The different Yorkie colors and your guide to understanding this beautiful breed

Originally bred in the 19th century to hunt rats in mines, Yorkies were valued hunting dogs used to drive out foxes and badgers.

These small and tenacious dogs are known for their remarkable bravery, with their spritely personalities also making them great companions. 

A mom Yorkshire Terrier sitting with her puppies
A proud Yorkshire Terrier mom showing off her two puppies

Feisty and glamorous, Yorkies are known for their silky coats, which come in various colors. Keep reading to discover more about different Yorkie colors.

The genetics of Yorkie colors

The glossy, multi-colored coat is one of the most recognizable characteristics of the Yorkie breed. The exact coat color your Yorkie will display depends on your dog’s genetics. 

Each dog has 39 pairs of chromosomes which come from the parent dogs.

Two primary pigments, namely eumelanin (black) and phaeomelanin (red) cause the colors you see in your dog. In Yorkie puppies, the eumelanin or black pigment dominates. 

The exact coat color of your adult Yorkie is determined by how many graying genes your dog has.

The graying genes affect your pup’s melanin levels and cause the color of the coat to fade with black turning to blue and tan to gold.

In some areas of the body, the eumelanin pigment recedes as your Yorkshire Terrier puppy grows older and is replaced with the phaeomelanin pigment. 

Also, some dogs have a recessive piebald gene that causes white coloring in your dog. This, however, is extremely rare.

Do Yorkies’ coats change colors as they age? 

All Yorkies are born with a black and tan coat. The proportion of black to tan is specific to each dog, but most of the black hair is on the pup’s body with tan coloring on the chest, face, ears, tail, and legs. 

This puppy coat color will change as they get older. This is a gradual process that generally starts at around the age of six months old.

At this time, you will see your puppy’s black hair begin to lighten to a blue color.

This color change may only be noticeable in the sunlight at first, but the color change becomes more evident over time.

There is no way of knowing precisely what your Yorkie’s coat will look like when they mature.

You can get an idea by looking at a puppy’s parents, but even this will be a guess. Your pup’s final adult coat color will be reached at around the age of two to three years. 

Want to know what Yorkies look like as puppies? Have a look at this video here: 

4 Standard Yorkie Colors Recognized by AKC

There are four standard colors of Yorkie recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). These include the following:

1. Black and Tan: These dogs retain their black and tan hair color into maturity. This means that black and tan Yorkies lack the greying gene.

a Black and Tan Yorkie biting a candy cane treat
Meet Mailo, a Black and Tan Yorkie enjoying a treat – Image source

2. Blue and Tan: These dogs have a single greying gene that causes their black color to fade to grey or blue.

The shimmery coat of these dogs reflects the light. Sometimes Blue and Tan Yorkies will have darker tails.

a fashionable Blue and Tan Yorkie puppy
Meet Cosmo, a Blue and Tan Yorkie wearing a jersey – Image source

3. Black and Gold: These Yorkies also have one greying gene, which affects the tan part of their coloring, causing these areas to fade to a lighter shade. 

a Black and Gold Yorkie looking up
Meet Teddy, a Black and Gold looking fabulous after haircut – Image source

4. Blue and Gold: These dogs have two greying genes, affecting both the Black and Tan colors. This is the most common color combination found in adult dogs.

Typically the coat color is a much darker bronze and black color at the root, and thus the haircut you give your dog will affect their color. 

A Blue and Gold Yorkie laying on top of a crate
Meet Coco, a Blue and Gold Yorkie being a darling – Image source

As of 2000, the AKC also recognizes the Parti Yorkie as a purebred color combination. This after a study of 42 litters and their sires and dams revealed that Part Yorkies are purebred dogs.

Parti Yorkies are black, tan, and white. Although these dogs can be registered as AKC pups, their non-standard coat color prevents them from being shown in the conformation ring.

What are rare Yorkie coat colors?

Yorkshire Terriers also come in various rarer, non-standard colors, with red, white, and brown mixed. These colors include:

Parti Yorkie

an adorable Parti Yorkie laying on soft fur
Meet Polo, a handsome Parti Yorkie on a soft rug – Image source

The Parti or Particolored Yorkie is typically black and tan with white markings. The white fur is often the predominant color, although you also get chocolate and blonde Parti Yorkies.

