Yorkie Lifespan: How Long Do Yorkies Live?

Yorkshire Terrier, Purebred Dog, Animal, Animal Themes, Belgium
© iStock.com/Kurt Pas

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Updated: April 28, 2023

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What should you expect the lifespan of your Yorkshire Terrier puppy to be? As a Yorkie gets older, it’s a question that every owner must ask themselves. Although there is no guarantee how long any pet will live, here’s what you need to know about the Yorkshire Terrier’s lifetime, as well as some advice to help them live long and happy lives!

How Long Do Yorkies Live?

Royal Canin Small Breed Senior



life expectancy ranges from 12 to 15 years, with 13.5 being the median.

©Dulova Olga/Shutterstock.com

Your Yorkie’s life expectancy ranges from 12 to 15 years, with 13.5 being the median. Female Yorkshire Terriers live an average of 1.5 years longer than males. The Yorkie is slightly older than the typical dog in the United States, at 12.5 years old. If you take proper care of your Yorkie, he/she should live for many years!

Evolution and Origins

Yorkshire Terriers, commonly referred to as Yorkies, are a small breed of dog that originated in England. The exact origins of the breed are not well-documented, but it is believed that they were developed in the mid-19th century in the county of Yorkshire in Northern England.

It is thought that the breed was created by crossing various small terriers, including the Skye Terrier, Dandie Dinmont, and the Manchester Terrier. The purpose of creating the breed was to develop a small dog that could be used for hunting rodents and other small game, as well as for companionship.

The early Yorkies were larger than the current breed, and they were often used in textile mills to catch rats and mice. As the breed became more popular as a companion dog, breeders began to selectively breed for smaller size, more refined features, and a luxurious coat. By the end of the 19th century, the Yorkie had become a popular companion dog among the English aristocracy.

In the early 20th century, the breed was introduced to the United States, where it quickly became popular as a lapdog and a show dog. In 1978, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed, and it remains a popular breed to this day.

The Oldest Yorkshire Terrier Ever

The oldest Yorkshire Terrier was a female named Bonny, who reportedly lived to 28 years of age!

In fact, Yorkies are famous for living to some of the most advanced ages of any dog breed. A Yorkshire Terrier from Leeds named ‘Bonny’ lived for 25 years after her owners adopted her. They estimated she was 28 years old Another advanced Yorkshire Terrier named Jack passed away after being attacked by another dog in 2016, he was reportedly 25 years old.

As with many dogs, it’s difficult to authenticate the age of any individual Yorkshire Terrier. The Guinness Book of World Records hasn’t verified any Yorkies over the age of 20 in their records.

However, while rare, it’s quite clear the breed can live to some of the oldest ages of any dog breed when good genetics and proper care are aligned.

Leading Causes of Death In Yorkie Puppies

Types of terrier dogs

The leading cause of death in


puppies is an infection, which is more likely during their first year of life.

©iStock.com/Attila Fodemesi

The leading cause of death in Yorkie puppies is an infection, which is more likely during their first year of life. Types of infections that Yorkies are particularly vulnerable to include:


Distemper is a highly contagious gastrointestinal and/or respiratory infection. Early symptoms include coughing, weakness, and diarrhea. It will eventually spread to the puppy’s spinal cord and brain, causing death.


Even though Leptospirosis is a lethal disease in dogs, many locations do not require leptospirosis vaccination. The fatal strain of leptospirosis damages the liver and kidneys. It’s spread by contaminated urine from woodland creatures like raccoons and skunks.


Parvovirus, like Distemper, can be prevented with vaccination. Parvovirus targets the immune system and the gastrointestinal tract. You can expect severe diarrhea and vomiting, leading to rapid dehydration. Unvaccinated Yorkies are highly contagious.

Leading Cause of Death in Older Yorkies

A Yorkshire terrier looking at the camera

Respiratory issues, cancer, trauma, and birth defects are the leading causes of death in Yorkies over the age of one year old.

©tanakawho, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

It was determined that the following were the most common reasons for death in Yorkies over the age of one:

Respiratory Issues

16% of adult Yorkies die from respiratory illness. In terms of respiratory disease mortality, the Yorkshire Terrier follows the Bulldog (18.2%) and the Borzoi (16.3 percent). Breeding Yorkies increases the risk of BAS and tracheal collapse. The aging lungs of dogs are more susceptible to airborne pollutants and viruses.


Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in Yorkies. Sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue are common in Yorkshire Terriers. Most malignancies are treatable if detected early. Spaying your Yorkie reduces breast cancer risk.


As sad as it is, many Yorkies lose their lives because of abuse or neglect. These tiny dogs are vulnerable and face fatality if kicked, stepped on, trampled, hit by cars, or preyed upon by outdoor predators suck as hawks.

Birth Defects

10.5 percent of Yorkie deaths are due to birth defects. Hepatic shunts affect Yorkshire Terriers 36 times more than other purebred canines. This is when Insufficient hepatic blood flow can cause death. Symptoms may emerge at 1 year or older. A shunted Yorkie artery causes:

  • Weakness
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Seizures

Without surgery, over half of the patients who show clinical changes die within a year. Fortunately, the surgery is 95% effective. Only 15% of those will display clinical indications, while 33% will still have blood flow difficulties.

How to Help Your Yorkie Live Longer?

Yorkshire Terrier (Canis familiaris) - sitting against white background

To help your Yorkie live longer, stay on top of vaccinations and avoid potential hazards being in the home.

©Utekhina Anna/Shutterstock.com

There are several things you may do to prolong your Yorkie’s life. The loving care you provide your Yorkshire Terrier from birth to old age will have a massive impact on their health and longevity.

Stay on Top of Vaccinations

Infections are the leading cause of death in Yorkie puppies and are a major problem in older dogs. So, stay up with your Yorkie’s vaccines. If other animals have access to your yard, keep your Yorkie under careful supervision and away from any urine or excrement, whether from other dogs or not. If you live in a wildlife-rich area, ask your vet about the leptospirosis vaccine.

Avoid Potential Hazards in Your Home

Remember that a Yorkie weighs 5–7 pounds, so anything hazardous to a large dog will be doubly toxic to your Yorkie. As a result, it’s important to know what household objects are potentially (but not always) fatal to a Yorkshire Terrier if consumed. Watch out for:

  • Choking hazards such as loose buttons
  • Pieces of food such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, candy, gum or nuts
  • Open stairways, balconies, or platforms

Diet plan

Food quality also impacts lifespan. Sugars, salt, animal byproducts, and additives can harm a Yorkie’s health. So, avoid these foods in your diet. Obese Yorkies are more prone to cardiovascular disease and joint problems. Below is a dry food developed specifically for Yorkshire Terriers–Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Yorkshire Terrier Adult Dry Dog Food.

Best Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Yorkshire Terrier Adult Dry Dog Food
  • A breed-specific diet that is uniquely formulated for your Yorkie
  • Contains biotin, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids that help maintain your dog’s skin and hair
  • Includes vitamin C, EPA, and DHA help support your toy dog’s vitality
  • The kibble shape and texture helps reduce tartar formation
Check Chewy Check Amazon


Dental care is often disregarded in Yorkie care. Periodontal disease is caused by poor dental hygiene. Periodontal disease causes heart disease and organ damage in Yorkies. Brushing 3-4 times a week and giving appropriate chew toys can help prevent these disorders.


A good, nutritious diet combined with regular exercise helps your Yorkie live longer. Regular exercise helps Yorkies’ heart muscles pump effectively. Exercise reduces stress, increases endorphins, and balances moods in Yorkies.

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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