Yorkie Grooming Guide: How to Properly Groom a Yorkie
Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, have long, silky coats. When you see gorgeous show dogs, you might wonder, how do you properly groom a Yorkie?
Show coats require constant upkeep, with Yorkies needing to be brushed daily and bathed weekly. Many have their fur wrapped up between shows to prevent mess and tangles. Pet coats, on the other hand, can be much easier to maintain. Some styles only need to be brushed weekly and bathed every two weeks.
In this grooming guide, we’ll discuss the difference between show and pet coats, how to groom your Yorkie, and tips to make the process easier.
Training is a Must for Yorkie Grooming
Yorkies who are trained to accept handling from a young age behave much better for their grooms and also find the process less stressful.
Even if you’re planning on taking your dog to a professional groomer, it’s essential to desensitize them to the process at home. It’s not a groomer’s responsibility to train your pup, nor do they typically have the time for such a slow process.
There are also basic grooming tasks you’ll need to handle at home such as brushing their coat and teeth.
Here’s how to desensitize your Yorkie to the grooming process, whether they’re a new puppy or an adult who struggles when groomed:
- Handle their paws, tail, and ears regularly. Mess with their feet while lying on the couch, practice lifting their ears and spreading their toes, and handle them in other ways that will be required for a groom. Give your Yorkie treats to make this a fun experience!
- Introduce new tools slowly. Start with treats for just looking at or sniffing the tools, and work your way up slowly. Take this at the dog’s pace whenever possible.
- Groom your Yorkie regularly. The more you avoid the process, the more painful it becomes for your dog–and the more they will act out. Mats in the coat hurt terribly and brushing them out hurts even more!
- Be gentle. Whenever possible, don’t force your Yorkie into grooming. Also be careful not to hurt them by pulling their hair or trimming nails too short.
- Don’t be afraid to force grooming if necessary. It’s not ideal, and is likely to set you back a few steps–but this process can’t always be linear, especially since poor grooming can impact your Yorkie’s health!
Show Styles are Difficult to Maintain
A show style on a Yorkie means growing out their coat so that it’s level with the floor. Dogs may have their fur trimmed to keep it looking its best or their sanitary area shaved to prevent messy rear ends.
This is difficult to maintain and requires combing through the entire coat at least once a day, as well as giving your dog weekly baths. Many people with show dogs will wrap their fur between shows to keep it tangle-free with less maintenance.
Instead of a show coat, most everyday people will opt for a pet style. There are several cuts to choose from for your Yorkie, from a shaved coat to a slightly longer teddy bear cut where the fur is cut evenly to a few inches of length throughout the body.
Yorkies Need Haircuts Every 4-6 Weeks
You or your dog’s groomer should shave or scissor-cut your Yorkie’s coat every 4-6 weeks to keep it at the desired length and style. This is especially important to stay on top of if you’d like to keep their fur short and avoid regular brushing.
Long Coats Must be Brushed Daily
If you keep your Yorkie’s fur long, it will need to be brushed daily. Shorter styles should be brushed at least once weekly, and perhaps more often depending on length.
The recommended brushes for your Yorkshire Terrier’s coat are a pin brush, slicker brush, and metal comb. The comb will get deep into a long coat to ensure the fur doesn’t mat close to the skin.
If you keep your Yorkie’s fur only a couple of inches long, you might only need a pin or slicker brush. It’s important to make sure that whichever brush you choose reaches down to the skin.
Brush from the Bottom to Top of the Coat
When brushing your Yorkie’s fur, it’s best to start at the bottom of their hair and work your way up to the top. This helps to work out any tangles with less pulling on their fur.
When possible, holding the hair above the tangle with your fingers will prevent the brush from pulling as much on their skin. This prevents your Yorkie from being in pain from the brushing.
You’ll also want to part the fur to ensure you work through the entire coat all the way down to the skin.
Clipped Coats are Lower Maintenance
It’s important to be realistic about how much grooming you can do at home. Not grooming long coats will only lead to pain for your pup, and it won’t look nice either!
