Before you go out in search of your ideal Yorkie, you should familiarize yourself with the common genetic health problems of the breed (described in Chapter 12). Armed with this knowledge, you can discuss with the breeder how prevalent these problems are in her dogs. Don't believe a breeder who says that her pups never experience genetic problems — these conditions are prevalent enough that they will show up in any breeder's program from time to time, and you want a breeder who will be honest with you. But don't let the incidence of genetic problems scare you away from the breed, either. All breeds, and even mixed breeds, have their own set of genetic health conditions. If the Yorkie is your dream dog, there's no reason to let genetic problems dissuade you.
If the prevalence of certain genetic problems among Yorkshire terriers is unsettling for you, do some research about the problems that affect other breeds. Yorkies are not alone; nearly every other pure-bred dog suffers from certain maladies, from hip dysplasia to heart disease. The best things you can do to avoid these problems is to get your dog from a reputable source and obtain the health history of the dog's parents and grandparents.
Finally, many breeders will insist that Yorkie puppies don't leave home until they're twelve weeks old. Friends or neighbors may tell you that this is too old — that the pup won't bond with you, or you can't shape her personality. Don't listen to them. You'll have plenty of time to bond and teach your pup good social manners with humans, but her mother and littermates can start her off right by teaching good dog-to-dog manners. A responsible breeder will also be seeing to socialization. So learn as much as you can about the breed, find a responsible source for your dog, and give your new pet — whether a purebred puppy or a rescue adult — all the love and attention he deserves.