Frequently Asked Questions

[ How do you pronounce Ojibwa? ]
[ Before You Purchase a Yorkie] [ What is a Pedigree?]

[ Papers & Quality ]
[ What does having a Ch mean? ] [ I want a Teacup Yorkie ]
[ Tri-Colored Yorkies ] [Designer Dogs]

[Collapsing Trachea]
[ Liver Shunt ] [ Luxating Patellas ] [ L'egg Perthes ]

Having decided to own a purebred dog, you should try to find the best available specimen of the breed. Many sources offer purebred puppies and dogs for sale, but locating the best source requires time and research. Local pet stores will often carry several popular breeds. These dogs often come from backyard breeders or puppy mills, and are not in the best state of health, nor are they from the best possible breeding lines. Your local newspaper will also run advertisements for purebred puppies. Careful research may prove a few of these to be well bred, healthy animals which will make good pets. The majority, however, are likely the result of backyard breeding by neighbors looking to make a small profit.

How do you pronounce Ojibwa?

Ojibwa is pronounced . The Anishinabe, commonly referred to as the Ojibwa or the Chippewa, ascribed their appearance on this continent to an act of creation.

To end any confusion, the Ojibwa and Chippewa are not only the same Indian tribe, but the same word pronounced a little differently due to accent. If an "O" is placed in front of Chippewa (O'chippewa), the relationship becomes apparent. Ojibwe is used in Canada, although Ojibwe west of Lake Winnipeg are sometime referred to as the Saulteaux. In United States, Chippewa was used in all treaties and is the official name. The Ojibwa call themselves Anishinabe (Anishinaubag, Neshnabek) meaning "original men" .

Before you purchase your yorkie.

The following are a list of important things to know before you purchase a new puppy:

I believe a yorkie should be at least 12 weeks old before going to a new home. Some would say they can go younger, and some puppies probably can; but 12 weeks puts you past the fragile first few weeks, and past the fear/imprint period, and seems to me to be about as young as they should go. Be wary of anyone who will sell you a yorkie puppy under 12 weeks of age.

Be sure that you purchase your puppy from the actual breeder - not someone selling puppies for someone else. This is called a broker, and many times puppies from a broker come from puppy mills. Pet stores that sell yorkies fall under the category of brokers. Pet stores are one of the main reasons puppy mills are able to remain in business.

Don't buy the first puppy you see. Try to visit several breeders and see their puppies. Ask lots of questions. Then you will be prepared to make an informed decision. This is the hardest to do, when you see there little faces you just want to take them home. But you will be better off in the long run if you don't buy the first one you see. Who knows but after talking with with several different breeders you may decide to buy that first puppy, great but you know that is the best choice.

Any good breeder will be willing to stand behind their dogs 100%. They will guarantee their health and be willing to replace the puppy if something goes wrong. They want to be called when there are problems, they want to know if something is showing up in their lines and that needs to addressed. If you find a breeder like this, you have most likely found a good one that truly cares about the dogs they are breeding.

When you decide on a new puppy, plan to pick the puppy up on a day when you can take the new puppy straight to your vet for an exam before taking the puppy home. That way, if something is wrong you can return the puppy right away before you get attached. If you can't take them to the vet the same day, wait a few days for the puppy to settle in and then take them, any good breeder usually gives you at least a week to do this.

Make arrangements with your vet to have your pet spayed or neutered as soon as possible. I prefer to have them spayed or neuter between 6 to 9 months of age. By spaying or neutering you are increasing the length of your pet's life by eliminating the risk of many types of cancer. A long time ago people thought that they should let female dogs come in season once before they are spayed; this is no longer the case. Most vets agree that this is unnecessary. The younger a male dog is neutered the more likely that he will not lift his leg and mark territory in your house. This can be very messy, but can also be prevented by neutering at a young age.

What is a Pedigree?

Quite simply, a pedigree is a record of the ancestors of your Yorkshire Terrier. This would start with the father (sire), the mother (dam), grandsire, granddam, great-grandsire and so on. Every dog, purebred or not, has a pedigree. To most pet owners a pedigree is meaningless. To those that show in confirmation and have a rigid breeding program, an accurate pedigree becomes quite valuable to the information it can provide.

