With so many breeds and breed variations flooding the market, you may have heard or seen a lot of talk about white Yorkies. So, are white Yorkies a real thing?
In rare cases, there are true white Yorkies by means of albinism. But more often than not, “white” Yorkies are either the parti variety or a mix with a white-dominant dog breed.
I’ll give you the genetic and ethical background on how white Yorkies can happen and the devastating health issues that can arise from it.
The Biology Behind White Yorkies
The Yorkie has a long history as a breed, making its debut with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885. Since then, the AKC has only recognized the Yorkie coming in the following four colors:
- Black and tan
- Blue and gold
- Blue and tan
- Black and gold
While the AKC isn’t always a perfect indicator of what colors a dog can come in, this much is certain—purebred white Yorkies aren’t typical.
That’s because for a Yorkie to be genuinely white, either a gene mutation would have had to happen, or the breeder bred a Yorkie with a different dog breed.
Albinism in Yorkies
Albinism is a genetic condition that causes a Yorkie not to have melanin-producing genes. The most common way for a Yorkie to be albino is if it has two copies of a recessive gene.
In addition to having white fur, Yorkies also have pink pigment around their eyes and mouth. However, contrary to popular belief, a lack of pigment makes these membranes pink; the reason for albino dogs is that they don’t have melanin to produce colors of any kind.
Sadly, albino Yorkies have a higher chance of suffering from various health conditions, which I’ll discuss in detail shortly.
A Parti Yorkie’s Coloring
So, although the piebald gene is uncommon in Yorkies, other breeds, such as the Great Dane and Shetland Sheepdog, have a dosage-dependent trait of piebald.
You’ll never encounter a Parti Yorkie that’s 100% white. In fact, to get some white on a Yorkie, breeders had to breed lines of dogs with the piebald gene repeatedly. Even then, a Yorkie born with one or more spots of white isn’t a given.
In addition to white, Parti Yorkies always have either of the following two colors mixed into their fur:
- Black and blue
- Tan and gold
Therefore, a Piebald Yorkie’s coat always has three colors. But the amount of non-white colors vary. In some cases, Parti Yorkies have a small patch of white.
Other times, a white color steals the show, making it almost seem like the Yorkie is close to solid white.
Are White Yorkies the Same as Other Yorkies?
White Yorkies are the same as other Yorkies in the sense that they have the same structural appearances and behavior, barring any health issues.
You can expect them to grow seven to eight inches tall and weigh around seven pounds. They have flowy, floor-length hair and a pointed tail and ears.
If anyone has dog allergies in your home, a Yorkie of any color could be an excellent fit. These dogs are hypoallergenic, meaning there’s a good chance—although there’s no guarantee—that they’ll produce a low or no allergy reaction.
These dogs are fiercely loyal to their owners, loving lap dogs, and are happy to expend their high energy levels serving as miniature watchdogs.
How to Care for a White Yorkie’s Coat?
I know how adorable primarily white Parti Yorkies are, looking like mini polar bears. But before you bring one home, it’s worth considering their grooming needs.
Yorkies of all colors require grooming every four to six weeks. That’s an opportunity for a groomer to bathe them and trim their hair so that it doesn’t drag too long on the ground, picking up everything in its path.
But when you have a white Yorkie, their coat will show every speck of dirt and stain. Furthermore, Yorkies with white faces often walk around with tear stains, a normal and harmless condition resulting from excessive tear production.
To help keep your white Yorkie remaining that way, consider keeping their hair trimmed shorter. Brushing them every day will also help you stay on top of dirt and spot treat any problem areas.
Finally, in case it isn’t obvious, try to prevent your Yorkie from playing in mud puddles!
White Yorkie Health Conditions
Whereas Parti Yorkies can experience the same common health conditions as standard Yorkies, it’s common for albino Yorkies to have many other illnesses. Examples include:
- Skin cancer
- Eye deformities
Furthermore, albino Yorkies may have unnaturally small eyes. It’s common for them to have light sensitivities, and even if they have normal-sized eyes, they usually suffer from poor vision starting at birth.
If you’ve already brought home a white Yorkie and are worried that they have albino or other unhealthy genetic traits, I encourage you to solicit a genetic health test. You can easily do these tests by swabbing your dog and sending the sample via the mail.
The genetic testing company will then analyze your dog’s genes, letting you know their lineage and any potential health conditions to which they may have a predisposition.
Using Caution When Buying a White Yorkie
Buying a white albino Yorkie can come with significant consequences. For starters, the average non-albino Yorkie’s lifespan is 11 to 15 years. But true white Yorkies often die much younger.
Furthermore, there’s an ethical component. By purchasing an albino Yorkie, you’ll support a breeder who puts money before a dog’s health. For this reason, I encourage you to steer clear of any breeders promising a 100% white Yorkie.
Parti Yorkies are a different story. It’s safe to buy these dogs because there’s enough genetic variation that you shouldn’t have to worry about your dog suffering from breeding-related ailments.
Purebred vs Non-Purebred Yorkie
Another item to consider when looking for a Yorkie breeder is that the white Yorkie they advertise might not truly be a purebred Yorkie.
Instead, some breeders mix Yorkies with the following breeds to achieve a white color:
- West Highland Terrier
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a white Yorkie mix from a breeder as long as they’re not charging excessively for the color. Given their genetic variation, you can expect these mixed dogs to live a long and happy life—possibly even longer than a purebred Yorkie.
The Bottom Line
There’s no doubt about it—white Yorkies are lookers if you happen to see one. However, the only true white Yorkie is an albino, and these rare dogs suffer from many health problems.
Therefore, when you see a mostly white or fully white Yorkie, you’re either looking at a Parti Yorkie or a Yorkie mix. These dogs are genetically healthier, and you can purchase them from responsible breeders without as much ethical guilt.
Of course, breeders aren’t the only way to bring home a Yorkie. Adopting is an excellent avenue too. And regardless of the Yorkie color you choose, you can be sure that your dog will bring lots of love and laughs into your home.