How Long Do Yorkies Live? (Statistics)

Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Veterinarian Dr. Liza Cahn (DVM)


Yorkshire Terriers, developed in the 1800s, are beloved for their big personalities and small size. Yorkies live 11 to 15 years on average, often reaching late teens.

They generally enjoy better health compared to breeds like Pugs or large dogs prone to hip dysplasia. Yorkies’ main health issues include sensitive digestion, dental disease, luxating patella, collapsing trachea, hypoglycemia, and liver shunts.

Teacup Yorkies, smaller than regular Yorkies, have a shorter lifespan of about 12 years.

Leading causes of death in Yorkies include natural causes like cancer, infections, and trauma. To ensure a long, healthy life, regular veterinary care, vaccinations, spaying/neutering, exercise, and a balanced diet are crucial.

how long do yorkies live
How long do Yorkies live?

Average Yorkie Lifespan

Yorkies, compared to other breeds, live a relatively long life for a dog. On average, Yorkies live for 11 to 15 years. It’s not uncommon to see Yorkies in their late teens, such as 17 or 18 years old. 

Of course lifespan varies by individual dog, but let’s compare to some other popular breeds. According to a study from researchers in Japan, the average lifespan of these popular dogs are:

  • Golden Retriever: 11–13
  • Beagle: 12–15
  • Labrador: 13–15
  • French Bulldog: 9–11
  • Pug: 11–14

As you can see, compared to other small breeds such as the Pug and French Bulldog, the Yorkie has a longer lifespan. The reason why Yorkies tend to live longer than other breeds is because of their relatively good health.

Pugs and other flat-nosed dogs suffer from breathing issues that can impact their health. Large dogs like Great Pyrenees or Bernese Mountain Dogs may be prone to conditions such as hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia isn’t a deadly disease, but it can lead to pain and decreased mobility, which will impact your dog’s health negatively. 

Yorkies, on the other hand, don’t suffer from many of these conditions. Their main problems stem from their small, delicate features, including a sensitive digestive system. If Yorkies eat too much food or something out of their regular diet, they could be in serious trouble. Other common Yorkie health conditions include dental disease, luxating patella, collapsing trachea, hypoglycemia, and liver shunts.

a yorkie puppy
Even super cute Yorkie puppies can act hyper

What About Teacup Yorkies?

Teacup Yorkies are a smaller version of a Yorkie—but are there any actual differences between a regular Yorkie and a Teacup version? Not really. A Teacup Yorkie is a smaller version of the Yorkie. There’s no genetic difference between the two—one’s just smaller!

On average, a Yorkie is 7-inches tall and around 7 pounds. In contrast, a Teacup Yorkie is about 5-inches tall and weighs between 2 and 4 pounds. Teacup dog breeds tend to live fewer years than their regular-sized counterparts. They are bred for their small stature, often at the expense of their health. A Teacup Yorkie has a life expectancy of 12 years. 

Leading Causes of Death for Yorkies

Most Yorkies die from natural causes, including cancer and infections. Other main causes of death include trauma, which can be severe due to the Yorkie’s small size. Let’s break down the leading causes of death for young and fully-grown Yorkies. 

Causes of Death for Yorkie Puppies

Specific diseases and circumstances mean that the first year of a dog’s life can be extremely dangerous. Here are the main causes of death in Yorkie puppies.

Congenital Disease

This includes conditions that a puppy is born with, such as heart disease, liver shunts, or other.

Although most dogs have a chance of developing congenital diseases, Yorkies have a particular congenital disease that leads to death. Yorkies develop what is known as a “portosystemic shunt.” 

A liver shunt is an abnormal vessel that carries blood quickly to the heart, bypassing the liver (which is important for filtering and removing toxins). This can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life. Dogs with a liver shunt may exhibit symptoms like poor growth, gastrointestinal issues, urinary problems, neurobehavioral abnormalities, and more.

The condition can be diagnosed through blood tests, imaging, and sometimes exploratory surgery. Treatment options include surgical correction or medical management, depending on the type and severity of the shunt.


Puppies, with their developing immune systems, are more susceptible to infectious diseases.


