How to Bathe a Yorkie? (How Often?)

Bathing a Yorkie is similar to how you would bathe a child, except a dog moves much more and much faster when you’re trying to lather up. When it comes to knowing the best techniques to get your Yorkie clean and fresh, it can be tricky because they’re so small.

how to bathe a yorkie
How to bathe a Yorkie – step by step and best tips (to make life easier)

There are certain precautions that you have to take to prevent scalding them or causing any injuries. 

Additionally, how often you bathe a Yorkie can depend on other factors, such as how dirty they get throughout the week. This comprehensive guide will provide tips and tricks on cleaning your Yorkie and a general guideline on how often to get them in the tub. 

How Often Should I Bathe My Yorkie?

black and gold yorkie has bath
A black and gold Yorkie having a bath

Many Yorkie owners like to bathe their companions once a week. This strategy might be alright for some pups, but you usually won’t have to bathe them so frequently. The shampoo is intrinsically drying because its primary function is to lift dirt and remove oils from our skin and hair. 

Yorkies need a chance to restore their natural oils in between the baths. This is the only way they can retain shiny, healthy, and soft skin and coats. 

That also doesn’t take into consideration those Yorkies that have skin allergies or sensitive skin. In addition, frequent bathing can make their skin feel itchy, dry, and overall irritated. 

Therefore, it’s best to stick to bathing your Yorkie no more than twice a month. The exception to this would be if your dog gets into a messy situation and needs to get cleaned immediately.

If you notice that they seem to be getting dry patches on their skin or dandruff while taking weekly baths, you might want to reduce the number of baths you give. See if once every few weeks is more suitable and keeps them itch-free. 

How to Bathe a Yorkie

yorkie being shampooed
Working the soft Yorkie coat into a lather using shampoo

Before you get started, grab the following supplies:

  • Detangling spray 
  • A wide-toothed comb
  • Cotton balls
  • Yorkie shampoo [see our 5 best Yorkie shampoos]
  • Yorkie conditioner
  • A small sponge (optional)
  • Leave-in conditioner (spray or creme)

Follow these simple steps to get your Yorkie fresh and squeaky clean:

1. Get Rid of Tangles and Knots

Brush out any knots and tangles from your Yorkie’s coat before you give it a bath. This step is where your detangling spray comes into play. Spray them with a light mist all over, and gently brush their coat. 

That will help to protect their fine strands from breakage. Since Yorkies have long hair that gets tangled easily, you should never skip this step. 

If you try to bathe them with their hair all tangled, the knots get tighter and more challenging to remove. While your Yorkie doesn’t shed hair, the dead strands will stay in their coat, making their hair look matted. 

a parti yorkie held to the sky
A Parti Yorkie looks skyward

2. Test the Water

While we humans like our showers and bathwater extra hot, your Yorkie will hate it. Their bodies are small and prone to drastic and sudden changes in body temperature, much like a baby.

That’s one reason why you have to make sure the water isn’t too hot for them. Between 70 to 80 degrees is the perfect temperature to bathe a Yorkie. 

Our natural body temperatures hover around 98.6 degrees. Therefore, if you feel like the water is warm to the touch, it’s likely too warm for your Yorkie. It’s best that the water feels slightly cool or barely warm on your wrist. 

4. Create a Pleasant Environment

are yorkies hyper
Adopting a Yorkie? Expect an energy-packed puppy that LOVES to play and run. They do tire out (eventually) with once or twice a day exercise.

It’s a known fact that Yorkies and dogs, in general, aren’t the biggest fans of bath time. Not all Yorkies like to be held. They’re probably unaware of what’s to come, so you want to make bath time a fun event for your Yorkie. 

Try to reduce any anxiety they feel by adding in a little positive reinforcement. You can try a dog treat before you announce that it’s bath time, and even when they finish, give them a small great to encourage them to participate the next time. 

The idea is that you want to distract them during the process, not necessarily focus on the fact that they’re taking a bath. This is a great time to strike up a little doggy small talk, as the sounds of your voice can be immensely soothing. 

