Yorkies are a quirky breed for many reasons, and their eating habits are no exception. Some will eat like a Lab, chowing down everything you put in front of them. Others can be picky eaters, turning up their nose at a surprising number of foods. This has been my experience with my Yorkie, Max.
Whichever type your dog is, the key to a healthy Yorkie diet is managing both the quality and quantity of their food, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each dog is unique, and it will take a bit of experimentation to find the right balance for your pup.
Thankfully, some basic guidelines will help you determine a proper, balanced feeding schedule for your Yorkie. Read on to learn about how much to feed the Yorkie puppy in your life.
In this guide:
- How much should a Yorkie eat?
- Printable Yorkie puppy feeding schedule
- Be careful about overfeeding your Yorkie
- FAQs about Yorkie feeding
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How much should a Yorkie eat?
In general, Yorkies should eat between ¼ cup and ½ cup of food daily—about 150–200 calories. You should spread these calories across two to four meals. However, the precise amount of food your Yorkie should eat and the number of meals they should have will depend on their age and other factors.
When deciding how much to feed a Yorkie puppy, you need to pay special attention to the life-stage nutritional needs of their current age. As a dog moves from the puppy stage to adulthood to the senior years, their calorie needs will change.
How much to feed a Yorkie puppy
Newborn to 4 weeks
Newborn Yorkies undergo rapid changes. One week they can’t see or walk, and the next, they’re a curious, wobbly, young puppy beginning to explore the world around them.
This intense growth should be fueled solely by the calorie- and nutrient-rich milk that a new mother dog produces. Do not feed a newborn Yorkie any solid foods.
5 to 6 weeks old (½ lb. to 1 ½ lbs.)
At around 5 weeks, you may notice a puppy’s mother beginning the very early stages of weaning. She’ll gradually show less patience with the nursing pups and may allow less time for them to nurse.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to begin introducing solid foods. Initially, create a mash of high-quality wet puppy food and a small amount of kibble softened by water, and place it in the puppies’ living space each day.
Be prepared for lots of messy puppies. The difference between ‘food dish’ and ‘play place’ is not immediately apparent, and you’ll wipe off plenty of puppy paws and faces during this stage.
Interest in this food will vary from puppy to puppy, but they will all take notice over the next week or two as they investigate and grow accustomed to this new food source.
As the puppies begin consuming more of the food, slowly serve dryer kibble to help the puppies acclimate to crunchy textures and different tastes.
By week 6, a puppy should be consuming wet dog food easily and snacking on dry kibble regularly.
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2 to 4 months old (1 ½ lbs. to 3 lbs.)
As week 8 arrives, a puppy should be fully or nearly weaned from their mother’s milk. Given the opportunity, a puppy will still nurse, but by this time, they should be able to survive on solid foods alone. It is also at this stage when most Yorkie puppies go to live in their new home, so the mother’s milk may not be an option.
Some larger dogs will do better with set meal times at this stage. However, Yorkies are such a small breed that they frequently fight blood-sugar swings and hypoglycemia between feedings, so kibble should be free-fed in the puppy’s pen at all times.
Because your Yorkie puppy is undergoing rapid growth but is no longer nursing, their daily diet should consist of 175 to 200 calories of a high-quality puppy formula kibble.
Keep up with regular vet checkups during your Yorkie puppy’s first year of life to make sure they are on track for body weight and growth.
5 to 9 months old (3 lbs. to 5+ lbs.)
At this stage, most of a puppy’s growth spurts are behind them. They’ll continue to fill out in the chest and muscular mass slowly, but your pup will be at or nearing full-grown by 9 months old.
Keep in mind that each dog is different, and their genetics, not the amount of food they eat, will determine how fast and how big they grow. Some pups will eat more than others, and your primary concern as a dog parent is to avoid overfeeding them, which could lead to life-threatening obesity.
Feeding times should be consistent at this stage, and—under the guidance of your veterinarian—you can begin gradually transitioning your pup off of puppy formula kibble and over to an adult formula dog food.
If your pup is a ‘grazer’ who does not gobble down all of their food at once, you can probably continue free-feeding. Just keep a close eye on how much your pup eats and resist the temptation to simply refill their dish if they’ve consumed a day’s worth of food already.
Yorkie puppy feeding schedule
Forgot how many times you fed your pup today? Click the image to print or download a free Yorkie puppy feeding schedule. It will tell you how much to feed your pup and help you stay on track with their daily meals.
How often do I feed my Yorkie puppy?
If you have a puppy who tends to eat everything in sight and free-feeding is not an option, now is the time to transition them to three to four small meals a day.
Multiple meal times will keep them from getting too hungry between feedings and will also combat hypoglycemia if your dog is still prone to it. Scheduled meals also tend to have the side benefit of creating more predictable bathroom breaks, so you can time daily walks to take care of those needs.
Spread the day’s food across the feeding times, keeping meal times and amounts consistent to establish expectations. This will give your pup confidence that the next meal is always around the corner and reduce stress as they transition to a new schedule.
How much to feed an adult Yorkie
As your puppy approaches adulthood, between 1- to 1 ½-years-old, their appetite will slowly stabilize.1
A typical adult Yorkshire Terrier weighing 5 to 7 lbs. will eat about 150 to 175 calories a day. This calorie count translates into roughly ½ cup of dry dog food each day.
However, keep in mind that different brands and forms of food will have varying calorie counts, so you should always consult dog food labels for precise serving sizes.
