Have you ever seen an all-white yorkshire terrier?
That’s a trick question. You have not.
What you saw may have been white and may have looked like a yorkie, but it was not one.
There is only one way a yorkie can have all-white fur.
And that way means it is no longer recognized as a purebred yorkie.
It is. But we can make sense of it all. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about white Yorkshire terriers, including what these beautiful dogs actually are.
- 1 White Yorkies: Are They Purebred?
- 2 White Yorkshire Terriers
- 2.1 Different Types Of White Yorkshire Terriers
- 2.2 White Yorkie Genetics
- 2.3 Health Issues Common In White Yorkies
- 3 White Yorkies: Conclusion
White Yorkies: Are They Purebred?
No, white Yorkshire terriers are not purebred yorkies. The American Kennel Club only recognizes four standard yorkie color combinations: black and gold, blue and gold, blue and tan, and black and tan.
White is not on the list. Does that mean there is no such thing as a white yorkie?
It does not. It just means that white yorkies are not officially recognized as purebred yorkies. We’ll discuss what the AKC views them as below, along with everything else you might want to know about Yorkshire terriers with all-white fur.
White Yorkshire Terriers
White Yorkshire terriers have the same long and silky fur as other yorkies. But because that fur is white, they do not meet the standard set out for this breed by the AKC and are thus not considered purebred yorkies.
What colors do Yorkies come in officially? As mentioned above, the recognized color combinations for Yorkshire terriers are black and gold, blue and gold, blue and tan, and a black and tan coat. They tend to be black and tan when they are young and blue and gold when they mature.
The reason white fur is not accepted is that it is not present in the standard yorkie genes. If a yorkie has white fur, that means it carries genes from some other breed. Unless it is an albino, of course. We’ll discuss albino yorkies further down.
It is common for white yorkies to have genes from a white breed, like the West Highland terrier, or the Maltese. The cross between yorkie and maltese is also known as a morkie.
A completely white coat is extremely rare in yorkies, but it is more common for them to have partially white coats. Some of these are even partially recognized by the AKC as Yorkshire terriers, although that is all a bit complicated. But it only matters for show dogs anyway.
Let’s take a look at the different types of yorkies that can have white fur. Most of them have partially white fur. The only ones that generally have all-white fur are crossbreeds.
Different Types Of White Yorkshire Terriers
As mentioned, no all white yorkies are actually purebred yorkies. But a purebred can have partially white fur. However, most all white or partially white yorkies are actually a different breed or a crossbreed. Let’s take a look at all of the possibilities.
The AKC considers parti yorkies purebred, but views them as a nonstandard form of the breed. They tend to have some white fur that appears as spotting across their body.
In addition to the white, they also have the standard yorkie colors blue, black, tan and gold. They have three colors on their bodies, so two of the other colors, plus white. You can find some parti yorkies with a majority of white fur, but hey are never all white.
Parti yorkies are the result of repeated breeding of two yorkies wit the recessive piebald gene. We will get into a bit more detail below on the genes that affect pigmentation in dogs.
Since 2021, the Biewer terrier is recognized as a separate breed by the AKC. But the first Biewer terrier was a result of two yorkie parents that both had the recessive piebald gene, which is rare in yorkies.
This happened in 1984 and the people responsible were named (you guessed it!) Biewer. This German husband and wife team recognized the potential appeal of their black white and gold yorkie and decided to continue breeding them.
While these dogs are now seen as a different breed altogether, if you see a yorkie with a lot of white fur, there is a good chance it is actually a Biewer terrier.
The only way a Yorkshire terrier can have all white fur and still be a purebred yorkie is if it suffers from albinism. IF that is e case, it will also have a pink nose, pink or red irises, pink footpads, and pink skin.
The reason is that albinos lack the ability to produce any pigmentation, due to a mutation of the SLC45A2 gene. This means there is absolutely no added color anywhere on the dog.
In addition to albinism, there are also a few other genetic mutations that could produce an all-white coat in a dog.
So why, then, did we state above that it was not possible for an all white yorkie to be purebred?
