The Yorkshire terrier or ‘Yorkie’ is often known, a sweet little dog with a gorgeous mane of hair. Yorkie was one of the most popular dogs in the United States last year.
Originally used as an alternative to cats for catching mice in the clothing mills of the 1800s, the bosses soon noticed their cuteness. They were taken into the homes of the aristocracy and high society of the day, where they became fashionable to all.
They soon developed a reputation for low shedding in comparison to other dogs of the day. No doubt this was a huge attraction in the days before vacuum machines!
The perfect Yorkshire terrier should have a straight, fine, glossy coat according to the breed standards.
Those considering getting a Yorkie may believe that their beautiful coat surely comes with downsides.
They may have nightmares wherein their house and clothing are covered in long strands of Yorkie hair! Let’s find out about Yorkie shedding and how bad it gets.
Yorkshire Terriers and Their Unique Coats
The first thing to know about the coats of Yorkies is that they do not have an undercoat. This is an important detail when it comes to the shedding issue.
Most dog breeds have an undercoat, allowing them to adapt to the different temperatures that come with outdoor life all year round. These undercoats are what dog owners see shed off in large quantities twice every year, before summer and before winter.
This is good news for dogs that love copious amounts of outdoor walks, whatever the weather. It allows for keeping them cool in the summer and nice and warm in the winter.
The Yorkshire terrier, for better and for worse, doesn’t have this capability. Their coats are single layer, soft, silky, and fine. Their coats are closer to a human head of hair than a traditional dog coat.
So, the ‘shedding’ of a Yorkie isn’t shedding at all, more like a natural loss of hairs that have come to their terminal length. Much like humans, a Yorkshire terrier loses its hair lightly across the year. This hair loss should generally be unseen around the house unless the hair is very long and obvious.
When a hair does fall out, it usually falls back into the Yorkie’s coat, where it then stays until the next bath or brushing session. For this reason, many hold the opinion that Yorkshire terriers don’t shed at all and are therefore hypoallergenic.
Are Yorkies Hypoallergenic?
Yes. The Yorkie is present on the hypoallergenic dog list. It is worth noting that this list is in relative terms. No dog is fully hypoallergenic or ‘allergy-proof. Animal allergies usually sprout from a reaction to the dog hair itself, but something called dander.
Dander is a collection of skin oils and dead skin that is invisible to the naked eye. This is present with the Yorkie as with all dogs.
The good news is that the Yorkshire terrier usually has less than the average dog, so it is a better choice of companion for the allergy sufferer than alternative dog breeds. Asthma sufferers will attest to this.
Another issue that affects allergy sufferers is a reaction to the saliva and urine that collects and stays on the dog’s hair. This will be the case with any dog in question, although it can be mitigated. Regular bathing and brushing of the animal should clear much of this debris away.
There is even more good news when it comes to the coats of Yorkies! Whether you choose one in Black and Gold, Blue and Gold, Black and Tan, or Blue and Tan, the shedding (or lack thereof) is the same. No color sheds more or less than another.
Brushing to Control Shedding and Tangles
If you want to bring the chances of seeing rogue dog hair down, you will want to keep up a regular brushing schedule. A Yorkshire terrier’s coat can grow quite long for such a small animal- at least beyond their paws when standing!
Just as with human hair, the longer the hair is, the more susceptible to tangles and knots. If you prefer to keep your Yorkie’s hair on the long side, it is a good idea to make brushing a daily habit.
While brushing, any hair that has been pushed out and caught in the coat will be freed and collected in the brush. This prevents tangles and matts that could cause your dog quite a lot of discomfort if left. Shorter coat styles involve much less maintenance and only need two to three brushes per week.
More brushing is fine if you prefer to keep rogue hair around the house at bay. Keeping a short style is possible without constant trips to the pet groomers.
You can buy decent pet clippers online for a reasonable price. YouTube is full to the brim with how-to videos on pet grooming, with specialized information on practically every dog breed. Many have easily taught themselves how to trim the coats of their dog.
You may spend a little more on clippers with a Yorkie than the average dog breed, but you will spend less in the brush category. All that is needed to amply take care of their coats is a simple brush.
A ‘bubble tipped pin’ brush is thought the best one for the job. This brush can penetrate deep into the coat and sweep dead hair away without too much pressure. The bubble tips are an important feature so as not to scratch your Yorkie’s skin.
The absence of an undercoat makes their skin delicate, and scratches can easily happen. Other dog breeds need more complex tools to combat the shedding and seasonal blowing of their coats. This can cost a considerable amount of money and time.
What to do About Tangles
Even if you manage a constant regular daily brushing session, it is still possible for the odd tangle to occur. Tangles should not be ignored, as doing so will result in a matted clump of hair. These clumps will eventually cause your poor Yorkie painful wounds and bald patches.