The main function of the American Kennel Club and other similar registries is to do just that- keep track of a dogs ancestry in a reliable and accurate manner. For a registration fee, the AKC will record the name of your Yorkshire Terrier and pedigree information. The AKC registration certificate (papers) you received means that your Yorkie's information is kept on file in the AKC's records. For $30.00 will provide you with a certified pedigree. There are other pedigree services that do the same thing for far less of a fee and they gather their information to prepare the pedigree from stud books sold by the AKC for that purpose.

The AKC records the name you choose for your Yorkie to be registered (30 characters or less and no duplicate names). This certificate will show the color, sex, parentage, date of birth, breeder and owner and any titles the dog has won in AKC-sanctioned shows. When applying for registration, AKC relies on breeders and owners to be honest. This is very important. If the breeder of your Yorkie has given the AKC false information, the pedigree on your Yorkie may not be correct. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible for the AKC to verify all this information individually, although the AKC is striving for better accuracy with the recent use of DNA testing. Unless you personally know and trust the breeder, you really have no way of knowing if your Yorkie is really the one recorded on his registration papers. (This information was paraphrased from the Maltese Only home page)

Papers & Quality

Any dog that meets AKC's requirements for registration may be registered and receive "papers". The papers do not tell you if the Yorkie is of good quality or if it really is or even looks like what a Yorkie is supposed to be. All it can tell you is that your dog is registered with them as a Yorkshire Terrier and that its records are on file. Many people misunderstand this very important point. Many poor quality Yorkies not bred to the standard are AKC registered. You can't judge the quality of your Yorkie from looking only at his or her registration papers or pedigree. When puppies are whelped and the breeder registers the litter with the AKC, they in turn will send a puppy application paper for each puppy in the litter. When the time comes, the breeder will sign the puppy over to the buyer, who then can optionally register that individual puppy in his name for a fee of $12.00 and is sent a registration certificate back usually within 3 weeks with their name and their chosen name of the Yorkie. Cost of litter registration to the breeder is now $25.00 plus $2.00 for each puppy in the litter.

AKC registration means that the parents of the Yorkshire Terrier were registered as Yorkshire Terrier or it could also mean that an unethical breeder lied or was mistaken about the breeding that produced the litter. Registration itself is neither a guarantee nor even an indication of quality. This is why reputable breeders are have all their dogs, both female & male DNA certified. Every sire (male) producing seven or more litters in a lifetime or producing more than three litters in a calendar year must be 'AKC DNA Certified.'

No one examines the parents or the puppies to see if they really qualify to be registered as Yorkshire Terrier, and the AKC has to depend on breeders to be honest when applying for a litter registration. Some unethical breeders apply for registration forms for puppies that have died or were never born, and they then use these certificates on puppies of doubtful parentage. Others will buy unused registration papers at local flea markets for about double what they cost the breeder originally.

To complicate matters further, a female Yorkshire Terrier can be impregnated by different male dogs during her fertile cycle and if the dogs are not watched closely some puppies in the litter may have different fathers than other puppies of the same litter. In kennels where males and females of different breeds typically run together, mixed breed puppies can and will be registered as purebred if they look close to what the breed should look like. This is not uncommon with puppy mills or breeders who have several breeds, and has led these breeders to be investigated by the AKC and later to be DNA tested to prove parentage when the puppy has grown from looking like a Yorkshire Terrier into an adult looking like a Poodle. At that point, the AKC, at their discretion, might investigate and might revoke the litter registration if the puppies or adult dogs do not have the appearance of a Maltese or do not pass the DNA testing done by their inspectors. With this in mind, you now know that a pedigree can only tell you what the breeder told the AKC as to who the ancestors were - it can't tell you if they were of good quality, bad quality, what they looked like or whether they had inherited health or temperament problems, had a history of heart disease or liver shunts. It won't tell you any of this.

If you purchased your Yorkshire Terrier for a companion pet, you probably aren't concerned about finding out more about his or her family. If you intend to breed or show your Yorkshire Terrier, however, getting accurate information about his or her background can be very important. You'll need to do much more than just look at the names on its pedigree. To find out more about the Yorkshire Terrier in a particular pedigree, you should visit the breeder to see the sire and dam. The breeder should be able to tell you where to find the grandparents as well.

