How Many Puppies Can a Yorkie Have?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Yorkies are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

They are known for their small size, affectionate nature, and hypoallergenic coat, a favorite among dog owners.

What if you intend to breed them? Or maybe your Yorkie is now pregnant?

So how many puppies can a Yorkie have?

Yorkies are small dogs that typically have two to four puppies in a litter. Some may have up to eight or nine puppies, but this is very rare. There are a few things that can affect how many puppies a Yorkie will have, including age, health, and genetics.

In this blog post, I will answer all of your questions about Yorkie litters.

I will cover everything from the average litter size to the factors that can affect it as well as give you some tips on what to do during a Yorkie pregnancy.

By the end of this post, you will have all the information you need to know about Yorkie litters!

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How Many Puppies Can a Yorkshire Terrier Have in One Litter

Some Facts and Trivia About Yorkshire Terriers

I thought it would be interesting to share some facts and trivia about Yorkshire Terriers so that we can all know this unique dog better!

  • When Yorkies are born, they are black and tan. The black will turn to blue as the puppy gets older and becomes an adult, or rather a diluted black or shining silver tint. The tan will change into gold or a deeper shade of tan. This transformation will be brought on by the Yorkie’s particular breed-specific DNA. Though it sometimes takes up to three years, the shift typically begins around 6 months of age
  • Yorkies were bred to be ratters, or rat catchers. They were small enough to fit in tight spaces, and they were fearless in their pursuit of their rodent prey thanks to their fierce personalities.
  • Instead of fur, Yorkies have hair. They don’t shed like most dogs do because they have a single layer of fine hair instead of an undercoat, just like humans. However, they naturally lose their hair (which has a typically silky texture) when bathed or brushed, just like people do.

How Many Puppies Can a Yorkshire Terrier Have in One Litter?

The average litter size for Yorkshire Terriers is two to four puppies.

There is no way to predict the exact amount, but since they are a small dog breed, you can anticipate that they will produce less puppies than the usual large breed dog, like a Great Dane.

Breeding lines can also influence litter size; some lines tend to produce larger litters than others.

Dog owners who are considering breeding their Yorkie should talk to a veterinarian or breeder about litter size expectations.

Other factors will also influence the number of puppies in a litter, which I will share more on in the sections down below

How Many Healthy Litters Can a Yorkshire Terrier Have in Their Lifetime?

Theoretically, Yorkies do not go through menopause and will continue to reproduce till they pass away.

They go through two heat cycles a year just like the majority of dogs as their heat cycle lasts between six and eight months.

It does not follow that just because they can mate twice a year, they should.

Yorkshire terriers should only mate not more than once a year and should never be bred more than four to six times in her lifetime.

This is to ensure that it can still be spayed and live a quality life later on after retiring.

Another point to note is the fact that there are countries that legally limit the number of times a dog can be bred in its lifetime, and that number is usually 4 to 6 times.

In the US, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not accept registrations for dams that are bred over the age of 12 and under 8 months, and sires that are over the age of 12 and under 7 months.

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What Determines the Number of Yorkshire Terrier Puppies in a Litter?

In this section, we’ll discuss the key factors that determine the number of Yorkie puppies in a litter.

1. Age of the dam

In general, the size of the litter gets smaller as the dam ages.

You should anticipate having one or two extra puppies once your Yorkie breeds again after the first two litters because, interestingly enough, the first couple of litters are typically smaller than the subsequent litters.

I should also mention that it is not recommended to breed a dog after the age of eight because that is too old to have puppies and can potentially cause health issues to both mother and babies.

In the ideal situation, you would stop breeding your dog long before that and have it spayed, as this would greatly benefit its overall health.

2. Age of the sire

Although less so than the mother’s, the sire of your Yorkie’s litter will also have an effect on the litter size.

The reason is that a dog’s sperm quality starts to decline at the age of 5 to 6, which means that there may be fewer puppies in each litter, even if the female is extremely fertile.

Breeders occasionally use artificial insemination to help in the breeding of older males.

3. Health of the mom

If you intend to breed your Yorkshire terrier, its health must be your top concern.

The plain fact is that a mother who is sickly or frail will give birth to a poor puppy.

So, if you do breed your dog, one of the most important things to do while she is pregnant is to keep an eye on the mother’s weight.

For example, if the mother is obese, she may experience joint issues and, similar to a human mother, make labor and delivery more challenging.

Avoid overfeeding your dog to prevent obesity, which will bring about unneeded issues.

A healthy and balanced diet that is easily digestible and palatable would work best for a pregnant dog.

Additionally, it should be emphasized that the duration between litters must be sufficient to provide your girl time to heal (hence no breeding in consecutive heat cycles).

4. Size of dog

Since the Yorkie is a petite breed, it is physically difficult for it to produce a large litter of puppies.