Canine parvovirus is a deadly viral disease that primarily affects unvaccinated puppies and young dogs. The disease is spread through direct contact with infected dogs or indirect contact with surfaces contaminated with feces. Parvo is notorious for its severity and high mortality rate, especially if left untreated. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells, particularly those in the intestinal lining, leading to severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Without prompt and aggressive treatment, parvo can lead to dehydration, severe gastrointestinal distress, and even death. Prevention through vaccination is highly effective, and maintaining good hygiene practices, especially in places where dogs congregate, is crucial for controlling its spread.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects dogs, but even humans can catch it. You can find the bacteria in water or soil, and it affects regions across the planet. Most dogs catch the infection by drinking infected water.

Lepto affects the kidneys and liver, leading to fever, increased thirst, dehydration, jaundice, and vomiting. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, take them to the vet so they can treat your dog with antibiotics and other care as soon as possible.

Yorke playing outside
A happy Yorkie plays in the grass


Yorkies are small dogs, which means they’re more susceptible to trauma than other breeds. When they’re a puppy, they are even more susceptible to trauma that can lead to death. 

Sometimes children play too rough with Yorkie puppies. Something as simple as a fall from the second step of your stairs can be incredibly harmful to a Yorkie. Always ensure your Yorkie puppy plays in safe places with adult supervision. The risk of trauma doesn’t go away when a Yorkie reaches adulthood, but the chance of serious injury diminishes significantly. 


The Yorkie’s small body has another disadvantage—they are more likely than large dogs to suffer from hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, or dangerously low levels of blood sugar, occurs most often in puppies under the age of five months because they haven’t developed the means to control their blood sugar yet. If not treated correctly, hypoglycemia can lead to pain, distress, seizures, and death.

Causes of Death for Yorkie Adults

Compared to puppies, adult Yorkies don’t suffer from nearly as many trauma or infection-related deaths. Let’s go through the leading causes of death for Yorkie adults.


Cancer is a leading cause of death for most adult dogs. Other than feeding your dog a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and not allowing them near dangerous areas, you can’t do much to avoid your dog developing cancer.

Cancer will occur in almost half of all dogs over the age of 10. Treatment is the same for dogs as it is with humans—surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are all used in treating canine cancer. 

Respiratory Diseases

Yorkies can suffer from serious respiratory conditions when they age. One of the most common for small dogs is a collapsed trachea, which occurs due to weakening of the cartilage. Collars and pressure on the neck can exacerbate the issue – try putting a harness on your Yorkie rather than a collar.

Another respiratory more common among Yorkies is pulmonary fibrosis. Causing a massive increase in lung scar tissue, pulmonary fibrosis affects terrier breeds in particular. The lungs become thick and hard to move, making breathing increasingly difficult.


Other possible causes of death in senior dogs include heart disease (such as mitral valve degeneration) and kidney disease.

Best Food For Yorkies
Choosing the best food for Yorkies? Make the right choice

How to Keep Your Yorkie Happy and Healthy for a Long Life

The key to a healthy Yorkie is keeping up with routine care. The first step is ensuring you see a veterinarian regularly. When your Yorkie is a puppy, you’ll want to take them more often than when they’re an adult. The main reason for this is vaccinations.

Puppies need vaccinations for various conditions, but the essential ones are the parvovirus, distemper, and rabies vaccines. When your dog has these shots, its chances of developing these serious conditions are very small.

Visiting your vet for other needs can help increase your dog’s lifespan too. During check-ups, vets will look for any signs of cancer or infection and help you choose the best treatment.

Another way you can extend your dog’s lifespan is by spaying or neutering them. According to studies, both male and female dogs that have been fixed have longer lives than their unfixed counterparts. 

The other two ways to keep your dog healthy should be easy but are often overlooked. Keep your dog healthy by giving them regular exercise. For a Yorkie, that means at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Finally, by feeding your dog a healthy diet and balanced diet, you can increase its lifespan. And don’t feed your Yorkie too much. For small dogs, overfeeding can be a real issue. 

Wrapping Up

So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “how long do Yorkies live,” you have your answer! On average, Yorkies live between 11 and 15 years, but many Yorkies survive into their late teens. 

Their long lives paired with their good nature make the Yorkie a perfect family dog. Just make sure your kids don’t play too rough with the pup, and you’ll have a healthy, happy dog that will be around for years!