To get more information on the Yorkshire Terrier further back in the pedigree, you might try to find reliable books and magazines about the Yorkshire Terrier breed. (Sources I recommend are available by clicking here) Pictures can only tell you part of the story. You need to talk to those people who have firsthand knowledge of what the ancestors of the Yorkshire Terrier in question were really like.

Is a Registered Champion Yorkshire Terrier of exceptional quality?

CH. is the abbreviation for champion. If you look at a pedigree these are the ones usually written in red. The more red, the better the Yorkie-right? Not necessarily. An AKC Champion Yorkshire Terrier is one that has defeated enough other Yorkshire Terrier at their sanctioned shows to win the required number of points to achieve the title. The required number of dogs and bitches to be defeated varies with each breed and district which State the show is held in (for more information on showing your dog visit Lacy's Place in Cyberspace).

It can be easier to become a champion in some breeds more than others. Is a Champion Yorkshire Terrier of exceptional quality? Sometimes but not necessarily. A Champion Yorkshire Terrier is only as good as the Yorkshire Terrier competition at the particular show that day when they won the points.

In closing, a pedigree is a tool to help breeders produce better Yorkshire Terrier. It's just piece of information to be used as a starting point for research. A pedigree by itself really doesn't mean much unless one knows what the other Yorkshire Terrier in the pedigree were really like. To a pet owner, look at the Yorkshire Terrier. If its the look and temperament you're after and the Yorkshire Terrier is healthy and the breeder is reputable, go for it. If its a show potential Yorkshire Terrier you're after, the pedigree and papers should and will be much more meaningful to you. (This information was paraphrased form the Maltese home page)

I want a Tea Cup Yorkie

There is no such thing as a tea cup yorkie (Micro Mini, Teenie, or any other name that means “extra small), this is used by some people to differentiate between the size of the dog. This came about because people used this in describing poodles. But in Yorkshire terriers there is only the AKC standard requiring that they be under seven (7) pounds. No one can sell you a yorkie that is a tea cup. All breeders may occasionally have an unusually small Yorkies, though no responsible breeder breeds for this trait. Many breeders prefer a general weight range of 4-7 four pounds believing that size retains desired Toy
qualities while maintaining optimum health.

Why then, do so many breeders advertise teacup Yorkies? Here are two possible reasons:

Some unscrupulous breeders advertise teacup Yorkies to take advantage of those people who are not very familiar with Yorkies. By telling someone that they are getting a "teacup", they make the buyer feel that they are getting something special and charge you more. As stated above, a standard Yorkshire terrier must weigh no more than 7 pounds.

Sadly, there are people out there breeding Yorkshire terriers who simply aren't knowledgeable enough about Yorkies to know that there is no such thing as a "teacup".

On average, Yorkshire terriers weigh between 5 and 7 pounds as adults. There are, of course, smaller Yorkies born that will weigh less. Most Yorkshire terriers that you see participating in the show ring tend to be 6 to 7 pounds. A dog weighing 3 to 4 pounds is considered small and often requires special care. Dogs this small should not be handled by children expect under strictly controlled conditions.

Tri-Colored Yorkie

Ther Tri-Colored Yorkieis now a reconized breed called Biewer Terrier.

They are a mixed breed of dog that started in Germany. I think originated around the early 2000's. They are NOW recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Designer Dogs

Designer mutts cost big bucks.

Mixed-breed dogs, once flooded the U.S. animal shelters, are now being sought by an increasing number of Americans looking for special pooches. Deliberately bred and given cute fancy names, today's special-order mixes have newfound status -- and a purebred price tag.

"When there were a bunch of them around and a lot of them were in the shelter, you'd call them mutts," said Stephen Zawistowski, science advisor at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about the popular mixes that used to accidentally appear. (Excerpted from

Sure they make great pets, as all mutts do, but purposely breeding more mixed breeds is just irresponsible. So why are breeders breeding mutts? Most of the breeders are doing it for the money involved. The latest money-making trend is the promotion of mixed breeds with official-looking "registration papers" and catchy-sounding names. The "registrations" come from a growing industry of registry services, each willing to issue documents for a few dollars a pop. (Excerpted from

Collapsing Trachea

The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is an important structure which connects the throat to the lungs. It is composed of 35- 45 C-shaped rings of cartilage that are joined by muscle and ligaments to create a tube-like structure. It serves the purpose of directing air into the respiratory tract

When the cartilage rings are flattened from the top to the bottom, the trachea is said to be collapsed. Rapid inhalation of air can cause the trachea to flatten and make it difficult for air to enter the lungs, much like a soda straw being drawn on too vigorously.

