How Long Do Yorkies Live? Average Lifespan & Causes of Death

Yorkie lifespan how long do Yorkies live average lifespan and causes of death

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most famous dog breeds in the United States.

Thanks to their adorable looks and friendly temperament, these pooches rank 13th in the American Kennel Club’s round-up of the most popular dog breeds. But do Yorkies have long lives?

The average lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier is between 12 and 15 years old. These pups have pretty long lives; however, Yorkies are predisposed to some common health issues. When well cared for, a healthy Yorkie can even reach 20 years old or more!

That said, what are the common causes of death in Yorkies? Is it true that the oldest Yorkie lived up to nearly three decades?

Indeed, there’s a lot to talk about regarding Yorkie lifespan. So if you are interested in learning the answers to some of these exciting questions, read along! 

Yorkie Life Expectancy: How Long Do Yorkies Live on Average?

Yorkie Lifespan - Cute small Yorkshire Terrier is playing with ball on a green lawn outdoor

On average, Yorkshire Terriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, members of the scientific community claim that the specific lifespan range for Yorkies is 12.6 to 14.5 years. 

These figures are from two individual studies conducted in the UK and Japan. If you are interested in geeking out, you can read more about these studies in the National Library of Medicine and ResearchGate.

While some Yorkies will live far beyond this age range, some die years earlier. Of course, there are plenty of factors that affect the life of this dog breed. Interestingly, one of these factors is their size.

For starters, there are three sizes of the Yorkshire Terrier breed. These sizes are teacup, standard, and giant. The teacup Yorkie is also known as mini Yorkies, while the standard Yorkie is also known as the toy Yorkie. 

Let’s take a closer look at the lifespan of the different Yorkie sizes. 

Teacup Yorkie Lifespan

The teacup Yorkie is the smallest variant of the Yorkshire Terrier breed. Typically, small dogs have longer lifespans than larger dogs. However, this is not the case for teacup Yorkies. 

On average, the teacup Yorkie only lives between seven and nine years old. This is a few years shorter compared to standard Yorkies and giant Yorkies. 

Standard Yorkie Lifespan

The standard Yorkie is the mid-sized Yorkshire Terrier. These dogs are the “original” Yorkies in terms of size. The life expectancy of standard Yorkies is between 12 and 15 years old.

For reference, standard Yorkies have the same lifespan as Poodles, Malteses, and Pomeranians. These dogs have one of the longest lifespans in the dog world!

Giant Yorkie Lifespan

Giant Yorkies are the largest variants of Yorkies. However, these “giants” are not at all that massive. These pooches are just a few pounds heavier and a few inches taller than the standard Yorkies. 

The life expectancy of a giant Yorkie is slightly longer than a standard Yorkshire Terrier at around 13 to 16 years!

Another interesting fact about Yorkshire Terriers is that female Yorkies tend to outlive males.

On average, female Yorkies live an extra one to one-and-a-half years longer than male Yorkies. This also explains why Bonny, the oldest Yorkie, is a female!

The Oldest Living Yorkie: How Old Was the Oldest Yorkie That Ever Lived? 

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. 

If you’re not entirely impressed with that, let’s put it into perspective. In human years, a 28-year-old dog is about 196 years old! Now that’s quite impressive, isn’t it?

Not only was Bonny the oldest recorded Yorkie ever, but she was also one of the oldest dogs during her time. In fact, a 2012 news report claimed that Bonny was the oldest living canine then!

Unfortunately, Bonny never became the talk of the town. Despite being one of the oldest dogs, Bonny had very limited coverage in popular media.

One possible reason for this is that Bonny’s age was left unconfirmed by UK vet charity PDSA.

In the paper, Bonny never officially dethroned Lucy, the Yorkie from the Netherlands who lived up to 22 years old. However, many people still believe that Bonny was the oldest Yorkie to have ever lived.

Moreover, Bonny never made it to the Guinness Book of World Records either. This is an absolute bummer considering Bonny came extremely close to Bluey!

If you’re unfamiliar with Bluey, he is the Australian Cattle Dog that holds the title of the world’s oldest dog at 29.5 years old. 

READ NEXT: 10 Best Yorkshire Terrier Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkie Lifespan - Adorable Yorkshire Terrier pet dog playing in green garden on a spring day

There are a bunch of factors that affect the life span of a Yorkie. These factors include size, gender, genetics, and more. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors to understand how long do Yorkies live.

1. Size

As mentioned in the previous section, the size of this breed plays a significant role in determining its life expectancy.

Typically, teacup Yorkies have the shortest lifespan among the three sizes of Yorkshire Terriers. Meanwhile, standard Yorkies and giant Yorkies are roughly on par with each other. 

