Why does my Yorkie shake

You may have noticed frequent quirking with your Yorkshire Terrier even when conditions are not really chilly. And you may be concerned if that’s a warning sign for an underlying medical condition that requires urgent intervention. If you are concerned, consult your vet immediately.

However, the truth of the matter is shaking, shivering, and trembling is in Yorkies is relatively common. Other small dogs such as the Chihuahua, Poodles and Jack Russells often share this trait.  However, it may well mean your dog requires some medical intervention. In this post, we shall uncover all the possible reasons that cause shaking in Yorkshire Terriers.

why do Yorkies shake

What causes shaking in Yorkies.

The frequent tremors and shaking in Yorkies can be caused by behavioral, environmental or medical factors. Some possible reasons your Yorkie is shaking include;

  • over-excitement
  • pent up energy
  • they are cold
  • anxiety and stress
  • seizures
  • pain
  • old age
  • Hypoglycemia
  • nausea and not feeling well
  • etc

We will examine the three main categories and what you can do if action is required. Some times the shaking is nothing to be concerned about and simply a cute Yorkie trait.

Behavioral Causes of shaking in Yorkies

By behavioral causes, we are referring to physical behavior as well as emotional and psychological behaviors.

Vending pent up energy

Despite looking like a cute lapdog, the Yorkie is a terrier. Like all terriers that were bred to hunt and catch rats and vermin. They are high adrenaline and energetic. They require daily activity and exercise to release energy. For a guide on how to exercise a Yorkie see here.

Yorkshire Terriers are also intelligent and need mental stimulation and enrichment to challenge their minds. Releasing mental energy can tire a dog just as much as physical exercise.

In situations where a Yorkie has lots of mental and pent up energy in them but lack outlets for it, they may resort to shaking uncontrollably.


Yorkies can be very excitable. When they get into a state of high arousal and excitement they often start to shake. The trick to keeping a Yorkie calm is to catch this state early. Once they are highly aroused it becomes more difficult to settle them.

One way to calm a dog is to use what is known as a calm hold technique.

Calm Hold Technique

Simply place your hand on the side of your dog’s shoulder just holding them still. Don’t make eye contact with them and you don’t even need to say anything. You can hold your Yorkie by the collar if you wish to hold them in place with your other hand on the shoulder.

If you wish you can say something like “Relax” in a calm monotone unemotional tone. Once your Yorkshire Terrier has relaxed you can remove your hand.

Rub Stop Area

Another calming technique is to gently rub the stop area of your Yorkie. The stop is the area on the bridge of the muzzle between the eyes. Rubbing here releases endorphins to the dog’s brain giving them a calming and relaxing feeling. Rubbing where the ear meets the skull is is another spot that has numerous nerve endings and releases endorphins.

Give them a chew toy

Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs and has many benefits. These include keeping your dog occupied and helping with dental health. However, one of the main benefits of chewing for a dog is that it is extremely relaxing.

When a dog chews it releases endorphins to their brain making them feel happy, calm and releases stress. For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys for your Yorkshire Terrier see here.

Anxiety or fear

The most common cause of anxiety in a Yorkie is fear or uncertainty. This may be the result of fireworks, a change in circumstances, or even separation. When a Yorkie is anxious they may start to shake. For a guide to anxiety in Yorkies see here.

Some ways to help reduce anxiety in your Yorkie include;

ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser for Dogs

This is a diffuser you plug into a power outlet that releases dog appeasing pheromones that give then a calm feeling. To us, these scents are odorless and are only perceived by dogs and provide a strong signal of security and comfort. The diffuser will cover an area of up to 700 sq. ft. It comes with a diffuser head and a vile that lasts up to 30 days. Replacement viles are also available on Amazon

Rescue Remedy

This is a well known homeopathic remedy that has been around for 80 years. It is quite commonly used by humans to feel relaxed, calm and stress-free. As a dog groomer, I have used Rescue remedy with great success when working with highly anxious dogs. Easy to use as you just put a drop or two on the tongue.

Environmental Causes of shaking in Yorkies

The most common environmental reason why your Yorkshire Terrier could be shaking and shivering is due to cold conditions.  Yorkies only have a fine coat and lack a heavy undercoat like many breeds.

