Morkie: Complete Guide – 2017

If ever there was a cuddly toy lookalike, it is the Morkie.

Their teddy bear size, bright eyes, expressive brows, and black button nose make them utterly irresistible for those in search of the living embodiment of cute.

But as with any dog, there is more than meets the eye with these assertive, self-confident little dogs.

If you are considering making a place in your heart for a Morkie dog, read on to find out if they are a match made in heaven or a potential furry whirlwind of a nightmare.

1. What is a Morkie?

A Morkie puppy is the result of breeding a purebred Yorkshire terrier with a purebred Maltese terrier.

This is what’s known as a hybrid or ‘designer’ dog.

Be aware that although both parents were purebred, the Morkie breed is not officially recognized by the Kennel Club.

This is of no significance other than the lack of a pedigree certificate for a Morkie puppy, but it doesn’t make one jot of difference to their delightful demeanor.

Hybrid dogs have become popular in the last ten years or so.

Those hybrids you are probably more familiar with include the Labradoodle (Labrador cross Poodle), Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles spaniel cross Poodle) and Cockerpoo (Cocker spaniel cross poodle.)

One of the reasons these crosses were initially made was to try and dilute the genes for harmful inherited conditions such as hip dysplasia or heart disease.

The theory is that since the parents come from such different gene pools (unrelated breeds) then a tendency to diseases common in each breed will be reduced.

Unfortunately, this assumes only good genes are inherited from either parent, whereas in reality there is nothing to say the puppy won’t inherit two sets of bad genes.

Thus, do not necessary opt for a Morkie puppy because you assume it will be stronger and free from genetic disease.

There are no guarantees and you are taking a gamble.

The only way to reduce the odds of having a healthy pup is to check out the health history of both parents, and do your level best to uncover any health problems in their line.

To do this it helps to understand what problems are common in the parent breeds.

To produce any dog breed requires breeding from a limited gene stock in order to select for what makes it unique.

Unfortunately, this can have the unwanted effect of concentrating the genes that code for certain health problems.

Most purebred breeds have an increased risk of one problem or another, and here are those for the Morkie’s parent breeds.

Yorkshire Terrier Health Risks

  • Legge-Perthes disease (Disintegration of the hip joint)
  • Wobbly kneecaps
  • Dental disease
  • Collapsing windpipes
  • Heart valve disease

Maltese Terrier Health Risks

  • Wobbly kneecaps ( a shared problem with the Yorkie)
  • Inflamed gums leading to loose teeth
  • Inflammation of the brain
  • White shaker disease

With this knowledge, if your heart is set on a Morkie puppy, quiz the breeder about the health of the parent dogs and their lineage.

By finding healthy parents that a free from disease, the puppy stands a better chance of being healthy.

2. The Morkie Temperament

Is the Morkie laidback or always on the go? Let’s find out.

The Morkie may be small but no one has told them this.

These little dogs are strong characters, which is both beneficial and a challenge.

In the right hands they make entertaining and joyful companions, but in the wrong hands they can be over-bossy and assertive.

The Morkie’s strong character makes them a prime candidate for “Small dog syndrome” or SDS.

This is where a small dog has delusions of being bigger than they really are and try to control people or situations through aggressive behavior.

Typically an ankle-hip fluff-ball that growls at the mailman is suffering from SDS.

Key to preventing SDS is imaging how you would act if your Rottweiler displayed the same behavior.

Whereas the mailman may laugh at a growling Morkie, an aggressive Rottie is dangerous.

Accordingly, owners of large dogs discipline them and invest time training their canine companion.

This should be no different just because the dog is small.

As a Morkie pet parent learn about reward-based training and spend time every day teaching your dog how to behave.

So what else can you expect from the Morkie temperament?

A well-adjusted Morkie has characteristics such as being curious about their environment, intelligent, and sweet.

However, their interest on what’s going on around them can prove a distraction which the result they exhibit ‘selective deafness’ and accidentally don’t hear when you call them away from whatever it is that interests them.

This is yet another reason for being firm but fair with your Morkie’s training regime, so they are in no doubt about who is boss.

They can also be an excitable breed, which manifests itself as barking at the slightest noise.

It’s amazing how much noise can come out of such a small fellow, which does have uses in deterring burglars and being a good, pint-sized guard dog.

However, take care if you live in an apartment as your neighbors might not be quite as appreciative of a Morkie guard dog as you are.

If all this makes the Morkie sound a bit of a handful, it isn’t mean to.

In contrast, the Morkie also loves nothing more than a warm lap to snuggle up on and make a consummate lapdog for those seeking a dog to adore.

And one final thought about temperament.

The Morkie can be self-confident and bold, and aren’t afraid to approach children to demand attention.

If your kids or grandkids love dogs then this is all well and good, but if they are frightened of four-loggers then the Morkie’s pushy, in-your-face nature may be too overwhelming.