The reason why teacup Yorkies live shorter lives is linked to their tiny stature. Teacup Yorkies are at a higher risk of dying from injury.

These dogs will suffer a great deal of damage if they are accidentally stepped on or attacked by larger animals.

Similarly, their small bodies tend to handle symptoms from diseases way worse. That said, it is crucial to keep your pet in check at all times, especially if you are planning to get a teacup Yorkie. 

2. Gender

On average, female Yorkies live about one to one-and-a-half years longer than male Yorkies. While this is not always the case, this is a common trend in the Yorkshire Terrier breed. 

In a 2018 study, it was scientifically proven that female dogs indeed live longer lives than male dogs.

However, these findings are not as easily observable on a day-to-day basis. So unless you are studying a large sample size of dogs, it is unlikely that you will observe male dogs having shorter lives than females.

In fact, gender is arguably one of the least significant factors in the lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier. The only time gender plays an important role in lifespan is when a dog dies from reproductive organ disease.

But since these diseases are preventable through neutering or spaying, the cause of death of a dog is often not linked to its gender.

That said, this factor is still worth knowing about, especially if you are deciding between a male or female Yorkie.

RELATED: Male vs. Female Yorkshire Terrier: Which Is Better?

3. Spaying or Neutering

Still related to gender, spaying/neutering plays an essential role in a Yorkie’s lifespan. Having Yorkies spayed or neutered lowers their risk of developing sex-related health issues.

As a result, these pups tend to live significantly longer lives than intact dogs. 

Some of the health issues prevented by spaying and neutering include pyometra, prostate cancers, bowel movement issues, and many more.

The only disadvantage of having your Yorkie spayed or neutered is that you can no longer breed it. 

However, if you do not plan on breeding your Yorkie, it is recommended to have it spayed/neutered as soon as it reaches the appropriate age.

4. Genetics

Genetics is another factor affecting a Yorkie’s lifespan. Inherited diseases, predispositions, and overall health are largely dependent on genetics.

We can even go as far as to say that genetics is the most crucial factor when it comes to life expectancy.

Sadly, the truth is not all Yorkies have good genetics. Some Yorkies have worse genetics than others, which puts them at a higher risk of dying from health-related concerns. 

The good news is that it is possible to improve the overall health genetics of a breed. This is possible thanks to the dedicated breeders who test their parent dogs before breeding them. 

That said, it is imperative to buy a Yorkie only from a reputable breeder. This ensures that your pet came from a healthy lineage that is free from genetic defects.

Keep in mind that a Yorkie with good genes is more likely to live a full life!

READ NEXT: Best Yorkshire Terrier Breeders (2021): 10 Places to Find Yorkie Puppies for Sale

5. Nutrition and Exercise

Unlike most of the factors mentioned here, nutrition and exercise are areas where owners have control over.

Many pet enthusiasts argue that Yorkies with average genetics can still live long lives if their nutrition and exercise are always in check.

Luckily, the nutritional needs and exercise requirements of Yorkies are nothing special! All you need to do is give your Yorkie the right kind of kibble for its age and activity level.

Moreover, you should refrain from the habit of giving too many treats to your pet as this may cause health problems. 

Of course, you can still give them treats now and then; just be sure to pick healthy ones! You can also give them vegetables and fruits as an alternative to over-the-counter dog treats. 

In terms of exercise, 30 minutes of walking every day are enough to keep your Yorkie in shape. Alternatively, you may also engage your pup in swimming, obstacle courses, or just a simple game of fetch!

How to Identify the Age of Your Yorkie in Human Years?

Yorkie age in human years

There’s a belief that the age of a Yorkie in human years is seven times its actual age. This belief has been around for quite a while, and many pet enthusiasts know this by heart.

However, according to a recent report from Science Magazine, this way of conversion may be overly simplified and inaccurate. 

The good news is that there is a more accurate way to identify your Yorkie’s age in human years. The catch is that you will need a calculator for the conversion.

The formula is something like this:

[ ln (Your Yorkie’s Age) x 16 ] + 31 = Human Age

In your calculator, take the natural logarithm — the “ln” function — and enter your dog’s age. Afterward, multiply the result to 16, then add 31 to get the answer. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

The formula is derived from studying the chemical changes in the DNA of canines. Researchers found out that biological aging is faster in puppies compared to adult dogs. This is comparable to aging in humans. 

With a bit of math magic, scientists came up with this formula. However, this formula is very new, and unfortunately, it is not widely accepted in the Yorkshire Terrier community yet.

The traditional way of identifying the age of your Yorkie in human years is by using an age chart. 

