to reduce the severity of symptoms.

This disease causes oxygen deprivation to the Yorkie’s body which could result in complications.

How long do Yorkies live for if diagnosed with PF? It will depend on the degree of lung damage. Average life expectancy ranges from 12 to 18 months.

Death may be inevitable but giving your Yorkie the caring treatment it needs to lessen its pain and suffering caused by the symptoms can improve its quality of life.

Chronic Gut Problems

Adult Yorkies are also prone to digestive issues.

These affect the gastrointestinal tract causing various problems like inflammatory bowel disease, gastric dilation or bloating, gastritis or stomach inflammation, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and stomach ulcers.

When your dog’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is impaired, its overall health could suffer because of malnutrition or dehydration.

It’s not easy to determine what causes gut problems but it could be one or more of the following:

  • Dietary indiscretion like feeding off table scraps
  • Garbage sourced food
  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Medications
  • Toxic ingestion
  • Allergies, or originating from a GI organ

Common signs that your Yorkie’s gut needs checking are vomiting, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, drooling, presence of blood or mucus in stool, and loss of appetite.

Antacids, anti-nausea, diarrhea relief, special diet, probiotics, and fluid therapy are all treatment options your vet can advise.

It’s important to have your Yorkie checked by a professional because some digestion problems like pancreatitis, intestinal blockages, and underlying conditions like cancer can be life threatening.

yorkie lying on the dandelions

How To Help Your Yorkies Live Longer?

You can help your Yorkie live beyond its average lifespan, like 10 more years!

If you want to extend your Yorkie’s heyday until it’s old and gray, do the following diligently like your dog’s life depends on it, quite literally.

Prevent Trauma-Related Injuries

Create a safe environment for your dog to prevent trauma like bite wounds, head injury, bone fractures, skin wounds, and dislocated joints.

Accidents like getting hit by a car or getting into dog fights can cause severe injuries and untimely death.

A study shows that 87% of injuries in dogs hit by motor vehicles are skeletal trauma. The fatality rate, including euthanasia is 12.5%, mostly resulting from intrathoracic and intraabdominal injuries.

Restrain your dogs and keep them on a short leash when you walk them, especially in busy streets. Train them not to chase vehicles, other dogs, and humans.

Regular Vet Check Ups & Vaccinations

Many serious illnesses, especially infections, are preventable with the right administration of vaccines and regular vet consultations.

Diagnosis of a disease in its late-stage does little in treating the disease because of the degree of damage already done.

owner feeding the yorkie

Provide A Supplementary & Healthy Diet

Be mindful of what you feed your dog. A balanced and nutritious diet builds your Yorkie’s immune system, allowing its organs perform optimally. It’s also great to give your pooch vitamin supplements.

Most gut health problems are caused by toxic food intake. Your Yorkie’s stomach enzymes may not be able to easily break down some foods like vegetables.

Bridget Swain from Oregon, owner of a mixed-breed Yorkie suggests giving your picky Yorkie unspiced and unseasoned cooked chicken, boiled brown rice, and finely chopped carrots as toppings to dog food.

However, pay careful attention to possible food allergies and sensitivities at all times.

Daily Exercise

A good dose of daily exercise helps Yorkies with their blood circulation, heart health, and muscle strength.

Use this time to bond with your dog and engage its ever playful personality. It is also a good way to check if your Yorkie has exercise intolerance which can be a sign of a health condition.

Take Note of Foods Toxic to Yorkies

Make sure to know which food and substances are harmful to dogs. Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Avocados
  • Artificial sweeteners like xylitol (don’t give them chewing gums!)
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolates
  • Onions
  • Macadamia
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Garlic
  • Coffee
  • Fatty foods
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Tea leaves

Offer Stimulating Games

Engaging them in fun, stimulating activities like fetch or obstacle courses helps lower their stress levels, sharpens their mental alertness, and charges their body! Happiness has a positive effect on health and improves your Yorkie’s quality of life.

owner brushing yorkie's teeth

Provide Proper Dental Care

Good dental hygiene helps prevent oral infections and pain and organ damage. Oral plaque bacteria can reach the bloodstream and spread to internal organs such as heart, liver, and kidneys.