They are also small in size, which means they do not have so much of body fat they can burn during chilly conditions to produce body heat. This explains why winter can easily take a toll on them, necessitating trembling.

Usually, the shaking mechanism is believed to trigger the production of heat in the body. This heat is meant to offset the chilly conditions and regulate the Yorkshire Terriers’ temperature.

If your Yorkie is feeling the cold you can put a dog jacket on them or keep them inside unless they are active and running around. Exercise will naturally increase their body temperature.

Medical Causes of shaking in Yorkies

If your Yorkies shaking seems out of the ordinary or is continuous there may be a medical reason for it. If you have any doubts that your Yorkshire Terriers shaking is more than a natural behavior such as a response to excitement or being cold consult your vet.

These are some of the potential medical causes that shaking may be a symptom off.


The first health-related cause of Yorkie shaking is a condition known as hypoglycemia. Basically, hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by a low blood sugar level. As you probably already know, intense physical exercise is linked to a drop in blood sugar.

Though you want your Yorkie to maintain its active, playful nature, it is important to remember they might suffer from hypoglycemia as a result. The case is often worsened when your Yorkie also has irregular eating habits, as this means there are no clear mechanisms of replenishing the depleted blood sugar. Most hypoglycemic shaking episodes last 15 to 20 minutes but could be longer for smaller and/or younger dogs.


Nausea and not feeling well is also a common cause for Yorkie tremors. Your dog could be feeling nauseated from eating something his body does not agree with. However, many cases of nausea may be a symptom of a medical condition.

Shaker Syndrome

This is an autoimmune common medical condition causing trembling in your dog. Shaker Syndrome is also known as idiopathic cerebellitis, which means it is an inflammation of the cerebellum [the part of your dog’s brain in charge of the coordination of all voluntary muscular movements].

The condition is characterized by generalized head and full body tremors. Shaker syndrome is also marked by involuntary rhythmic and repetitive tremors. The tremors could range from very feeble to potentially incapacitating.

You will also notice that tremors improve with eating and rest, but worsen with excitement and exercise. If not diagnosed and treated in time, the shaking could progress to vision problems such as nystagmus, a condition marked by rhythmic back-and-forth eye movement.

Addison’s Disease

Basically, Addison’s disease manifests itself in canines nearly the same way it does in humans. Also known as adrenal insufficiency, the disorder occurs due to a deficiency in certain hormone

In most cases, the disease leads to an under-secretion of cortisol and aldosterone by your Yorkies adrenal glands. Apart from shaking, other symptoms of Addison’s disease include irritability, generalized fatigue, weight loss, muscle or joint pains as well as gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Addison’s disease is normally characterized by extremely low blood pressure, hyperkalemia [high level of blood potassium] and hyponatremia [low levels of sodium in blood]. The disease often gets worse when the dog is exposed to further stressful situations such as panic, intense activity, and other medical conditions.


Myokymia is an involuntary and spontaneous shaking condition that affects certain muscles or bundles of muscles. It is often localized, to mean it normally targets specific muscles at a time.

It could affect any muscles in your Yorkshire Terrier; from the leg muscles to the neck and even the eye muscles. The condition is commonly caused by too much anxiety, dehydration, fatigue, lack of sleep and too much exercise.

Apart from these major conditions, the following are some more medical causes of trembling in your Yorkie.

Scotty cramp – These are muscle cramps that are triggered by intense exercise or excitement.

Myelodysplasia – Poor brain development causing coordination issues.

Epileptic seizures – Seizures resulting from recurrent brain injury, but could also be idiopathic.

Hydrocephalus – The accumulation of fluid inside the brain.

Congenital Myasthenia Gravis – Very severe weakness and degeneration of muscles.

If you are concerned that your Yorkie has any of these medical conditions it is best not to try to self diagnose. Consult your vet.

Summary – Why do Yorkies shake

There are so many possible causes of trembling or shaking in Yorkshire Terriers. If you have any doubts about what is causing your Yorkie to shake you should consult a vet as soon as possible. Though you may want to diagnose the cause and apply remedies on your own, it is always wiser to consult a veterinary expert.

They will not only treat the symptoms but also diagnose any underlying medical conditions and prescribe the right treatment plan.

More Yorkshire Terrier related posts

How to exercise a Yorkie

The best type of toys for Yorkies

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