Yorkies are famous for their human-like hair and show-worthy coats, and that’s why learning how to groom your Yorkshire Terrier puppy will be an important part of welcoming your new dog into your home.
“Grooming is a critical part of owning a Yorkshire Terrier,” says Daron Newcomb, a professional groomer with 21 years of experience. “It’s a perfect bonding time for an owner and a pet.”
Newcomb, who also has 16 years of exhibiting Yorkshire Terriers in the conformation ring and who has campaigned for top-ranked yorkies, including a BIS and BISS national winner, shares these top tips for caring for your Yorkie’s coat, nails, teeth, ears, and more during the first year of life and beyond.
Coat Care 101: Grooming a Yorkie
Yorkies stand out for their minimal shedding and silky hair that keeps growing (like our human hair). And while owners can benefit from the nearly-hypoallergenic breed, particularly if they suffer from allergies, there is some extra care involved in terms of trimming, washing, and brushing.
Show Coat vs. Pet Trim
How often your dog will need to be bathed depends on the trim you’ve opted for: a show coat or a pet trim.
While owners who opt for a pet trim for their Yorkies will certainly need to invest time and energy into caring for the coat of their pets, “grooming and growing the show coat of the Yorkshire Terrier is certainly a labor of love,” says Newcomb.
“The coat of a show Yorkie should only be trimmed to neaten the coat or to keep it level with the floor,” Newcomb adds. “The top third of Yorkie’s ear should be shaved and trimmed around the edge, the pads of the feet should be trimmed, and the sanitary area should be trimmed for cleanliness.” This is the case for Newcomb’s dog, pictured above.
It takes work to ensure the coat remains clean and tangle-free, and some owners may realize they don’t have the time to devote to this level of maintenance. A pet trim is recommended if you don’t have the time for the upkeep and to keep your dog’s hair styled on a regular basis.
“A Yorkie in a pet trim can easily be maintained with a biweekly bath with regular brushing, however a Yorkie in show coat requires a weekly bath,” he says. “Keeping the coat clean is key to growing a healthy, long coat.”
Yorkies should be trimmed every four to six weeks, either by a professional groomer or this can be taken care of by owners themselves.
For a healthy, shiny coat, be prepared to brush your Yorkshire Terrier’s coat “several times a week, if not daily, to prevent tangling and matting,” according Newcomb, who shares the following pointers for combing.
- Get the right tools—including a pin brush, metal toothed comb, and a slicker brush.
- Wash using only high-quality pet shampoos and conditioners, specifically made for a drop silky coat.
- Be sure to have a conditioning spray for use while brushing to protect the coat from damage and breakage during the process of grooming.
- Remember if tangling or matting does occur, gently work out the tangle or mat by starting to brush from the end of the coat slowly working your way to the skin.
- Check your pet’s skin and coat for parasites or health issues.
- Brush Yorkies when their coats are dirty.
During adolescence—between the first 6 and 18 months of life—your Yorkshire Terrier’s coat will change from a “fluffy puppy coat to the luxurious silky coat of an adult” and during this stage you should brush your dog’s hair on a daily basis as it will be more susceptible to matting, explains Newcomb. “Preventing mats and tangles make grooming not only easier for your Yorkie, but also easier for you.”
Yorkie Nail Care Basics
Check in on your Yorkie’s toenails as part of your regular grooming and bathing routine and trim them as needed. This should be done at least every two weeks, says Newcomb.
“Toenail trimming is something easily learned and can be done at home,” he adds. “I recommend first-timers to ask for guidance from a vet or professional groomer until they get the hang of it.”
Keeping Your Yorkie’s Teeth Healthy
Just as we humans brush our teeth on a daily basis, you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth once a day, too.
Newcomb recommends using a finger brush, the “easiest and most useful tool for the job,” a toothbrush that, as the name suggests, you can wear on your finger to reach the back of your pet’s mouth.
Beyond daily brushings, it’s important to schedule routine dental checkups for your Yorkie, to ensure overall dental and gum health.
“Oral care is essential for the overall health of your dog,” he adds. “Red and irritated gums, bad breath, missing or loose teeth, and plaque buildup are signs your dog needs to have a dental checkup.”
Yorkshire Terrier Ear, Eye, and Skin Care: What You Need to Know
To care for your Yorkshire Terrier’s “prick ears”—ears that stand straight up—get into a good habit of cleaning them during bathtime with a simple dog ear cleaner and a cotton ball to remove any debris at the surface of your dog’s ears.
“This will help prevent wax buildup and infections, and dry any water that may have entered the ear during bathing,” Newcomb explains.
Be sure not to use cotton swabs, which can damage your pet’s ears.
Some Yorkshire Terriers are more likely to develop tear stains than others and teething is a stage that can cause this problem to flare up.
Establishing a daily routine of cleaning your Yorkie’s eyes with an eye wash pad formulated for dogs can help lessen tearing as well as clean up any debris from your pet’s eyes.
Dry skin is rare but can “occasionally occur in Yorkies,” according to Newcomb. When this does happen, it’s usually linked to the dog’s diet or environment, he adds.
“I recommend feeding a high-quality pet food targeted towards the Yorkie,” he says. “Quality pet food will have the essential nutrition needed to support a healthy coat, skin, and overall well-being of your dog.”