What Are Yorkie Knee Problems?

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As a dog owner, some of the most defeating challenges are medical conditions your pet is predisposed to suffer from. When it comes to Yorkies, they mainly suffer from luxating patella at some point in life and other related conditions. Today I look into what are Yorkie’s knee problems.

What Are Yorkie Knee Problems?

There are several Yorkie knee problems. The three most common Yorkie knee problems are: luxating patella, osteoarthritis, and torn CCL. The presence of either of these problems could cause the other, leading to comorbidity.

A black and brown colored Yorkshire Terrier walking on a green grass field in the park

Don’t worry, because these knee problems are treatable medically and can also be non-medically intervened to ease pain and progress of the problems. Start treatment at once if you notice something wrong with your Yorkie’s knee that doesn’t seem to heal.

Luxating Patella

This is simply a dislocated knee cap. Similar to the ‘trick knee’ in humans, It happens when the kneecap moves out of its usual groove on the large upper leg bone called the femur. It is commonly observed in elderly Yorkies and manifests in young ones just weeks old.

The observation here will be that your dog won’t be able to move or extend its knee as it should cause an abnormal gait or limp. At times the kneecap slips in and out of the groove and can cause trauma and subsequent complications.

The displacement can occur either towards the inside of the knee or towards the outside of the knee on either leg. The condition is, however, not always painful, especially in the early stages and in puppies. Its treatment eventually entails surgical operation.


  • Limping
  • Dog licking on the joint
  • A loosely held kneecap
  • Unusual bending of the leg
  • Walking stiffly as though in pain
  • Holding up the affected leg while walking
  • The dog sitting with its knee popping outward
  • Frequent kicking off the leg backward in an attempt to pop the knee back
A brown and black Yorkshire Terrier wearing a white handkerchief with red leaves design sitting on black tiles


These fall under two main categories congenital anatomical defects and physical trauma. It, however, takes many forms:

  • A malformed tibia
  • A femur with unusual angulation and rotation
  • Tight or atrophied quadriceps pulling on the kneecap
  • Lengthy and loose patella ligaments
  • Defective hip joint


A veterinarian usually does a physical exam as well as taking x-ray exams to know that it is the disease.


The physical tests will help categorize the condition according to the following grades.

  • Grade I The kneecap freely pops in and out of position as the dog moves around.
  • Grade II – The kneecap/patella occasionally moves from its usual groove; however, it can be manipulated back in place.
  • Grade III – Permanent dislocation of the kneecap, and when forcefully popped into place, it displaces on its own.
  • Grade IV – The patella falls out of place and cannot be manipulated back into position.

Torn Cruciate Care Ligament (CCL)

When the cruciate care ligament gets torn, like your anterior cruciate ligament, Yorkie becomes in pain and unable with the affected leg. This may result from trauma that may be due to impact or vigorous motion, such as during running.

It is the leading cause of degenerative joint disease in dogs. Treatment entails surgery, pain prevention, weight control, and rest. This, however, needs to be started within the first few weeks for it to be successful.


Common even in humans, this is a stiffness of the joint, in this case, the knees of your dog. It is a high-risk factor among older and overweight Yorkies. The ailment may take the form of osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. This happens when the knee joint progressively inflames due to wear and tear of the cartilage.

It may result from friction or may develop as a complication from surgical repair treatment of CCL or luxating patella. Treatment entails anti-inflammatory meds, supplements, and chondroprotectants.

Two brown and black Yorkshire Terriers sitting on a white flooring

Related Questions

How Can One Prevent Their Yorkie From Knee Problems?

The only sure way of preventing your Yorkie from knee problems is by contacting the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). They will then connect you to a breeder from their database whose dogs are certified free of likely conditions such as patellar luxation.

How Long Can a Yorkie Live With Luxating Patella?

A Yorkie can live the full extent of its life with the condition; however, it will lead a sad and uncomfortable life due to the pain and impaired walking. Keeping the dog in this state may make the disease severity and cause infections.

Can Luxating Patella Correct Itself?

Luxating patella does not correct itself. Because of this, it is considered a lifelong disease that, unless your dog gets correctional treatment, will die having it. If your dog gets the condition, seek medical help soon to prevent suffering pain and long-term disability.


They say prevention is better than cure. One way to keep your Yorkie safe from knee problems is by giving proper diets, needed appropriate exercises, and regular screening with doctors to stay ahead of their development. If your dog develops a knee problem, seek medical care in time and all will be well.