Yorkie-Poo

Stuart Fitzgerald
Dr Stuart Fitzgerald (MVB MANZCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Yorkie-Poo

A hybrid mix created by cross-breeding Yorkshire Terrier and Toy (or sometimes Miniature) Poodle parents, the Yorkie-Poo is an entertainer, a tiny bundle of fun that’s always on the lookout for mischief and games. Gentle and affectionate, it is the consummate companion dog, and needs to be with its owner at all times. Luckily, it’s usually small enough to find space on every journey, although some breeders are experimenting with producing larger puppies. Whatever the size of the Poodle parent, the Yorkie-Poo inherits its low-shedding coat, a trait much sought after by many dog owners. It has no idea of its own diminutive size, and can land itself in trouble with bigger dogs through its brazen attitude and tendency to bark in the face of danger.

Speaking of barking, this is something the Yorkie-Poo has a talent for, and can be a problem for neighbours, although it does mean there will never be an intruder in the neighbourhood that everybody within a quarter of a mile doesn’t know about. The Yorkie-Poo is intelligent and learns quickly, so training should not be a problem for experienced dog owners, and it is adaptable enough to take to canine sports or to enjoy a more sedentary lifestyle. As for all hybrids, the Yorkie-Poo can inherit any of the health problems seen in the parent breeds, although it is usually a healthy dog. Although information is scarce, this hybrid is expected to enjoy a lifespan of 12–14 years.

About & History

The current trend toward creating so-called “designer dogs” shows no signs of abating, and the Yorkie-Poo is one relatively recent addition to the collection. Like many of these new hybrids, it was first bred and marketed in the United States, probably no more than 15 years ago, though nobody seems quite sure of the precise timing of its creation. By this time, the Cockapoo, Labradoodle, and others had brought the appeal of the Poodle hybrid to the attention of the public, for although these crosses were originally conceived as a way of producing low-shedding, and therefore, hopefully less allergenic, dogs, the Poodle’s great intelligence also carried through, making these dogs all the more attractive. But how to breed a smart, low-shedding dog that was smaller and more adapted to apartment living? The answer lay in finding another small breed of intelligence, and the Yorkshire Terrier was seen to fit the bill.

The Yorkie’s temperament seemed an ideal counterbalance to the Poodle’s, exhibiting a typical terrier independent streak to soften the other parent’s absolute dependence on its owner for companionship and comfort. Because the Yorkie-Poo is a new hybrid, there is no immediate prospect of it becoming a recognised breed, and most Yorkie-Poo puppies seen for sale are first-generation crosses of two pedigree parents. Future development to the point of achieving Kennel Club recognition would require many generations of Yorkie-Poo to Yorkie-Poo breeding. In addition, because the Poodle parent can be one of two varieties (Toy or Miniature), there is a good deal of variation in the appearance, and even temperament, of this hybrid. It is often said that no two Yorkie-Poos are alike, and this has certainly been true in my own experience.

Appearance

Yorkie-Poo Large Photo

While much of this description must be taken with a pinch of salt, as there is nothing close to a breed standard for the Yorkie-Poo, it is certainly fair to say that this is a very small “breed”, with average Yorkie-Poos weighing between 3 and 5 kg (7–11 lb), and being 18–23 cm (7–9 in) in height. They often have a touch of the Poodle’s legginess, and can be quite fine-boned. Most have a slender head with a gently tapering muzzle and dark, expressive eyes. The body is usually slim and muscular, with the length of the back being approximately equal to the height at the withers. The coat is very variable in appearance, ranging from straight to curled, but it is usually quite light and silky in texture. Poodle crosses tend to come in a wide variety of colours, but those most common in the Yorkie-Poo are:

  • Black
  • White
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Apricot
  • Cream

As well as this range of base colours, marking colours and patterns are unique to each dog, and patches and coloured “points” give the Yorkie-Poo an endless array of costumes to be seen in!