If you don’t want to keep up with brushing the coat regularly, you can have your dog’s groomer clip the coat short. Yorkies have human-like hair, not double coats like some other dog breeds. This means it can be shaved without damaging the coat.
Dog Conditioner Can Help Remove Tangles
Never yank the brush through difficult tangles or mats. Try spraying the coat down with dog conditioner to make them easier to brush out, and gently trim mats that cannot be worked through without hurting the dog.
If your Yorkie has become severely matted, please bring them to either a dog groomer or veterinarian for help. This is a painful condition that can be made much worse if you pull their fur or accidentally cut their skin.
Bathe Your Yorkie Twice a Month
Yorkies with short hair need baths every other week, while those with long coats need weekly baths.
Use a dog shampoo rather than human soaps, which can irritate dogs’ skin. You can also use dog conditioner to make the coat softer and healthier.
To bathe your Yorkie:
- Desensitize them to the bath or sink over time.
- Place a non-slip mat into the tub to make your Yorkie feel more secure.
- Fill the tub or sink with a couple of inches of warm water.
- Put your Yorkie into the tub and wet their entire coat. Some won’t mind running water such as a showerhead, while others prefer that you use a cup to scoop the water onto their bodies instead.
- Lather dog shampoo in your hands and rub it into your Yorkie’s coat.
- Rinse thoroughly, running your hands over their body to find any remaining soap suds.
- Repeat the lather and rinse process with dog conditioner.
- Towel dry your Yorkie, then use a blow dryer on a low heat setting to dry the coat.
- If they have long fur, brush your Yorkie after their bath to remove any tangles or mats.
Brush Your Yorkie’s Teeth Daily
Dental issues are extremely common in small dogs like Yorkshire Terriers. This is why it’s important to brush their teeth daily, or at least every other day.
Brushing their teeth will reduce their risk of dental disease or needing teeth removed as they age. It also reduces their risk of developing other health issues, such as heart, lung, and kidney disease.
There are a variety of dog toothbrushes on the market, or you can use a human or baby toothbrush. Always use a dog toothpaste, as human toothpastes are toxic to dogs.
The best dental care supplies are those that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) as they’ve been tested and proven to work to reduce plaque.
Trim their Nails Monthly
Your Yorkie will need their nails trimmed at least once a month. If you bring them to the groomer this often, you can have it done there for a small fee.
Otherwise, you’ll need to learn how to trim their nails at home. This can be more difficult because the nails are likely black, so you cannot see the quicks.
The quicks of the nails are full of blood and hurt when cut into. If you’ve ever seen a light-colored dog nail, the pink spot at the base is the quick.
Sometimes with black nails, you can shine a light to better see where the quick is located. You can also use a nail dremel to slowly file down the nail, reducing your chances of cutting too short.
Clean the Ears Regularly
Many Yorkshire Terriers need their ears cleaned regularly. Most people will gently wipe the visible parts of the ears with an ear-cleaning solution during bathtime.
This is a simple process. Remember to never insert anything into your dog’s ear, as you can compact the wax in the ear canal or even rupture the eardrum.
Check for Health Problems While Grooming
While grooming your Yorkie, you should check over their bodies for signs of health problems. Look for redness or odor coming from the ears, bad breath or swollen gums in the mouth, and any lumps, bumps, or irritation in the skin.
If you notice anything worrying, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to address the issue. It’s almost never recommended to wait out health concerns or try to treat them at home, as this can worsen their severity.
When in Doubt, See a Professional
If you have doubts about whether you can handle your Yorkie’s grooming needs, it’s best to see a professional dog groomer. They can not only groom your dog the right way but can give you tips on continuing their care at home.
It’s also important to recognize what matters to your dog. A bad haircut won’t hurt them and can save you money, so it’s a win-win so long as you don’t mind them looking a bit silly!
However, cutting the quick, cutting the skin while trying to remove mats, or trying to clean the inner ear on your own can all injure your dog, potentially severely.
It’s important to acknowledge when you need help and to do your best by your Yorkie to keep them not only looking beautiful but also healthy and pain-free.
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