Yorkie Temperament & Personality

yorkie temperament and personality_canna-pet

Yorkie is a nickname for Yorkshire Terrier, and, as the name suggests, the dog belongs to the Terrier family and is from Yorkshire, England. Because the development and creation of the breed are so tied to Yorkshire, the breed proudly carries that location in its name.

Yorkshire is a county in Northern England that saw a great boom during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. During this time, many people from Scotland came down to Yorkshire for work, as it is close to the English-Scottish border. They brought with them several small breeds of terriers. The Yorkshire Terrier was unofficially made by breeding together many different types of terriers in order to have a small dog that could catch the rats and mice in the factories.

yorkie temperament

Yorkies came to North America in 1872, and by 1885, the Yorkshire Terrier was registered with the American Kennel Club.

Yorkies were very popular in Victorian England, and this lead to Yorkies becoming very popular in the United States as well.

Today, the Yorkshire Terrier is the 6th most popular purebred dog, according to the American Kennel Club.


Due to this dog breeds small size, Yorkies are one of the most popular lap dogs in Great Britain and the United States alike.

Yorkies are no longer used to catch rats as they used to, mostly because they have become smaller since the Industrial Revolution. Now, they are viewed as dainty, elegant dogs that are perfect for companionship.

Yorkie Personality

Yorkies are well known for being a big dog in a little dog’s body. They have a large personality and like to be involved in their surroundings. The Yorkie personality is active, curious, protective, and they also love attention. 

Some Yorkies have a very arrogant attitude and can be overly jealous and protective of their owners. Some Yorkies are very proud and desire a lot of attention from their owners, as well as loving to show affection to their owners. Even though a Yorkie’s personality can differ quite a bit, they are expected to be very alert dogs that don’t believe they are as small as they really are.

Soft, submissive, and lackadaisical attitudes that are common in lap dogs are not typically carried over to Yorkies. If a Yorkie does exhibit these behaviors, it is regarded as having been improperly trained. 

But, Yorkies can be a bit loud as they bark, or yap, quite often. They sometimes might believe they are guard dogs as they will announce strangers at any time. Socializing your dog is important so that he is used to seeing many people and other animals. This will make living with a Yorkie in their adult life much easier.

Also, remember that the first 3 months with your Yorkie is essential for developing his personality. That’s why a breeder is very important because they have your dog for half of that time, if not more.

Yorkie Temperament

Yorkies have a lot of courage and carry themselves with confidence. Even though many Yorkies are put in carrier bags and purses, they are not commonly docile little toys. However, because Yorkies have great confidence, they are excellent travel companions and can be therapy dogs for people with anxiety and for timid travelers.

Because of their terrier heritage, they can be aggressive towards other dogs. However, with early socialization, this will likely not be an ongoing problem for Yorkies. Socialization is also important because your dog has to develop the proper skills to behave, and it is your job as the owner to give your dog the opportunity to learn these skills.

Yorkies require some exercise but are not as demanding as bigger dogs. Because Yorkies have terrier heritage and because they used to be working dogs, they still like time every day to be active. Remember, Yorkies were bred to have a job and a purpose, so, they love having tasks and aim to please.

yorkshire terrier characteristics

Yorkies also adapt well to their surroundings and are good at adjusting to what is going on around them. They travel well and are good in many different home situations such as an apartment, condo, or house.

If you’re a person whose life is in transition right now, moving cities, changing jobs, or moving from house to apartment, Yorkies can be a great choice because they are so adaptable.

Even though Yorkies are quite friendly, they are not ideal to have around young children. Yorkies may perceive a young child as a dog and be slightly aggressive towards them.

Parents must be careful that a Yorkie does not nip their child. However, if a Yorkie has grown up around young children, this will likely not be an issue, because the dog has been socialized properly.

Because of their instinct to hunt and trap mice and rats, it is not advisable to have a Yorkie in the same house as pet gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, or animals such as that. However, Yorkies can usually tolerate living with a cat, especially if the Yorkie has always had to live with the cat.

Yorkies are not fond of water, and it is not common to see them swimming. Care should be taken when around large bodies of water.

Ensuring Optimal Personality

To ensure optimal personality and temperament in Yorkies, remembering their history and underlying traits is important. They are an above average intelligent canine breed, and as such, to be at their best they need to be stimulated.

Yorkies love to be put to work and to have a task, so keep that in mind to make sure that they are happy. Home environment, training, diet & health, socialization, and breeding should all be considered for optimizing personality and temperament.

Home Environment

To encourage proper behavior and to bring out the best temperament in Yorkies, certain home environments are better than others.

Having a home environment that can work around schedules and structure is ideal. For there to be a routine feeding time, walking time, play time, quiet time, and bedtime is very important. Hopefully, you can create a home environment with this in mind to optimize your little pal’s good qualities.


