The Yorkshire terriers have become massively popular in the new millennium and have become fashion accessories for a number of celebrities. Because of their diminutive size and overall cute look, they have stormed the world and are now one of the most popular toy breed dogs.

Now, if you ask yourself how long Yorkies tend to live, then you have probably got yourself a new pet or planning to get one.

Well, the Yorkshire Terriers are rather small but fierce dogs, and mostly healthy and the common health issues found in these cute little animals can be treated and are mostly non-fatal. 

The average Yorkie’s lifespan is around 12 to 14.5 years, however, it is not uncommon for a Yorkie to reach 17 or even 18 years old if treated with great care. 

Their small size provides them with a faster metabolism which helps keep them healthy well into the adult years, and if you opt for a female Yorkie, they will live 1.5 years longer than males. 

Smaller breeds tend to outlive larger dogs by several years, such as Rottweilers that can live to be 10 years old, and a Golden Retriever’s lifespan expectancy is around 12 years.

Similarly, other small breed dogs, like Pomeranian and Papillon can also live up to 15 years, while a Shih Tzu can live up to 16 years old. The record-breaker would be a Chihuahua that can live to be 18 years old.

Why do Yorkies Outlive Large Dog Breeds?

Yorkies are rather healthy dogs and don’t battle many serious health problems throughout their life. Older yorkies might experience some health problems but more about that in another article.

Furthermore, their toy size and the developing time also affect their lifespan, since their rate of development is rather slower than those of larger dogs, which deletes the risk of forming genetic disorders, and eventually cancer and other life-threatening conditions. 

However, many breeders sadly are focused on the fast cash and don’t look into the history of the breeding dogs, which can result in genetic problems as they are passed into the gene pool.

Common Health Issues in Puppies

Several studies have been compiled to determine why most of the young Yorkies die and two main reasons have been found.


Like puppies of all breeds, Yorkie puppies are likely to die of disease before they turn one year old. Several infectious diseases can strike down a young Yorkie, including the infamous parvovirus, then canine distemper, and leptospirosis.


Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease often contracted directly from an already contaminated dog or through infected animal waste. The parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system, and often the first symptoms are severe vomiting and diarrhea. 

This can further lead to dehydration, with fatal consequences. Luckily, there is a vaccine and it is given to a Yorkie puppy between six and eight weeks old. Keep your puppy vaccinated on schedule and further prevent the parvovirus infection by properly treating your dogs in kennel areas.


One of the most serious diseases is canine distemper, which is caused by a virus that affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems of puppies and adult dogs as well. It causes symptoms similar to rabies and it can be spread by coughing or sneezing. Furthermore, it can also be transmitted by sharing the same bowls for water and food. 

Vomiting, coughing, fever, lethargy, seizures, nasal discharge, and even paralysis are just some of the symptoms. Puppies that survive distemper have permanent nerve damage. You can prevent the canine distemper by getting your puppy vaccinated on time.


This infection is caused by the spirochete bacteria found widely in the environment, preferably in areas with standing water or mud. It is carried over by rats, raccoons, and other wildlife, but also by domestic animals.

If your puppy is less than six months old and might be in contact with the urine of infected animals or contaminated water, it is likely to become ill and the results can be rather severe. The lethal strain of leptospirosis causes kidney and liver damage, which can lead to the death of your dearest pet. 

Vaccines are not administered but when talked with veterinarians if your dog lives in an area infested by raccoons, skunks, and other rodents, it is a smart thing to get your dog vaccinated.


In addition to several deadly infections that your puppy can contract, you should keep it away from any dangerous situations. This includes also falling from a sofa bed. Even the adult Yorkie is a tiny dog, and it must be taken with extra care, as fatal injuries can be avoided.

 Some of the trauma that can be avoided include falling down a staircase, being stepped on, or being dropped, not to mention car accidents. Many would-be saddened by the fact that a puppy died from carelessness.

Common Health Issues in Adult Dogs

While puppies survive most of the infections and live to adult years, older Yorkies experience a number of problems that can cause premature death.

Respiratory Diseases

Several types of respiratory illnesses affect Yorkies and it is one of the main problems that cause death. Other breeds that are affected just as Yorkies’ are Bulldogs and Borzoi.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

This type of respiratory illness is one of the deadliest and it occurs when healthy lung tissue is damaged over time scar tissue replaces it. The lungs become stiff and can’t move oxygen into the bloodstream. The disease is probably genetic, and it is progressive as lung tissue degenerates further over time.

