Yorkshire Terriers have some of very unique traits that differ from one to another, and I have plenty of them coming through my grooming shop. Their coats can vary from smooth and silky, to wavy and textured, and it all hinges on genetics.
This also presents us with some unique challenges, as there is more than one way to groom and care for a Yorkie - depending on their coat type.
Based on my years of experience working with (and owning) this specific breed, I've come up with some well-researched solutions and grooming secrets that I'll share with you today.
Do Yorkies Shed?
No. At least, not in your normal fashion.
Yorkie hair more closely resembles human hair than other furry dogs. So you can expect to find loose strands of hair from time to time, but no where near the level of shedding of other dogs with fur.
Are Yorkies Hypoallergenic?
However, it depends on the severity of your allergies. It's common to assume that allergies are triggered from dog hair, when in fact allergic reactions stem from pet dander, saliva, and urine.
Therefore, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, as all dogs produce some level of pet dander.
That being said, Yorkies have significantly less pet dander than other breeds, and people with mild allergies may find a Yorkie is the perfect companion. Pet dander can be even further reduced through regular bathing, brushing, and feeding a high quality diet.
Do Yorkies Have Hair or Fur?
Yorkies have hair, not fur.
What's the difference? Typically, dog's with fur are considered Double-Coated (Labradors, Huskies, German Shepherds, etc..), where they continuously grow and shed coat and leave bits of fur all around your home. These dog's do not require hair cuts as their hair reaches a maximum length and then is shed or brushed out.
Yorkie's are a Single-Coated breed, and more closely resemble the hair of humans, which can be fine, long, and silky. Just like human hair, it grows continuously, needs to be cared for, and eventually trimmed or shaved. Dogs with hair are considered "non-shedding", and while they do shed in small amounts, it's significantly less than their double-coated cousins.
Types of Yorkie Coats
The Yorkie puppy coat is significantly different in color and thickness to their adult coat. The first thing you'll notice is darker features, with prominent black markings and tan highlights. Most often these features will fade over 24 months as they grow into their adult coat.
They'll also be thicker and softer, this is common for all puppies. As they're introduced into our world their soft coat acts as an extra barrier to keep them warm and protected until they grow into their adult coat.
Silky Coat - AKC Standard
Yorkshire Terrier's with silk coats are considered to have met show dog standards as set by the American Kennel Club. The desirable trait here is that they can present a proper show groom, where their hair is long, straight (with no waves), and glossy (with an almost metallic sheen). They are carefully groomed to create a skirt of hair that evenly touches the floor, along with long flowing muzzle and head hair - which is tied back in a bow.
Wire / Cotton Coat
Also sometimes referred to as Wooly, or Wavy coat, these types will not brush out long and smooth like a Silk coat, instead this coat is thicker, wavy, and textured.
In most cases, these types of coats generally do not grow past a few inches, and can almost appear double-coated. Furthermore, they are far more prone to mats, and need to be thoroughly brushed every three days, and groomed regularly.
Brushing and Dematting your Yorkie like a Pro
As a professional groomer I have two distinct ways of brushing out a Yorkie, and it all depends on their coat type, so here's my method of getting out all those mats and making your pup beautiful again.
Brushing a Yorkie with a Cotton or Wire Coat
1. First, inspect your dog's coat for mats. These types of coats are prone to mats in areas with a lot of friction (groin, armpits, and around the neck). Also keep in mind these are sensitive areas, so if the mats are too thick you may have to shave these areas out, or speak with a groomer to assist you.
2. Simply use a small, high quality slicker brush and use it to brush towards the growth of the coat, not against it. Do not go over the same spot more than 3 times with a slicker, as the pins may irritate their skin. Work through the entire coat, the dense pins of the slicker will break apart mats as you brush.
3. Next use a grey hound comb and gently run through their entire coat, searching for any mats or tangles you may have missed. This is simply a long pinned comb that gets deep into their coat and is great for seeking out those hidden mats.
