A Yorkipoo is a mix of a Yorkshire Terrier and a Poodle, or more rarely the offspring of two Yorkie/Poodle mixes bred with each other. The idea behind combining theses breeds is to tone down the independence and stubbornness of the Yorkie with the trainability and affectionate nature of the Poodle, as well as to develop a coat that sheds little. When this works as advertised, the Yorkipoo should be friendly, people-oriented and easy to train. They're almost impossibly cute as puppies, with their twinkling eyes, sassy attitude, and great playfulness.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

A Yorkipoo from an irresponsible or inexperienced source can be a mess of the combined genetic problems of his ancestors, without the benefit of the kind of health and temperament testing done by good breeders. That can mean a snappy, noisy tyrant of a dog with a wide variety of costly health problems.

Yorkipoos are usually very tiny, so while a well-bred dog will probably like children and other dogs, care needs to be taken that he isn't hurt by rough play. The boldness that comes from the Yorkie side might make him foolish in challenging dogs much larger than himself, so keep him on a leash when around large dogs.

Yorkipoos are first and foremost companion dogs, and cannot live outdoors. They need to live in the house with your and your family. They're also known as barkers, so nip any sign of nuisance barking in the bud. Consider whether your situation allows a certain amount of barking before bringing a Yorkipoo into your family.

Generally, Yorkipoos are around 10 pounds and have a slightly scruffy coat, although it can also, like the Poodle's coat, be curly. His grooming needs will vary depending on his coat, but all Yorkipoos need regular, even daily, brushing. Those with the curlier Poodle coat require grooming every 4-6 weeks. Some owners learn to use the clippers and do the job themselves, but most rely on professional groomers. Either way, it's essential to take proper care of the coat, because without regular grooming it will quickly become a matted mess that can cause painful skin infections at the roots of the hair.

Your Yorkipoo's ears need to be kept clean and dry. Trapped moisture in the ear canal can lead to bacterial and fungal infections, and repeated infections can cause so much damage to the ear canal that the dog will lose his hearing. Severely affected ears may require surgery to control the infections.

As is the case with many purebred dogs as well, it can be extremely difficult to find an ethical breeder who is dedicated to producing healthy, temperamentally sound pets from genetically tested backgrounds. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that almost no ethical Yorkshire Terrier or Poodle breeders will allow their dogs to be used in breeding Cocker/Poodle mixes, and it can be quite difficult for Yorkipoo breeders to continue to find Poodles and Cockers to use to produce new generations of Yorkipoos.

However, there are the rare Yorkipoo breeders who are genuinely trying to produce healthy companions and family dogs, who want to combine the intelligence, trainability and non-shedding coat of the Poodle with the bright, bold nature of the Yorkshire Terrier.

Variations of the Yorkipoo

Crossbred puppies like the Yorkipoo -- even within the same litter -- can look very different from each other, and can look the same as or different from their parents. The Yorkipoo is usually extremely small, but his size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level and health risks can vary depending on what traits of the two breeds an individual puppy has inherited from his parents.

Health Issues Common to Yorkipoos

Yorkipoos are susceptible to the health problems of both the Yorkshire Terrier and the Poodle, although possibly at a lower rate than purebred dogs. Purebred or crossbred, very small dogs can have some very big health problems, and others that are minor but still require care. Yorkipoos can suffer from the condition known as a "collapsing trachea," where the windpipe becomes weak and closes off, making it hard for the dog to breathe. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is also a common problem, especially in very small dogs and in puppies.

Tiny mouths frequently mean there's no room for proper development of teeth, and it's essential that Yorkipoo owners get regular veterinary dental care for their dogs.

The kneecaps of most very small dogs, including the Yorkipoo, can very easily become displaced, a defect known as "luxating patellas." Ask your veterinarian to examine your dog's knees regularly, especially if you notice him limping or "hopping" while running.

Yorkshire Terriers have a high incidence of a liver defect known as "porto-systemic shunt," which can only be treated with expensive surgery, and Yorkipoos are at risk of this condition as well.

Like many small dogs, the Yorkipoo can suffer from Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Dogs with this condition have reduced blood supply to the head of the rear leg bone, which then begins to shrink. It usually shows up by the time the dog is around 6 months old, and the first sign is limping. While it can be treated with surgery, affected Yorkipoos are at great risk of developing arthritis later in life. The sooner it's caught and treated, the greater the chances the dog will have a full recovery.

Yorkipoos are also at risk of certain types of bladder stones, hair loss, ingrown eyelashes, and many different eye disorders including cataracts and glaucoma. Make sure to have your Yorkipoo's eyes examined once a year by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist, and seek veterinary care immediately at any signs of cloudiness, redness, itching or irritation of the eyes, or if the dog is squinting or pawing at them.

Your puppy's breeder should be able to provide you with documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) that your puppy's parents are free of Legg-Calve-Perthes, luxating patellas, and thyroid disease. She should also have test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her dogs are clear of genetic eye disorders known to occur in the Yorkshire Terrier and the Poodle.

7 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Yorkipoo Puppy

Do not under any circumstances buy your Yorkipoo puppy from a pet store, nor from a breeder who sells puppies to a pet store or through any kind of third party retailer.

Make sure you seek a breeder who is less interested in the capitalizing on the fad of designer dogs with cute names and is more interested in crossbreeding for the sake of reducing the incidence of certain hereditary problems. Careless breeding, or the idea of that "crossbreeding" somehow magically eliminates genetic disease, can result in puppies with serious genetic problems.

Before you buy a Yorkipoo, take a look at the Code of Ethics of the Poodle Club of America and that of the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, and see if the breeder or seller can live up to its standards.

Don't accept excuses and lies like, "I know my dogs are healthy because the vet checked them," or "I don't have those problems in my lines," or "Those problems only affect purebred dogs." Those are the standard lines of a bad and irresponsible breeder. Wishful thinking is no substitute for genetic testing and ethical breeding practices.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, and Yorkipoos aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out.

Puppy or adult, take your Yorkipoo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, particularly thyroid, skin, ear and other problems common to the Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Yorkipoos

Even if you find a good breeder, your Yorkipoo is still at risk of accidents and various illnesses. There is no guarantee that the puppy will be free of the hereditary conditions common in the breeds of its parents, so it is always a good idea to insure your pet.

While Yorkipoos are not purebred dogs, these hybrids or crossbreeds are more likely than mixed breeds to make claims for some hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat. Therefore, their insurance will cost slightly more than for mixed breeds, but as much as for purebreds.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Yorkipoos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Yorkipoo is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.