How to Keep a Yorkie Clean


Since baths should only be given every 3 weeks or so, you may be wondering how in the world to keep your Yorkshire Terrier clean. Ears may accumulate dirt, the coat may look messy, there can be a slowly developing smell, paws may pick up debris as if they coated with glue… Essentially, for being a small dog, Yorkshire Terriers can get surprisingly dirty.
The good news is that there are some easy ways to keep your Yorkie clean, smelling fresh, and looking dapper. And, while there are 8 steps to this, you’ll find these are very easy to incorporate.

1: Take Advantage of Baths.

What to know: 

Barring a run through a mud puddle or a skin or coat condition that requires frequent application of a specialized shampoo, a Yorkie should be shampooed once every 3 weeks. This ensures that natural body oils are removed once they have accumulated, but not so often that the body cannot keep up with replenishing this natural moisturizer.
Since baths are not a daily or weekly occurrence, it is important to use this time wisely. It is your opportunity to be sure that accumulated body oils are indeed removed (subpar shampoos may simply skim over) since this can become quite stinky and skin pores are not blocked via shampoo residue. In addition, if your Yorkie tends to get smelly, you’ll want to use a shampoo specifically designed to remove odors and leave a fresh scent.
What to do:

Scrub your Yorkshire Terrier with a quality shampoo. Choose one that has the proper pH balance that canines need (between 6.5 and 7.5), has no soaping agents which can be harsh on a dog’s skin (look for plant-based cleansers), and no parabens, synthetic dyes or phthalates (which can cause allergic reactions).

If your Yorkie develops a standard ‘it’s time for a bath’ smell, Earthbath Oatmeal, Aloe, Vanilla & Almond Shampoo is a great choice. This has all of the qualities you want in a shampoo and helps prevent common issues like dry skin and itching.
And, if your Yorkie tends to become very smelly very easily, Earthbath Mediterranean Magic Shampoo is a fantastic option. This also has everything you’re looking for, along with rosemary which works wonderfully for removing stubborn odors that can become trapped in the coat.
Cuteness break!

Adult Yorkie on owner's bed
Mambo, at 2 years old, photo courtesy of Lili and Jesse Lopes

2: Do body touch-ups.

What to know: 

Between bits of feces that can cling to fine hairs, urine that can splash up against the body, and outdoor particles that end up in the coat, a dog can become quite dirty in no time.
So, one of the best ways to keep a Yorkie clean is to wipe down the coat and spot clean any trouble spots like the bum or underbelly.
In addition to this, allergens like pollen and irritants like lawn care products can accumulate on the body, making touch-ups more important than ever.
What to do:
As often as once a day but at least once a week, swipe down your Yorkie’s entire body including the legs, chest, flanks, back, underbelly, armpits, genital area, and bum. And, of course, as needed, clean any area that needs extra attention.
For this, Earthbath Mango Tango Grooming Wipes are fantastic. These are very effective for removing dirt, feces, urine, and bothersome external substances while being very gentle; and these have a super-nice fragrance.

3: Regularly brush your Yorkie, no matter the coat length.

What to know: 

It’s a common misperception that if a Yorkie has a short trim that the coat does not need to be brushed all that often. And, while it is true that brushing to prevent tangles is not a ‘must’ for those with short coats, this grooming task has hygienic benefits as well.

Brushing will help remove debris, but importantly, it will also remove any dead hairs. And, this relates to keeping a Yorkie fresh and clean since dead hairs that fall back into the coat will be magnates for the aforementioned body oils. When coated in body oils, they will become stinky.
Brushing also distributes body oils which adds shine and separates hairs which adds buoyancy, both elements that help make a dog look clean. Another plus to brushing is that it stimulates hair follicles for healthy growth.
What to do:
For Yorkies with moderate to long coats, a brushing every 1 to 2 days is recommended. For this, you’ll want to use a coated pin brush like the Chris Christensen Little Wonder Pin Brush.
And, for Yorkie puppies and for adults with short coats (not long enough to develop tangles), a thorough brushing every 3 days works well. For this, a bristle brush with moderate spacing like the Safari Small Bristle Brush is best.
Cuteness break!
Yorkie puppy looking nice and clean
Chutney, at 8 months old, photo courtesy of Ross and Colleen Duncan 

4: Use a leave-in spritz.