4. If you're having difficulty getting through some mats, try bathing your dog and applying a dematting conditioner directly to the tangled area, and letting it stand for 5 minutes before rinsing. Towel dry your dog, and while still slightly damp attempt to brush out with a slicker brush.
5. If the mats are still too thick or causing pain, you have reached the point of no return. Ask your groomer to shave out the matted area or simple have them do a kennel cut / shave down.
6. Use a slicker brush every 3 days to keep them clear of any future mats, and pay close attention to the groin, armpits, and where they wear a collar or harness.
Brushing a Yorkie with a Silk Coat
This process is called Line Brushing, where we brush out individual "strips" of their coat to ensure all the hidden layers of hair have been worked through and are free of mats.
1. Have your dog lie down on their side, make sure they are calm and rested.
2. Start 2/3rds down their body, and using your grey hound comb gently brush up and away from your body to separate the hair and create a horizontal line where you can see their skin.
3. While maintaining this line, comb through all the hair below the line until your comb can glide through with ease.
4. Now separate a new strip just a few inches above, and repeat the process. Do this for the entire coat on both sides. Your Yorkie should be mat free and looking "fluffed" afterwards.
Here's a good example of line brushing (on a Sheltie) that demonstrates the technique.
How Often to Bathe Your Yorkie
Aim to bathe your dog once every 6 weeks. Many of my clients have a schedule of 6 weeks in between grooms which works perfect for keeping them looking great and smelling pleasant.
Also note that Yorkshire Terriers tend to have dry and sensitive skin, so use a very gentle moisturizing shampoo/conditioner.
Different Yorkie Haircuts / Groom Styles
As a professional groomer, I have Yorkie's come into my shop everyday, and it almost always comes down to these 5 different grooms. If you're bringing your dog into the shop for the first time just ask them about these grooms and see if it's possible for your specific Yorkie, and don't be afraid to ask for adjustments.
The Show Groom
Show grooms are long flowing coats, that are left mostly uncut and finely brushed everyday. Their coat flows past their feet and will drag slightly on the ground.
These are grooms used to show your Yorkie, and follow American Kennel Club standards.
Unfortunately, only those with a silk coat can achieve this look. Those with Cotten/Wire coats are too wavy, and typically don't grow long enough.
Similar to a show groom, but the head and mustache are cut much shorter, and the skirt is cut so it just hovers above floor level.
This is perfect for silky yorkies that want to show off their beautiful coat and still be easy to maintain.
The Teddy Bear
Sometimes called the Puppy Cut, and by far the most in-demand style in my shop is the famous Teddy Bear cut. The idea is to give your dog a super cute style that makes them look like a puppy again.
The entire body is cut to the same length, leaving about 3/4 inch of hair throughout. The feet, mustache, and ears are carefully trimmed to match the length of the body, while the chest area is left with a "bib" of fur.
Kennel Cut (Shave Down)
Another favorite, and a very popular style in the hot summer months. The kennel cut is a very short body, while the legs, tail, and head maintain a little length. The mustache and ears are carefully trimmed to about 1/2 inch, while the paws are cleaned up.
As the name implies, this groom borrows the guide for a Schnauzer by trimming the mustache and ears a little longer, and leaving a small skirt of hair on the bottom 1/3rd of the body and legs. The upper portion of the body is clipped to 1/2 inch, and a "bib" of 1/2 inch is left on the chest.
Yorkie Coat Colors
Adult Colors - Blue and Gold
Adult Yorkshire Terriers generally have one primary color combination, which is "blue" and gold. While puppies are born with black and tan colors.
This isn't blue in the traditional sense, but rather a shimmering dark grey color found on the body or "saddle". And while Yorkies are known to develop into non-traditional colors from recessive genes, they are extremely rare cases.
CC Image courtesy of likeaduck on Flickr
Puppy Colors - Black and Tan
Puppies will have prominent black and tan coloring, which will slowly lighten and become more brilliant in color as they grow into their adult coat. You'll notice the first changes at 6 months starting with their paws and ears, and slowly changing over the course of a year, sometimes taking as long as 24 months.
CC Image courtesy of SKImchee on Flickr