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Yorkie Grooming

Grooming a Yorkshire Terrier

Proper grooming to keep your Yorkie looking nice and remain healthy will include:
  • Baths
  • Brushing and combing
  • Nail Care (and possible dewclaw removal)
  • Trimming
  • Creating Top Knots (if the hairs on the forehead are kept long)  

Things start off with with proper bathing techniques. Timing of baths is crucial for effective grooming with pleasing results. 

If you give too many baths, the following will happen:

1) Even if you are using the best shampoos and other products, the nature of shampoo is to cleanse and too much of this will strip away oils too frequently, causing the skin to dry out.
2) The act of scrubbing too often will be abrasive to the skin and coat. Hairs can lose their strength and the coat can weaken.

If you give a bath too rarely, many things will happen:

1) Natural body fluids will accumulate and not being cleansed away this can cause the coat to look (and feel) oily
2) Skin pores can clog
3) The coat will begin to smell
4) Long hairs will tangle and knot without the help of a quality conditioner

So, how often should you give a Yorkshire Terrier a bath? Keeping the above in mind, the perfect timing for most Yorkies is once every 3 weeks unless there are extenuating circumstances. 
Grooming Tips

1) Choose your grooming products carefully. Never use human shampoo, no matter how well it happens to work for you. It will dry the skin and coat of this dog breed., as it is not formulated with the correct ph balance. Invest in a quality shampoo, conditioner and leave-in product.  A bottle lasts quite a while for a little Yorkie, so you won't need to restock often. 

2) Brush and comb the coat directly before and after a bath. You'll want to do this before baths to catch any tangles before they become wet in the tub at which time they will become more difficult to remove. Combing also separates the hairs for better cleansing.  

3) Be sure to rinse out all shampoo and conditioner. Any leftover shampoo residue will cake up into tiny particles similar to the texture of waxy, wet clay substance. These little chunks will clog skin pores, prevent body oils from being properly distributed on the silky hair and can cause skin irritation. When you think that you have rinsed enough, rinse for a minute longer.

4) Use a quality canine bath brush which stimulates the skin and is the right texture for a silky haired breed. Any cloth that is even slightly abrasive can irritate the skin, which in turn, affect the coat.
Yorkie before a bath
Scrappy, 3 years old
Photo courtesy of Valerie and Taylor 
5) Male Yorkies should be wiped with a canine cleansing wipe, to clean off urine that usually collects onto the coat when they urinate. Doing so right before bedtime and after their last "bathroom" trip of the day generally works best. In this way, your Yorkie will be able to retreat to his sleeping area perfectly clean and fresh.

6) Take note of any feces that may have clung to hairs near the anus.  For females, bacteria from feces can travel to the urethral orifice and cause a urinary tract infection. If you do need to wipe the rear end to tidy up your Yorkie after a bowel movement, be sure to wipe outward and not toward the urethral opening. 

7) Each day, use a quality canine facial wipe to wipe around the eyes. If you choose to do this with only a damp washcloth, once the eye area is cleaned, use a 2nd dry cloth to pat this area dry. You will not want to allow the hairs around the eyes to remain wet or even damp, as a yeast infection can quickly grow in that sort of environment. If your Yorkie tends to dive into his or her water dish, try to wipe the face as often as you can so the area does not stay damp for a long time.

*** Our recommended products for grooming can be found in the Yorkie Specialty Shoppe
grooming a Yorkie
Brushing and Combing

Proper brushing and combing techniques will keep the coat healthy, keep it tangle free and allow it to grow. Trying to remove matted hair can take hours and can be very stressful for both owner and dog. Therefore, it is highly recommended to brush and comb your Yorkie 1 time per day if the dog has a long "show coat" and every 2 days if the dog has a shorter "puppy dog cut".

Remember that tangles are a normal part of having a long coat...And even puppy coats can tangle if not combed through often enough.
Brushing dry hair will cause breakage. You should always spritz your the coat with a quality leave-in conditioner spray to dampen the coat before brushing. Keep an eye on this, you may need to spritz in sections as you move along. The goal will be to add some moisture, but not to soak the hairs.  A leave-in spray also protects the coat from damaging summer sun, drying arid winter air, static and contract friction damage.

Tangles should be worked out with your fingers. First, wet the tangle with conditioner. Lather your hands with the solution as well. Get into a comfortable position and begin to gently work out the hairs. Only as a last resort would you want to clip off a mat; this is reserved for a serious tangle that you simply cannot unwind.

Part of learning grooming a Yorkie will be to use the proper tools for this breed.  We recommend a quality rubber tipped pin brush with moderate spread. A boar bristle brush can be great for finishing touches.The right tool will properly distribute body oils as you groom and correctly rake through the coat without breaking hairs or causing split ends. 

Combs are used for prepping the coat for the brushing, touch-ups, to catch any tangles the brush may have missed and to groom small areas such as the face. The comb that you use should be made of metal.  A double sided small metal comb with wider teeth on one side and finer teeth on the other is perfect. For long coats, a medium toothed metal comb works well. 

