The elegance of Yorkshire Terrier colors is just one of the many reasons why it’s a popular breed of choice in the United States. Though few, these coat colors make the breed’s silky coat and hypoallergenic hair more special.
Obviously, there are many reasons why the Yorkie breed is beloved by many, especially urbanites, but it can’t be denied that its glossy and floor-length coat adorned by unique color combinations would make someone stare.
Though coat color is truly more of a preference when it comes to pet ownership, it’s still fun to be introduced to the stunning Yorkie coat colors! Stick around to know more about this aspect of a Yorkie’s appearance.
How Many Colors of Yorkies Are There?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are four standard Yorkie coat colors. All of these are bi-color combinations of the colors black, blue, tan, and gold. Specifically, these are:
- Black and Tan
- Blue and Gold
- Blue and Tan
- Black and Gold
Apart from these traditional Yorkie colors, though, other possible non-official Yorkie colors exist today for breed enthusiasts to enjoy. These variations could have white, brown, and red in them.
In fact, though not officially listed as a breed standard, the American Kennel Club now recognizes a purebred parti Yorkie as an official color. This variant is a tri-colored Yorkie with white patches covering most of its body.
However, it’s important to note that these non-standard colors are quite rare and can very well be a result of a recessive gene being passed down from parent to litter.
Another possibility is crossbreeding, which meddles with the bloodline of a purebred Yorkie, thereby making it a mixed breed.
8 Yorkie Colors & Patterns
Because there are only limited color possibilities when it comes to the Yorkshire Terrier breed, they are easier to distinguish from one another compared to other dog breeds.
However, if you’re still finding it hard to identify which colors are which, the following list should be helpful to you in telling their differences. Look out also for the cute Yorkies proudly showing off their respective coat colors!
1. Black and Tan Yorkie
As an official breed standard, a newborn purebred Yorkshire Terrier puppy should have a black and tan coat. They are typically darker in body color, which means that most of the black markings will be present in their torso.
That said, the color black in black and tan Yorkies could also appear occasionally in their heads. Black hair is also intermingled with tan hair, but generally, a black and tan Yorkie will have a predominantly black coat.
Tan markings usually manifest in a Yorkie’s face, including the ears’ edges and lower sides, over the eyes, and around the mouth. Tan coloring will also be observed in the legs, chest, and sometimes on the feet or tail.
Considering all this, it should be noted that due to the intensity of color during puppyhood, some refer to black and tan coats as black and brown.
Meanwhile, the black and tan color of most Yorkie puppies usually becomes blue and gold as the dog ages. This could begin as early as six months from birth and continue between one and three years moving forward.
However, this depends on a Yorkie’s genetic makeup. Meaning Yorkshire Terrier puppies that are past their adult stage but have retained their black and tan colorations probably don’t express the greying gene.
You should also be wary of those marketing a “black Yorkie” because while it’s normal for a newborn Yorkie puppy to be almost entirely black, a closer look should reveal tan hair.
2. Blue and Gold Yorkie
As previously discussed, blue-and-gold is the faded color combination that black and tan Yorkie puppies will grow to have. This is why an adult Yorkshire Terrier normally has a blue and gold coat.
This Yorkie color is simply a lightening of the coat due to the greying gene that appears on the G locus. It’s an incomplete dominance phenomenon, so a dominant allele does not fully mask a recessive allele’s effects.
The two alleles associated with greying are G (greying) and g (non-greying). Since only one copy is needed to express greying, a Yorkie with either a Gg or GG genotype will show greying. Those with the gg genotype will not.
The greying gene is only expressed by a small number of breeds, almost exclusively by those with long, curly, and wire-haired coats like the Yorkshire Terrier. Short-haired dogs might carry it but don’t exhibit it.
Meanwhile, the blue coat of a blue and gold Yorkie will appear to be a dark steel blue color. It might be hard to see without direct sunlight as the transition begins, but over time it should be very apparent.
Most purebred blue and gold Yorkies that become adult dogs will have the blue color from their neck down to their tail’s base.
Meanwhile, the tan points of purebred Yorkies should also lighten to gold. Typically, long, golden hair will hang on their heads and fall even longer on the sides. The hair’s roots are usually darker and get lighter to the tips.