Don’t forget that you want to sound positive throughout this process and always remain calm and encourage your Yorkie to be relaxed as well. 

3. Protect the Ears

To keep water out of your Yorkie’s ear canals, plug them with large cotton balls. Leaving water inside of any dog’s ear only serves to increase their chances of an ear infection. More specifically, Yorkies have hair in their inner ear that traps moisture very well. That hair makes them even more susceptible to an ear infection.

4. Apply Shampoo

First, thoroughly wet your Yorkie’s fur and then take your quality shampoo, apply it to the fur, and work up a nice lather.

It’s best to begin at the scruff of the neck and then work your way down your Yorkies back, legs and chest. Furthermore, the areas where dirt accumulates most should be emphasized when cleaning, such as their behind and belly.

With delicate hands, gently lift each leg and lather the top and bottom of every paw. You’d be surprised how much pollen collects in the paws over time which can cause irritation and even infection.

yorkie being groomed
A Yorkie being groomed after a bath

The next step is to take a lather sponge and begin washing the top of your Yorkie’s head. Continue washing as you work your way down toward the cheeks and the muzzle. 

Using a small bit of lather, take your sponge and clean the areas near the eyes to remove the tear stains which result from your dog’s eye discharge. Be extra careful not to allow any shampoo to seep into their eyes.

If shampoo perchance should get into your Yorkies’ eyes and there’s obvious irritation, take some fresh lukewarm water and flush out their eyes. (If your dog has eye boogers – there are wipes and other better ways to clean them)

5. Time to Rinse

While rinsing the shampoo from your dog’s hair, take your fingers and comb them down their coat while applying water. Keep in mind that Yorkies are susceptible to dry skin which means that even the smallest amount of shampoo left behind can cause your dog itching and irritation.

6. Use a Conditioning Product (Optional)

Take your hands and squeeze any excess water and moisture from your dog’s coat. Next, take some oil-based creme conditioner over the entirety of their body. This will serve to moisturize both his skin and hair while also preventing tangles. Lastly, take a long tooth comb and comb out any remaining tangles.

(Repeat the rinsing process afterward)

7. Dry Them Off

black and gold yorkie
A classic Black and Gold Yorkie

Since Yorkies can become cold very easily, it’s important to wrap your companion in a towel as soon a possible. Gently massage any remaining water from your dog’s fur. 

If you’re electing to use a hairdryer, now would be as good a time as any to pull it out. Just be sure to keep the heat setting on low and keep the source of the heat about two feet away from your Yorkie to keep your pup’s skin from drying out. 

A technique you can employ is to ruffle the coat of your Yorkie as you blow-dry him. This will help dry the hair while also allowing you to gauge whether or not the temperature of the heat is too hot.

Your puppy is likely to be nervous around the blow dryer at first, and it will take some time to get used to it. Introduce it slowly over time, being sure to reward them with praise and treats soon after using it.

8. Apply a Leave-in Conditioner

After their coat is close to 90% dry, it’s now time to apply the leave-in conditioner. Doing this will ensure that you replace any moisture that was lost during the bath. This step is not always necessary – but can help for a luxurious and soft coat.

This will make your Yorkie’s coat smooth and shiny, leaving their skin moisturized to boot. Just brush the conditioner gently into their fur when applying it. Afterward, allow your dog to air dry to avoid drying out their skin.

a black yorkie
A Yorkie with a predominantly black coat stands on a wooden floor.

Final Thoughts

Taking the proper measures to bathe your Yorkie is essential and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Because they have delicate skin and fine hair, they are very much susceptible to the development of skin irritation (Causes of skin irritation review from UC Davis).

However, if you’re sure to remove all traces of shampoo from your dog’s fur and replenish their moisture through both traditional conditioner and leave-in conditioner, then you should be just fine. 

There’s one caveat to be mindful of….try not to bathe them too often as this can cause skin irritation in and of itself.