*** The exact combs, brushes, shampoo, conditioner, pre-shampoo, leave-in solution, trimmer, scissors and all other recommended grooming tools can be found in the 'Grooming' section of the Yorkie Specialty Shoppe.
trimming a Yorkshire Terrier

You will want to do some small trimming to keep a nice, finished look. There are a few areas that will need special attention. If you look at the underside of the paw, there should be no stray hairs that grow out from in between the pads and past the pads. This should be trimmed to the level of the puppy or dog's paw.

The top 1/3 of the ear hairs should be trimmed. This helps to keep the ears standing erect as they will not be weighed down. 

The area around the dog's rectum should be trimmed short for hygiene purposes. It prevents small pieces of feces from sticking to the rump.
Many owners choose to keep their Yorkie with the "puppy dog cut" as opposed to maintaining the long "show dog cut".  Maintaining a "show dog cut" requires quite a bit of work. This looks is one where the Yorkie's hair is one length and flows all the way to the floor. Constant grooming must be done to avoid tangles or mats which could destroy the entire look.  

Just as many owners choose to trim the Yorkie themselves as those who opt to have a professional dog groomer do the job. If you do choose to do this yourself, it is highly recommended to invest in quality clipping tools, as this will make grooming and trims much easier.

Remember that if you make a grooming mistake, the hair will grow back; and it does so rather quickly for most puppies and dogs. Never shave so low that skin shows through the coat. This can cause many skin irritation issues. If you do shave too short and skin can be seen, apply sunscreen to these areas in the summer if you'll be taking your Yorkie outside for more than 20 minutes.
*** For even more detailed grooming information and a complete care guide, learn what's inside the YorkieInfoCenter eBook.

Nail trimming should be done every 2 or 3 months. Check your pup or dog often to see at what rate their nails are growing. Often, if you don't clip the nails often enough, the clickety-clack sound of them on hard flooring when your Yorkie walks will remind you. And if you continue to ignore this grooming need, they can become ingrown which will cause quite a bit of discomfort for your dog.

An owner may do this themselves or opt for a dog groomer to do this. If doing this at home, it is important to use quality pet nail trimming tools. The cut should be fast and easy, as most dogs do not stay very still while having this done. A good alternative to clipping is a grinder, which (if it's a good one) will quickly and relatively quietly mechanically file the nails. 

One of the biggest worries of those who try to trim their Yorkie's nails at home is the element of cutting to low and cutting the "quick" of the nail. The quick is a vein that runs down the center of each nail. If cut, there will be quite a bit of bleeding.  If you do clip the nails, do a little bit at a time, taking a look each time you trim a piece. As you slowly remove small pieces, you will eventually see a gray or pinkish color oval of color in the nail. This is your sign to stop cutting. 

There are solutions, such as a styptic pencil or silver nitrate that you can obtain, so that if a mistake is made, it will help to stop the dog's nail from bleeding. 

Trimming is easier if done right after bath time, when the dog's nails are wet. And grinder can be done at any time.
Top Knots and Bows

Yorkies with long coats that do not have their coat shaved will need to have the hair on the top of their heads put into a Top Knot. And many owners choose to have a short puppy cut for the main coat, but leave hairs on the head long in order to pull them back into a cute topknot. This keeps the hair out of the dog's eyes, allowing them to see of course, but also keeps strays from scratching against the surface of the dog's eyes.


Taking care of the ears is important. Regularly check the ears, look for any redness, discharge or odor. If you do see these signs, a vet check for infections should be done. If there is hair in the channel, remove it by pulling it out with a small forceps ear tool. Whether the hair is oily or not, using a plucking powder lightly will make it much easier to do.

You can find more information in our Yorkshire Terrier Ear Section
Yorkie hair topknot

Dewclaws are an extra claw very high on the paw of a dog. It is so high, that some describe it as being on the dog's lower leg as opposed to the paw.

A Yorkie may be born with dewclaws on the hind paws, front paws or both. Many Yorkie breeders will have the dewclaws removed when a newborn is just 3 to 5 days old. This is done because they can easily catch on things which can cause them to partially or fully rip out or they can grow out of place. 

It is done at a young age while they are very tiny and soft. If they remain, as the dog matures, they grow into something more akin to an extra toe and removal is much more complicated as the dog must have an entire "appendage" removed. If your Yorkshire Terrier does have his dewclaws go around this area carefully with a metal comb when grooming. You will also need to check it along with the other nails to see if it needs to be clipped back. 
More Information

Choosing the Best Brush for a Yorkshire Terrier - How the pin type, heads, tension & sizing all play a role in a superior brush that lends to a beautiful coat. 
Fully Tan Yorkies - It is possible, yet rare, for a Yorkshire Terrier to lose all of his black/blue as he matures.
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