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Yorkie Lifespan: How Long Do Yorkies Live?


Last Updated: December 6, 2023 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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The adorable Yorkie is one of America’s most popular dog breeds, thanks to their fun and affectionate nature combined with their small size. Yorkie parents want to keep their Yorkie with them for as long as possible. So, if you’re wondering how to keep your Yorkie in tip-top condition to hopefully increase their lifespan, or you’re considering adopting a Yorkie and want to know more about their health, you’ve come to the right place.

The question on every Yorkie owner’s mind is, how long do Yorkies live? The average lifespan of a healthy Yorkie is 11 to 15 years. Some enjoy fewer years than this, and others can live much longer. The oldest living Yorkie, Bonny, reportedly lived until a staggering 28 years of age. So, what’s the secret to keeping your pup with you for as long as possible? Unfortunately, there is no secret. But we have many tips to keep yours as healthy as possible.

It’s essential to understand their health and what factors affect it. Like all purebred breeds, there are some hereditary health concerns to watch out for which you can’t control. However, some things you can control, such as providing them with a high-quality diet and daily exercise. We explore all of this and more. So, let’s look at the Yorkie’s lifespan in more detail.

The Yorkie Breed

Two long-haired Yorkies sitting outside.
The Yorkie’s tiny frame and speediness make this breed optimal for hunting small rodents and vermin.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the wonderful Yorkie consistently ranks in the top 15 breeds in America. They have a tomboyish terrier attitude that provides endless fun for all types of families. Their adorable looks and teeny-weeny size make them ideal for small apartment living, traveling, and popping into your purse. These adaptable and affectionate pups are super cute.

The rise in designer dogs and smaller size canines means the Yorkie breed was miniaturized. Teacup Yorkies weigh between 2 to 4 pounds and measure up to 5 inches tall. Unfortunately, teacup breeds are prone to increased health concerns, such as hypoglycemia, periodontal diseases, and a heightened risk of severe injuries and broken bones. The lifespan of a teacup Yorkie is between 7 and 9 years, which is considerably shorter than a standard Yorkie’s lifespan.

How Long Do Yorkies Live?

Although much of the information in this guide is relevant to teacup health, we specifically focus on the standard Yorkie lifespan. A healthy standard-size Yorkie is expected to live between 11 to 15 years. This is the typical lifespan for a healthy Yorkie. But remember that every dog is different. Some might not reach 11 years, and others might come close to 30, like Bonny, the longest-living Yorkie. Although Bonny experienced health problems along the way, she still enjoyed two walks a day.

Health Factors That Impact Yorkie’s Health

Female yorkie at the vet getting a checkup.
Investing in a pet insurance plan can help you manage unexpected or emergency healthcare costs.

There are a few predisposed health conditions that all Yorkie parents should be aware of. However, not all Yorkies will experience these conditions, and others will encounter different health problems. It’s important to monitor your Yorkie’s health and condition, looking for lumps, signs of infection or disease, and behavior that might indicate a health concern. It’s also ideal to consider pet insurance for your Yorkie.

Collapsing Trachea

A collapsing trachea is the flattening of the windpipe, making it difficult for air to get into the lungs. Tracheal collapse is usually mild, leading to a dry, honking cough when breathing becomes difficult. In severe cases, it can cause significant respiratory distress, which can be fatal. Weight management and swapping a collar for a harness can decrease pressure on the windpipe.

Dental Problems

A regular dental routine is essential for all dog breeds, particularly smaller ones like the Yorkie with tightly cramped teeth. Yorkies have a high incidence of tooth loss and degeneration of jaw bone density. Poor dental hygiene can also limit a Yorkie’s lifespan, so it’s important to implement regular teeth cleaning.

Eye Concerns

Most dog breeds are at risk of eye problems. The most common eye concerns in the Yorkie breed are cataracts, dry eye syndrome, progressive retinal atrophy, and entropion, where the eyelashes grow towards the eye. If you notice any change in your dog’s eyes, suspected poor vision, or irritation, it’s essential to get them seen by a vet as soon as possible. These conditions can be managed, but if left untreated, they can lead to blindness. Poor vision can also lead to injury, which can decrease their lifespan or, worse, be fatal.


Hypoglycemia is when a dog experiences low blood sugar. Low glucose levels can be life-threatening as organs start to shut down, but it’s also treatable and manageable. Watch out for low appetite, lethargy, disorientation, fainting, vomiting, and tremors. Feed your Yorkie small, frequent meals rather than one larger meal daily to keep the energy supply constant. Once managed, hypoglycemia shouldn’t affect a Yorkie’s lifespan.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is often found in smaller dog breeds and occurs when the kneecap pops out of place. This is why it is commonly referred to as a floating kneecap. It can be treated with medication and physical therapy, or sometimes the knee needs surgical correction. Symptoms include kicking out, hopping gait, or abnormal movement. With treatment, this condition doesn’t usually affect lifespan.

