Breed-Specific Conditions and Pet Insurance for Yorkshire Terriers


Ru Chen

- Updated February 26, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Yorkshire Terriers are prone to breed-specific conditions
  • They have higher risks of dislocated kneecaps, liver shunt, dental diseases, and tracheal collapse
  • Pet insurance can cover treatment costs for Yorkie breed-specific conditions
  • Save money and secure high-quality pet services with pet insurance
Breed-Specific Conditions and Pet Insurance for Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers, fondly known as Yorkies, are an endearing dog breed that has captured the hearts of many. These tiny lapdogs from England are sweet and loving companions with an eagerness for adventure. However, Yorkies are prone to genetic and health conditions, which often require preventive care and costly treatment. This makes it important to find pet insurance tailored to Yorkshire Terriers.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the breed-specific conditions for Yorkshire Terriers and what pet insurance is best for their needs.

Common Health Conditions in Yorkshire Terriers

As pure breed dogs, Yorkshire Terriers are more susceptible to breed-specific health conditions. Here are the most common health issues that Yorkshire Terriers run into.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is commonly known as kneecap dislocation. It’s more prevalent in smaller dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers and Toy Poodles.

The main symptom for patellar luxation is a skipping gait, with the Yorkshire Terrier leaning on the three unaffected legs instead as it walks. A luxating patella typically means the kneecap is sliding or popping out of place from the femoral groove when moving around, which leads to dislocation. After a few steps, the issue may resolve, but generally a luxating patella is recurring.

To diagnose patellar luxation, vets will perform a physical exam and potentially order an X-ray on the affected limb. Advanced CT, or MRI imaging may also be required. Usually, treatment involves conservative management of the condition as opposed to surgery. This may involve anti-inflammatory medications, weight management, as well as restricted exercise.

However, if a luxating patella worsens and heavily impacts the Yorkshire Terrier’s quality of life, surgery to correct its dislocated kneecap might be necessary. This can be more difficult and expensive. If you already have pet insurance, it could help offset the surgical expenses.

While many dogs can tolerate patellar luxation for a long time, even their entire lives, the condition can cause decreased mobility and joint pain. Arthritis may develop as the Yorkshire Terrier grows older, which can cause further issues.

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse causes dogs to cough and suffer from respiratory distress. The trachea is the tube in the neck commonly known as the windpipe, carrying air into the lungs. It is made up of cartilage rings and a thin membrane that helps form the tube. During a tracheal collapse, the rings or thin membrane become weakened, resulting in a flattened trachea.

A flattened trachea makes it difficult for Yorkshire Terriers to breathe. The main symptom of a tracheal collapse is for a dog to let out dry, honking coughs. Additional symptoms may include retching, blue gums, fainting, and inability to exercise normally.

To treat a collapsing trachea in a Yorkshire Terrier, the vet may prescribe medications such as:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Sedatives
  • Antibiotics (due to increased risk for respiratory infections)
  • Bronchodilators (to widen small airways in lungs)

The prescribed medications will likely be necessary throughout the Yorkshire Terrier’s life since it is crucial to properly manage a collapsing trachea. If medications are insufficient, a veterinarian may also perform surgery to ease your Yorkie’s condition.

While tracheal collapses may be mild, severe cases can lead breathing distress and even death. A Yorkshire Terrier with sudden trouble breathing should be seen by a vet immediately since this is a medical emergency.

Dental Disease

While 80% of dogs are affected by dental diseases by the age of two, Yorkshire Terriers are unfortunately even more susceptible to them. Plaque build-up is extra fast on Yorkshire Terriers, which can lead to gum infections and periodontal disease.

Because of how Yorkshire Terriers easily encounter dental issues and periodontal diseases, proper dental care is essential. Preventive dental care and cleanings can lower the chances of your Yorkshire Terrier suffering dental diseases and gum problems. Brushing a Yorkshire Terrier’s teeth regularly helps prevent tartar buildup and gum infections.

Tooth problems are not isolated to the mouth. If a dental issue worsens, it could even lead to kidney damage, lost teeth, heart issues, liver problems, and joint problems. A Yorkshire Terrier with periodontal disease may even have their expected lifespan shorted by two or three years.

Portosystemic Shunt

Portosystemic shunts are also known as liver shunts. Dogs with portosystemic shunts have an abnormality in blood vessels that bypass the liver. Although more studies are needed to show the exact cause of portosystemic shunt, there is a strong chance it is congenital due to Yorkshire Terriers having a higher risk of liver shunt.

A dog with liver shunt may suffer from seizures, behavioral changes, and progressive liver damage. Symptoms also include poor muscle development, disorientation, and recurring urinary infections.

Because of their predisposition for liver shunts, Yorkshire Terriers should go through testing to check for portosystemic shunt. Diagnosis is typically done through blood tests, urinalysis, and bile acid tests.

To treat a portosystemic shunt, dogs are typically prescribed special, digestible diets and medications to reduce toxin production and absorption in the large intestines.

The prognosis for liver shunts is relatively poor. Liver shunts are often feared by dog owners because over half of dogs diagnosed with a liver shunt are euthanized within ten months of diagnosis.


Importance of Pet Insurance for Yorkshire Terriers

Here are the main reasons you should get pet insurance for your Yorkshire Terrier.