Why does it happen?

We do not completely understand how this condition develops. However, we know that these dogs have an abnormality in the chemical makeup of their tracheal rings. The rings loose their stiffness so they are not able to retain their circular shape. We also know that it occurs in certain breeds of dogs, notably Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers. Because of that, it is suspected that there is a genetic factor involved.

What are the signs?

Collapsing trachea or Reverse sneezing

With reverse sneezing the pharynx (back of the throat) goes into spasms. The dog finds it difficult to draw in air through the spasms, so it stands still, stretches out her neck, and thrusts its elbows out (like a bowlegged bulldog) as it honks, wheezes, or snorts. Often eyes open wide. The spasms will stop if she swallows a couple of times.

•Close off their nostrils with your fingers so they have to breathe through their mouth for a few seconds.
•Gently rub their throat. This works for some.
•Distract them by carrying the dog outside into the fresh air.

Young puppies can reverse sneeze, but the first episode typically occurs in late adolescence. Stay calm and get it to swallow with one of the methods described above. In a few seconds to a minute, it will run off to play. Reverse sneezing is a harmless phenomenon which needs no vet consultation and no medical treatment whatsoever. It is very common in toy breeds.

Other signs, however, will help you distinguish the two conditions:
If it makes these sounds when excited or after eating or drinking, or turns her elbows outward and extends its neck and gasps inward with a rhythmic snork! snork! snork!, this is reverse sneezing.
If it breathes through the mouth sometimes, or breathes with a raspy sound, or coughs reflexively when you simply rub its throat, it could have a collapsing trachea. If the cough is one or two expulsive outward bursts (forcing air through the trachea to open it), typically with a gag or empty retch at the end, she could have a collapsing trachea.

The most common clinical sign of collapsing trachea is a chronic cough. It is often described as dry and harsh and can become quite pronounced. The term "goose honk" is often used to describe it. Coughing is often worse in the daytime and much less at night. The cough may also begin due to excitement, pressure on the trachea (from a leash), or from drinking water or eating.

How is collapsed trachea diagnosed?

Many times, very light pressure placed on the trachea during the physical examination can raise a suspicion of collapsed trachea in a small dog with a persistent dry cough. While the information gained from the physical examination is helpful, other tests are needed to confirm this condition.

X-rays of the chest can identify the trachea and its shape. However, a collapsed trachea changes its diameter during the respiratory cycle. It is usually collapsed during inhalation and normal during exhalation. Therefore, attempts to make radiographs during both phases of respiration should be made.

Endoscopy is another way to see the trachea. An endoscope is a tube that is small enough to be inserted into the trachea. By watching the trachea during inspiration and expiration, abnormal collapsing can be seen. Unfortunately, tracheal endoscopes are expensive and not available at every veterinary hospital.

How is it treated?

Collapsed trachea can be treated medically or surgically. Some dogs respond well to:

• bronchodilators and various types of anti-inflammatory drugs.
•chemical cough suppressants
•a bronchodilator (typically the drug aminophylline) to keep the bronchial tubes open in extreme cases that are affecting the lungs
•The trachea of these dogs is easily infected, so antibiotics are usually part of the treatment.
•If obesity is present, weight loss is often beneficial.
•Excitement and vigorous exercise are likely to cause a relapse, so they should be avoided as much as possible.

Because medical therapy only treats the symptoms and not the problem, these dogs are always subject to recurrences of coughing and breathing difficulty.

•Surgery. The above tests are used to determine how much of the trachea is collapsed. If the only abnormal part is that segment between the throat and the point where the trachea enters the chest (the thoracic inlet), surgery may be curative. However, if the segment of the trachea that is within the chest cavity is abnormal, surgery is not likely to be helpful because that part is not accessible to the surgeon. There are several surgical approaches that have been used. Each approach implants an artificial support device that is secured around or within the trachea. The purpose of the support device is to hold the tracheal rings in their normal, open position. Although some dogs have excellent results and are truly cured of the disease, the outcome is not uniformly successful.

