Yorkshire Terriers are often regarded as one of the most beloved dogs around. They're adorable, fun to be around, and very loyal to their families.
With an adult weight between four and seven pounds, you'll often see these spoiled pooches in the arms of their owners or in pint-sized dog carriers.
While their physical attributes and fun personalities are definitely a reason why many people choose to adopt these dogs, they also have a unique characteristic that makes them a coveted option among a specific group of dog-lovers.
Yorkies are often labeled as hypoallergenic.
Hypoallergenic dogs are a great option for those who suffer from allergies. It's estimated that approximately 30 percent of people in the United States are allergic to household pets. But does that mean those people have to miss out on the joy of owning a furry friend?
Hypoallergenic dog breeds are seen as the appropriate solution. Many believe that hypoallergenic pups, like the Yorkie, won't trigger allergies. Is that really true?
To get a clear answer to that conundrum, you have to understand the breed's physical traits and what exactly makes allergic people tick.
The Basics of Dog Allergies
Dog allergies are a complicated issue. Dogs are living, breathing creatures that produce a lot of waste, smells, and bacteria. Most people don't know the exact irritant that causes an allergic reaction. While it may seem simple enough, there are many things that can cause allergic flare-ups.
One of the most common things that allergy sufferers react to is dander. Dander is comprised of dead skin cells. It's kind of like the canine equivalent of human dandruff.
Dander typically contains proteins that are produced in the skin. In most cases, these proteins are actually the cause of allergic reactions.
Over time, your dog's skin will dry out, shed, and be replaced by new skin cells. When the dander falls off, it automatically latches to the surrounding hair. Depending on your dog's particular shedding schedule, your home can quickly become filled with dander. This results in allergic reactions.
Saliva is another thing that allergic dog owners need to be wary of. No matter how often you brush a dog's teeth, it's still going to be teeming with bacteria.
The bacteria and germs in your pup's saliva can cause itching, dermatitis, and other physical skin issues. This can be problematic with many dog breeds.
Dogs love to lick people. They do it as a sign of affections. Many times, they do it just because they smell something potentially delicious on your skin.
Some dogs are also notorious droolers. If you have a larger dog, such as a Bulldog or Newfoundland, be prepared to deal with saliva on your floors and furniture.
Sometimes, those with allergies aren't allergic to dogs at all. They might be allergic to all of the things that dogs bring with them when they go outside. Pollen is one of the most common allergens in the world. It comes from trees, flowers, and even grass.
When your dog goes outside to exercise or explore, they're going to be exposed to a lot of pollen. It can stick to your pup's fur. Dogs with long fur can track in a lot of pollen without you noticing.
Once the pup is inside, all it takes is a simple shake to send that pollen airborne.
Why Are Yorkies Considered Hypoallergenic?
Now that you understand a bit more about how dog allergies work, we can delve a bit deeper into why Yorkies are a great option for allergy sufferers. They're considered to be hypoallergenic because of their many physical traits. They possess physical characteristics that make it less likely for owners to suffer from reactions.
Yorkies are known for their flowing locks of shiny hair. Unlike many other dogs, Yorkies don't have fur. At least, not in the traditional sense. Most dogs are covered in a couple layers of fur. The fur is capable of providing them with insulation at any temperature.
Fur is thick and comprised of a thick undercoat. Fur will shed continuously throughout the year. Additionally, most dogs will go through different shedding periods. During these periods, the underlayer of fur is released.
Those who own a dog with thick fur will notice that their pup rapidly sheds at certain times of the year. Typically, this occurs during the summer or winter season.
If you have a Yorkie, you don't have to worry about that. There's a very distinct difference between hair and fur. The hair on a Yorkie is thicker than individual fur strands. It has a completely different texture and grows throughout the year.
Instead of cycles of growth and shedding, a Yorkie's hair grows all year long. It's a lot like human hair, which grows continuously until it's cut or falls out naturally.
Do Yorkies Still Have Dander?
Just because Yorkies have long hair doesn't mean that they don't have dander. It's still something that you will have to deal with. However, the dander is released a bit differently on a Yorkie than their fur-covered brethren.
On other dogs, the dander latches onto the fur and is released when the fur is shed. On a Yorkie, the dander typically stays close to the root of the hair. If the hair does fall out, it often gets tangled with their other hair, preventing it from becoming airborne.
With their small statures, you don't have to worry as much about dander issues. While it is certainly still produced, the nature of their hair makes it difficult for those allergens to be released into the air.
Not only that, but there's a lot less dander to worry about. Most Yorkies only get about eight or nine inches tall. The amount of dander they produce naturally is very low.
Not only does their size limit how much dander they create, but it also prevents them from spreading it around your home.
