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Yorkshire Terrier Temperament: Empathetic, loyal and spunky at times

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We're glad you found our blog post about this curious, handy-sized and fascinating Yorkshire Terrier. You are in for a treat.

The Yorkie temperament has so many quirks that it can be hard to put a finger on it. However, many owners vow that these little dogs have prominent personalities and will surprise and make you smile daily. As a result, they have won the hearts of the American city-dwelling population, where they regularly top the list of the most popular dog breeds.

So if you'd like to learn more about the Yorkshire Terrier's temperament and origin and if this dog is the right choice for your lifestyle, read on!

Table of Contents

Yorkshire terrier temperament
The quirky Yorkie has a very people-loving temperament

Yorkshire Terrier History: Where are Yorkshire Terriers from?

The Yorkshire Terrier, or "Yorkie" as their loving supporters call them, was initially bred to hunt vermin and rats before they found their way into the laps of aristocratic ladies.

One could say this handy-sized dog has worked its way up the social ladder by being the perfect companion dog.

As the name suggests, the Yorkshire Terrier was first bred in the county of Yorkshire in Northern England.

However, the breed's origin from Scottish breeds can be traced back to the mid-1800s. They were then known as "Broken Haired Scotch Terriers" and later "Toy Terriers" before they were awarded their current name in 1874 and registered with the British Kennel Club.

During the Industrial Revolution, miners from Scotland brought little terrier breeds with them on their work travels to England. These dogs "worked" in mines and clothing mills to keep pests away.

But they were a terrier known for many talents. Hunters also used them to trap animals in dens and burrows. Hunting smaller wild animals, the Yorkies' courageous and gutsy temperament was a big plus.

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Yorkies can be taught a range of tricks and they're very biddable

Three main Scottish breeds are believed to have contributed to today's Yorkshire Terrier: The Skye Terrier, The Paisley and the Clydesdale.

The last two are extinct, and the Skye Terrier is on the UK vulnerable dog list. But the Yorkie escaped this fate. Furthermore, the Maltese and the Black and Tan Terrier also contributed to the bloodline.

Almost all Yorkshire Terriers of today can trace their roots to one foundation, Huddersfield Ben. Born in 1865, Ben was a show dog and an acclaimed ratter dog. And he was the most sought-after stud dog of his time.

With the official registration to the British Kennel Club, the Yorkie got catapulted in a "slumdog-millionaire" fashion from working class to aristocratic lap dog. And all because of their little frame, inquisitive nature and unique, friendly temperament.

Despite a slight dip in popularity during the disruptions of the two world wars when the care of dogs was temporarily overshadowed, devoted dog lovers ensured the enduring appeal and continuity of the Yorkie breed.135

The UK Kennel Club recognises the below breed colours for the Yorkie:

  • Black & Tan

  • Black Blue & Tan

  • Blue & Tan

  • Blue Steel & Tan

  • Steel Blue

  • Steel Blue & Tan

  • Steel Blue Black & Tan

  • Steel Grey & Tan

Yorkshire Terrier registrations in the UK 2024

The registration numbers for Yorkshire Terriers reveal a dynamic trend over the specified periods. In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was a notable surge in pet adoptions, there were 631 registrations.

Following this, there was a subsequent decrease to 495 in 2022. However, there is a slight upward trend in 2023, with 154 registrations in the first quarter, 148 in the second quarter, and Q3 showing signs of a modest increase.

These variations suggest shifts in the breed's popularity or breeding patterns, influenced by the pandemic's unique circumstances and evolving preferences over time.

2021 Total

2022 Total

Q1 2023

Q2 2023

Q3 2023






Now that we have learned so much about the Yorkies' history let's take a closer look at the temperament of this toy dog breed.

What is the Temperament of the Yorkshire Terrier?

Despite being small, it's claimed that Yorkshire Terriers have big personalities, and no two Yorkies are the same. However, a few common traits are shared across the breed.

Their courageous nature is one of them. They're much sturdier than they look and will not blink in the eye of danger or when their loving owner seems in trouble. They seem to have kept their feisty instincts from their ancestors while not losing the companion breed aspect.