It is best to tackle these tangles with a leave-in conditioner if they can’t be freed by gentle teasing with your fingers alone. If this method fails, then it is best to cut the tangle out.
Help, My Yorkshire Terrier is Shedding Hair
As we’ve discussed, it is not typical or even possible for Yorkies to shed in the same way that other dogs do. If your beloved Yorkshire terrier is losing more hair than you think it should be, there could be several reasons for this. They should all be considered from time to time for your pet to have optimal care.
The main reasons for undue Yorkie shedding include anxiety, stress, pregnancy, skin infections, the wrong shampoo, the wrong diet, and parasites.
Let’s consider each of these in turn.
Anxiety and the Yorkshire Terrier
As a sensitive and human-centric breed of dog, the Yorkshire terrier can easily be affected by changes in their owners’ schedules. If a Yorkie’s family brings a new furry friend into their home or goes away on holiday, it will be sensitive to this.
If the main family member suddenly goes off to college, or someone in the home dramatically increases hours at work, your Yorkie will notice. The anxiety may show in the increased loss of hair as an initial reaction to the change.
Things should return to normal once the dog has acclimatized to the new situation. Sudden changes in your Yorkie’s diet and routine can cause a similar reaction. They are sensitive little creatures that need to be treated as such.
Your sensitive pup can also lose hair because it is stressed. This most often happens when a new pet or child is added to the family. They are noted to be generally good with other pets and children, but the swift change in the household dynamics is what stresses them.
Your Yorkie will also pick up on your emotions. If you are experiencing high levels of stress for any reason, your Yorkie will feel a bit stressed as well. A truly empathetic friend in times of pressure.
Feel free to skip this section if your Yorkshire terrier is male! Just like in humans, pregnancy in a Yorkshire terrier results in various fluctuations of hormones. These hormonal changes can result in changes to their coats and increased hair loss.
However, this is a temporary side effect of pregnancy, and things should return to normal after giving birth. If she is still losing a lot of hair sometime after gestation, then a visit to the vet wouldn’t go amiss.
3. Skin Infections
Skin infections can be another source of hair loss. If you notice your Yorkie’s skin has become sore and/or inflamed and red, then it is likely it has a skin infection. Yorkshire terriers are prone to skin complaints due to the lack of that protective undercoat.
Infected skin can be largely avoided if an eye is kept on any skin damage. Eliminating any potential causes of damage such as pests, deficiencies in diet, and allergens will also help your Yorkie.
4. The Wrong Shampoo
It’s recommended to bathe your Yorkie around once or twice a month. Obtaining the correct shampoo for bath time is of great importance.
It should be delicate and conditioning to prevent skin damage from dry and itchy skin and help keep the hair silky and tangle-free. Shampoos containing natural conditioning ingredients such as oatmeal are a favorite among Yorkshire terrier enthusiasts.
Yorkies thrive on a diet chocked full of omega fatty acids. These are found in foods like fish, flaxseed, egg, canola oil, and fish oils.
Omega fatty acids are excellent at keeping skin supple and hair lush and shiny in humans and animals! This is great news for a Yorkshire terriers, as they are so often plagued with dry skin. If the skin is kept well-nourished inside, the coat will be in tip-top condition, minimizing unnecessary hair loss.
Yorkshire terriers tend to have a propensity to food allergies. They commonly react to pollen, dust, yeast, mold, and certain types of bacteria. The reaction will manifest in dermatitis, an incredibly itchy affliction that causes dogs to scratch and bite their skin.
These efforts to relieve itching make matters worse by further damaging the skin. Hair is torn out, and infection can find a home. To figure out what your Yorkie may be allergic to, tests can be done at the vet.
Just like all other dogs in the world, parasites are a source of irritation for Yorkies. Ear mites, dust mites, fleas, and ticks are among the usual offenders.
Ear mites can find their way into the ears of the dog, making for wild, frantic ear scratching and balding ears! Flea and tick treatments ease the frequency of such scourges. Mange can result in big bald patches on your poor little Yorkie.
This is caused by parasitic mites that live either in the hair follicles or just under the skin. There are treatments for management, but the best treatment is keeping the immune system healthy and strong.
A dog with an ongoing mange problem is usually a dog with an underlying health complaint. If you don’t seem to gain control of your Yorkie’s mange, it’s best to see a vet for a check-up.
Yorkies remain a much-loved dog for different households, single people, married couples, and families alike. The zero to very light shedding is a huge positive.
Many owners are more than happy to give their Yorkshire terrier the added skincare it needs in exchange for having a house that drips with dog hair! Go forth and enjoy your hairball-free life, Yorkie lovers!