Unlike medium or large-sized dogs that can easily climb on furniture, Yorkies are quite limited. Most can't jump on a bed or couch without some assistance. For Yorkie dander to become an issue in your home, you would have to have a large pack of Yorkies running around.
Yorkies are very low droolers. A healthy adult Yorkie will usually only drool if they're experiencing dental issues or health problems. Most pups have no problem keeping their saliva contained.
The only exposure you will have to deal with is licking. Luckily, you can easily put a stop to licking with some behavioral training.
Do Yorkies Shed?
In addition to being hypoallergenic, Yorkies are considered to be non-shedding dogs. This can be a bit misleading. All creatures with hair or fur are going to shed to some extent. Even us humans shed throughout the year.
However, the Yorkie's unique hair texture and growth cycle make it almost unnoticeable.
Yorkie Hair Growth Cycle
As mentioned earlier, the hair on a Yorkie has a considerably different texture than other dogs. Their fine little hairs feel almost like human hair. When you see owners out and about, you may notice a range of different hair lengths and cuts.
The hair on a Yorkie continues to grow throughout their life. The growth cycle is relatively consistent. This is a big contrast to dogs with fur. Fur-covered dogs go through periods of growth and shedding.
The amount of shedding you can expect from a Yorkie is about the same as what you would expect from your own head.
If you don't cut it, a Yorkie's hair will continue to grow until it reaches a specific length. Some dogs will have longer hair than others. How long a Yorkie's hair will get is up to their genetic makeup. Once it reaches its maximum length, it will fall out and be replaced by another hair.
This cycle repeats itself throughout the pup's life. Because hair falls out at different times, you will hardly notice a difference at all.
Another great thing about a Yorkie's shedding cycle is that most hair falls right back into the coat. The surrounding hairs tend to catch loose strands and hold onto them until they're physically removed.
For most owners, the only time they notice shedding is when they brush their dog or when they give them a bath. This is why grooming is so important for Yorkies. Removing those loose strands will keep your home clean and dander-free.
While there are no distinct periods of excessive shedding with Yorkies, there are certain instances when you may notice a bit more loose hair than normal.
Pregnant Yorkies may lose more hairs due to the hormonal changes they're going through. Certain health conditions and even prescription medications may cause Yorkies hair to fall out as well. If that's the case, it's important to seek veterinary guidance to restore your dog's shiny coat.
Are Yorkies Completely Hypoallergenic?
While Yorkies are one of the best breeds for those who suffer from allergies, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog. Yorkies still produce some allergens.
Allergy sufferers can still experience irritation from time to time...
Luckily, a Yorkie's small size and unique coat of hair decrease those chances quite a bit. If you suffer from dog allergies, you can take some extra precautions to avoid reactions as much as possible.
Keeping your dog's hair quaffed and clean is a great way to make sure that dander doesn't cause any irritation. Yorkies need to be brushed and bathed quite frequently.
If you suffer from allergies, it's a good idea to leave the grooming duties to a professional.
Professional groomers know how to work with the unique hair of a Yorkie. They can also work with you to keep your pup's hair at an appropriate length.
Many owners with allergies like to keep their dog's hair relatively short. This helps to decrease the chances of pollen or bugs hitching a ride whenever the dog goes outside.
During your pup's grooming session, you can also invest in allergen-reducing hair products. Nourishing shampoos and conditioners will moisturize the skin, reducing dander fallout.
The first thing you will want to do when you bring your Yorkie home is establish some house rules. You can teach your pup to not lick your body and to stay off of furniture that you use.
Yorkies are very intelligent creatures. While they are known for having some rebellious streaks, they will pick up commands with regular training.
It's important to be gentle with your pup during the training phase. Yorkies are known for being quite sensitive. They don't respond well to negative body language or shouting.
If you're having issues, you can hire a professional trainer to guide your pup in the right direction.
Practice Good Hygeine
While this may seem obvious, it can be easy to forget once you start getting comfortable. It's important to wash your hands after you play with your pooch. If immediate cleaning is not possible, you need to avoid touching your eyes or face with your hands.
It's a good idea to carry around some hand sanitizer so that you can avoid accidental mishaps when you're out with your pup.
Clean Your Home Regularly
In addition to adopting a grooming schedule for your pup, you should cleanse your home on a regular basis. At the very least, you need to be cleaning areas where your pup hangs out at least once a week.
You should dust, vacuum, and mop your home to ensure that allergens don't stick around.
If you have dog allergies, you can still experience the joys of having a pet. Yorkies are an excellent breed for allergy sufferers due to their low dander production and fine hair. While no dog will be completely hypoallergenic, you can do your part to minimize reactions.
By understanding your dog and sticking to a regular grooming routine, you and your Yorkie can enjoy your home together without any major issues.