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
The Yorkies small frame can make them prone to injuries

Yorkies make for an excellent watchdog and have great attention to detail. Don't let any food fall on the floor, as your Yorkie will likely be all over it quickly. These dogs are very switched on and are faster than they look.

Yorkshire Terriers can serve as excellent watchdogs, promptly recognising environmental changes or suspicious behaviour.

However, due to their small frame, they are not suitable as guard dogs. If you require a robust guard dog, exploring breeds within the Dobermann section is advisable for a more robust and protective option.

However, their size makes them perfect even for smaller apartments, as their little frame can fit into any corner.

Yorkies are also great for people who travel a lot. Due to their compact size, you can take them anywhere, which is not often possible if you have a larger breed. In addition, the Yorkie has a highly adaptable nature and is usually not shy of a changing environment.

Yorkies are the ultimate companions, sticking by your side through thick and thin. Whether you're feeling a little down or doing a happy dance, your empathetic Yorkie will be there, spreading tail-wagging joy.

Their favourite thing in the world? Spending precious moments with you! Remember, being with their human is necessary for a Yorkie, and being left alone for too long? Well, that's not their cup of kibble.

Renowned for their high intelligence, Yorkshire Terriers possess a keen ability to grasp human emotions, making them exceptional companions. This intuitive understanding forms a crucial aspect of why Yorkies excel as devoted companion dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Yorkies are the happiest beside their owners

The Yorkshire Terrier doesn't require much exercise compared with a Labrador. A 30-minute steady walk in the park and some playtime at home will meet their daily exercise needs.

But even longer walks are not a massive problem as the Yorkie will happily trot beside you. They love ball games or a soft game of tug of war with a dog rope toy.

If you're very houseproud, the Yorkie is also a great choice. They're a low-shedding breed, and you will vacuum less than with a Golden Retriever.

But be aware that some Yorkies need longer to be housetrained. And even in older years, accidents might still happen with this breed. So, a laminated floor might be the preferred option, especially if you'd like to be the proud owner of several Yorkies.

Yorkies are also affectionate barkers. They love their voice to be heard, which can get out of control if you have more than one Yorkie. Early and consistent training on the "quiet" command could be a godsend for your neighbours. They also tend to bark regularly at other dogs on walks.

Yorkshire Terriers need daily grooming. A Yorkie that went one day without its grooming routine will look like they've never been groomed a day in life rather quickly. Plan in around 15 minutes per day plus a weekly bath. Having spare time for a dog should always be the first consideration when getting a dog.

Yorkies exhibit a "big dog syndrome" by not shying away from larger dogs, requiring vigilance around untrained counterparts.

Despite their confident demeanour, these dogs may not grasp their small frame, making them susceptible to injuries during rough play or jumping from elevated surfaces, particularly risking harm to their tendons and ligaments.

This vulnerability is compounded by their occasionally bossy and territorial temperament, making cautious supervision essential.

Avoid employing harsh training methods with Yorkies, as they respond best to gentle, consistent, and patient approaches coupled with positive reinforcement.

These sociable dogs are not timid around strangers and possess generous hearts. Yorkies readily reveal their affectionate and companionable nature when they perceive a visitor as a friend.

Early socialisation is vital, and exposing your Yorkie to diverse situations and people ensures a well-adjusted and adaptable dog. Their natural curiosity thrives on exposure to various environments, making this breed easy to manage and enjoy.

Let's now have a look at some common Yorkshire Terrier questions.

Can a Yorkshire Terrier live with cats?

Yes, a Yorkie and a cat can become friends. A well-trained Yorkie will have little issue accepting a cat as their best friend if you introduce the two slowly, especially in the kitten or puppy stage. Yorkies wouldn't see the cat as a vermin or a pest as both animals are similar in size.

Yorkies can be energetic and territorial at times, so giving both animals their own space and letting them get to know each other at their own pace is essential.

If you have socialised your Yorkie from an early age and exposed them to different situations, you can increase your chances of this pairing working out.

