Understanding the Yorkie Temperament and Personality


According to the AKC, American Kennel Club, the Yorkie is a tomboy, sprightly and affectionate.

He’s a popular dog, with a dainty coat and a feisty personality.

Once the lapdogs of Victorian ladies, the Yorkshire Terrier has an interesting history, which may account for his confident and courageous personality.

Yorkies tend to thrive in cities, and their attitude and self-importance win the hearts of urbanites as well as others.

Often they are used as little watchdogs, with a bark that alerts intruders as well as strangers.

It is common that people think of the Yorkie as either delicate or vigorous; they may both be true when one looks at their background.

The Yorkshire Terrier History

Developed in Yorkshire and Lancaster counties in England in the mid-1800s, their ancestors were terriers from Scotland.

Known as the “broken-haired Scotch Terrier”, they were brought by weavers who came to England from Scotland.

The Yorkshire area of England had mines as well as textile mills; it soon followed that the little Yorkie was used to hunt rodents in these coal mines and were known to be good exterminators.

In 1886, the Yorkie was granted recognition by the English Kennel Club and soon became the lapdog and companion of fashionable women during Victorian times. Yorkies were seen in America during the 1870s.


According to Hill’s Pets, the Yorkie is energetic, domineering and feisty. They are affectionate and enjoy attention.

Yorkies are good as watchdogs and do well in apartments.

They like to be treated gently and respectfully or can get snappy towards children who don’t treat them that way.

Girl holding a baby Yorkie

Most Yorkies live well with other dogs and cats, although they can be aggressive if provoked.

Some traits that have been observed in the Yorkie include:

  • Inquisitive
  • Quick both mentally and physically
  • Likes to check things out
  • Enjoys snuggles and cuddles
  • Bossy

Those who enjoy doting on a dog will do well with a Yorkie. The breed likes to bark but can be trained to not bark to excess.

This is a dog who has a large personality and seems to be unaware of its small size.

Considered a toy breed, he is bold and more terrier than toy.


When it comes to house training, the Yorkie can be a bit stubborn. In cold and wet weather, an indoor litter box is a good idea.

A doggie door with a covered outside is also favored by this little dog, who feels the cold.

His grooming needs are high; the coat is long and fine and is more hair than fur. He loves to cuddle on his pillows and enjoys comfort.

He is a light shedder, although brushing at least every two days is required. People with allergies to fur often choose this breed.

Leash training might take a while, as this dog loves to dart back and forth.

With training, however, the Yorkie will enjoy his leash walks.

The Yorkie has a low sensitivity level, otherwise known as tolerant and easygoing.

He is considered resilient and does fine with a somewhat chaotic household.

Shaping the Behavior

Since many problems begin when the Yorkie is a puppy, it is important that the owner follows the training set by the breeder before the age of 3 months.

It is also important that the puppy is encouraged in skills of socialization.

Small Yorkie

The Yorkie puppy should get used to the sound of human voices as well as regular family noises, such as the TV, doorbell or phone ringing.

Becoming used to the touch of humans is also important.

A dog that is raised with human kisses and cuddles is much more socialized than one raised in a cage.

During the first three months, the puppy that has been held, groomed, bathed, cuddled and played with will be much more comfortable around people.

A schedule encourages your Yorkie to be happier and more well behaved. Consistency is the key here.

Some of the times to schedule include:

  • Wakeup time – the dog wakes when you do.
  • Feeding – scheduling the feeding makes you the leader.
  • Grooming times
  • Exercise times – those long walks are important for exploration.
  • Play times – both independently and with family members
  • Quiet times – for naps and relaxation
  • Bedtime – knowing when they are expected to go to sleep and relax

Who’s the Leader?

The Yorkie owner must establish themselves as the leader in order to have a dog that is well behaved.

Because dogs are pack animals by nature, they are used to having a leader.

By taking them for walks, feeding them and playing with them, you establish yourself as the human in charge and that a family member loves and cherishes him.

You might be tempted to let him become the leader by:

  • Giving in to his begging
  • Not teaching commands
  • Not being firm when the dog must listen

Behavioral issues arise when the Yorkie takes advantage of this.

You are the boss and leader of the pack, from the first day your Yorkie comes home.

Woman holding an adult Yorkie

These are a few of the traits and habits of the Yorkshire Terrier.

Learn more about his personality at the Yorkie Information Center.

Although you may not think your furry friend has odd quirks, you can also learn about some of the funny things your Yorkie does.

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