Erica Williams, owner of 5 Yorkies in Texas shares that her biggest problem with her Yorkies is their teeth and suggests keeping them clean to avoid tartar buildup and subsequent tooth extraction.

She adds that all her Yorkies are living longer than the median 13.5 years.

Offer Filtered Or Bottled Spring Water

Hydration is a must to keep your Yorkie healthy but could your unfiltered water source be doing it more harm than good?

“If we can anticipate better how things can go wrong for dogs, we can manage their wellness to keep them as healthy as possible”, says Dr. Creevy, Professor, Georgia Veterinary College.

Dog wellness has a lot to do with the safety of the food and water animals take.

Throughout the US, it has been found that there are toxins in the tap water that includes chromium-6 (a carcinogen found in the drinking water of over 200 million Americans as of 2007), disinfectant by products and other harmful chemicals.

Be on the cautious side and give your dog filtered or certified safe bottled water for your peace of mind and your dog’s safety.

Neutering Your Yorkie

Interestingly, a research conducted in the University of Georgia looked at a sample of more than 40,000 dogs and found that dogs that were surgically sterilized had a longer lifespan—14% longer for males, 25% longer for females.

For the average dog, a sexually intact dog will live 7.9 years, while a spayed or neutered dog will live 9.4 years.

This may be a hard decision to be made for owners who want a large brood for their Yorkie family. But is worth considering if it could mean extending your pet’s life.

What the Fact! The oldest recorded age for a Yorkshire Terrier is a jaw-dropping 28 years! This wonder-dog is no other than Bonny, a Yorkie owned by Vic Aveyard and Kath Aveyard. Bonny the Yorkie’s 28 years is equivalent to 196 years in humans!

yorkshire terrier

Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Yorkies


Your Yorkie’s small size is a factor in how long it lives.

How long do teacup Yorkies live?

Shorter than your standard toy or giant Yorkie. It’s 7 to 9 years.

Because of their tiny structure, they are prone to dying from injuries like being overpowered or accidentally stepped on bigger animals. Their small body also makes them less able to deal with severe disease symptoms.


A study shows that female Yorkies live one and a half years longer than male Yorkies on an average.

Gender is the least significant factor at play when it comes to Yorkie longevity, except if the disease is related to reproductive health.


Unfortunately, genes can make a dog predisposed to certain diseases at birth. It is a crucial basis for how long a Yorkie can live.

Yet, their DNA does not have to be the sole indicator of their life expectancy. There are diseases that they can survive from or at least live with with some semblance of normalcy if diagnosed at an early stage.

Also, health genetics can be improved by testing potential parents before actual breeding so that the next generation of your Yorkies are healthy. Or, acquire your Yorkie pup from a reputable breeder.

yorkie dog on the grass with books and eyeglass

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know My Yorkie Is Dying?

Any change in behavior like a distant, empty look in their eyes, loss of interest in things they used to love before could signal that their body is succumbing to a malady.

Also, if they stop eating or drinking and if they show extreme fatigue, twitching, and disorientation, it means they could be at death’s threshold.

How Long Do Yorkies Live in Human Years

The average 12-16 years Yorkies get to live on average is equivalent to 64 to 80 years old in humans.

What Is It Like To Own A Yorkie?

Yorkie owners often rave about how fun it is to have a Yorkie. These petite pooches have big personalities and are never short on having a sense of adventure. Their playfulness, energy, confidence, and affectionate nature make them incredible companions.

Can Yorkies Live 20 Years?

There have been, on record, Yorkies who have lived beyond 20 years, like Bonny the Yorkie.

What Do Yorkies Usually Die From?

Yorkies usually die from cancer, infections, congenital diseases, and fatal injuries.

yorkies sitting in the couch

Yorkshire Terriers: Larger Than Life

They may be little, prone to life threatening conditions, and have life expectancy limits but Yorkies are among the world’s most endearing dogs who know how to live it up!

Each year you get to add to their lifespan is a gift for them, and for you.

Yorkshire how long do yorkies live

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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.