Natural ways to treat your Yorkie:

•Fresh foods, keeping the amounts low for weight reduction. Fat dogs have a much harder time breathing.
•Vitamin C
•Vitamin E
•Exercise reduction. Don't stop exercise completely -- just don't let get to the point where the dog is panting heavily, especially when older. Remove all pressure from the throat. No collars, and use a harness that wraps around the chest and stomach, never around the throat. Tell visitors not to rub the throat.
•A cool-mist humidifier to keep the air moist and easy to breathe.
•Glyco-flex and Glucosamine are nutritional products packed with minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and lubricating agents. They build cartilage and help heal damaged connective tissue. These are natural products with no side effects. They are inexpensive and last a very long time, so you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying them.
•Herbal cough remedies, if coughing is really bad.

•Animal Clinic Collapsing trachea in the dog Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Potter, Clayton Dr. Heartland Veterinary Hospital Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Chihuahua Kingdom Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Richard, Michael, DVM Q&A-Dr Mike Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Seranne, Ann (1980) The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog New York Macmillian Publishing Company.

Liver Shunt

This condition is often referred to as a "liver shunt" but the current favored term appears to be portosystemic shunt. These have also been referred to by more exact terms since there are specific types of shunts that vary slightly. The broad categories are extrahepatic and intrahepatic shunts, depending on whether or not the shunt occurs in the liver or outside of it. Specific types of shunts are patent ductus venosus, portal-azygous, portocaval (portal-abdominal vena cava), atresia (lack of development) of the portal vein and acquired shunts that occur due to
changes in blood pressure or circulation.

Yorkshire terriers are reported to have a higher than normal incidence of liver shunts. They are reported to be more likely to have extra-hepatic shunts which is good since they are easier to repair.

What are the signs?

Most shunts cause recognizable clinical signs by the time a dog is a young adult but once in a while one is diagnosed at a later time in life. Since the severity of the condition can vary widely depending on how much blood flow is diverted past the liver it is possible for a lot of variation in clinical signs and time of onset of signs to occur. Often, this condition is recognized after a puppy fails to grow, making an early diagnosis pretty common, too.
Signs of portosystemic shunts include poor weight gain, sensitivity to sedatives (especially diazepam), depression, head pressing (pushing the head against a solid object), seizures, weakness, salivation, vomiting, poor appetite, increased drinking and urinating, balance problems and frequent urinary tract disease or early onset of bladder stones. If the signs of problems increase dramatically after eating this is a strong supportive sign of a portosystemic shunt.

How is Liver Shunt diagnosed?

This is frustrating since there is not a test for this condition. There was a "definitive" test and there is almost one - special dyes injected into the liver circulation that show up on X-rays can outline the problem pretty clearly. Most of the time. But this is a pretty invasive test making it a poor choice for "screening" purposes. There are a number of possible abnormalities that might point towards a portosystemic shunt on routine labwork, including low BUN (blood urea nitrogen), low albumin, mild anemia, increases in ALT (serum alanine aminotransferase) or ALKP (serum alkaline phosphatase). If these hints are present, it would be a good idea to test the serum bile acid levels prior to eating and after eating. If this test is supportive of poor liver function then it may be a good idea to consider ultrasonagraphy and dye contrast X-rays.

How is it treated?

So far in my research I haven't found a cure for Liver shunt besides surgery for portosystemic shunts. As far as I know, dogs with extrahepatic shunts (occurring outside the liver itself) is easier to do than surgery in dogs with intrahepatic (inside the liver) shunts. If you know of a different cure please let me know.