Character & Temperament

The Yorkie-Poo has a real lust for life, and seems to squeeze every bit of fun out of every day. It is an extremely affectionate hybrid, and will feel deprived if unable to spend every minute with its people. Being very playful, it makes a great playmate for older children, but is perhaps too small and fragile to be considered a pet for youngsters. Isolation is the Yorkie-Poo’s greatest fear, and it will bark incessantly or destroy everything in sight if left alone for more than a few minutes, so this is not a dog for homes in which everybody is out all day at work.

Although it is an excellent watchdog, it is really very sociable once it has had a chance to meet strangers, and will do its best to become the centre of attention whenever there’s company. However, as with its appearance, the Yorkie-Poo’s temperament varies, and each individual will have Yorkie and Poodle traits to a greater or lesser degree. For anyone who wishes to learn more about this hybrid, and all the forms it can take, they would be well advised to read up on both the parent breeds to prepare for all eventualities.

Trainability

Photo of Yorkie-Poo puppy

The Yorkie-Poo is usually easy to train: its eagerness to please and responsiveness to praise help in this regard. However, it is important that it is not excessively pampered, as its small size and cuteness can result in it being seen more as a doll than a dog, and it can become a tiny tyrant if given the opportunity.

Early training and socialisation are important for any dog, and will help ensure the Yorkie-Poo recognises its owner’s position at the top of the pack hierarchy, as well as teaching it the correct approach to meeting other dogs. Excessively bold or aggressive behaviour toward a large breed dog could be disastrous for a Yorkie-Poo with the wrong attitude, and most have attitude in spades!

Health

Genetics determine an individual’s characteristics, in health as in other aspects, so one must be aware of the health problems that exist in both parent breeds when thinking of buying a Yorkie-Poo, for it will be at risk of any of the conditions inherited by the Poodle and Yorkie. The most prevalent of these include following:

  • Dental disease – Both parent breeds are prone to dental overcrowding and retention of deciduous teeth, allowing tartar build-up from an early age, with ensuing periodontal disease and tooth loss. Preventative oral care is very important, both at home and in the veterinary clinic, for all Yorkie-Poos.
  • Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis – Severe bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, often precipitated by stress, such as kennelling or a change in diet.
  • Legg-Calvé Perthes disease – Degeneration of the upper thigh bone in rapidly growing puppies, causing severe pain in the hip joint. Requires surgery to allow normal function.
  • Lens luxation – Displacement of the lens of the eye into either the anterior or posterior chamber, causing loss of vision and predisposing to glaucoma.
  • Patellar luxation – Lack of soft tissue and bony support for the kneecap can cause it to slip out of position intermittently. Causes an obvious skipping gait, and can lead to early onset arthritis.
  • Portosystemic shunt – Liver failure as the result of an anomalous blood vessel that bypasses the normal hepatic circulation.
  • Tracheal collapse – Malformation of the main airway, particularly common in Yorkies, that causes a harsh cough, especially when excited or pulling on the lead.
  • von Willebrand’s disease – Clotting disorder due to inadequate platelet function. Seen as excess bleeding after minor injuries.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Yorkie-Poos can get most of their exercise within the home if required, as they are always ready to chase a toy up and down the hallway. However, lead walking is a great way for owner and dog to build their bond, as well as allowing both to socialise with other dogs and walkers. For the mental, as much as physical, stimulation it provides, around half an hour should be allotted to outdoor activity every day.

Grooming

Whatever coat type the Yorkie-Poo inherits, it will require some commitment from the owner to maintain. Because the hair is light and grows to a good length in most individuals, it should be brushed and detangled every day. Monthly bathing is also advisable, but must be done with a dog-friendly shampoo, and the services of a professional groomer every two months will help keep the coat a manageable length.

As a light dog that doesn’t exercise vigorously, it will also need its nails cut every few weeks. This can be done at home with a good-quality purpose-made nail clipper, but care must be taken not to cut into the sensitive quick that runs down the middle of each nail. As mentioned above, the Yorkie-Poo is prone to dental problems, and daily tooth brushing is a must. Again, this needs to be done with a paste specifically formulated for dogs, and should be introduced in puppyhood as part of the daily routine.

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