Blue and gold Yorkshire Terriers will also have golden hair around their ears, chests, bellies, and legs. Overall, expect that by two or three years of age, your Yorkie will have a golden head with a gray-blue back.
3. Blue and Tan Yorkie
Generally, every Yorkshire Terrier is unique in the way that its color is distributed throughout its body and the speed at which its hair color changes. A blue and tan Yorkie is an example of this.
This Yorkie color can also be explained through genetics. For context, there are two basic pigments that dictate canine color — eumelanin and phaeomelanin.
Eumelanin is black by default while phaeomelanin is red but gold and yellow by default. These two colors are modified by other genes to create other colors. The greying gene affects both pigments, but not to the same extent.
Simply put, this means that the greying genes of blue and tan Yorkies do not affect their entire coats to the same range. It could also be interpreted as the phaeomelanin expressing itself in a darker shade.
Like blue and gold Yorkies, blue and tan Yorkies are also common color combinations when purebred Yorkies reach adulthood.
4. Black and Gold Yorkie
A black and gold Yorkie is just like a black and tan Yorkie, except that it has retained its black coat while its tan coat has transitioned to gold.
The explanation for this is the same for blue and tan Yorkies. During the coat transition period, a Yorkie puppy whose phaeomelanin is progressing more quickly than its eumelanin will develop a black and gold coat.
5. Parti Yorkie
Though not officially listed as a standard or alternate color by the AKC, parti Yorkies exist and have actually gained popularity over the years. Since 2000, the AKC has also recognized parti Yorkies as part of the breed.
The main thing that differentiates a parti Yorkie from the previous color variants is that it consists of a tri-color combination. Typically, it will have a blue, white, and tan coat, but other parti colors are possible.
The presence of parti Yorkies has fueled a debate about the purity of their bloodline. This is due to the white coat color, which is caused by the recessive piebald gene or the S (spotting) locus.
Yorkshire Terriers do not normally have this gene — hence, the controversy. Some believe that the cross-breeding of a Maltese with a Yorkie was what gave rise to Yorkies carrying the recessive gene that causes white hair.
However, parti Yorkies are historically not new and have existed since the 1800s, during which they were considered “low-quality” dogs. They were said to be either euthanized or given away to save a breeder’s reputation.
It wasn’t until 1984 that a German breeder couple started breeding Yorkshire Terriers with black, white, and tan coloring. These would eventually become the Biewer Yorkshire Terrier, now a separate breed.
6. Chocolate Yorkie
Unlike a standard Yorkshire Terrier that is black at birth, chocolate Yorkies possess brown coats from day one. This chocolate coat is deep, solid brown with a tinge of black in appearance. It’s among the rare Yorkie colors.
Though there’s no concrete history as to how a chocolate Yorkie started, there are some theories. Among these is that some Yorkies have been mixed with a dog that has the recessive brown (b) allele like a Dachshund.
From here, a chocolate Yorkie puppy would be born after a parti Yorkie is crossed with another parti or standard Yorkshire Terrier that both have the recessive genes associated with the brown coat.
Whichever is the truth, purebred chocolate Yorkies are quite rare. Remember that if you see a Yorkshire Terrier with various shades of brown in a predominantly white coat, that is called a chocolate parti Yorkie.
Since it’s typical for the chocolate coat to fade to a lighter shade of brown like tan, some people think a chocolate Yorkie is a variant of a tan Yorkie.
In fact, this Yorkie color can be registered with the AKC as chocolate/tan or liver/tan. However, these pups cannot be shown during dog conformation events as they do not officially conform to the breed standard.
7. Golden Yorkie
Golden Yorkies are those that appear almost completely gold or tan with only a limited presence of blue or black in their bodies. This variant is perhaps known to others as a blonde Yorkie.
Usually, a golden Yorkie puppy will exhibit a solid gold coat with white markings or a darker shade like tan. Upon maturity, the puppy hairs lighten and create a golden hue that can range from light blond to vibrant gold.
That said, a Golden Yorkie is extremely rare for a Yorkie coat color. For one, it’s uncommon for a Yorkshire Terrier coat to have a solid coloring, but it does happen.
And if it does, there should be a predominance of the phaeomelanin gene which is the red pigment responsible for canine colors like gold and tan. For this variant, the dark to light brown eyes and nose of a Yorkie are preserved.