by Larry Snyder, DVM

Clinical Signs: Most dogs will be diagnosed with port-systemic shunts under one year of age, but dogs as old as eight have been diagnosed with the condition. Animals are usually stunted, thin, depressed, have trouble gaining weight, and are usually characterized by the owners as chronic "poor doers". In most affected dogs there will be some degree of behavioral signs ranging from listlessness, apathy, or depression to more severe signs of circling, head pressing, stupor, drooling, blindness, or convulsions, some leading to coma. These behavioral changes are due to an accumulation of toxins (especially ammonia) that affect the brain causing a condition called Hepatic Encephalopathy. These toxins are most abundant in the blood stream following the dog eating, especially a high protein meal, & may remain high for hours afterward. Not all dogs with the shunt will show this meal associated behavioral change, but in 25% of the affected dogs that do, the diagnosis becomes clearer. A high percent of affected animals show an intolerance to anesthetics or tranquilizers, & will show increased recovery times following use of these products. Even anti-convulsants used to control seizures may be potentially dangerous if allowed to concentrate in a dog with functional shunt. Approximately 75% of affected individuals will show digestive system symptoms including poor appetite, ascites, vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, or occasionally deranged appetite (eating paper, etc.). Urinary system symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, & in a majority of porto-systemic shunt cases, there will be crystals or stones formed in the urinary tract. These crystals will be either uric acid or ammonium urate (ammonium biurate or thorn-apple crystals.). There can be bladder stones formed or crystals may be noted on the hair around the prepuce or vulva.

Laboratory Findings: Routine performed serum chemistries are fairly nonspecific toward confirming the diagnosis of porto-systemic shunts, but there may be a decreased total protein (primarily albumin), decreased blood glucose, decreased cholesterol, & decreased blood urea nitrogen (BUN). The uric acid levels may be elevated in a significant number of affected individuals. Acid levels are extremely important in the diagnostic screening of symptomatic potential shunts. Fasting and 2-hr. post meal blood samples are evaluated for bile acid levels. In virtually all porto-systemic shunts there will be a significant rise in the bile acid levels over normal. The use of bile acids in screening clinically normal dogs for liver shunts is not currently being advised due to the variation of normal bile acid levels in Yorkshire Terriers, & other breeds as well. Reports of recent vaccination with modified-live vaccines causing high serum bile acid levels in normal animals have not been confirmed as of this time. Liver function testing with Bromosulfaphthalein (BSP) or ammonia tolerance testing are sensitive & reliable if performed correctly. These tests measure the liver's ability to excrete/detoxify known agents, and thus measure liver function accurately.

Radiography. Radiography is one of the most important methods of establishing a diagnosis of porto-systemic shunt, & is currently the only universally accepted method of confirming a shunt, short of major surgery. Injection of a radiopaque dye into the spleen (Splenoportograpy) will show the shunt on radiographs & allow accurate assessment for surgical correction.

Nuclear Medicine. The placement of a radiopharmaceutical agent (radioisotope) specific for the liver into the colon for absorption through the mucosa has been gaining favor because of its noninvasive diagnostic value. This procedure requires expensive equipment & the diagnosis is based on the distribution of the radionuclide in the lung or heart compared to that in the liver. This procedure also does not identify the exact location of the shunt for surgical correction if required.

Ultrasound. Until recently, ultrasound was fairly unreliable for nonsurgical diagnosis of porto-systemic shunts. With the advent of Color Flow Ultrasound, there is the potential for diagnosis of this condition on non-anesthetized animals. At the present time, this technology appears to be the diagnostic procedure of choice. If currently undertaken research confirms its value, Color Doppler Ultrasound will soon be the preferred screening and diagnostic tool.

At the present time, Hepatic Porto-Systemic shunts are considered to be UNQUESTIONABLY genetic by some of the leading canine experts, but the mode has not been identified at the present time; research is being conducted at Michigan State University to identify this pattern. Genetic disorders in dogs can spread relatively rapidly if a dog, whether affected or a carrier, is a well-respected animal in either conformation or ability, and is used extensively for breeding. This is especially true in the case of the male that can produce hundreds of offspring during his breeding life. If the cause of such a condition can be discovered, then a working strategy can be implemented to control and eliminate the disorder.

The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America Foundation, Inc. is currently funding research into both the genetic nature of the problem & into the use of Color Flow Doppler Ultrasound as a diagnostic & screening tool. These steps will hopefully become the basis for setting up an open registry for Yorkshire Terriers & other affected breeds to hopefully eliminate, or at least minimize the problem within each breed.