Financial Protection Against Veterinary Expenses

Pet insurance is a great way to mitigate the expensive costs of treating breed-specific health conditions for Yorkshire Terriers. Yorkies have a higher risk for dental disease, liver shunt, tracheal collapse, and patellar luxation. Because of the predisposition for these problematic and potentially life-threatening conditions, Yorkshire Terriers may have higher treatment costs and vet expenses.

Pet insurance can mitigate the expensive costs of surgery, medications, and diagnostic tests for Yorkshire Terriers. When you file a claim with your pet insurance company for a covered expense, you can receive financial assistance. Over the lifetime of a Yorkshire Terrier, pet insurance could save the pet owner hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

It’s ideal to have pet insurance for your Yorkshire Terrier before health conditions start to manifest. This is because once a dog is already sick or old, pet insurance becomes more expensive or difficult to find.

Coverage for Breed-Specific Conditions

Look at what the pet insurance policy covers in terms of treatments, surgeries, and medications. When selecting a pet insurance plan for your Yorkshire Terrier, it’s important to choose an insurance company that provides coverage for Yorkshire Terrier’s common health conditions, including:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Periodontal disease
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • Tracheal collapse

Since many dog health issues can be diagnosed before symptoms become highly visible, it’s also a good idea to find a pet insurance policy that covers key diagnostic tests. Routine blood tests and wellness exams can help vets detect your Yorkie’s potential health issues before they worsen over time. For treatment-necessary conditions like tracheal collapse and portosystemtic shunts, early detection can make a lifechanging difference in the prognosis of your pet.

Wellness plans

Preventive care plans (AKA wellness plans) are recommended for Yorkshire Terrier owners. Preventive care can go a long way in improving and maintaining the health of dogs. This type of pet coverage plan generally covers routine pet checkups, dental cleanings, and other important vet services.

Routine checkups at the vet can help the vet check for breed-specific conditions for your Yorkshire Terrier more often. Early detection typically means better prognosis, which is critical for more serious conditions such as liver shunts.

Professional dental checkups and cleanings with the vet can also greatly reduce the chances of your Yorkshire Terrier getting periodontal issues. This can raise the overall quality of life for your pet.

If an expense is covered by your wellness plan, you will receive a fast reimbursement that helps offset the costs of the preventive care. Note that wellness plans are not technically pet insurance. Instead, pet insurance companies offer wellness and preventative care coverage on top of standard pet insurance. Because of the relatively high likelihood of Yorkshire Terriers getting breed-specific conditions, wellness plans and pet insurance plans are both valuable types of financial protection to consider.


How to Find Pet Insurance for Yorkshire Terriers

Research Pet Insurance Providers

Take the time to research different pet insurance providers for your Yorkshire Terrier. Pet insurance companies generally cover dog needs, but Yorkshire Terriers have more health risks that may require extra coverage and add-ons. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consider pet insurance providers that allow you to customize your coverage through add-ons and insurance riders.

You can find our top pet insurance companies of the year, which feature up-to-date, expert reviews of the best pet insurance for different pet needs. Some of the best pet insurance companies we recommend include:

  • Pumpkin Pet Insurance
  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
  • Embrace Pet Insurance
  • Lemonade Pet Insurance

Review Policy Coverage

Yorkshire Terriers are a popular dog breed, making them typically covered by pet insurance companies in the market. However, it is still a vital insurance-shopping step to double-check whether your Yorkshire Terrier receives full coverage from a pet insurance plan.

Check to see if your dog’s age or any of its pre-existing conditions might exclude it from pet insurance coverage. Like with human medical insurance, pet insurance often comes with terms, exclusions, and limitations.

Consider Policy Premiums, Deductibles, and Other Factors

Ideally, pet owners want a pet insurance policy that is affordable and provides adequate coverage. When buying an insurance product, try to balance between an affordable monthly premium and a suitable insurance deductible.

The deductible is how much of your pet bills you need to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in to provide coverage. A higher deductible means a cheaper monthly premium, but this could mean greater upfront, out-of-pocket costs are required before your Yorkshire Terrier’s vet expenses can receive insurance coverage.

The co-payment and reimbursement rates are two similar factors to consider. Co-pay refers to what percentage of the remaining bill you need to pay after reaching the deductible. Reimbursement rate refers to how much of a covered vet bill is reimbursed by the pet insurer after you meet your deductible.

Consider Add-Ons and Riders

Because Yorkshire Terriers are vulnerable to dental issues, pet owners should consider obtaining a pet insurance policy with dental coverage or a dental add-on in the form of a preventive care plan.

Insurance riders (AKA endorsements) allow you to add specific items to your pet insurance policy. Riders may be purchased at an additional cost, broadening your coverage so that it is better suited for your Yorkshire Terrier.

You may also want to consider a pet insurance rider for alternative therapies, such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Complementary treatments are a popular treatment choice for dogs suffering from pet conditions. if you expect to take your Yorkshire Terrier to a dog alternative care specialist, look out for an alternative care treatment coverage add-on.



Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to suffer from breed-specific conditions such as dislocated kneecaps, liver shunt, dental diseases, and tracheal collapse. These conditions can lead to serious health problems and expensive vet bills.

Pet insurance is a valuable form of financial protection for pet owners. With pet insurance, you will be able to fully focus on meeting your Yorkshire Terrier’s medical needs without worrying about pet medication and surgery costs. Many pet insurance companies also offer coverage add-ons so you can choose the one that best suits your Yorkshire Terrier.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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