Portosystemic Shunt

A portosystemic shunt is a liver defect that causes an abnormal connection between the portal vein and another, which means the liver cannot clean the blood and remove toxins. The most common signs of liver shunt are poor muscle development or stunted growth, disorientation, head pressing, or seizures. Most cases of liver shunt can be managed with diet change and medication, with immediate improvement. But some require surgery to correct it. If untreated, liver shunt can be fatal.

Other Factors That Impact A Yorkie’s Lifespan

A Yorkshire Terrier looking happy while getting an adorably groomed coat.
Follow our tips to ensure your Yorkie lives a long, happy life.

Care & Lifestyle

Yorkshire Terriers need a happy and safe environment. Not only does it keep them safe from injury, but a happier life contributes to less stress and, in turn, a longer lifespan. Yorkies are prone to injury because of their small size, so you should monitor them jumping from heights, slight gaps in a fence, and overzealous play with children. They need socialization from a young age to improve their confidence rather than force their cockiness.

Yorkies are active little canines that need daily exercise. They only need two short walks a day with playtime in between. This stimulates their cardiac system and mind, which keeps them happier and healthier. After that, they’re perfectly content to cuddle up to their favorite humans. But don’t let them laze the day away.


Genetics is one of the most critical factors in a dog’s lifespan. Sadly, you can’t control what genes they inherit from their parents. However, working with a responsible and ethical Yorkie breeder means the parents are healthy, which hopefully means a healthy litter. When meeting with your breeder, ask about the parents’ health and ask for a copy of relevant health certificates.

Avoid working with irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. They churn out puppies, usually from dogs with genetic health issues, to maximize their profits. Researching the breeder, looking for independent reviews, and meeting them and the puppies in person is essential.

A great place to start your search for a Yorkie breeder is on the AKC’s Yorkie breeder page. The cost of responsible breeders and puppy prices are usually higher, but you’re less likely to incur costly future medical bills due to poor breeding practices.

Health & Vaccinations

Keeping your Yorkie healthy means staying up-to-date with their regular health checks and vaccinations. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your Yorkie from disease and infection. Seeing the vet regularly can help to identify potential health concerns you might not notice. Early detection and treatment are crucial to extending your Yorkie’s lifespan.


Feeding your Yorkie high-quality nutrition is another simple way to increase and maintain their good health. Finding a premium, nutritionally complete diet that complies with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines is crucial. All packaging should state if it meets these guidelines. Avoid cheap foods as they are deficient in nutrients, leading to health problems and lowering life expectancy.

It’s crucial to feed your Yorkie a size and age-appropriate food during the first year of their life. Puppy food helps to control growth and contributes to optimal development, which sets them up for a healthy body for life. It’s also important to find food that is right for your Yorkie. Not all Yorkies are the same and have different preferences or intolerances. Yorkies with portosystemic shunt need a diet with low protein.

Spay & Neuter

Spaying and neutering your Yorkie is vital for their health and can increase their life expectancy. The University of Georgia found that these procedures can improve the canine life expectancy of males by 14% and females by 26%. The study also found that not spaying or neutering dogs can shorten their lifespan by approximately two years. Unless you plan to breed your Yorkie, this is an important consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our readers often ask about Yorkies. Don’t see yours here? Ask us in our comments.

Is There A Difference In Lifespan Between Male And Female Yorkies?

Some canine studies suggest that females live longer than males, but several studies indicate males live longer than females. There is no clear-cut answer here, so sex is unlikely to play a role in lifespan. Instead, a dog’s health and care are the most influential factors in how long they live.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of Yorkie Mixes?

The lifespan of a Yorkie mix depends entirely on the other breed they are mixed with, so you need to consider their lifespan, too. Overall, it’s not going to be far off 11 to 15 years. Life expectancy is an average figure, and every dog is different.

What’s The Life Expectancy Of Yorkies In Human Years?

This might sound like an odd question, but it’s one of the most frequently asked regarding a Yorkie’s lifespan. Although many people follow the seven-year rule (one dog year equating to seven human years), this is nothing more than an outdated guestimate. There are more factors to consider, although no definitive age comparison exists. According to the AKC, a lifespan of 11 to 15 years in a small dog breed equates to an estimated human lifespan of 60 to 76 years.

What Else Can I Do To Keep My Yorkie Happy & Healthy?

In addition to a high-quality diet, routine vet care, and regular exercise, keeping your Yorkie as happy as possible can go a long way in maximizing his lifespan. As with all dogs, showering them with love and affection is key, but proper training and socialization are also incredibly important. A well-rounded pup is often a happier and healthier one.

Mental stimulation is also crucial for your pup’s health and happiness. Yorkies don’t like to be left alone for too long and can become stressed without stimulation. Invest in a bunch of toys for Yorkies, interactive games, and chew toys for when you can’t interact with them.


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