However, since both Yorkshire Terrier parents need to be golden to pass down particular genes to their offspring, doubts have been raised on whether gold Yorkies could legitimately be purebreds.
What’s certain is that purebred Yorkies could have gold or tan as the predominant color in their bodies compared to blue during their adult years, especially past the three-year mark.
8. Red-Legged Yorkie
Also among the rare Yorkie colors is a red or red-legged Yorkie. Unlike a typical Yorkie puppy who normally turns blue and gold, this variant is born with black and a dark shade that appears like red and stays that way.
Red-legged Yorkies bear a deep, shiny black and rich, glossy red in their coats. Another defining physical attribute is that their coats will be wiry or wavier and less silky than a normal Yorkie.
The red is usually present on a dog’s belly and is especially more prominent around its chin, chest, and legs.
Additionally, the puppy coat of red-legged Yorkies doesn’t grow out as long as traditional Yorkshire Terriers. The famous floor-length coat of Yorkshire Terriers might also not be achieved for both areas covered in red and black.
Now the questions are, is a red-legged Yorkie purebred and why does this variant have all these deviations from a usual Yorkie coat? The respective answers to these are: yes, and it’s because of genetics.
A red Yorkie has what is called a “throwback” gene, which makes its physical traits more aligned with its ancient predecessors, going back to at least five generations. This is called a genetic jump, which is quite a rarity.
Moreover, a red-legged Yorkie is said to be valued by earnest and longtime Yorkshire Terrier breeders.
Since the faded and silky coats of adult Yorkies can appear dulled and overly thin over generations, these breeders would use red Yorkies to bring strong color and excellent texture to future litters.
Yorkie Breed Standards & Disqualifications
Like other dog breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier has an official set of standards put forth by its national breed club, which is the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America (YTCA). This is used as a baseline for dog conformation events.
Color-wise, the standard for the Yorkshire Terrier breed states that Yorkie puppies should be born black and tan, with the darker color seen in the body. Until the time of maturity, black could intermingle with tan.
For an adult Yorkshire Terrier, the body color and abundance of tan on the head and legs are very important. The tan/blue also have individual specifications.
A dark steel blue color appearance is accepted, meaning it must not look silver-blue or mixed with fawn, bronzy, or black hairs.
This color should be seen in the body from the back of the dog’s neck to the base of its tail, where the blue is darker, especially towards the tip.
Meanwhile, the tan should be darker at the roots than the middle and even lighter at the tips. No black hair should be combined with the tan.
The vivid golden tan should be present on the Yorkshire Terrier’s head. More intense shades should be observed at the sides of the head, the ears’ roots, and the muzzle. No tan should be present down the dog’s back neck.
Ideally, the presence of tan around the Yorkie’s chest and legs should also not exceed above its elbow on the forelegs nor its stifle on the back legs.
The Yorkshire Terrier standard also disqualifies any solid coat color or color combinations aside from blue and tan. A pup that has a white marking beyond an inch on the fore chest will also be disqualified.
This means that parti, chocolate, red, and golden Yorkies will not be allowed to show during conformation events.
Do Yorkie Colors Affect Behavior and Health?
In general, there is no empirical data that directly links a dog’s color to its behavior. The same is true for Yorkshire Terriers, meaning their behavior is likely determined by training and socialization, among other things.
On the contrary, there are health-related concerns that can be attributed to color, as explained by genetics. An example of this is a blue-born Yorkie.
Blue Yorkies are those that are born blue upon birth, which is against the breed standard of puppies being born tan-black. They carry two copies of the recessive dilute gene, which should not be present in Yorkshire Terriers.
Sadly, blue-born Yorkies normally don’t survive long. If they do live past the time that Yorkies usually change from black to blue, the blue puppy hairs fall off, exposing leathery skin that is extremely painful for the dog.
Although very few accounts of blue-born Yorkies who went on to live normal lives exist, these dogs have mostly been noted to be more prone to acquire illnesses. This is why most blue-born Yorkies are euthanized.
Since a blue-born Yorkie is born that way due to the recessive gene from both its parents, any responsible breeder would spay or neuter these dogs and even the blue-born’s littermates to avoid passing down the gene.
Do Yorkie Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?