How much to feed a teacup Yorkie
Feeding a so-called teacup Yorkie is essentially the same as feeding any other adult Yorkie. With regular daily walks and good health, a teacup Yorkie should maintain their adult weight with approximately 140 to 160 calories a day.
Feeding unusually small dogs does come with a few precautions, however.
Very small adult dogs will tend to be more sensitive to blood sugar swings, and hypoglycemia can be an even bigger threat. Regular meals spread throughout the day or free feeding will be especially important for these smaller dogs and should help stabilize their blood sugar levels.
Due to poor breeding and other health conditions, teacup Yorkies often have more profound dental issues. If you have a small Yorkie who has lost many of their teeth, you will need to be careful to select smaller kibble size, or possibly wet canned food, that will be easier for your pup to consume.
Tiny dogs may also be more sensitive to bowel obstructions, so careful consideration should be given when picking treats for your Yorkie. Avoid anything that can splinter or prove difficult to digest. Such treats can spell big trouble for little Yorkies, especially those that are considered ‘teacup’ size.
How much to feed a nursing Yorkie with puppies
The AAFCO has determined that dog food should be a minimum of 22.5% crude protein for pregnant or nursing females.2 For this reason, many pet parents will switch their Yorkie to a puppy food if the dog has recently given birth and is nursing a litter.
It is often a good idea to switch a lactating Yorkie to free-feeding and make sure a supply of kibble is available at all times. Nursing mothers may have a hard time consuming adequate calories to produce enough milk, especially for larger litters, and making food constantly available can help keep their milk production stable.
How much to feed a senior Yorkie
An area of significant confusion is senior dogs and their dietary needs. Dr. Lisa Freeman of Tufts University Clinical Nutrition Service frequently sees unhealthy weight gain or loss, often finding that “the cause of the problem is the dog’s having been switched to a senior diet.”3
Rather than putting too much stock in the gimmicky marketing that is behind many of the so-called ‘senior dog’ formulas, pet parents should focus on simply providing high-quality adult food and maintaining a healthy weight range. If you do transition your pup to a senior pet food formula, make sure it doesn’t compromise on protein levels or ingredients.
If concerning weight fluctuations are present in your senior Yorkie, the best first step is consulting with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes.
Be careful about overfeeding your Yorkie
One of the challenges of feeding a small dog breed like the Yorkshire Terrier is the temptation to overfeed. Because Yorkies eat a relatively small amount per day, it is easy to overestimate how much they need. Overfeeding can lead to an overweight dog, of course, but it can also cause a host of other health conditions for Yorkies.
Some dogs tend to overeat naturally, gobbling down everything in sight and begging for more. Others are far pickier and better at self-regulating.
If you have a pup that tends to overeat, it is important to track how much food you give them each day—including treats and table scraps—to tell the difference between an underfed pup and one that is simply begging for treats.
FAQs about Yorkie feeding
Is it healthy for a Yorkie to eat a cup of food a day
No. The average cup of dog food contains around 375 calories, and this amount is roughly twice the number of calories a typical Yorkie should be eating daily.
Exact amounts will differ from dog to dog, but most average-sized Yorkshire Terriers will consume between ¼ and ½ cup of kibble a day.
This amount will vary depending on the brand, so you need to pay attention to the kcal count of the food you choose for your Yorkie.
What kind of food do Yorkie puppies eat
Most food manufacturers make food specially formulated for growing puppies. Puppy formulas average 5 to 7% more kcals per cup to meet the energy needs of a young dog. A growing Yorkie puppy will generally need to eat a bit more than an adult, consuming closer to 200 calories per day.
One of the best brands of kibble for a Yorkie puppy is the well-balanced Orijen Puppy line. This high protein food is made in the USA, packed with a wide range of nutrients and high-quality ingredients, and gives your puppy a good balance of protein, fats, and Omega fatty acids.
>> Read more: Yorkie Foods: What Do They Eat & What to Avoid
Help! My Yorkie puppy won’t eat
Yorkies can be notorious food snobs and picky eaters. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right brand for your pup.
Transition their food gradually
Always introduce new foods slowly and in small quantities. A puppy may take a few tries before they warm up to a new food, and you’ll see the best results if you gradually mix it with their old brand of food as you transition them to a new diet.
Hold back on treats during food transitions
Also, reduce the number of treats you give your pup for a couple of days, and make sure they are working up an appetite with plenty of play and exercise.
Add moisture to their kibble or try hand-feeding
Sometimes, adding a bit of moisture to new kibble can help a puppy overcome their aversion to a new food. Hand-feeding some of the new kibble between meals as a ‘treat’ is another excellent way to introduce new food to a hesitant eater.
A well-fed Yorkie is a happy Yorkie
Don’t be cheap when it comes to your dog’s nutrition. Make sure you feed them a high-quality diet that doesn’t rely on chemical preservatives or over-processed ingredients, like beef or chicken meal. Also, always keep an eye out for overeating and unhealthy weight gain. Consult with your veterinarian if your Yorkie puppy won’t eat, or if you have any questions about your puppy’s weight.
Want to give your pup the best dog food money can buy? Check out these reviews:
- Pitcairn, R. H., & Pitcairn, S. H. (2017). Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs & cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
- AAFCO Methods for Substantiating Nutritional Adequacy of Dog and Cat Foods
- tuftsyourdog.com: How to Choose a Food for Your Senior Dog