What to know: 

You may wonder if applying a light spritz can really make a difference in keeping a Yorkie clean, and the answer may surprise you. A good spritz will actually help repel dirt, debris, and a range of outdoor irritants. In addition, properly fragranced ones can keep a dog smelling fresh.
Those reasons alone are enough to use this sort of coat product, but in addition to this, a leave-in spritz can lock in moisture to prevent dry hair, offer a layer of protection to help prevent contact friction and split ends, add shine, create a softer texture, and for Yorkies with long coats, help stop mats and tangles from developing.
All of these benefits aid in giving a Yorkie a cleaner, more tidy appearance and since this is done while brushing (something you do at any rate), it takes very little extra effort.
What to do:
Choose a light coat spray that is designed for daily use as these will not cause a build-up of product. Every time you brush your Yorkie, lightly mist the coat.
If your Yorkie has a long coat, spray section by section, starting about 1 inch from the roots. And, if your Yorkie has a moderate or short hair cut, you can spritz as you go or brush and then tousle the product through the coat with your hands.
If you are looking for a good coat spray, there are a couple of wonderful choices, depending on exactly how it is that your Yorkie tends to get dirty.
If your Yorkie tends to pick up a lot of dirt in the coat while out and about or has issues with urine backsplashThe Stuff is a terrific choice (yes, that’s the name because you’ll keep saying ‘This stuff is great!’). This is awesome for repelling those elements and has a light, floral fragrance. It’s also fantastic for texture and shine and is an excellent detangler.
And, if keeping your Yorkie smelling nice is the main issueNootie Daily Spritz is truly terrific. This line offers all of the benefits of a daily spritz and has delightful fragrances. Your little guy or gal can smell like a warm vanilla cookie, a Lilly flower, cucumber melon, Japanese cherry blossoms, or coconut lime verbena (verbena is a flower with a pleasing lemony citrus scent)

Cuteness break!
Yorkshire Terrier sitting on grass
Trooper, at 1 year old, photo courtesy of Justin & Stephanie Bays

5: Keep your Yorkie’s face clean.

What to know: 

For such a little face, so much can happen to make it appear dirty. Food particles can cling to hairs, moisture from drinking water or from natural tears can cause staining, eye gunk (technically called rheum) can accumulate, and hairs around the eyes, on the cheeks, and/or around the mouth can become discolored for a number of reasons including water with high levels of iron, food that contains artificial coloring, and eating or drinking from plastic bowls made with heavy colored dyes.
And, let’s face it (no pun intended) when a Yorkie’s face looks a mess, this gives the entire dog an unclean appearance.
What to do:  

1) If your Yorkie has tear stains (dark, discolored hairs around or under the eyes, often with a crisp texture), there are several steps:

• Address any excessive tearing. This can be due to allergies, partially blocked tear ducts, or issues with eyelash abnormalities.

• Be sure that your Yorkie is eating a kibble with no artificial coloring and no ingredients that tend to cause allergies, and therefore tearing, such as a high grain content, chemical preservatives, and soy. An example of a terrific all-natural kibble is Wellness Complete For Toy Breeds.
• Do not give your Yorkie unfiltered tap water. Offer spring water or use a filtering method.
• Bowls should be stainless steel or ceramic; do not use plastic bowls.
• Use a product specifically designed to remove stains. A good one for this is Arava Tear Stain Remover which is a no-chemical formula that gradually yet effectively removes stubborn discoloration.
2) For all Yorkies, clean the face every day with a facial wipe. This can be done once per day or up to three times (after each meal). For this, an excellent choice is Earthbath Facial Wipes; these are fragrance-free, gentle yet effective, and come in a handy 25-count package.
Cuteness break!

Yorkie with clean face

Sir Oliver Winsome (aka Oliver Marra), at 5 months old,

photo courtesy of David Marra

6: Keep your Yorkie’s ears clean.

What to know: 

Ears are definitely a part of a dog’s body that can get dirty exceedingly fast. They can become clogged with wax, pick up all kinds of tiny debris, and get quite smelly. And, for some dogs, these issues can lead to chronic ear infections (the #1 reason for unplanned vet visits).
What to do:
There are two types of cleaning that should be done in regard to a Yorkshire Terrier’s ears:
1) Cleaning the ear flaps. This is to swipe away any foreign matter (like dirt or small pieces of debris) as well as remove any visible ear wax and should be done every 1 to 7 days, depending on how easy your Yorkie’s ears get dirty.