When I say larger, I don’t just mean larger in terms of weight; rather, I mean larger in terms of build.

Even dogs of the same breed might have different sizes.

As a general rule, Yorkies with larger frames may have slightly larger litter sizes, although this would be a pretty small factor since their sizes don’t really differ that much.

A typical-sized Yorkie will often have a litter of three puppies, though occasionally this might increase to seven or eight (though uncommon).

5. Litter in which mom was born

Your Yorkie’s level of fertility is likely to be inherited from her mother.

She will probably have a sizable first litter if she was born into a sizable litter herself.

On the other hand, if your girl herself was born in a small litter, you can probably expect that she will have a small first litter.

6. Type of breeding

Given how easily it could become complicated, this is actually a subject that is best left for another essay.

In reality, however, the process of reproduction can also have a significant impact on the number of puppies.

For instance, when inbreeding is prevalent, the quality of a litter may be affected.

In this case, the litter will be smaller, which will also affect the health of the puppies by lowering their life expectancy and raising their risk of acquiring genetic defects.

The closer the relationships between the dogs become, the more likely it is that these issues will arise.

Linebreeding, on the other hand, aims to maintain sufficient genetic diversity while preserving the best genes from a bloodline, making it frequently a safer method of dog breeding.

7. Time of breeding

It is said that a dam is more likely to have a larger litter size the closer she is to ovulation.

This is defined as the period after the estrogen period when the Luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any studies supporting this theory, so at this point, I would say this factor is probably not that significant.

At What Age Can You Breed a Yorkshire Terrier?

What Age Can You Breed a Yorkshire Terrier?

Although Yorkies can technically begin reproducing once they reach their first heat cycle, this is usually a bad idea and avoided.

It is common to have the first heat cycle when it reaches 6 months old, which is way too young to start breeding a dog.

Thus. it is advisable to wait until your dog is at least in her second heat cycle as this will give her enough time to mature sexually and gain weight and size.

The majority of ethical breeders will in fact wait until a dog is 2 years old before breeding them because by then they will have undergone all necessary medical examinations.

What Age Do Yorkshire Terriers Go in Heat?

Most female Yorkshire terriers go through their first heat cycle between the ages of 5 and 12 months.

If your girl hasn’t gone through her first heat cycle by the time she is 15 months old, speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

A useful rule of thumb is that it will go into heat at about the same age that its mother did.

How Do You Know if Your Yorkshire Terrier is in Heat?

Bloody discharge, receptivity to male dogs, agitated behavior, and many other symptoms can be signs of a dog in heat.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Swollen vulva
  • Discharge from the vulva
  • Receptive to male dogs
  • Change in appetite
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Agitated, anxious, or aggressive behavior
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Holding its tail close to the body

How Often Do Yorkies Go Into Heat?

A Yorkie will go into heat once every 6 to 8 months, but this can vary depending on each individual dog.

While some dogs’ cycles could be a little bit longer or shorter than others, you should be keeping track of when they happen.

Consult your veterinarian to determine whether there is anything that could be causing your dog’s variable seasons.

There is often more time between seasons as dogs get older (but can still get pregnant).

How Long Does a Yorkies Stay in Heat?

When a dog is said to be in heat, we are usually referring to the estrus phase of the heat cycle, and that’s the time when they actually see “action”.

The entire cycle is as follows, and it is during the estrus period when a dog will show all the signs discussed above:

  • Phase 1: Proestrus (~7 to 10 days)
  • Phase 2: Estrus (~5 to 14 days)
  • Phase 3: Diestrus (~10 to 140 days)
  • Phase 4: Anestrus (~6 months)

How to Tell if My Yorkshire Terrier is Pregnant?

Here are the most common signs that your Yorkie is pregnant:

  • Nipples enlarged
  • Increased hunger
  • Irritability (may have a short temper)
  • Decrease in activity and energy levels
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weight gain
  • Starts nesting
  • Seeks more attention

When you notice all of these happening, and about 25 days have passed since mating, you should bring your girl to the vet for an ultrasound or a blood test to determine if it’s pregnant.

How Long is a Yorkshire Terrier Pregnant for?

How Long is a Yorkshire Terrier Pregnant for?

Dogs, no matter the breed, are usually pregnant for 56-64 days, or about 2 months.

There won’t be many, if any, obvious indicators of pregnancy in the first two weeks in your dog as the changes are currently taking place internally within the uterus.

However, your Yorkie will soon start to lose hair around the breasts, develop larger, darker nipples, and develop darker nipples at around 3 weeks of pregnancy.

How Do I Know When My Yorkshire Terrier is About to Give Birth?

It is good to be aware that dogs usually give birth around 2 months (58 to 65 days) after getting pregnant so that you can prepare for it.

As the time draws nearer, there will be a number of telltale signs that your dog might be whelping soon.

