Have you ever seen a gray yorkie?
That’s a trick question.
Gray is not one of the officially recognized colors of this breed, so any gray yorkie is not considered purebred.
It is almost certainly a crossbreed of some type.
But it is possible for a purebred yorkie to get gray hairs.
It happens from old age, but also for a variety of other reasons.
And some of them could indicate a serious problem.
Keep reading to learn all about gray yorkies, including why your yorkies hair might start to turn gray.
- 1 Gray Yorkie
- 2 Why Is My Yorkie Hair Turning Gray?
- 3 Standard Colors Of The Yorkshire Terrier
- 4 Gray Yorkies: Conclusion
Gray yorkies are very rare. Most Yorkshire terriers are black and tan as puppies and they turn blue and gold when they mature. Some can take on different combinations of those same colors, but those four colors are the only officially recognized colors for this breed.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t other colored yorkies out there. It just means that none of them are officially recognized as yorkies, apart from the parti yorkie (which we will discuss below).
And gray yorkies are generally just dogs whose fur (usually the blue parts) have taken on more of a grayish hue. That said, it is not uncommon for dogs to get gray hairs as they age.
And there are a few other reasons your yorkie’s hair might be turning gray, especially if your dog is still young. Let’s look at the reasons this could be happening.
Why Is My Yorkie Hair Turning Gray?
There are six reasons your Yorkshire terrier’s hair might be turning gray or white. Let’s take a closer look at each reason.
If your pup is getting on in age, then gray hairs are likely nothing to worry about. Just like humans, dogs start getting white hairs as they enter their senior years. Also like humans, some dogs start graying much earlier.
The first place you usually notice the increase in white hairs is around the muzzle. Of course, if your yorkie is white or gray already, then you won’t notice the changing hair color anyway.
While the official yorkie colors do not include gray, the steel blue in their coat can be much closer to gray in some individual dogs. If your yorkie is young and it begins showing gray hairs, it could just be getting its natural color.
As yorkie puppies turn into mature adult dogs (usually within the first year or two), their coat changes color from their puppy coat to their adult coat. A dog getting gray hairs at this age may just be changing to its natural color, which it will then maintain for the rest of its life.
As mentioned above, some dogs begin graying prematurely, just like some humans. If you have a younger dog that is starting to go gray, it could simply be natural aging, just prematurely.
Poodles are a breed that is more likely to have the gene that causes premature aging. If you have a yorkie poo, which is a Yorkie-Poodle mix, or your yorkie even has just a bit of poodle DNA, this could certainly be what is going on with your young graying pup.
Anxiety Or Stress
As with humans, stress and anxiety can also cause a dog to get some gray hairs. There are many reasons why your yorkie may be feeling stress.
Stress is especially common in shelter dogs, for obvious reasons, If you adopted your dog from a a shelter, it is not especially surprising if it ends up getting some gray hairs at a young age.
Other causes of stress or anxiety in yorkies are a lot of commotion, loud noises, or being left alone. The good thing is that you can control any of these factors. Simply take steps to remove the stressor, so that your pup does not have to suffer.
If you notice your yorkie getting gray hairs, but you don’t see any other reason that might be causing this, it could indicate a health issue. Most likely it is just premature graying, but look for other symptoms of illness.
If your dog is getting white hairs and also shows additional symptoms, have it checked out. And if you have an older dog that shows sudden signs of aging, there is likely a health problem at fault, too. Dogs usually age slowly, not suddenly.
Vitiligo is another possible cause of a sudden appearance of white hairs. It is a genetic condition, so it is more likely to affect pure breed yorkies. That said, it is rare and most likely not the cause.
Vitiligo affects every dog that has it differently. Some suffer a complete depigmentation, while others on show white hair in some spots. The good news is that vitiligo is completely harmless, apart from the loss of skin and hair pigmentation.
Standard Colors Of The Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are known for their unique color, which is a significant aspect of the breed. According to breed standards, the coat should be perfectly straight, shiny with a fine silky texture, and not fluffy. And it can only contain certain colors.
What colors are Yorkies officially? The American Kennel Club recognizes five official color groups (AKC). On the official form for registering a Yorkshire terrier, these five are the only colors available.
- Black and gold
- Black and tan
- Blue and tan
- Blue and gold
- Parti yorkie (black, white, and tan colors)
The Genetics Of Yorkie Colorings
Genetics are complex. But here is how it works with yorkies and their colors, in a nutshell.
Every cell in your dog’s body has two sets of chromosomes, one from its father and the other from its mother. These chromosomes contain thousands of genes.
These genes contain all of the information that distinguishes your dog, including sex, height, color, personality, and other characteristics.
If one parent provides a dominant gene and the other a recessive gene, the dog will inherit the dominant gene. You will get rarer, unpredictable outcomes if both genes are dominant or recessive. It is why each yorkie is unique in appearance, behavior, and personality.
It all comes down to eumelanin when it comes to yorkie colors and how they shift. Despite the wide range of coat colors, canines only have two basic pigments: pheomelanin (red) and eumelanin (black). All of the colors you see in a dog are produced by combining these two pigments to varying degrees.
In yorkies, eumelanin predominates as puppies. Yorkies’ genetic makeup instructs some of the eumelanin to lighten as they mature, resulting in silver or blue yorkie fur. In other parts of the body, eumelanin disappears entirely, and the body now releases pheomelanin.
The genes passed down from parents decide how light or dark a yorkie’s coat will be. As mentioned above purebred yorkies can only have a limited number of color variations, in order to be officially recognized as such by the AKC.
