Yorkshire terriers, affectionately known as the “Yorkie,” belong to the terrier group. As a general rule, terriers tend to be strong-willed and energetic dogs. The Yorkie is no exception. But you’ll also find a pet Yorkie to be affectionate, loyal, and protective (learn about the Yorkie temperament).
This breed is on the small side and can fit well into apartments, condos, or single-family homes with smaller yards. Even though Yorkshire terriers are energetic, they tend to need only bursts or smaller-sized periods of exercise. However, you’ll find each Yorkie to have its own unique personality.
Breed temperaments tend to be typical or overreaching in nature. But, if you’ve got your heart set on adopting a Yorkie into your home, here is an overview of what type of behaviors you can expect. There are also some tips on how to deal with common problems related to Yorkie temperament issues.
Typical Yorkie Behaviors and Personalities
The American Kennel Club describes the Yorkie as feisty, weighing around 7 pounds. However, the breed makes up for its small size with a boisterous and sometimes loud personality. If you’re not too careful, a Yorkshire terrier will try to become the boss or the “leader of the pack.”
Because of their small size, Yorkies are known as lap dogs. Although the breed does like to show affection, they don’t want to lay around all day. Owning a Yorkie means you’ll need to prepare to run around the backyard a few times each day. Playing fetch indoors for 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day keeps a Yorkshire terrier from becoming too bored.
You’ll also want to plan on getting in a few walks around the neighborhood at least twice a day. Without proper exercise and mental stimulation, Yorkies could become destructive. They need an outlet for their high energy and are one of the more intelligent breeds.
Enrolling yourself and your Yorkie in a canine good citizen or obedience class can help you get used to each other. You’ll learn how to establish yourself as the leader and use commands to get your Yorkie to listen. Since terriers can be stubborn, you might need to be firm and try a combination of corrective and positive reinforcement techniques.
Even though Yorkies can pick up on training cues quickly, they are known as barkers. You may find that your Yorkshire terrier will bark at the slightest noise or perceived threat to you or your home. This breed can also express a range of emotions with barking or other vocalizations.
While the noise might not bother you or your family, it can be disruptive to guests and neighbors. For example, if you live in a building with shared walls, excessive barking can lead to unwanted complaints. The same goes for single-family home dwellers with yards that are close to others.
You’ll want to observe their vocalization behaviors for a few weeks to understand how much your Yorkie will bark and at what or who. If you’ve adopted a Yorkie from a rescue or shelter, you may need to observe their behaviors for longer.
It can take a few months for rescue dogs to settle into a new environment and start exhibiting their true personalities. If the behavior suddenly changes or your Yorkie is acting weird – there might be something afoot.
Yorkies can lose their patience with children, especially if small children aggravate the dogs. Since this breed is protective, Yorkshire terriers can try to intimidate strangers. It’s easier to shape a dog’s behavior from a young age or when they’re introduced to a family before one year of age.
However, this doesn’t mean an older, rescued or rehomed Yorkie can’t learn what not to do around strangers and children. Small kids and unfamiliar people can also be taught how to act around your Yorkshire terrier and what triggers are likely to aggravate the dog.
For instance, showing kids how to gently interact with a Yorkie and recognize when the dog wants to be left alone can go a long way. You can also socialize your Yorkshire terrier, slowly introducing them to other dogs and people.
Yorkshire terriers can be sensitive to colder temperatures. So if you live in a seasonal or cooler climate, you’ll need to protect your dog when it’s outside. In drafty homes, you may also need to offer some creature comforts, and remember to keep the minimum temperature at a higher threshold.
Things like coats, sweaters, and blankets can help keep your Yorkie warm. But, even if you’re comfortable in the winter or late fall with the thermostat on 62 degrees, you might want to bump it up to 68 for your dog.
How to Curb Problematic Behaviors
You’ll notice your Yorkshire terrier will catch on quickly, but they’ll probably also try to get away with a thing or two. Yorkies are one of the more difficult breeds to house train, so you’ll want to start on this right away. You’ll also want to put down pads or designate a separate area to train puppies or rescue dogs who aren’t housebroken.
Some Yorkie owners find it helpful to teach their dogs how to use a litter box indoors. This can be beneficial in inclement weather since this breed does not tolerate the cold or snow well. Blizzard conditions and high snowdrifts in backyards can make it nearly impossible for small breeds to go outside. In addition, Yorkies are at risk of injury if a usable path isn’t dug out for bathroom breaks.
You can work with a certified trainer, dog behavioral specialist, or someone who has extensive knowledge of Yorkshire terriers. Methods like clicker training, using food to reward desired behaviors, and using corrective body language and words to cure unwanted behaviors can help train your Yorkie. However, some owners prefer to stay away from methods such as shock collars to curb barking.
You’ll often get better results by stepping in front of the dog, using a spray bottle, and stating firmly, “no bark.” You can also use a combination of clickers and food to reward the dog when they don’t bark when a trigger, such as an unfamiliar noise, occurs.
Yorkies can make great companions. They’re lively and know how to snuggle up to their owners. If you don’t have a lot of space but want an energetic walking companion, Yorkshire terriers can be a good fit. But, as with all breeds, Yorkies have their difficulties and sticking points.
You’ll need to be a patient owner who’s willing to work with their independent spirit and high intelligence. You also won’t be able to just lay around the house with this breed. A combination of firm and gentle training and socialization is best.