Here’s the age chart for a Yorkshire Terrier:

Yorkie YearsHuman Years
224
328
432
536
640
744
848
952
1056
1160
1264
1368
1472
1576
1680
1784

From the table above, a two-year-old Yorkie is 24 years old in human years. As the Yorkie ages, four years is added to its human age equivalent. That said, we can come up with a simple formula for this. 

The formula goes something like this:

[ Your Yorkie’s Age x 4 ] + 16 = Human Age

Take your Yorkie’s age and multiply it by four. Afterward, add 16 to the result. The final answer is the age of your Yorkie in human years based on the traditional age chart.

What Do Yorkies Usually Die From? 

There are many causes of death in Yorkshire Terriers. While most Yorkies die from natural causes, many die from health problems and other reasons.

Let’s check out the leading causes of death in both Yorkie puppies and Yorkie adults.

Common Causes of Death in Yorkie Puppies

Some health issues are more common in Yorkie puppies than in Yorkie adults. These issues are often those that require preventive medications such as vaccine shots.

Additionally, some causes of death are more pertinent in Yorkie puppies due to their weaker immune system and fragile physique. 

  • Parvovirus: Parvovirus is an infectious virus that targets a dog’s immune system and gastrointestinal tract. A Yorkie with parvo will exhibit dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting. Fortunately, the risk of parvovirus can be eliminated through vaccinations.
  • Canine Distemper: Canine distemper is another viral infection in dogs. Distemper targets a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, and respiratory system. It is highly contagious and affects dogs of all ages. Many Yorkie puppies without vaccines die from distemper.
  • Leptospirosis: Canine leptospirosis is a health issue caused by the Leptospira bacteria. It is typically contracted through ingestion of contaminated urine, especially urine of skunks, rats, and raccoons. While leptospirosis in Yorkie puppies is preventable and treatable, it remains one of the most common causes of death.
  • Physical Trauma: Yorkie puppies are one of the smallest dogs out there. One of the most unfortunate causes of their deaths is physical trauma due to accidents. Some of these accidents include being stepped on, getting hit by a car, being tripped over, getting knocked down the stairs, and many more.

The good news here is that all of these causes are preventable unless your Yorkie also suffers from a congenital disease.

If you keep your Yorkie’s vaccine shots in check, it is pretty much safe from parvovirus and distemper.

Similarly, providing a safe space for your Yorkie will keep it safe from contracting leptospirosis and meeting a fatal accident.

Common Causes of Death in Yorkie Adults

As Yorkies grow old, their bodies change and become a bit sturdier than when they are puppies. However, aging also makes Yorkies susceptible to other kinds of health issues.

Some of these health issues can be life-altering or, worse, fatal:

  • Respiratory Diseases: Respiratory diseases are the number one cause of death in Yorkshire Terriers since a good population of them are toy breed dogs. In fact, among all breeds, Yorkies have the 3rd highest death rate caused by respiratory diseases. The three most common respiratory diseases in Yorkies are brachycephalic airway syndrome, pulmonary fibrosis, and collapsed trachea.
  • Cancer: Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Yorkshire Terriers. These include soft tissue sarcomas, mast cell tumors, lymphoma, mammary gland tumors, and bone cancer. Fortunately, 50% of cancers in Yorkies are treatable. 
  • Congenital Disease: About 10.5% of all Yorkie deaths account for congenital diseases. These are health disorders that are already present in a dog during its birth. The most common congenital disease that affects a Yorkie’s life is the portosystemic shunt, also known as liver shunts. This is very much evident in toy breeds.

Unfortunately, the common causes of death in Yorkie adults are linked to genetics. This means some Yorkies will have a higher chance of contracting these issues compared to other Yorkies. 

A surefire way to minimize these issues is by getting a Yorkie from a reputable breeder. This way, you can be assured that your dog is free from any genetic faults.

3 Easy Tips to Help Your Yorkie Live Longer

Help your Yorkie live longer and happier

It is in our best interest for our pets to live their fullest lives; however, for that to happen, we must keep them in check at all times.

So if you want to help your Yorkie live a longer life, here are a few handy tips to prevent their leading cause of death:

1. Visit the Vet Regularly

Regularly visiting the vet is one of the best ways to extend the life span of your Yorkie, even though you bought it from reputable breeders who breed dogs with care.

By doing so, you are keeping a close eye on the health condition of your Yorkie before problems even arise. 

It is recommended to find a trusty vet clinic near your area to make regular trips more convenient.

Keep in mind, visiting the vet is not only for sick dogs. More often than not, healthy dogs are in the best shape because they see the vet regularly. 

Whenever you visit the vet clinic, you should always notify your vet about any changes you see with your dog. Remember, the earliest symptoms of many health issues start with behavioral changes.

