How Serious Is a Collapsed Trachea in a Yorkshire Terrier

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The trachea collapse is a health issue that affects the sturdy c-shaped cartridges that help keep the windpipe open for air to move freely in and out of the Yorkie lungs. So, how serious is a collapsed trachea in a Yorkshire Terrier?

How Serious Is a Collapsed Trachea in a Yorkshire Terrier?

Trachea collapse is a serious respiratory health issue for Yorkshire Terriers as it is progressive, chronic, and irreversible. It causes respiratory distress and breathing difficulties to Yorkshire Terriers, making them unable to exercise or play normally.

Graphic image of a Yorkie with a warning sign with a text explaining what causes collapsed trachea in Yorkshire Terriers

The trachea collapse condition can be fatal, and its treatment and management are less effective.

The trachea collapse condition is believed to be congenital, affecting the puppies right from birth due to cartridge changes. The affected Yorkshire Terriers can suffer for weeks or years before the symptoms become serious enough to decide to take the Yorkie to a vet surgeon.

What Causes a Collapsed Trachea in Yorkies?

In most cases, a collapsed trachea condition in Yorkies is genetic, and the problem develops over time, and the cartridge rings progressively become weak down the lineage. However, this condition is linked to other causes, including:

  • The high pressure exerted on the trachea when the Yorkie wears a collar while on a leash
  • Heart problems
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Chronic respiratory diseases

How Can I Know That My Yorkie Is Suffering From a Collapsed Trachea?

Yorkies with a nurse cap and stethoscope

Considering that a collapsed trachea affects the respiratory system, the common symptoms of a collapsed windpipe in Yorkies present themselves like respiratory diseases. Some of the signs that you might notice include:

  • The Yorkie becomes intolerant to exercises
  • Dry and harsh coughs 
  • Coughing when you apply some pressure on the neck or when you pick the Yorkie up 
  • Fainting 
  • Low energy 
  • Wheezing 
  • Weird breathing sounds 
  • Retching, gagging, and vomiting during coughs
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breathing difficulties 

How Is a Collapsed Trachea Condition Diagnosed in Yorkies?

Considering that a collapsed windpipe condition is mainly a genetic problem, the vet might start by asking you about the ancestral history of the Yorkie. If the history and the physical examination indicate that the dog might be suffering from a collapsed windpipe, the vet might carry out the following tests:  

Two yorkies looking up
  • General tests: The vet might start by conducting general tests such as heartworm testing, chemistry panel, blood count, and urinalysis. Typically, these tests help determine whether the coughing results from trachea problems or other infections.
  • Chest x-ray or thoracic radiographs: If the general test rules out infections, the problem is a collapsed windpipe. The vet will carry out a chest x-ray to determine whether the collapsed windpipe is within the chest or closer to the throat. 
  • Fluoroscopy: Fluoroscopy is an x-ray imaging technology that helps generate moving images of the trachea as your Yorkie breathes, allowing the vet examine the trachea in real-time
  • Bronchoscopy or tracheoscopy: In a tracheoscopy, a clinical instrument equipped with a camera for imaging is inserted into the dog’s windpipe to image and examine it. Typically, this test is conducted in a specialty hospital or clinic as it needs general anesthesia.

How Is a Collapsed Trachea Treated in Yorkies?

The collapsed windpipe problems can be treated through preventive care measures such as protecting your dog from airway irritants, using a harness during walks, and weight loss. The veterinarian might also prescribe the following medication to help reduce the inflammation and coughing.

Cough Suppressants

The vet might prescribe cough suppressants such as hydrocodone and butorphanol to help soothe the airways and reduce the inflammation and irritation that might worsen the coughing.


Bronchodilators such as albuterol, terbutaline, and theophylline can help open the air passages in the dog’s lungs, maximizing the amount of oxygen getting into the bloodstream. Although these medications can be administered as pills, it’s advisable to administer them in the inhaled form if the dog is in distress. 


Sedatives help control your Yorkie’s excitement, as collapsed windpipe symptoms tend to worsen when the dog gets excited. Some of the sedative medications that might be prescribed include acepromazine and butorphanol pills. 

Dogs playing with each other


Anti-inflammatory steroids like fluticasone and prednisone can help minimize the inflammation in the trachea. These medications can be administered in either inhalation or oral form. However, you’ll need a spacer when administering in inhalation form.

Related Questions 

Is Trachea Surgery for Yorkies Expensive?

Trachea surgery for Yorkies can be expensive, ranging from $3500 to $6500. Usually, the surgery will require a specialist surgeon and advanced veterinary hospital equipment and resources.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Yorkshire Terrier With a Collapsed Trachea? 

In most cases, a Yorkshire Terrier with a collapsed windpipe condition will survive for around two years. However, if the condition is diagnosed early and the Yorkie is taken for advanced treatment such as surgical operations, the lifespan can increase up to four years.

Final Thoughts

A collapsed trachea is a serious health condition with symptoms similar to other respiratory diseases. Although the condition is progressive and chronic, you can significantly improve the lifespan of your Yorkie by offering supportive care to help relieve the symptoms.