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Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by Scott Allen

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The Diverse Palette of the Yorkshire Terrier: Exploring Color Variations

The Yorkshire Terrier, a toy breed renowned for its vivacious personality and elegant appearance, also boasts a variety of coat colors. While the traditional blue and tan is well-known, Yorkies come in a range of shades that may surprise enthusiasts and potential owners alike. This article will delve into the different color variations of Yorkshire Terriers, the genetics behind them, and what prospective owners should know.

Introduction to Yorkshire Terrier Colors

Yorkshire Terriers are often recognized for their beautiful, silky coats. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes four official color combinations for the Yorkshire Terrier, but there are also several other variations that are not officially recognized but do occur.

Officially Recognized Colors

  • Black and Tan: Puppies are born with this coloration, which typically changes as they mature.
  • Blue and Tan: The classic and most common coloration for adult Yorkies.
  • Blue and Gold: A variation where the tan is replaced with a lighter, more golden color.
  • Black and Gold: Less common, with gold replacing the tan in the black and tan combination.

Genetics of Yorkshire Terrier Coat Colors

The color of a Yorkshire Terrier’s coat is determined by its genetics. Specific genes dictate whether a Yorkie will be black, blue, tan, or gold.

Table 1: Genetic Markers and Coat Colors

Gene Color Description
B (Black) Black Dominant gene that results in a primarily black coat.
b (Blue) Blue Recessive gene that dilutes black to blue.
G (Gold) Gold Gene that influences the richness of the tan or gold color.

The Role of Genetics in Color Changes

Yorkshire Terrier puppies often undergo a color change as they mature, moving from their birth colors to their adult coat colors due to the expression of certain genes.

List of Genetic Influences:

  • Puppy Coat: The color of the coat at birth, which is often black and tan.
  • Adult Coat: The color the coat changes to as the dog matures, which can be influenced by the dilution gene.
  • Graying Gene: A gene that can cause the black in a Yorkie’s coat to lighten to blue over time.

Recognizing Color Changes in Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are known for changing colors as they grow. This process is gradual and can take up to three years to complete.

Table 2: Timeline of Color Changes in Yorkshire Terriers

Age Color Stage Description
Birth to 6 Months Puppy Coat Typically black and tan, which is the darkest stage.
6 to 12 Months Transition Phase The coat begins to lighten, particularly on the head and legs.
1 to 3 Years Adult Coat The final coat color is established, often blue and tan or blue and gold.

Factors That Can Affect Coat Color

Several factors can influence the final color of a Yorkshire Terrier’s coat, including nutrition, sunlight exposure, and grooming practices.

List of Influencing Factors:

  • Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to the sun can lighten the coat.
  • Nutrition: A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining the pigment in the coat.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming can impact the texture and color of the coat.

Unofficial Color Variations in Yorkshire Terriers

While not recognized by the AKC, there are several other color variations that Yorkshire Terriers can exhibit. These include but are not limited to Parti, Chocolate, and White.

Table 3: Unofficial Yorkshire Terrier Color Variations

Color Variation Description Occurrence
Parti White with black and tan patches. Rare and not recognized by the AKC.
Chocolate Brown or liver color instead of black/blue. Caused by a recessive gene.
White Predominantly white coat with some patches. Extremely rare and often linked to health issues.

The Controversy of Unofficial Colors

The breeding of Yorkshire Terriers for unofficial colors is controversial. Some breeders aim to produce these unique colors, while others focus on the health and standard of the breed.

List of Controversial Points:

  • Health Risks: Some color variations are associated with genetic health issues.
  • Breed Standard: Breeding for non-standard colors can deviate from the breed’s established standards.
  • Market Demand: Unusual colors can be in demand, sometimes leading to irresponsible breeding practices.


The Yorkshire Terrier’s coat color is a fascinating aspect of the breed, reflecting a complex interplay of genetics and breeding practices. While the AKC recognizes only four official color combinations, the existence of other colors adds to the diversity of this charming breed. Prospective owners should prioritize health and temperament over color and work with reputable breeders to ensure the well-being of their furry companion.


  1. American Kennel Club. (n.d.). Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Information. AKC
  2. Clark, A. (2018). The Yorkshire Terrier Handbook. Doral Publishing.
  3. Palika, L. (2009). The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties. Howell Book House.
  4. Wilcox, C., & Walkowicz, C. (1995). Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. TFH Publications.


  • American Kennel Club. (n.d.). Yorkshire Terrier.
  • Clark, A. (2018). The Yorkshire Terrier Handbook.
  • Palika, L. (2009). The Howell Book of Dogs.
  • Wilcox, C., & Walkowicz, C. (1995). _Atlas of