You should still expect some adjustment period for both of your pets. If introducing two adult pets, plan for an extended adjustment period and let both pets get used to their smells. It is recommended to keep them separated during this period.

Are Yorkshire Terriers good with children?

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Yorkies might not be suitable for very young children who don't understand how to treat a dog

Yorkshire Terriers are great with older children. However, laying out some ground rules with younger children is vital.

Yorkies can be territorial, don't tolerate nonsense and have a fearless character. They also attach a lot of love to their primary owner and could become jealous of a younger new addition to the family.

Early training is crucial. A well-trained Yorkshire Terrier will react better in difficult situations; teaching them gentle commands and time-out management will also help.

Conversely, the child must understand that the Yorkie is no toy and can't be picked up or pulled roughly.

The Yorkie should have its own dedicated space away from the child. Including your child in your Yorkie training sessions, feeding time, and playtime strengthens the bond and builds trust.

There are a lot of other breeds that might be better suited if you have younger children, like a Border Terrier who can exhibit more patience.

When are Yorkshire Terriers fully grown?

Yorkies are considered fully grown, usually when they turn 12 months. According to breed standards, their final adult weight should be 7 pounds (3.2kg) as a maximum, and their height at withers is between six and seven inches.

A Teacup Yorkie has all the breed temperament of a regular Yorkie but is considered teacup-sized if it weighs 4 pounds or less (2.2kg).

Providing proper nutrition and healthcare during this critical phase is essential to support their overall well-being and ensure they thrive into their adult years. Remember that individual variations may occur, but by the age of 1 year, Yorkies are generally considered fully grown.

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers  

Embarking on the quest to find the perfect gift for Yorkshire Terrier enthusiasts? Look no further, as this blog segment unveils a curated collection of delightful and thoughtful ideas bound to charm any devoted Yorkie lover.

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #1: Yorkshire Terrier Candle

Illuminate the joy of Yorkshire Terrier fandom with the perfect gift for a Yorkie lover – a Large Yorkie Candle. Crafted with attention to detail, this charming candle adds warmth to any space and pays homage to the delightful essence of these spirited little companions.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #2: Yorkshire Terrier Wooden Coaster

Elevate the coffee or tea experience for a devoted Yorkie enthusiast with the Yorkshire Terrier Wooden Coaster – a thoughtful and functional gift. These coasters, adorned with adorable Yorkie designs, protect surfaces and bring a touch of canine charm to every sip, making them the ideal addition to any Yorkie lover's collection.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #3: Yorkshire Terrier Tote Bag

For the Yorkshire Terrier aficionado who adores fashion and furry friends, the Yorkshire Terrier Tote Bag is an irresistible gift choice. This stylish accessory showcases their love for Yorkies and provides a practical and eco-friendly way to carry essentials.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #4: Yorkshire Terrier Scarf

Wrap up the warmth and charm for the Yorkshire Terrier devotee in your life with the Yorkshire Terrier Scarf. This cosy accessory not only adds a touch of canine flair to any outfit but also celebrates their love for these spirited little companions. Whether for chilly days or stylish flair, this scarf is a delightful gift that combines fashion and furry affection in perfect harmony.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #5: Yorkshire Terrier Charm

Delight the Yorkshire Terrier enthusiast with a touch of elegance and devotion through the Yorkshire Terrier Charm. Crafted with meticulous detail, this dainty accessory is a perfect addition to any charm bracelet or necklace, allowing the wearer to symbolise their affection for these spirited little companions wherever they go.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Gift ideas for Yorkshire Terrier Lovers #6: Yorkshire Terrier Sign

Transform any space into a haven for Yorkshire Terrier lovers with the Yorkshire Terrier Sign – a charming and personalized gift. Whether adorning a door, wall, or entryway, this decorative sign proudly declares the presence of a devoted Yorkie enthusiast.

Yorkshire Terrier Gift

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
Yorkies are naturally inquisitive little dogs

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament in a Nutshell

  • People-orientated, loyal and biddable

  • Early socialisation can benefit this breed by reducing barking and territorial behaviour.

