While Yorkies, or Yorkshire Terriers, may be known for their small size (Teacup Yorkies can weigh as little as four pounds), they have big personalities. These pooches are more than dainty purse dogs. Yorkies are good with kids, they’re intelligent, and above all, they’re loyal to their owners. But are they a good fit for owners with allergies? Are Yorkies hypoallergenic?
The truth is there’s no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic dog. If you have dog allergies, your reaction to different types of dogs will depend on the severity of your allergies. But Yorkies are considered one of the best choices for allergy sufferers, so if you’ve fallen for this breed, there’s still hope that you can live comfortably with them.
We’ll explain why Yorkies are a good choice for people with allergies. Plus, we’ll share tips to help you make sure you aren’t allergic to Yorkies before you bring one home, and to help you allergy-proof your home so you can live comfortably with your furry friend.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
Here’s a hint: It’s not dog fur. Many people mistakenly believe pet fur itself causes pet allergies. But fur on its own is relatively harmless. The true source of dog allergies is a protein found in dogs’ dander, saliva, and urine, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
This protein can make its way into your dog’s coat when dander and dead skin cells attach themselves to your dog’s hair follicles. Then when your dog sheds their fur, these allergens spread throughout your home, triggering allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
So while people with allergies aren’t allergic to the fur itself, dogs that shed more trigger more allergy symptoms. Low-shedding and non-shedding dogs, on the other hand, will spread less dander around your home, so they’re less likely to trigger allergies.
So, Are Yorkies Hypoallergenic Dogs?
The American Kennel Club (AKC) includes Yorkies on their list of hypoallergenic dog breeds. But remember our disclaimer at the beginning of the article: There are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs. People with severe allergies can be allergic to any dog.
So, instead of calling this breed hypoallergenic, we will simply say that Yorkshire terriers are one of the best dog breeds for allergy sufferers. They have a unique coat that makes them virtually non-shedding.
The Yorkie’s Coat
One of the reasons the AKC calls Yorkshire terriers hypoallergenic is because of their distinct coat. Yorkshire terriers have long, silky coats, similar to Afghan hounds, which are also listed as a hypoallergenic breed by the AKC. And unlike many of the heaviest shedders — like the German shepherd, golden retriever, and husky — Yorkies don’t have an undercoat. So, you won’t notice any seasonal shedding.
In fact, a Yorkie’s hair doesn’t shed like normal dog fur at all. It acts more like human hair. Dead hairs will fall out, but they won’t go flying all over your house every time you pet your pup.
So, are Yorkshire terriers non-shedding dogs? All dogs shed a little, but Yorkies are very low-shedding dogs. The AKC ranks their shedding as a one on a scale of one to five, which is the lowest possible ranking. It’s the same ranking given to the poodle, schnauzer, Maltese, and other breeds that are considered good for allergy sufferers.
Essentially, this small dog sheds similarly to how people lose hair. You may notice their hair come out when you brush or bathe your Yorkie, and you may find the occasional strand of hair on your furniture, but that’s about it.
How Can You Tell If a Yorkie Will Trigger Your Allergies?
So, are Yorkies hypoallergenic? While a Yorkie is unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, it isn’t out of the question. If you’re allergic to dogs, and you’re considering bringing home a Yorkshire terrier, you should do a test run first to make sure you can live allergy-free with a Yorkie.
There are a few ways to see whether a Yorkie will trigger your allergies. If you have a friend or family member who owns a Yorkie, spend time in their house playing with their dog. You can also volunteer to pet sit their dog for a weekend to conduct a more in depth test of what it’s like to live with a Yorkshire terrier.
If you don’t know anyone with a Yorkie, you could sign up for a pet sitting service or you can foster a Yorkie from a breed rescue organization. You can also talk to the breeder whom you’re considering adopting your Yorkie puppy from. A responsible breeder will let you visit their dogs in their home. This will give you time to play with and interact with the dogs before you bring one home.
Pay attention to how you feel throughout any visits you have with Yorkshire terriers. Make note of any allergy symptoms you experience, and only agree to adopt a Yorkie once you’re sure that you can provide a comfortable forever home for you and the pup.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Risk of an Allergic Reaction?
In addition to making sure you aren’t allergic to Yorkies before you bring one home, you can also take steps to prepare your house for your new pup. While Yorkies are unlikely to trigger allergy symptoms for most folks, these steps will ensure your dander exposure remains as low as possible. No one should be afraid of cuddling up with their pup.
- Invest in a HEPA air purifier: An air purifier can help remove dander from the air you breathe, reducing your exposure to this allergen.
- Go to the groomer: Most Yorkie owners keep their dog’s hair trimmed, which can require regular visits to the groomer. If you have allergies, don’t try to DIY. Trimming and brushing can release a lot of dander, so leave it to the professionals (who don’t have allergies).
- Use conditioner: Conditioner can help prevent tangles, which would require extra brushing, and it can prevent dry skin. Dry skin causes more dead skin cells to flake off and build up in your dog’s coat, increasing your exposure to this allergen.
- Feed a fish oil supplement: Fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent dry skin and promote a healthy coat. When your dog’s coat and skin are healthy, they’re less likely to suffer from excessive hair loss.
- Buy a robot vacuum: For the few hairs your Yorkie does shed, a robot vacuum can come to your rescue. You can program it to run everyday to keep hair from building up around your house — even on weeks when you’ve had no time to clean.
Be Sneeze-Free With a Yorkie
Are Yorkies hypoallergenic? While there are no completely hypoallergenic dogs, Yorkies are as close as you can get to an allergy-free pup. Their silky coats barely shed, so they won’t spread much dander around your house. This means they won’t trigger allergy symptoms in most people with pet allergies.
But, in people who have severe allergies, any dog — even the Yorkie — can cause an allergic reaction. So, before you bring home one of these lovable little dogs, make sure you can live comfortably with a Yorkie by doing a test run. Spend time playing with and taking care of a Yorkie to see if it causes any of your allergy symptoms before you commit to a new furry friend.
Once you’re ready to bring home a Yorkie, set yourself up for success with an air purifier and a robot vacuum for your house, and conditioner and fish oil supplements for your dog’s coat. With a little preparation, you and your Yorkie can live a happy, healthy, and sneeze-free life together.
To learn more about your favorite breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.