  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating much
  • Digging and scratching
  • Lethargy
  • Start producing milk
  • Spending more time in her “nest”
  • Shivering
  • Panting
  • Straining
  • Drop in body temperature

Yorkshire Terriers Puppy Size/Growth Chart

The table below shows you the estimated weight at each life stage during a Yorkie’s growing years.

When they go into adulthood (> 1 year old), they might put on a bit more weight but their weight gain will be much slower and you will see a consistent weight throughout this period.

Care Tips for a Pregnant Yorkshire Terrier

Pregnant Yorkies can be a joyous occasion, but they also require some extra care.

It is important to keep your Yorkie healthy and happy during pregnancy.

This will help them stay comfortable and make sure that they have a smooth delivery.

Here are some tips:

Regular checkups

You need to schedule regular checkups with your vet, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and when you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior.

This will help make sure that everything is going as it should be during pregnancy and birth.

Balanced diet

During pregnancy, your Yorkshire terrier really needs to have a balanced diet and you have to make it as palatable and easily digestible as possible.

This means that she should get plenty of protein (chicken is a good choice), and some fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.

You can also supplement the diet with calcium tablets or other supplements if you want to be extra careful about making sure your dog gets everything she needs during this time.

Quiet environment

It’s crucial to keep your dog in a peaceful setting while she’s expecting, especially if it’s her first litter.

Keeping her from becoming anxious will help prevent issues during labor and for the puppies themselves.

Keep your Yorkie indoors and away during those times if you know there will be loud noises, like fireworks or other people in the house, so she won’t be alarmed by the bustle.


Although pregnant dogs shouldn’t exercise vigorously, they can benefit from attention, moderate play, and frequent short walks.

You shouldn’t overstimulate a pregnant dog, but you also shouldn’t let her become too inactive.

During the last three weeks of pregnancy, it is essential that a pregnant dog be kept separate from other dogs and animals; therefore, allow her to get some light exercise indoors during this time rather than taking her outside.

One more thing: Do not be rough with them at this time!

Should You Breed Yorkshire Terriers?

Yorkshire terriers are a very popular breed thanks to their small size, charming looks, and easy maintenance which makes them a favorite in many households.

However, there are many other factors to consider before deciding whether or not to breed Yorkshire terriers.

First, you should only breed your pet if he is of excellent quality and has a good temperament.

You also need to be aware that the responsibility for finding homes for puppies cannot be passed off to someone else; you must take responsibility for each puppy born in your home.

Although breeding Yorkie puppies can be a good side income (or even full-time income), there are a number of challenges you will face.

They are prone to developing health problems and can be difficult to care for as a result.

You may spend a lot on vet bills if something goes wrong with the pregnancy, and it could take a year or two to get another litter out of the dog after she has given birth.

Furthermore, the market for these dogs is saturated with puppies that often end up in shelters or are given away because their owners cannot keep them any longer.

If you do want new puppies for your own household, consider visiting a shelter or rescue instead.

There are lots of beautiful dogs that need our help too!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many puppies does a Yorkie have in its first litter?

A Yorkie will typically have 2 to 3 puppies in its first and second litter. For subsequent litter, this number may increase to 3 to 4 puppies, and a lot depends on the dam’s health and fertility.

Can a Yorkie have 4 puppies?

Yes, it is not rare for Yorkies to have 4 litters in a litter. That is close to the average number of puppies this breed of dog usually has.

How many times should you breed a Yorkie?

It is recommended to only breed a Yorkie after it goes into adulthood, preferably around 2 years old after it has gone through all the health checks and potential genetic problems are discovered. In its lifetime, a Yorkie should only breed a maximum of 4 to 5 times before the age of 6.

What is the best age for a Yorkie to get pregnant?

The best age for a Yorkie to get pregnant is 2 years old as this allows them to mature and grow to their maximum size and become sexually mature. By this time, they would complete all necessary health checks, which can determine if they are suitable to be bred.

Can a 4 pound Yorkie have puppies?

Adult Yorkies commonly fall between 4 and 7 pounds in weight, but a 4 pound Yorkie is not likely to give birth naturally. They should not be bred in the first place as they need to be bigger than the sire to avoid complications.

Can my Yorkshire Terrier give birth naturally?

Yorkies tend to have many birth complications and many times, they are unable to give birth naturally, thus requiring a C-section instead to help it along.

In Conclusion: How Many Puppies Can a Yorkshire Terrier Have?

I’ve covered a lot of ground here, so hopefully, you feel more knowledgeable about breeding Yorkshire Terriers and how many puppies they can have.

If you’re not sure whether you should breed them, think about adopting one from a shelter or rescue group instead.

There are lots of them that really need our help, home, and love.

Check out the litter sizes of other dog breeds here.

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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