Collapsed Trachea

Toy dogs are more prone to a collapsed trachea than large dog breeds. The disease occurs when the tracheal rings weaken and start narrowing down. The severe cases develop critical breathing problems that can further lead to bronchitis and other issues. To avoid a collapsed trachea, start using a harness instead of a collar when you have your pet on a leash.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

This respiratory disease represents a collective name for the abnormalities discovered in the upper airway of the nose of the soft palate. It primarily occurs in breeds with shortened facial bones, creating the known pushed-in appearance. 

The syndrome can also affect the Yorkies and symptoms occur somewhere between one and four years of age. It can develop into an airway inflammation and can further lead to a heart strain, as your dog will likely put more effort into breathing than usual.


Yorkies are mammals and such can develop a number of cancers and ultimately lose the battle. Often types of cancer that Yorkies succumb to are lymphoma, mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, mammary gland tumors. 

The cancer cells grow and can metastasize in the lungs and liver and other organs, while Yorkies are also prone to bone cancer. Luckily, 50% of all cancers are now curable if caught on time. Furthermore, female Yorkies can be spayed, which further damp down the risk of developing mammary gland cancer.

Congenital Diseases

In addition to cancer and a few respiratory diseases that can cause death in Yorkies, you will need to be aware of congenital diseases that your Yorkie might have or develop over time.

Congenital diseases are afflictions with which a Yorkie is born with and can affect the quality of life but also limit the lifespan. These conditions can become worse over time and become a more severe danger for older Yorkies.

Portosystemic Shunt

The most common and most dangerous congenital disease is a portosystemic shunt, also known as a liver shunt. The disease is one of the most dangerous conditions and it means that the liver cannot function and detox Yorkie’s body of the toxic chemicals. 

The symptoms include vomiting, constipation, stunted growth, excessive thirst, increased drooling, and diarrhea, among others, and if you notice such symptoms Yorkie should be taken to a vet station urgently. First symptoms can occur just half an hour following a full meal. Surgery is the primary treatment and is successful in 95% of the cases.

Ways to Expand Yorkies Life

Although you will outlive your pet dog there are ways to prolong their lifespan so both of you can enjoy more time spent together.


Vaccination is important not just for humans but also for dogs. Even if there is no rabies in the neighborhood, it is never a mistake to get your dog vaccinated against rabies, but also other diseases. Follow the schedule and try not to miss the essential vaccines as they can prevent early death outcomes.

Dental Care

You might not know, but dental care is quite important. Any tooth decay in the dog’s mouth is a major problem as it can affect crucial organs. Teeth that fall out are a huge problem for a dog when eating and to avoid any dental issues, brush your Yorkie’s teeth at least 3-4 times a week. Vet visits are also advisable.

Spaying or Neutering

Yorkies’ lifespan can be prolonged by simple sterilization. However, be sure that your Yorkie is at least a year old before you have it neutered or spayed since Yorkies younger than six months that are sterilized can contract parvovirus and other infections. The best way is to talk to your vet before deciding on such action, but the studies have shown that spayed or neutered Yorkies live longer.

Nutritious Diet

The best way to expand the life of your pet is to feed him a specific diet that will help him maintain perfect health. Make sure that the brand of food you are feeding Yorkie is approved and a good source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates as well, enough for a well-balanced diet. Don’t use leftover table food to feed your pet Yorkie as it can develop obesity. Healthy food means a healthy body, and Yorkie can then fight off all the viruses and diseases far easier.


Although small, Yorkies are active little animals and demand a set of activities to get all their muscles pumping. This doesn’t just have physical benefits but also emotional ones. A good walk around the area is a nice way for a Yorkie to let go of some steam and have it his way with you outdoors.

Minimize the Chance of Trauma

Injuries can cause a Yorkie death more often than not, and it is your obligation to prevent such things. Being small as they are, these furry friends are almost invisible and can get tangled in between your feet. If you just step over it, you can cause enough trauma that results in an unwanted death.

Furthermore, their fragile body can’t withstand being dropped so make sure how you handle it during those long cuddles.

You can do several things to keep a Yorkie safe, such as using a body harness with a leash and even attach a small dog bell on the collar so you can hear it if you don’t see it. Also, a pet car seat is a helpful thing when driving a Yorkie in a car.