While some believe that these dogs are the result of cross-breeding with other pups, such as the Maltese, they can come about due to a recessive gene. 

To achieve a purebred Parti Yorkie, both parents need to have the recessive S-Locus piebald gene, which brings about the white hair.

However, even if both parents have the gene, you won’t necessarily get Parti puppies. Due to their rarity, these dogs are costly

Despite only being recently recognized as an official color by the AKC, Parti Yorkies have been around since the 19th century.

These dogs were, however, considered low quality and, as a result, were given away or killed.

All Black Yorkie

a black Yorkshire Terrier wearing a colorful sweater
Meet Ellie, a chic black Yorkshire Terrier wearing a colorful ensemble – Image source

Sometimes you may see breeders advertising Yorkies with a solid black coat.

Be wary of these adverts as there is no such thing as a purebred black Yorkshire Terrier, and these are unlikely to be reputable breeders.

These dogs are the result of cross-breeding and so typically also have a rough, brittle coat. 

While certain purebred Yorkies may appear pure black at birth, on closer inspection, you will see these dogs are dark steel with patches of tan, which generally expand as your dog ages. 

Chocolate or Brown Yorkie

a close-up image of a chocolate Yorkie with a rope
Meet Valencia, a chocolate Yorkie sporting long bangs that covers her eyes – Image source

Chocolate Yorkies have a solid brown coat. This can be due to a recessive gene known as the b allele, which lightens the coat’s eumelanin pigment.

These dogs can be registered with the AKC as liver/tan or chocolate/tan, but they are not allowed at dog shows. 

That said, chocolate Yorkies are very rare, and often the chocolate color is achieved through cross-breeding purebred Yorkshire Terriers with other dogs, such as the Dachshund. 

Red Yorkshire Terriers or Red-Legged Yorkie

a Red-Legged Yorkie laying on fur blanket
Meet Phoebe, a shiny-coated Red-Legged Yorkie looking so comfortable – Image source

Black and red Yorkshire Terriers also come about due to a recessive gene from their ancestors. This is known as a throwback gene.

The red coloring on these dogs shows on the underside of the pup and their chest, face, and legs. These dogs also tend to have stiffer, more wiry fur with longer hairs on the face than on the body. 

Red Yorkshire Terriers are sometimes used to restore Yorkie bloodlines.

Sometimes, purebred Yorkies’ hair can become excessively thin and faded over generations, and red-legged Yorkies are used to improve the coat’s color and texture in these lines.

Golden Yorkie (Blonde Yorkies or Sable Yorkies)

A Golden Yorkie inside a dog carrier
Meet Cookie, a Golden Yorkie puppy ready for her vet visit – Image source

Gold Yorkies are blonde all over. A predominance of the phaeomelanin gene can cause this gold color.

However, it is unlikely to find this genetic possibility, and more often than not, Golden Yorkies are brought about as a result of cross-breeding. 

Blue Born Yorkies

a Blue Born Yorkie exploring in the sea
Meet Yuky, a wakeboarding Blue Born Yorkie – Image source

Now and again, Yorkies are born a steel blue color. However, this genetic combination is often lethal, with these dogs rarely living longer than a year old.

While some survive, they can lose their coat as they age, show leathery skin, or live a life of severe pain, hampered by skin issues and allergies

While a blue-born Yorkie is sometimes marketed as a status symbol, be sure to stay away from any unethical breeder who sells these ill-fated pups. 

Don’t miss: Adorable Types of Yorkies

Is it okay to get a rare-colored Yorkie?

a chocolate Yorkie laying on the wooden floor
This is Ellie, a chocolate Yorkshire Terrier puppy chillin’ – Image source

While the Yorkshire Terrier breed can come in many different colors, these weird and beautiful variants are often the sign of a non-purebred dog.

This isn’t necessarily an issue, though, if you don’t plan to register, show or breed your dog. 

However, sometimes cross-bred dogs don’t have the same long, glossy coat type Yorkies are known for, and there can also be health implications due to poor breeding. 