For More information contact the YTCA

•Richard, Michael, DVM Q&A-DR Mike Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Shumsky, Terri (1993) How to buy your Toy Dog, and Raise it Expensively California Creations by Terri.
•Snyder, Larry D.V.M. YTCA Foundation

(experts from a letter I received 2-10-00) My name is Karen Tobias and I am a surgeon at University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. I have been studying and surgically correcting portosystemic shunts for 15 years. I have recently received funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the YTCA to study genetics of normal Yorkies and Yorkies with liver shunts.

The Canine Health Foundation of the American Kennel Club and the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America have joined forces to investigate the cause of one of the breed's most heartbreaking diseases: Congenital Portosystemic Shunts. Portosystemic shunts, or "PSS", are abnormal blood vessels that form a bypass around the liver. Toxic blood that is normally filtered and cleansed by the liver is shunted to the heart and brain, resulting in depression, behavior changes, poor growth rate, and other signs of illness in affected dogs.

One out of every seven Yorkshire Terriers presented to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for any reason was found to have a portosystemic liver shunt! The hereditary nature of this birth defect has already been established in Irish Wolfhounds, Maltese, and other breeds. Many breeders assume the disease is genetic in Yorkshire Terriers as well; however, this has yet to be proven.

Goals of our study: Our study will serve as the first step in identifying a genetic cause for Congenital Portosystemic Shunts. By evaluating pedigrees of affected and unaffected Yorkshire Terriers we will try to answer the following questions: Are liver shunts genetic? Do liver shunts occur equally throughout the breed or is there an increased risk of portosystemic shunts with certain ancestors? What is the risk of inheriting a portosystemic shunt? And, is it likely that we will be able to isolate a carrier gene? If a genetic basis for PSS is found, the information gained can then be used to pursue genetic testing for the condition.

Dr. Karen Tobias can be reached at:
Dr. Karen Tobias, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, PO Box 1071, Knoxville TN, 37901-1071.

Luxating Patellas

Luxating is a fancy word for dislocating. Patella is your dog's "knee", the joint on the front of their hind leg. So a luxating patella is a dislocating knee or trick knee, a knee that keeps slipping out of its socket. This can happen in yorkies with weak ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles. It can also happen in Yorkies whose kneecap groove is too narrow or shallow. The knee usually slips inwardly, toward her body, and locks so that your Yorkie can't bend her leg.
Suspect luxating patella if your Yorkie sometimes lifts one hind leg while they are running, or if they often move both rear legs at the same time, like a hopping bunny.

Sometimes the knee slips only for a few moments, then slides back into place. Sometimes the knee slips out and stays out, and your Yorkie will hold thier leg off the ground and limp, perhaps tucking their thigh into their body. Luxation may occur in one knee, or in both. It is seen in many other toy breeds, and in both sexes, though it seems to be more common in females. No matter how firm the knees seem as puppies, toy dogs are liable to injure their knees.

Is luxation serious?
There are four degrees (grades) of luxation:

I. The knee only slips out when the vet manipulates it.
II. The knee luxates occasionally when your Yorkie is walking or running. She may not seem to mind much, or she may shriek, but it usually slides back by itself as she continues moving. Or you can slip it back manually (ask the vet to show you how).
III. The knee luxates frequently and causes chronic lameness. Even when you put it back manually, it doesn't seem to last long.
IV. The knee luxates, stays that way, and you can't put it back into its socket. This grade is very rare.

How is luxation treated?

•The first treatment should be to crated for a week or two and supervise the activity - no jumping.
•Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (like Rimadyl). These will hide the symptoms, but do absolutely nothing to strengthen or correct the knee.
•Steroidal anti-inflammatories. These are extremely damaging to the immune system, have awful side effects (short and long term), and should never be used.
•Surgery. Surgery is seldom the answer and should only be done by an orthopedic surgeon. Call the American College of Veterinary Surgeons at (301) 718-6504 and ask for a referral to an orthopedic specialist or college of veterinary medicine in your state. If surgery is your choice, that dog will have problems down the road with arthritis from the surgery. In the opinion of most vets, surgery is overkill for Grade I or II luxating patella. I would only go with surgery on a Grade IV luxation, or on a Grade III that did not respond to natural treatment. Surgery costs about five hundred dollars per leg, it is uncomfortable for your Yorkie, and there is a 50% chance that some degree of luxation will return.