For this, use a wipe specifically designed for the ears since it will hold less moisture than a typical grooming wipe (lingering moisture can lead to ear infections). A good choice for this is Pet Aroma Care Ear Wipes. You’ll want to clean both the outer and inner ear flap; once you clean one ear, flip the wipe over and use the opposite side to clean the other ear.

2) Cleaning the ear canals. Some dogs never have their ear canals cleaned and do just fine. But, others have problems with excessive wax buildup that can lead to very smelly ears and/or chronic ear infections.

So, depending on your Yorkie’s propensity for this problem, you may wish to clean the ear canals every 3 weeks (maintenance) or as often as once per week (dogs with a history of ear infections).
This is done by placing a few drops of a cleanser like Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes into the canal, massaging the ear base for 1 to 2 minutes to loosen compacted wax, and then using a sterile piece of gauze or a cotton ball to swipe clean any liquid, dirt, or wax that has been expelled.
Cuteness break!
female Yorkie looking shy
Gracie, at 3 years old, photo courtesy of Bobbi and Bill Wilson

7: Keep your Yorkie’s teeth clean.

What to know: 

If a dog has yellow teeth or stinky breath, this can completely destroy all the work you did to otherwise keep your Yorkie clean. And, this goes far past aesthetics or the matter of fresh breath, unclean teeth can lead to painful infections, periodontal disease, jaw bone degeneration, tooth loss, and even full-body sepsis.
The Yorkshire Terrier is prone to dental issues and it is never too late to start a program of good dental hygiene.
What to do:
1) Any current issues must be treated by the veterinarian. More is happening in the mouth than what you see since plaque, tartar, and decay can be under the gum line. So, if your Yorkie’s teeth have not been tended to for some time, you’ll want to start with a checkup to have the teeth evaluated.
Some owners avoid this because they fear what may happen if they are told that their Yorkie needs to be sedated for a professional cleaning. However, the likelihood of health risks associated with decayed teeth is much higher than possible reactions to anesthesia which are actually quite rare; just 1 in 100,000 animals have some type of adverse reaction including minor cases such as swelling at the injection site.

2) Brush your Yorkie’s teeth. The best method is to scrub your Yorkie’s teeth with a canine toothpaste and toothbrush once per day. If you use a pleasant tasting paste (canine paste is meant to be swallowed) and a properly sized brush, your Yorkie may very well become accustomed to this.

The Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Triple Action Kit is a nice set of effective paste, a 3-sided brush (to get all areas, cutting down on scrub time) with the puppy size working well for Yorkshire Terriers 10 pounds and under, and a finger brush (if you want to acclimate your Yorkie slowly).
3) Or use a dental spray. Though not as effective as brushing, this is an alternative method to keep your Yorkie’s teeth clean. One like Sonnyridge Dog Dental Spray can be effective if used regularly.

4) Offer a daily dental treat. These are hard chews that help remove plaque. Being as such, you will want to supervise your Yorkie when this is given. One of the most popular ones is Greenies Teenie Dog Dental Treats which is appropriately sized for small dogs 5 to 15 lbs. There is also a grain-free option.
Cuteness break!
male Yorkshire Terrier with a toy in his mouth
Ollie, at 4 years old, photo courtesy of Bobbi and Bill Wilson

8: Shield your Yorkie’s paws.

What to know: 

Everything your Yorkie walks through or over can cling to the paws, not to mention be tracked into the house. This, of course, includes dirt, mud, and other outdoor matter, but also includes allergy triggers like pollen and irritants like lawn care products, and ice melt chemicals, etc.

What to do: 
1) A quality paw wax can shield the paws from those elements. And, there are many additional benefits such as offering a layer of protection from walking surfaces (hot in the summer, frozen in the winter), giving a dog better traction, helping to prevent dry paw skin, and preventing snowballing (when snow melts between the toes or pads, refreezes into ice, and then causes the sensitive skin there to stretch).
Year-round, one of the very best products to use is Mushers Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax. This offers all of the listed benefits as well as treating any current issues of drying or cracking, and absorbs pretty fast (just about 10 seconds or so).
2) Rinse the paws as needed. Luckily, the Yorkie is such a small dog that it’s easy to pick your little guy or gal up and rinse the paws off in the kitchen sink. This should be done any time that there is visible dirt on the paws or if you suspect irritants may be clinging to them regardless of whether or not you applied paw wax as a shield.

To Summarize