The color of yorkies is a topic many people seem to be unclear on. Whether you are buying or interested in breeding, there are things you should be aware of such as the Parti Gene and other genetic mutations that impact the color in Yorkies.
So, how many colors do Yorkies come in? How do you tell the difference between a chocolate Yorkie or a Parti Yorkie? Keep reading and we will answer those questions.
Standard Yorkie/Traditional Yorkie
Let’s start with the most recognized Yorkshire Terrier and arguably one of the most recognized dog breeds in general, traditional or standard colored Yorkie. When discussing the color of this Yorkie, depending on who you are talking to, they may refer to the coloring as black and tan, black and gold, blue and gold and blue and tan. At the time of this posting, the traditional Yorkie, being the breed standard is the only Yorkshire Terrier that can compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. So, if you plan to show or compete with your dog, you will want to consider the standard Yorkie.
Next on the list is the Parti Yorkie. Parti Yorkies are not a different breed from the traditional Yorkie but are one breed in the same. The word “Parti” in the name, refers to the color of the pup. Parti Yorkies are tri-colored, presenting in black, tan, and white. White is typically the dominant color, however, there is no standard pattern and the dominant color can differ from pup to pup even within the same litter.
Just as with traditional Yorkies, the color or intensity of the colors it Parti Yorkies can change as the dog matures.
Sable Yorkies / Sable Parti Yorkies (Red Yorkie)
Sable Parti Yorkies are easily identified by their sable (reddish/bronze) coloring. As puppies, the black, sable eumelanin in Yorkies is dominant. However, as Yorkies age, their genetic makeup instructs some of the eumelanin to lighten, producing blue or silver Yorkies. This is not the case in Sable colored Yorkies as they maintain the sable coloring which is redder, than tan or gold in appearance. In fact, you will find this color to be distinctly different from the tan coloring found in traditional Yorkies or Parti Yorkies.
In Sable Yorkies, sable will be the dominant color often accompanied by other color points such a tan or white. In Sable Parti Yorkies, white is often the more dominant color, accompanied by large patches of sable hair.
Chocolate Yorkies have recessive b allele genes. Two copies of the chocolate gene will result in a brown, often referred to as a chocolate Yorkshire Terrier. As they mature, the hair may lighten resulting in an overall lighter colored brown/chocolate coat or a combination of chocolate with more prominent tan points (highlights). Another characteristic found in Chocolate Yorkies is light brown or even hazel eye coloring. In traditional Yorkies, the breeds standard eye coloring is dark brown almost black colored eyes. The color of the Yorkie’s eyes is directly related to its coat.
The chocolate gene also alters the nose coloring, resulting in a brown nose.
Chocolate Parti Yorkies
Like the Chocolate Yorkie, Chocolate Parti Yorkies also carry genes that result in the brown/chocolate coloring, however, like the Parti Yorkie, Chocolate Parti Yorkies also have white hair. The amount of white is determined by genetics and will differ from pup to pup. And yes, they also have brown noses and light have lighter eye coloring.
Black Yorkies / Extreme Black Yorkies
A purebred Yorkie can be entirely black although it is a rare occurrence. Some may argue that in most cases, a black Yorkie is the result of crossbreeding with a black breed and these Yorkies are not purebred. The fact is, there are experienced breeders, as with other colored Yorkies such as the Parti Yorkie, who breed two pure bred dogs with the recessive genetic traits that produce the black coloring together to get consistent coloring in their offspring.
At birth, traditional Yorkies are almost all black, but if you look closely, you will notice some tan points which become more prominent as the pup matures. This is not exactly the case with black Yorkies. While there are some tan or white points, the are not as prominent as with traditional Yorkies.
With extreme black Yorkies (as the name implies), there is little to no hint of white or tan coloring.
Blonde Yorkies / Golden Yorkies
Pure blonde and/or golden Yorkies are considered extremely rare, as is any solid colored Yorkie. Blond Yorkies mature with light tan to blond colored hair.
The white Yorkie is known for its snowy white coat. While white is not a Yorkie color recognized by the major dog breed registries, there are several genetic mechanisms which can result in a white colored Yorkie.
Since the early ages of the first dog populations, man has been breeding dogs to acquire certain desired traits. One of the most desired traits to this day, is the color of a dog’s coat. Historically, Yorkshire Terrier breeders have bred to the breed standard of black and tan, black and gold, blue and gold, and blue and tan. Breeding yorkies for color outside the breed standard has long been discouraged by people in the industry for different reasons. Back in 2000, when Parti Yorkies were officially recognized by the AKC, many breeders started breeding them. Today, several Yorkie breeders are breeding for color but there are those who fear if enough people were to breed non-standard colored Yorkies frequently enough, the unique and iconic Yorkie coloration could begin to disappear and may vanish forever.
There are some who cite potential health risks associated with breeding dogs specifically for color as a reason not to breed non-standard colored Yorkies but this is not true for all non-standard colored Yorkies such as Parti and Chocolate Yorkies to name couple. There is quite a bit of misinformation out there about color and the breed, so make sure you do your research. Yorkies colors that do not conform to the breed standard are considered a color fault. As a result, they are not eligible to compete in dog shows. If you have an interest in the many colors of Yorkshire terriers you can read more about the two pigments that determine what the coat color of a dog will be in an upcoming post, part II in this series.
These pigments are eumelanin which is responsible for the dark color and phaeomelanin which determine the red color of the coat. Only these two pigments (both are forms of melanin) are responsible for the huge variety of coat colors in all the different dog breeds.
We hope we have answered any questions you have had about the many beautiful and sometimes rare colors of Yorkies.
Click below to watch our YouTube Video on this topic.