Natural ways to treat your Yorkie:

•Feed fresh foods.
•Keep your Yorkie lean. Fat dogs have to carry more weight on their weak leg joint.
•Moderate exercise, walking up slight inclines (gentle hills), will strengthen the muscle groups around the patella.
•Vitamin C is one of the building blocks of strong ligaments and connective tissue.
Glyco-flex and Glucosamine are nutritional products packed with minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and lubricating agents. They build cartilage and cushioning fluid in injured joints, and help heal damaged connective tissue.

What causes luxating patella?

Occasionally it's caused by an injury, but in the absence of such proof, the weak tendons and/or shallow kneecap groove of luxating patella is considered hereditary. Never breed a Yorkie with any degree of luxation (even a "wiggly" knee), whether it has been repaired or not. Fixing the knee doesn't fix the genes that caused the problem.

OFA Certification
The Orthopedic Foundation of America will issue registration numbers to dogs whose patellas have been x-rayed by a vet, forwarded to the OFA, and found to be normal. This condition is so common in Yorkies that we believe it is essential that all breeders start doing these x-rays before breeding. Then you will be able to INSIST on seeing the OFA certificate for each parent before buying a Yorkie puppy. It will be one more way to pick out the responsible breeders from the rest of the pack.

For More Information visit the Orthopedic Foundation of America

•Chihuahua Kingdom Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Shumsky, Terri (1993) How to buy your Toy Dog, and Raise it Expensively California Creations by Terri.

L'egg Perthes

Legg-Perthes, also called Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) disease, is a disease of the hip joints of small breeds of dogs. The head of the femur (the ball part of the ball and socket) begins to die and disintegrate. This causes limping, pain, and eventually arthritis. It usually appears between 6-12 months of age. It is treated surgically by removing the head of the femur and letting the muscles form a "false joint." It really does work. The dogs recuperate very well from surgery.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (aseptic or a vascular necrosis of the femoral head)
Avascular necrosis occurs when the bone that makes up the ball portion of the hip is damaged from lack of blood supply.
The reasons this occurs are not clear. Since a higher incidence of this disorder is noted in several dog breeds, including terrier breeds, miniature pinscher, poodles and possibly schipperkes, it is assumed that there may be a genetic component to the problem.
In Manchester terriers, the genetic component appears to be a strong influence and heritability is pretty high for this problem.

Most of the time the clinical signs of this disease occur in 4 to 11 month old dogs and usually consist of lameness of one leg only.
Pain may be mild to very severe. Some dogs have mild forms of this condition and do not require medical care.
In other dogs, the condition cause sufficient pain and deformity of the hip joint to require surgical intervention. The disorder can usually be confirmed with X-rays. Atrophy of the muscles of the affected leg is not uncommon.
If this is severe it can slow the recovery period considerably and may make medical therapy less likely to work.

Treatment of this condition varies according to the severity of the signs seen. In mild cases, enforced rest may be sufficient to allow healing of the damaged areas to occur. In some cases, immobilization of the affected limb using an Ehmer sling may be beneficial to recovery. Many dogs have advanced cases of this disease by the time they are examined by a veterinarian and medical treatment is not likely to work.

In these dogs, excision of the femoral head (ball portion of the hip joint) is often beneficial. Removal of this section of the bone diminishes painful bony contact in the hip joint. Recovery from this surgery can be slow with recovery periods of up to one year sometimes occurring before good use of the affected leg returns. If muscle atrophy is not present at the time of surgery the recovery time is usually much less. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications may be beneficial.

There is a stronger tendency to treat this as a medical condition prior to surgery right now. A general rule of thumb is to allow non-surgical therapy a month to show a beneficial response. If one is not seen, surgical repair should be considered more carefully.

•Jack Russel Terrier L'egg Perthes Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW
•Shumsky, Terri (1993) How to buy your Toy Dog, and Raise it Expensively California Creations by Terri.
•Richard, Michael, DVM Q&A-DR Mike Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW http

Do your homework before you buy your puppy and don’t get bamboozled.

Rose Edwards
e-mail address here
419 North Superior Ave.
Baraga, MI. 49908