  • Are surprisingly very quick to trust strangers and open their hearts to people

  • Inquisitive and naturally interested in everything that is going on around them

  • "Large dog syndrome" can sometimes leave them in risky situations.

Top 10 Female Yorkshire Terrier Names  

Top 10 Male Yorkshire Terrier Names  

Potential health issues in the Yorkshire Terrier Temperament

As with many smaller breeds, Yorkies have a longer lifespan than bigger dogs ranging between 13-16 years. The longest-living Yorkie was Bonnie, who lived for 28 years!

There are some Yorkshire Terrier-specific diseases that this little dog can be prone to. Of course, it doesn't mean that your dog will acquire these. But it's always important to be mindful of breed-related health issues to spot problems early and prolong your pup's life.

Hypoglycemia: an abnormally low level of blood sugar that will require effective diet management.

Legg-Perthes Disease: a hip joint problem due to reduced blood flow. Usually, it requires pain management and surgery.

Retinal Dysplasia: an inherited disease that affects vision and causes your Yorkie to have blind spots in their vision.

Kneecap Dislocation: problems with the knee joint as the kneecap pops out too often. It's a congenital health problem.

Collapsed Trachea: narrower airway that affects the windpipe and makes breathing harder. It involves many toy breeds like the Pomeranian, Chihuahuas and Maltese. A lot of coughing, gagging, and wheezing sounds can be symptoms.

Cataracts: Cloudy formations on the eye's lens that can impede vision and are often a result of genetic factors, ageing, or underlying health issues, highlighting the importance of regular veterinary check-ups to monitor and address potential eye conditions in Yorkshire Terriers.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis: Causing sudden and severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, and lethargy. This acute gastrointestinal condition requires immediate veterinary attention, and early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to ensure a prompt and successful recovery in Yorkshire Terriers affected by HGE.

Pancreatitis: An inflammation of the pancreas can be particularly concerning in Yorkshire Terriers, necessitating close monitoring of their diet and prompt veterinary care to manage symptoms and prevent potential complications.

Yorkshire Terrier Temperament
The Yorkshire Terrier has a playful temperament

Yorkshire Terrier Fun Fact

No discussion of Yorkshire Terrier temperament would be comprehensive without mentioning perhaps the most iconic Yorkie of all time:


Discovered underfed and scrawny at a roadside in New Guinea, she was purchased for $6.44 by the soldier Bill Wayne, embarking on a heartwarming journey that saw her become an "instrument of love" for wounded soldiers.

Bill's dedication to training Smokey in amusing tricks and her role as a therapy dog for traumatised soldiers paved the way for the recognition and utilization of therapy dogs, ultimately impacting many lives.

Smokey passed away at the age of 14, having lived a fulfilling life and leaving behind a legacy of joy and healing.

Owners voices

"To follow soon"

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Is the Yorkshire Terrier a good dog breed for me?

Whether the Yorkshire Terrier is a good dog breed for you depends on various factors, including your lifestyle, preferences, and ability to meet their specific needs. Yorkies are known for their small size, intelligence, and affectionate nature, making them great companions.

The Yorkshire Terrier's temperament makes them an excellent dog for the right owner. They are loving, loyal and self-confident dogs, and you will never experience a dull moment with them. Their emotional intelligence and empathy toward their owner make them the perfect companion dog.

Their funny personalities can light up a room, and they have big hearts.

As a potential future owner, you should have enough time to dedicate to your Yorkie's grooming routine and daily exercise requirements.

If you have young, unruly children, you might consider choosing a different dog breed until your children are a bit older.

Alternatively, ensure you have enough time to supervise interactions and teach your children how to approach your little Yorkie.

A Yorkshire Terrier might be an excellent fit if you have a relatively active lifestyle, can provide the necessary care, and enjoy the company of a small, sociable dog. It's essential to consider their traits and your own preferences to ensure a harmonious match.

Yorkshire Terrier Summary Breed Info box



Dog Size

average 30cm

Dog Weight

3.2kg -4.6kg

Bitch Size

average 28cm

Bitch Weight




Feeding Need


Tendency to drool


Energy level


Tendency to bark


Tendency to dig


Attention need



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