What Is the Temperament of a Yorkshire Terrier?

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If you are a dog lover, the small size of Yorkshire Terriers makes them the best dogs for holding on your lap or carrying around. However, it is advisable to consider a dog’s personality before keeping it as a home pet. So, what is the temperament of a Yorkshire Terrier?

What Is the Temperament of a Yorkshire Terrier?

Yorkshire Terriers are intelligent, brave, and social. However, they can be aggressive and territorial, and might not relate well with other dogs or strangers.

Graphic image of a brown and black Yorkie with a text describing the temperament of Yorkshire Terriers

Their hunting instincts make them bark whenever they see an intruder. They are energetic and need exercise to relieve their excess energy levels.

The following temperaments and personalities make a Yorkshire Terrier unique and a great home pet.


The intelligence levels of a dog refer to the ability of them to read and react to human voice commands and body language such as pointing and gesturing. An intelligent dog will also have advanced memory skills to remember these commands.

In most cases, a dog’s intelligence level depends on the number of times you will need to repeat a new command before the dog understands and obeys. Although Yorkshire Terriers’ adaptive and instinctive intelligence level is impressive.

Typically, they can understand and obey new commands after 15 to 25 repetitions. Their ability to understand human feelings and effectively communicate makes Yorkshire Terriers the 27th most intelligent dog breed.


The strong hunting instincts of Yorkshire Terriers make them independent and territorial. The territorial instincts are more prominent in males. That means a male Yorkshire Terrier might not relate well with other male dogs at home.

The instinctive intelligence in Yorkshire Terriers also makes them independent in their tasks. For instance, Yorkshire Terriers are feisty and focused when chasing prey, even without teamwork and human guidance. Keep in mind that Yorkshire Terriers’ independent and territorial nature makes them seem stubborn.

Two happy Yorkshire terrier


Although the small size of Yorkshire Terriers can’t allow them to be guard dogs, they are usually brave and confident. They are not very friendly to strangers, and they will bark whenever they hear or see an intruder.

In most cases, Yorkshire Terriers will be bold enough to face humans, animals, and dogs much larger than them. Yorkshire Terriers don’t:

  • Retreat
  • Quit
  • Shut up

This bravery makes Yorkshire Terriers good watchdogs. However, this attribute can be challenging to manage when you have other dogs or pets they can pick up fights with. You should also be careful when taking Yorkshire Terriers to dog daycare centers.


Although Yorkshire Terriers are genetically bred for solo tasks, they are still social and affectionate. Since Yorkshire Terriers are not friendly to strangers, they are attached and loyal to their families.

For instance, leaving a Yorkshire Terrier alone at home can lead to separation anxiety. Even if Yorkshire Terriers don’t rely on you to play and chase prey, it’s not advisable to leave them alone at home for more than six hours.

An image of a Yorkshire terrier showing one of its temperament

Also, the assertive nature of Yorkshire Terriers means they’re not the best breed for children. In most cases, commotion and disturbances from kids can make Yorkshire Terriers a bit violent. Yorkshire Terriers also don’t like being cuddled or held for too long.


Although small, Yorkshire Terriers are energetic and need physical and mental stimulation. That means Yorkshire Terriers are playful and love chasing small prey and playing with interactive toys.

If the Yorkshire Terrier doesn’t utilize the excess energy, it can develop destructive behaviors. Some of the best activities that can help reduce the excess energy in Yorkshire Terriers include:

  • Hide and seek games: You can engage your Yorkshire Terrier in a hide and seek exercise by having it stay in one place as you go around hiding different treats in the backyard. Once you’re through, command the Yorkshire Terrier to go around searching for the treats, gathering and bringing them to you.
  • Agility exercises: You can relieve excess energy in Yorkshire Terriers while teaching them some agility moves. For instance, you can have the Yorkshire Terrier maneuver around obstacles or jump through a hoop.
  • Cardio exercises: You can make the Yorkshire Terrier your workout partner when going for cardio exercises such as long walks, jogging, or hiking.
A happy Yorkshire terrier

However, you need to be careful not to exhaust your Yorkie with intense exercises. For instance, you should only engage your Yorkshire Terrier in intense cardio exercises one or two times per week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Yorkshire Terriers Get Violent Towards Their Owners?

Yorkshire Terriers can get violent towards their owners due to decreased interaction. If you tend to leave your Yorkshire Terrier alone for too long, they might suffer from separation anxiety, become withdrawn, be depressed, and become violent towards you. It is best to know how to take care of your Yorkie to avoid this.

Are Yorkie Terriers Emotional?

Yes, Yorkie Terriers are emotional and sensitive, and sometimes they withdraw from commotions. It is advisable to treat them gently and respectfully to avoid aggression in such cases.

Final Thoughts

Yorkshire Terriers are affectionate and social, provided you handle them gently. They are loyal to their families and might even develop separation anxiety if you tend to leave them alone at home. However, they are independent in their tasks and require minimal attention.