Grooming Your Yorkie
If you got your pup from a breeder, chances are good that the pup has already experienced some hair trimming, nail trimming, brushing, and maybe a bath. Whether or not this has happened with pups from other sources is unknown. Positive experience with grooming can make your life easier, but if the dog ever had a painful or frightening grooming experience, you will be faced with a bigger challenge.
Brush your Yorkie daily. While Yorkshire terriers have no undercoat, their hair does tend to tangle and mat. The longer it goes without being brushed, the worse the tangles are likely to be. You can sit on the floor with your dog, put the dog up on a table, or hold the dog in your lap — whatever suits both of you. If you're going to use a table, be sure to keep one hand on the dog to steady him and keep him from jumping or falling off the table.
If you begin a brushing routine when your pup is young, there won't be all that much coat, and brushing will be quick and easy. This experience will help prepare you for the more serious grooming you'll have to do as your Yorkie's coat matures.
Before you brush, either spray the coat with water or conditioner or wet the brush. Brushing a Yorkie coat while it is dry tends to break the ends and impede its growth. Brush from the part in the middle of the back to the end of the coat. Brush all sides of each leg, especially the breeches behind the rear legs. Then turn your attention to the head.
Photograph by Cheryl A. Ertelt
One essential for a healthy Yorkshire terrier is good grooming habits.
Hair cascades from everywhere on the head, so take your time. Brush the topknot from above the eyes, between the ears, and down the back of the neck. Brush each set of side whiskers down the side of the head. Then brush the chin whiskers down the chest. If you find any tangles, be sure you wet them down, then hold the hair behind the tangle so your fingers are against the skin as you use the other hand and the brush to work out the tangle. This technique keeps you from pulling on the dog's skin.
There's so much hair! Where do you begin?
This chapter provides basic grooming instruction, but if you think a tutorial would help, ask your breeder or a groomer to show you how to bathe and brush your Yorkie. Once you've seen the correct way to do it, you'll pick up the skill quickly. And since Yorkies need to be groomed every day, you'll get lots of practice.
Yorkshire terriers are not extensively trimmed, as are some other breeds such as poodles or Kerry blue terriers. Generally the hair on their ears and feet is trimmed, and the body coat may be shortened to keep it from dragging on the ground. If you do not plan to show your Yorkie, however, you can cut the coat down more considerably.
Look closely at photos of Yorkshire terriers. Examine how the ears look, where they are trimmed and where hair starts to flow. Try to follow these examples. Just remember that hair grows back. As long as you're careful and don't cut your dog, you won't do any permanent harm.
Even with puppies, the hair growing on the ears can become so heavy that it pulls the ears down. Yorkshire terrier ears should stand upright, so the hair must be trimmed to allow this. Start about two-thirds of the way up the ear from the base (one-third down from the tip) and scissor the hair from the inner and outer surface. You could also use clippers for this part of the task. Then trim the edge of the ear, following the curve of the ear and being careful not to cut the ear leather itself. Take your time with this, especially if working on a squirmy puppy.
Also keep in mind that clippers make noise and vibrate. You can't expect to just put them in a pup's ear and have the pup stand calmly. Let the pup get used to the sound, with the clippers lying nearby, while you play with him or feed him some treats. Then clip some less-threatening body part, like the stomach. Finally, hold the clippers closer to the head. Work up to your final goal gradually.
The hair on the feet also has to be trimmed. Feet should be kept compact and rounded, so follow the circle of the foot and trim away excess hair. Also trim hair under the foot from between the pads.