Many breeds experience color changes as they mature, and the Yorkshire Terrier is not an exception to this. As discussed in this article, a Yorkie’s coat color is expected to fade, as it possesses the greying gene.
This explains why a Yorkie puppy born with black and tan coloring almost always turns blue and gold. It is also the reason behind other variations like blue and tan as well as black and gold.
Typically, this change in a Yorkshire Terrier begins around six months after birth. The timeline could vary per dog, but the conversion happens gradually and could take anywhere between two and three years to complete.
As a Yorkie breeder for more than seven years, this has always been one of the major challenges, especially when it comes to registering their colors or providing feedback for clients asking what colors of Yorkies are available when they are still at a very early stage.
I have personally seen how the change in colors happens. As they are born, they are mostly black, then transition to a common shade of black and tan a few weeks later. However, this is where it gets tricky because they can still change colors as they reach their 4th to 6th month.
At first, I had to deal with a lot of color changes in their registration and had to do a lot of explaining to those who got puppies from me. However, I learned to adjust to registering Yorkie puppies much later and set expectations properly with clients on their puppies’ colors.
What Color Will My Yorkie Puppy Be?
According to breed standards, there are only four official Yorkie colors, which were explained in detail in the previous sections. These color combinations are typically indicative of a purebred Yorkie.
However, other rare Yorkie colors do exist, and their very existence proves that trying to predict coat colors is usually futile. It also goes without saying that the color transition in Yorkies makes color guessing especially harder.
That said, the genetics surrounding Yorkies suggests that more often than not, a black and tan Yorkie puppy will most likely end up being a blue and gold adult Yorkie, assuming it expresses the greying gene.
In short, the only surefire way to find out what color a Yorkie will be is through genetic testing. These types of tests could also determine potential diseases that your dog may develop, as well as its bloodline.
For example, an all-black Yorkie puppy would most probably reveal a mixed lineage since a purebred black Yorkshire Terrier is not possible. “Black Yorkies” are most likely the cross of a Yorkie and a dog with black hair.
Of course, there is generally nothing wrong with Yorkie hybrids. The point is, genetic testing should expose breeders who are marketing an all-black Yorkie as a purebred.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Rarest Yorkie Color?
Chocolate, golden, and red Yorkies are all rare colors for this breed, but among these, golden is probably the rarest. This variation is hard to come by since over 99% of traditional Yorkshire Terriers are black and tan. Moreover, a solid coat is quite uncommon for this breed as well.
What Is the Most Common Yorkie Color?
The most common Yorkie color would have to be blue and gold. This is the bi-color combination that most adult Yorkies will grow to have as the color transition is completed. However, black and tan is the most common color that most Yorkshire Terrier puppies are born with.
Can Purebred Yorkies Have White on Them?
Yes, purebred Yorkies can have white markings. This variation is more commonly known as parti or particolored.
Parti Yorkies are tri-color with blue, tan, and white as the most common combination. It’s easy to spot this variant, which typically has a white-dominated coat.
Despite questions about the lineage purity of a parti Yorkie, a 2000 study conducted by the AKC on 42 sires, dams, and litters revealed full-blooded Yorkies. This is why the AKC officially recognizes parti as an official Yorkie color.
Does the AKC Recognize White Yorkies?
No, the AKC does not recognize pure-white Yorkies, just like other major kennel clubs throughout the world. It does, however, accept registration for parti Yorkies, which have white in their coats.
At the same time, the Yorkie breed standards also accept no more than one inch of white marking on a Yorkie’s fore chest.
Yorkshire Terriers are lovely, compact dogs that possess essentially hypoallergenic coats. These are just some of the reasons why they’re preferred, but their unique color combinations are also appealing.
The American Kennel Club recognizes four standard colors for Yorkies, which are black and tan, blue and gold, blue and tan, and black and gold. A parti Yorkie is also considered a purebred, though not an official breed color.
Other possible Yorkie coat colors include chocolate, golden, and red-legged. These variations are all rare and come with controversies surrounding the purity of their lineages.
Generally, the Yorkie coat color doesn’t have a known connection to a dog’s behavior. A blue-born Yorkie is, however, more genetically predisposed to incur health-related problems that are usually fatal.
Do you fancy some of the traditional-colored Yorkies or the rarer ones? Let us know which of the Yorkie colors you prefer the most in the comments!