Yorkies can be relatively easy to train. Because they were originally bred to perform tasks, they are quite capable of being independent thinkers, and they carry out duties well. Yorkies are also quite incentivized by praise and food for positive reinforcement.

Because Yorkies were bred as working dogs, they require quite a bit of stimulation to keep them occupied. They enjoy games and playing. For this reason, when training, it is important to keep training fun and short so as to keep their minds busy.

One common problem owners have with Yorkies is housebreaking. Many find it quite difficult. Yorkies can reject their training and be quite fickle. Early and consistent training is essential as well as establishing yourself as the alpha dog. 

Also, consider bringing your dog to a training class. That way, a professional can help you, and there will likely be other dogs in the class, which can also help with socializing your dog to others.

Diet & Health

Yorkies are little dogs that stand at an average of 7 to 8 inches weighing in at 7 pounds. It can be quite easy for your little pup to become underweight because they are so small. This can especially be common in little puppies under 4 months.

During this time, you want to make sure your Yorkie is at his best because if he is underweight and malnourished, he can suffer from hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can come into effect after your Yorkie has fasted for 8 or more hours. So, making sure that your pup is eating at a scheduled time of at least every 8 hours or sooner is ideal. Your dog will not be able to play, work, train, and be his normal self if he is not getting enough nutrients. 

yorkshire terrier personality

However, keep in mind to be safe from the reverse, which is overfeeding.

Overfeeding a Yorkie can result in canine obesity which will put more pressure on their joints as well as could lead to a plethora of other health problems. 

Yorkies live on average 13 to 16 years, which is higher than average for most dog breeds.

Yorkies are a generally healthy dog breed, but any purebred dog breed can be more susceptible to genetic mutations and certain canine health problems. Knowing the health history of the parents is very important when adopting a Yorkie.

Yorkies can be easily susceptible to bronchitis, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), portosystemic shunt syndrome (PSS), and canine cataracts. Additionally, Yorkies can have quite sensitive digestive systems. The incredibly small size of a Yorkie can make this breed more prone to falls and injuries from other dogs. Also, owner clumsiness, such as stepping or tripping on the dog, can be more common.

If you think that your Yorkie is acting quite different from the breed’s typical temperament, then maybe there is a health issue. Knowing some of the health issues above is important when you get a Yorkie. That way, you can be prepared if something goes wrong. Additionally, it may be the reason your little pup’s temperament and personality is off.


Another important aspect in optimizing your Yorkie’s temperament and personality is by socializing him with children and other dogs.

Yorkies have a lot of courage and can pick fights with other dogs. They can also sometimes mistake little children for dogs. By bringing your dog, from a young age to environments with other dogs and children you can begin to socialize him.

Remember to give positive rewards, i.e. praise, affection, even a treat, when your pup behaves well, learns how to play and how to share. Try bringing your Yorkie to a dog park; you are very likely to find other dogs and families with children there.

Puppy Mills

Yorkies are a very popular dog breed, and as such, they are likely to be bred by puppy mills. Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that are bad because they have inhumane conditions where the owners maximize profits without care for the treatment of the dogs.

Not only do puppy mills have terrible conditions for dogs, but they can also breed unhealthy dogs. So, again, knowing some of the common health problems in Yorkies, especially genetic ones, is important for when you’re raising your Yorkie. Researching the Yorkie Breed and knowing the health history of the dog’s parents is very important so as to avoid mills and to make sure you have a healthy pup.

yorkshire terrier temperament

Yorkies are a great choice for first-time dog owners because they are so adaptable and require less work and attention as bigger dogs. They are lovable companions who are very loyal to their owners.

When socialized, Yorkies are great with older children as well as other pets, so they do make very nice family animals. 

They are alert and lively and love to play games. They will constantly entertain you with their quirky personalities.

They do require a bit of grooming such as brushing out their long coats as well as trips to the groomers for haircuts.

However, they do not shed very much, and people with allergies tend to do very well with having Yorkies as pets. Yorkies would be a great addition to anyone’s life, especially if they are looking for an adaptable, loyal, spunky, and little dog.



  1. “Yorkshire Terrier – Temperament.” Petwave, 22 Dec. 2015, Accessed 19 Nov. 2017. www.petwave.com/Dogs/Breeds/Yorkshire-Terrier/Personality.aspx.
  2. “Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts” Dogtime, Accessed 19 Nov. 2017. www.dogtime.com/dog-breeds/yorkshire-terrier.
  3. “Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Information.” Vetstreet, Accessed 19 Nov. 2017. www.vetstreet.com/dogs/yorkshire-terrier.
  4. Donovan, Liz. “7 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Yorkshire Terriers.” American Kennel Club, 22 Nov. 2016, Accessed 19 Nov. 2017. www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/7-things-about-yorkshire-terriers/.
  5. “Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed Information and Pictures.” PetGuide, 9 Apr. 2018, Accessed 19 Nov. 2017. www.petguide.com/breeds/dog/yorkshire-terrier.

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