Yorkie Puppy Coloring
The genes passed down from parent to puppy in the Yorkshire terrier breed produce a distinctive coat. The color of the coat can vary somewhat and generally improves as the puppy grows older.
Black And Tan Yorkie
Some may identify the colors as black and brown. However, all ordinary purebred Yorkie puppies are born with black and tan coats.
Each dog’s proportions and placement of each color will vary. But a puppy’s coat will usually be mostly black with tan points on the following parts:
- The tips and undersides of the ears
- Above the eyes
- Around the mouth
- Down the face
- Sometimes on the feet and tail.
It will last for the first year of the dog’s life. Then the dog takes on it’s adult coat, which we will get into in just a minute.
Black And Gold Yorkie
Every puppy’s color and proportions will vary, as will the rate at which its hair changes colors. As a result, some yorkie puppies have a black and gold coat instead of a black and tan one. Basically, the coat changes from tan to gold much sooner than is standard.
Adult Yorkie Coloring
On average, yorkie puppies will begin to change color around the age of six months, although it varies from dog to dog. But don’t expect to suddenly wake up one day and find a completely new puppy! It is a gradual process.
Adult coloring can be in place by the age of one, but the shift can take up to three years for certain dogs.
Blue And Gold Yorkie
The majority of adult yorkies will develop a blue and gold coat. It could also be referred to as basic coat lighting.
The black fur from the puppy’s formative years will begin to lighten into a grayish steel blue color around six months of age. It might be difficult to detect at first, particularly without direct sunlight, but the difference should become apparent over time.
In a similar vein, the puppy’s tan points should begin to lighten as it goes through the puppy coat stages. It will depend entirely on your dog and the length of the haircut you’ve chosen for your dog. However, it is normal for the dog’s roots to be a darker bronzy color and then a light gold color at their ends.
Your once-black yorkie puppy should have a perfectly golden head and chest by two or three years of age. It can also develop into a gray-blue on the back.
Blue And Tan Yorkie
You can have a blue and tan adult yorkie just as you can have a black and gold yorkie puppy. When this happens, the pheomelanin in your dog’s genes expresses itself in a darker shade.
Of course, deciding whether a color is tan or gold is a matter of opinion. But blue and tan is listed as a separate color combination in the AKC’s Yorkshire terrier registry.
Rare Yorkie Colors
The standard blue and gold colors appear in 99.9% of Yorkshire terriers. But there are also a few other possibilities. Let’s take a quick look.
The parti Yorkie is a one-of-a-kind color combination of standard blue and white with tan accents. They can be almost all white, but they are never completely white yorkies.
A rare recessive gene causes this coloring. There are many hypotheses on how the gene got into the yorkie community.
According to one hypothesis, the white Maltese was crossed with the Yorkie to enhance the coat texture. Yorkies with the white recessive gene were likely developed as a result of this cross-breeding.
There’s even a blonde parti-color and a chocolate parti-color. No matter the combination, the tri-colored yorkie has grown in popularity in recent years.
However, many breeders refuse to recognize it as purebred due to the white coloring. But after conducting studies, the AKC approved registrations for the parti yorkie in 2000.
Contrary to popular opinion, the particolors are not new. They’ve been around since the 1800s, but the general public was unaware of their existence. To save the breeder’s name, these dogs were either destroyed or secretly given away.
The parti gene can be passed down for several generations and is only expressed when two carriers are bred together. If only one of the parents has the gene, it stays dormant in the puppy. If both parents do have the gene, the following occurs:
- 25% of offspring have traditional yorkie colors, and they are not carriers of the recessive gene
- 50% of offspring have traditional yorkie colors, but they are carriers of the recessive gene
- 25% of offspring have parti colors
Parti Yorkies aren’t mutts, and they’re certainly not unhealthy. Only the color distinguishes them from the standard Yorkshire terrier. Tha means the Part Yorkie size, weight and temperament are all identical to the breed standard.
A purebred all-black yorkie is almost impossible to come by. If you ever see one, it is almost always the product of cross-breeding with other black-coated breeds. A dominant gene for blackness is present in a solid black dog.
When yorkies bear this gene, one of two things happens:
- Rigid hair: The hair is coarse and does not grow to the standard length for a yorkie.
- Black with dull hair: Yorkies with black, dull fur have a thick coat that grows faster than they should. It isn’t exciting. It gives the impression that the dog has a short neck.
While most dog breeds get their looks from their parents, some may have physical characteristics that date back five generations. This is particularly true of the red-legged yorkie.
Throwback gene is the term used to describe this genetic change. Puppies with red legs are born when both parents have two copies of a recessive gene.
The red-legged yorkie does not follow the AKC breed standard and is thus not acknowledged as anything different. But it is a 100% purebred yorkie that can be registered.
In these dogs, the black on the puppy does not turn blue. The tan color changes to a rich shiny red. The coat is wiry and not as silky as that of typical yorkies. The facial hair develops longer than the rest of the body.
We’ll only give these a brief mention here, since the blue-born yorkie puppy is incredibly rare. These pups are entirely blue. And it is a real blue, not the usual steel blue.
However, blue-born pups rarely live to see their first birthday, and the ones that do usually live in so much pain that you need to put them down to end their suffering.
Gray Yorkies: Conclusion
Gray yorkies are extremely rare. But it is not that uncommon for yorkies to get gray hair as they get older. There are also other reasons a Yorkshire terrier’s hair might turn gray, all of which we covered above.
But some hairs turning gray is far different from a completely gray yorkie. If you ever see one of those, it is almost certainly the result of crossbreeding with another breed that is completely gray in color.