3. Morkie Vital Statistics

Taking on a Morkie is a long term commitment as their average life expectancy is around 14 – 16 years.

How big do Morkies Get?

Don’t worry, your Morkie isn’t going to do a Digby and grow so big they won’t fit in the house.

The Morkie full grown is still a dinky dog that barely tips the scale at a lightweight 3 – 10 lbs. body weight.

Neither do they take up much houseroom, standing a small but perfect 8 – 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

Morkie Coat Care

When thinking of welcoming a dog into your home it’s important to: Do Morkies shed?

After all, you don’t want balls of hair blowing round the lounge room floor – if at least you want to be prepared for them.

Firstly, know that all dogs shed – it’s just a matter of how much.

Shedding is a natural process whereby old hairs fall out to make way for new ones (That’s what all those hairs on your hairbrush are about.)

However, the Morkie is classed as a low-shedding dog, as it is derived from two low-shedding parents.

Indeed, the Maltese has a long, luxurious double coat and the Yorkie a silky single coat, neither of which shed heavily.

Caring for the Morkie coat does involve a little work, but what’s not to love when it means spending one-to-one time with your precious pup!

Ideally, use a comb to separate the hairs and a brush to smooth the coat and remove shed hairs.

To prevent knots and tangles do this daily, or every other day at a push.

As to what color your Morkie’s coat is, well that depends on which of the parent’s genes dominate.

If the Maltese side comes out strongly expect a white Morkie, but if the Yorkie’s fights through a black Morkie or shades of brown or tan.

A small dog such as a Morkie may not exercise enough to wear her nails down naturally, and they can become overgrown.

Check her claws every fortnight, and if they are slightly long then trim the tips with a pair of nail clippers.

Take care not to remove too much nail as you might clip the living part, the quick, which is painful and will bleed.

If you don’t feel confident to trim the nails yourself then have a groomer or vet tech show you what to do.

How long the Morkie’s coat grows will again depend on which parent they take after.

However, she will need to visit the groomers regularly to have her coat clipped.

Whilst long hair looks cute, if the dog is active then consider a shorter clip or teddy bear cut as this allows her to be active without getting her coat tangled.

4. Is a Morkie Right For Me?

Becoming a pet parent is a big responsibility.

The dog will be dependent on you for the whole of their life, which in the case of a Morkie could be 16 years.

Before taking the plunge, ask yourself what the future holds and consider any changes of circumstances on the horizon.

If there’s a possibility of you starting college or moving abroad in a few years’ time, is it fair to take on a dog?

If you’ve weighed everything up and are in the happy position of being able to share your life with a dog, then think carefully about whether a morkie is a good match to your lifestyle.

What are considers positives for some people, count as a negative for others, so the answer isn’t always straightforward.

5. The Positives of Owning a Morkie

Morkie’s don’t need much space, which is a big plus in their favor for apartment living.

They can also be a good guard dog (despite their small size) as they are accomplished barkers.

Likewise, perhaps you crave canine company but aren’t bothered about getting lots of exercise.

The little legs of a Morkie mean a walk round the block is sufficient to meet their needs.

As well as being as cute as a cute-thing on cute-pills, the Morkie also has an inquisitive and engaging nature.

They are brim full of character and make engaging companies.

People who own Morkies completely fall under the spell of these pint-sized dogs with a big character.

On a day-to-day basis your Morkie doesn’t need much care, other than brushing, feeding, and plenty of love.

But be wary of making the Morkie too dependent on your company as then she may feel anxious when left alone.

Crate training can help as this provides a safe den for the dog to retire to when you have to go out.

6. The Positives of Owning a Morkie

Morkie’s don’t need much space, which is a big plus in their favor for apartment living.

They can also be a good guard dog (despite their small size) as they are accomplished barkers.

Likewise, perhaps you crave canine company but aren’t bothered about getting lots of exercise.

The little legs of a Morkie mean a walk round the block is sufficient to meet their needs.

As well as being as cute as a cute-thing on cute-pills, the Morkie also has an inquisitive and engaging nature.

They are brim full of character and make engaging companies.

People who own Morkies completely fall under the spell of these pint-sized dogs with a big character.

On a day-to-day basis your Morkie doesn’t need much care, other than brushing, feeding, and plenty of love.

But be wary of making the Morkie too dependent on your company as then she may feel anxious when left alone.

Crate training can help as this provides a safe den for the dog to retire to when you have to go out.

7. The Negatives of Owning a Morkie

Barking is a good thing in the context of security and warning off intruders, but your neighbors might not appreciate the morkies tendency to bark at the drop of a hat.

If you live in an apartment then consider how much privacy you have and how rapturous barking might endear (or not) you to the neighbors.

Getting a dog is a great way to get out and meet people.

