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Yorkie Hair

What Every Owner Should Know

The Yorkie actually has hair and not fur. Many wonder what makes one different than the other...The main elements that separate the 2 are the length of the strand and the thickness.

Many have heard that this causes a dog to be unable to trigger allergic reactions in people who are otherwise bothered by fur..But that is not entirely true...Some people can have a reaction to the dander in the coat.

The health of the coat will affect the skin and vice-versa. For example, dry hairs can cause irritation to the skin... And areas of dry skin can cause irritation to the follicles,which can actually become so severe that it leads to patches of loss.  We will discuss proper grooming, puppy VS adult coat and issues that owners should know about. 
adult vs puppy hair on Yorkshire Terrier
There will be major differences between the coat of a young puppy and that of an adult Yorkie
Yorkie puppy with soft hair
Misha, 9 weeks old
"First public outing!"
Photo courtesy of Jeannine
Different Types of Coat

Aside for hypoallergenic qualities, there are other reasons why the Yorkie coat is referred to as hair and not fur.

Many breeds have a double coat (2 different layers, both an undercoat and an overcoat). This breed however, has 1 single layer of growth, similar to humans.  
A quality dog, with proper grooming, will have a coat that has a very deep shine to it. Each strand will be plump with moisture, which when blended together makes for a thick, fluffy coat. In fact, when outside in the sunlight, it can look almost metallic due to intense shine. This is one reason why the blue in the coloring of the coat is often referred to as metallic blue.

Now, with this being said, not all will have this type of coat. Long, silky, soft strands that are almost reflective is the desired AKC standard….Due to genetic throwback genes, this is not always the result. There are many pet Yorkies that will have a thicker coat…and some may appear to be double coated.

Some will have a more wiry coat... it will not fall smooth. This is not a desired trait, but it does occur from time to time. For those with wiry textures, full show dog length will not be achievable...A puppy-cut style and trim is highly recommended.
Puppies that have such a coat will rarely have a changeover. It will be difficult for the hairs to grow out long enough to touch the floor in the classic Show Dog cut…therefore many owners opt to keep the body shaved in a cute Puppy Cut.

There will be color differences also… Those with a thicker, cotton type coat will often not have the 4 way coloring that is seen with many Yorkies as the transition from the black and tan of a puppy coat to blue and gold hairs. Sometimes you will see a solid, such as cream or tan… And other times you will see a 2 color coat (known as a parti) of perhaps tan and brown, or black and white. In some cases a 3rd color will be present.

Where the standard calls out for blue, those with thicker coats may have a light blue instead…in many cases it will be white or grey instead. Proper grooming will be the same no matter what colors or thickness there is to the hair.
Shedding - The Process of Renewal

This breed does not have a "typical" shedding phase...However, this does not meant that hairs do not ever fall out! The body pushes out older hairs and replaces them with new ones on a never ending continual basis. This happens in such a slow cycle that one never really notices. However, it will be normal to see some strands here and there...perhaps when you are giving your Yorkie a bath...sometimes when you are brushing the coat. This is nothing to worry about.

The time to worry would be if you notice patches of missing hair... circular or otherwise. More about this is discussed ahead.

When a dam has just gone through pregnancy and has given birth to her litter, it will not be uncommon for her to have a "more than normal" hair loss. This is caused by hormonal changes in the body and as the hormones gradually regulates itself the coat will fill back in to what was normal for her.
Proper Grooming

Proper grooming will help to keep a the coat nice and healthy. However, as with any other dog breed, there are health conditions which could affect the coat. More on this ahead. And be sure to read Grooming
Yorkie hair health
Munchkin, 5 months old
Photo courtesy of Keith
*** If you are not happy with the grooming products that you have or if you are not sure which are best, look to the Yorkie Specialty Shoppe
1 year old Yorkie puppy hair
Baby Teddy, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Char Weber
Pup VS Adult - The Changes that Will Occur

Your will notice that your Yorkie's coat is darker when they are younger. The coloring will be black and tan. In some cases the pup will appear to be solid however there should be some secondary color, even if it is a very small mismark somewhere on the coat. 

At the age of 5 to 6 months, there will be a steady change over to an adult coat. The adult Yorkie will end this phase with a nice blue coat and a deep, dark gold coloring.

This stage is similar to a human going through puberty. A huge hormonal change is occurring. A Yorkie may have a smooth transition over to the adult coat, or the dog may have an awkward phase of a thinning that can be troublesome to those who do not know that it is only temporary and not uncommon.

The thinning is a typical reaction to the changes that are occurring. New hairs may not come out just as the puppy hairs are shed...There can a static point when this process appears to be stalled, but changes are occurring even if you cannot see it.
You will want to use quality shampoos and canine hair conditioners especially during this time. The skin will be sensitive and not as protected in this transitional stage. Always test water with the inside of your wrist before bathing... temperature should be luke warm and never hot nor cold. Giving a daily supplement of Omega 3 (healthy fatty acids) works very well to promote growth and maintain health...It is used for both the treatment of dry skin and of the coat.

Note: The coat of this breed is one of their most outstanding features! For this reason, an owner should be aware of every coat issue that affects this dog breed. Learn more about the YorkieInfoCenter eBook.

There are some conditions that can affect the coat.

Neurodermatitis- This is a condition in which the Yorkie will impulsively lick their coat to such an extreme that the follicles are damaged, consequently resulting in the dog’s hair falling out. He or she may focus on one area of the body or in various areas. This medical condition is thought to be caused by stress, nervousness or extreme boredom. This diagnosis is established by ruling out other medical issues. This is treated by eliminating the triggers of stress. In some cases Melatonin is given. While behavior training is an option, altering the home atmosphere often fixes this
Acantosis Nigricans - This is rare for this breed; however can happen. This is a thinning of the coat due to hormonal imbalances, hypersensitivities or friction. Testing will be done by a veterinarian to establish the precise cause. Management may consist of steroids and/or vitamin E supplements.

Allergic Dermatitis - A thinning of the coat is a common symptom when a dog has an allergy to an external factor. lawn chemicals, grooming products, even laundry detergent are potential causes. Not only will the dog suffer from a thinning of the coat, but there may be red blisters, sores or abrasions on the dog’s skin as well. Luckily, this can be promptly corrected once the trigger of the allergic reaction is identified. A veterinarian can carry out patch testing to find the cause and then the owner must remove that element from the dog’s environment. In moderate to severe cases, antihistamines and/or steroids may be given.
two Yorkies with long hair
Alopecia - This is a condition is which the coat will thin and then can spontaneously grow back. Speculated to possibly be an autoimmune disorder, this will cause areas of thinning on the dog. In the majority cases, there will be no itching. This frequently resolves by itself once the dog's body achieves enough antibodies to fend off its internal attacker and the coat will grow back. Generally, it will grow back to what it once was.

Hypothyroidism - This happens to the Yorkie when the thyroid begins to slow down and produces a smaller amount of hormones. Before the thinning of the coat occurs, the coat may become very dry and hair may break off easily when brushed. The under active thyroid may also cause weight gain and weakness in the dog. 

This can be diagnosed when the veterinarian checks thyroid levels. Treatment will be medication, often needed indefinitely. Recovery is a slow yet steady process; in most cases the Yorkie will make a complete recovery.
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