2. Keep Your Yorkie Indoors

An indoor dog is less exposed to the elements than a dog kept outdoors. By keeping your Yorkie indoors, you are lowering its risk of heatstroke or hypothermia during extreme weather.

Keeping a Yorkie indoors will also prevent them from ingesting toxic chemicals found in the garage or near the dumpster. 

Moreover, indoor dogs are also safer from road accidents and dog fights compared to outdoor dogs.

Keep in mind that physical trauma due to accidents is one of the leading causes of death in Yorkshire Terriers.

If you have a fenced backyard, it is an excellent idea to let your Yorkie roam around freely on its own. However, you should check on it from time to time and make sure to keep it indoors during nighttime.

3. Take Note of Foods Toxic to Yorkies

Yorkies are incredibly adorable pooches. Sometimes, it can be tempting to share your food with your Yorkie, especially when it’s giving you those pleading eyes. However, keep in mind that some foods are toxic to Yorkies. 

If you accidentally give your Yorkie a toxic food, chances are, it will end up in the emergency room.

On some occasions, accidentally feeding poisonous foods to dogs kills them right away. Luckily, the list of foods toxic to dogs is not long. 

The foods included in this list are chocolate, caffeine, onion, grapes, corn on the cob, and others.

As a Yorkie owner, it is imperative to know these foods by heart. By avoiding giving these foods to your Yorkie, you are already helping it live a longer life. 

Senior Yorkie Dog Care

A Yorkie reaches its senior years when it is around 8 to 10 years old. Around this time, expect some noticeable changes in your pet. Senior Yorkies typically exhibit slight changes in behavior as well as a few bodily changes. 

You may also notice that your Yorkie is not as playful and alert as before. Likewise, some changes in its eating and sleeping habits are also possible.

That said, a senior Yorkie will require a special kind of care.

Luckily, there are many ways to keep your Yorkie healthy and happy throughout its senior years:

  • Keep a close eye on health issues
  • Visit the vet more often
  • Consider giving food supplements to your Yorkie
  • Keep exercise sessions brief
  • Comb your Yorkie’s coat more often
  • Always keep your Yorkie hydrated
  • Spend more time with your Yorkie

Keep in mind that keeping a senior Yorkie healthy will require a little more patience and attention from you.

Just like us, these dogs also go through complex changes as they age. As their owner, you should ensure that you are there to care for them at all times.

If you are interested in learning more about senior dog care, watch this video:

Caring For Your Senior Dog

Frequently Asked Questions

What Age Is Considered Old for a Yorkie?

A Yorkie puppy is considered old when it reaches 8 to 10 years old. In human years this is equivalent to 48 and 56 years old, respectively. However, this is only true for standard and giant Yorkshire Terriers.

If you have a teacup Yorkie, it can already be considered old when it reaches six years old. The reason behind this is that teacup Yorkies have shorter lives compared to standard and giant Yorkies.

What Age Do Most Yorkies Die?

On average, most Yorkshire Terriers die around the age of 13. This age is the median age of their average life expectancy.

However, the case is different for teacup Yorkies. Because of their shorter life span, teacup Yorkies usually die around the age of 8. 

Their leading cause of death is said to be cancer and respiratory diseases like brachycephalic airway syndrome, collapsed trachea, and pulmonary fibrosis.

Can a Yorkie Live Up to 20 Years Old?

Yes, there are many reports from pet owners of Yorkies living to be 20 years old. In fact, some of the oldest recorded Yorkies are well above two decades old!

One of these is a Yorkie from the Netherlands named Lucy. Lucy is the officially recognized oldest Yorkie at 22 years old.

Another one is the much older Yorkie named Bonny. Bonny is believed to be the rightful owner of the title; however, Bonny’s age was left unconfirmed.

How Do I Know if My Yorkie Is Dying?

Some telltale signs of a dying Yorkshire Terrier include loss of coordination, loss of appetite, lack of interest, vomiting, and muscle twitching.

If your Yorkie is in its senior years suffering from respiratory diseases and exhibits some of these signs, then, chances are, it’s near the end of its life. 

Final Thoughts: How Long Do Yorkies Live?

Yorkshire Terriers are one of the dog breeds with the longest life expectancy. In general, Yorkies are healthy and easy to care for.

Simply put, a Yorkie should be on top of your choices for a pet if you want a four-legged companion for many years!

However, due to their miniature size, Yorkies are prone to accidents and physical trauma. Aside from that, respiratory disease is also one of the leading causes of death in Yorkshire Terriers.

That said, if you can provide a safe space and top-notch healthcare for your Yorkie, it will easily live its fullest life with you as its owner.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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