What about other Yorkie Colors?

Sometimes rare recessive genes can appear in a Yorkie puppy, or Yorkshire Terriers are mixed with other dog breeds to create exciting color variants. These include:

  • Merle Yorkies (Chocolate Merle, Blue Merle Tweed, Blue Merle)
  • Black & Silver
  • Liver & Tan
  • Isabella Gold & White Parti
  • Dark Golden Chocolate

Do Yorkie colors affect behavior?

a happy Yorkshire Terrier with cute purple tie and clip
Meet Dee, a summer-loving Yorkie enjoying the sun – Image source

The four traditional Yorkie colors and purebred Parti Yorkies will all have the same feisty, fun-loving temperaments that the Yorkie is known for.

Other colored dogs that have come about as a result of cross-breeding can sometimes display different personalities, depending on their true parent breeds. 

Do Yorkie colors affect health?

Yorkshire Terriers are subject to a number of health issues, many of which revolve around these dog’s delicate digestive systems.

Other common problems include bronchitis, lymphangiectasia, portosystemic shunt, cataracts, and keratitis sicca. 

That said, your dog’s coat color shouldn’t have an impact on their health unless they are a crossbreed.

You also need to be aware of any potential health problems that could come from their other parent breed. Hybrid dogs however are generally more healthy than purebred ones!

How about Yorkie eye color?

a close-up image of a wide-eye Yorkie puppy
Meet Tokyo, a behave and adorable Yorkie puppy – Image source

Yorkshire Terriers have dark brown or black eyes according to the breed standard, however, some dogs do have hazel or light brown eyes. On rare occasions, these dogs can have green or dark blue eyes.

Taking Care of Your Yorkie’s Coat

Yorkshire Terriers are known for their silky, stunning coat, and it’s up to you as an owner to keep this coat looking great.

As Yorkies don’t shed their hair, their hypoallergenic coat is a wonderful choice for pet owners with allergies.

Their coat however can get quite long, and as a result, it does require a good level of grooming including regular bathing and styling as well as frequent haircuts.

Yorkies generally require daily brushing while trips to the groomer should be scheduled every four to six weeks.

Don’t miss: Different Yorkie Haircuts

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

a Yorkie looking outside the window
Meet Xavier, a Yorkie contemplating about life – Image source

Still have some questions about your Yorkshire Terrier and their coat? Let’s answer some of those below:

What are Yorkshire Terrier coat qualities that are avoided at exhibitions?

There are some coat qualities that you want to avoid if you plan to show your Yorkie. These include: 

  • Cotton Coat – a condition in which the fur doesn’t have its typical shiny quality but looks thin and pale. 
  • Rigid Hair – the coat looks dry and damaged and doesn’t grow to be long and silky. 
  • Black And Dull Hair – the coats of these Yorkies grows thick and fast and while it looks wavy and lush it doesn’t retain its shine

Is it possible to have an all tan or fully tan Yorkie?

You can sometimes find fully tan, cream, or gold Yorkshire Terriers. Although these dogs look gorgeous, they are not recommended for breeding by the AKC.

Some fully tan Yorkies also do have small patches of black or blue coloring, typically on their backs.

What colors do Teacup Yorkies come in?

Teacup Yorkies are not a different breed but just a smaller version of your standard Yorkshire Terrier, weighing in at four pounds (two kilograms) or less.

Hence, these dogs should come in the standard four colors of the Yorkie. 

Which Yorkie Color Will You Choose?

Two happy Yorkie sitting on a car
Meet Ollie and Tate, two fluffy Yorkie ready for an adventure – Image source

Now that you know more about the different Yorkshire Terrier colors out there, which one would you chose?

While you may have a favorite it’s a good idea not to set your ideas in stone as there is no clear way of determining what your puppy will look like as he ages. 

If you want a rarer colored Yorkie, you also need to be aware that these dogs may be hybrids that have been crossbred.

That isn’t to say, they aren’t wonderful dogs though, with a variety of amazing Yorkie Mixes available! 

Do you have a Yorkie pup? Let us know more about your dog in the comments below!

Further reading: Understanding the different coat colors of your favorite dog breeds

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