Because there has never been a documented case of albinism (or any other genetic mutation that would lead to all white fur) in yorkies. IT is a theoretical possibility only.
The tiny yorkie-Maltese crossbreed is a hybrid breed that has gained in popularity over the decades. The name morkie comes from the combination of the names Maltese and yorkie. This crossbreed can be all white like the Maltese, but it can also contain the standard yorkie colors.
Basically, if you breed a morkie, there is no certainty as to what color the puppies will end up being. But it is possible that they turn out all white. Of course, as a crossbreed, these dogs are not considered purebred yorkies.
The Fourche terrier is a crossbreed between the West Highland terrier and the Yorkshire terrier. Just like th morkie above, you never quite know what you are going to get. They can be closer to the westie or the yorkie, or sit right in the middle.
This means they generally have a combination of the yorkie’s silky single coat and the westie’s rough double coat. The same is true for the colors. They can be all-white like the westie, but can also be brown, gray, black, or brindle.
White Yorkie Genetics
To understand how white yorkies come about, it makes sense to take a look at the genetic patterns that can cause white fur in dogs.
The piebald gene is also called the S locus. It is responsible for piebald spotting in dogs.
When both parents carry this gene, their offspring can have large portions of white fur, to the point where the coats can appear completely white. If only one parent carries this gene, the puppies are more likely to have more patches of color.
Yorkies do not usually have this gene, which is why they do not have white spotting. A well-known dog breed that does have this gene is the beagle, which is famously spotted in three colors: white, black and brown.
The A locus holds the parti gene, which is responsible for particolored patterns. These are generally colored patches on a white background.
We have already discussed the parti yorkie above. As stated, it is recognized as a purebred yorkie, but a nonstandard one. Poodles and cocker spaniels are other breeds that commonly have particoloring.
The E locus in a dog’s DNA holds the red gene, which codes for red pigmentation, as the name suggests. It is responsible for the color of dogs like the golden retriever or Irish setter. And also a rare full grown blonde yorkie.
It is possible to manipulate this gene so that a dog appears almost completely white, but scientists are still working on figuring out how exactly this comes about.
The merle gene can also result in a coat that is nearly all white, although merle patterned dogs usually have mottled patches on a coat of any color, or even a piebald coat.
In order for a dog to have a coat that is almost completely white, both parents need to have the merle gene. Unfortunately, this can result in serious health issues, so it is not advised. A well-known dog with a merle patterned coat is the Australian Shepherd.
Health Issues Common In White Yorkies
Breeders are always trying to create appealing new colors in dogs, since they can sell them for higher prices and make more money. White yorkies are a popular color and breeders work hard at producing them.
Unfortunately, this leads to an increased risk of certain health issues in the resulting dogs. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest health problems faced by white Yorkshire terriers with the genes discussed above.
Piebald Health Problems
Scientists believe that the piebald pattern is sometimes the result of a mutation in a gene called microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF).
This gene has been linked to deafness, as well as several additional health issues, like Tietz syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome, and melanoma. Tietz and Waardenburg can both lead to hearing loss. As such, there seems to be a definite link between MITF and deafness, although much more study is needed.
Parti Health Issues
There are no specific health issues linked to parti-colored yorkies. Of course, they do suffer from the same problems as any other Yorkshire terrier.
Red Health Problems
The E locus controls red pigmentation, but it can also create white coats. White dogs as a result of this gene are not linked to any specific health problems.
Merle Health Issues
A yorkie born to two parents with the merle gene is at higher risk of health problems. Merle patterned yorkies can potentially suffer from problems with their eyes and ears. That makes sense, because white dogs with the merle gene tend to be completely pigment free like alinos, with pik skin and noses, and blue eyes.
White Yorkies: Conclusion
There are no white yorkies that are purebred. Any all-white Yorkshire terrier is a crossbreed, usually with the Maltese or the West Highland terrier. Theoretical, it could be an albino, but none of those have ever been documented.
The parti yorkie is a purebred, although a nonstandard version. It can be mostly white, but not completely so. But any standard purebred can only have the colors blue, gold, black, and tan.