However, because the morkie doesn’t need much exercise, it might be getting to the dog park constitutes all the exercise they need, let along go for a run round.

If your main motivation for getting a Morkie is to feel less isolated, then question how much difference a Morkie will make. (Of course, they are small enough to carry around under your arm as you go about your errands.)

One downside of the Morkie’s size is that they aren’t particularly robust.

The have a delicate bone structure which means that children, especially young children, should be supervised around the dog.

Not only may the dog feel threatened by the erratic movements of a child, but rough play could easily injure the dog and end up with broken bones.

Also, be aware that although you own a small dog and the expenditure of food is a lot less than for a Labrador or bigger dog, there are still considerable costs involved.

As a responsible pet parent you’ll need to vaccinate the dog regularly, treat against parasites such as fleas and heartworm, deworm, desex, and microchip the dog.

And then there’s the cost of veterinary treatment to consider, should the dog become ill.

8. Life with a Morkie

Congratulations! You have decided a Morkie is for you.

Hopefully you sourced the pup from a reputable breeder, rather than a puppy mill or a pet shop.

Remember, buying a puppy from the latter two only perpetuates a trade in misery.

Each puppy that is sold is replaced by another produced in cruel and inhumane conditions.

Only when people refuse to buy these pups will the trade dry up.

What are the basics of Morkie care and how should you prepare for the patter of tiny paws?

9. Crate Training

We’ve already mentioned crates in terms of being a safe den for the puppy.

When used correctly, your puppy is kept safe while you are out and feels secure.

Because of the morkie’s small size you can either use a small commercial puppy crate or even a pet carrier.

Ideally it is big enough for an adult morkie to stand up without banging their head, and lie down with their legs stretched out. Provide a bed, toys, and a bowl of water in the crate.

Crates are a great boon to potty training, as natural instinct decrees that the pup is less likely to soil their own nest.

Thus you can pop the pup in a crate for short times when you aren’t able to supervise, which reduces ‘accidents’ and keeps house training on track.

If your Morkie puppy isn’t already used to a crate, then introduce it gradually.

Pop a comfy bed inside and seed it with dog treats.

Leave the door open and let the puppy discover the unexpected delight of a treat laced bed.

Offer meals in the crate, so the dog starts to link it to good things happening.

Whilst the pup is eating, close the door for a few seconds, open it again and heap praise on the puppy.

Gradually extend the time the door is left closed, opening the door only when the pup is quiet and calm.

Of course, never use the crate a punishment or a prison, as this is counterproductive as the pup then regards it as a bad place to be.

10. Potty Training

Something many owners of small dogs struggle to get to grips with is potty training.

This is because it’s easier for a small dog to evade the owner’s attention and pop in to a quiet corner to pee or poop.

However, there is no reason why a Morkie can’t be trained just like any other breed; it just requires you to go about it the right way.

Key to this is not giving the puppy the opportunity to toilet where she shouldn’t, but keep putting her outside regularly to relieve herself appropriately.

In practical terms this means keeping an eye on her all the time, and as soon as you spot behavior such as sniffing that suggests she’s about to toilet, then scoop her up and pop her onto the toilet spot (be that outside or a puppy pad indoors.)

When she does perform, give her a treat and praise her, and then she’ll look on toileting as a super easy way to earn a treat and save up her efforts for when you’re watching.

OK, so perhaps you can’t watch her all the time, so pop her into the crate for an hour or so, and then give her a toilet break by putting on the designated area.

If she does have accidents in the house, don’t punish her.

To smack her would only make her wary of you and more inhibited about toileting in your presence.

Instead, clean up the mess and thoroughly deodorize the spot so she’s not drawn back, and then go and shout at a tree.

11. Socializing your Morkie

Avoid becoming the owner of a growling, snappy Morkie adult by socializing the puppy as much as you can.

When a puppy meets other people and dogs, and has a pleasant experience, this builds her confidence so that she grows into a confident well-adjusted adult who welcomes visitors rather than growling or barking at them.

For the puppy that hasn’t completed their vaccine course, it isn’t safe to put them on the ground, but the small size of the Morkie makes it super easy to carry the puppy under your arm to take her out and about.

Make a list of places where she will meet people or experience different sights and sounds.

It might include walking past a school when the kids are playing, standing outside a superstore, walking alongside a busy road – all of which are excellent life experiences for her and something she needs to be confident with as an adult.

So there we have it, all about the Morkie.

Do you have a Morkie hole in your life and is this the breed for you?

About the Author Sarah Robinson

Dr Sarah Robinson attended veterinary school at Oklahoma State University receiving a D.V.M. in 2008. Sarah’s longtime interest is to help people to better communicate with their pet companions, and in doing so, to help them to strengthen their relationships with their dogs and cats. Sarah has published numerous articles on canine feeding in pet related magazines, veterinary journals and leading natural health web sites.

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