Yorkshire Terrier temperament and personality traits

Yorkshire Terrier running after a ball
A miniature dog with a big personality, the Yorkshire Terrier makes a confident, courageous, and affectionate companion.

Standing at around 20cm tall, the Yorkshire Terrier (or Yorkie) is one of the world’s smallest dog breeds. Yet these companion dogs aren’t what they first seem. For beyond the diminutive size and delicate appearance, lies an energetic, feisty, and intelligent character with a sharp instinct for hunting.

Illustration showing the height of a Yorkshire Terrier

A great family pet, the Yorkie is known for its unique if contradictory traits. They’re small but loud. Intelligent yet stubborn. Dignified but industrious. They’re also highly active yet are perfectly suited to life in an apartment. 

To understand these traits, you first need to look at where this gutsy toy breed came from, and surprisingly it wasn’t Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Terrier playing in the grass

A brief history of Yorkshire Terriers

It is thought Scottish miners would use Yorkshire Terriers to hunt for mice and rats, and when the miners migrated south during the industrial revolution, many of them brought their dogs with them; promptly putting them to work in the cotton mills and mines of Northern England.

Over time, they became popular with Victorian ladies and became beloved house pets. But their origins as a hunter of rats and mice continues to influence their personality and traits to this day.

What’s the Yorkshire Terrier temperament?

Illustration of a yellow ball

Yorkies love to be at the heart of the action. These natural attention seekers are self-assured, playful, and have stacks of personality – which can make them an extremely rewarding dog to own.

Illustration of a child and a paw print

However, their wilfulness can make them tricky to handle, and socialisation with other dogs and children is an important part of their training.


How much space does a Yorkshire Terrier need?

A Yorkshire Terrier’s petite size makes them well-suited to almost any home. They are equally comfortable in the city as they are in the country and make excellent watchdogs, thanks to their highly alert nature and fondness for barking.

Yorkshire Terrier indoors looking out of a window

How far can a Yorkshire Terrier walk? 

Although they are playful and highly active, they only require moderate exercise. A short walk once in the morning and again in the evening is usually sufficient. This makes them a particularly good choice for elderly owners.

How easy are they to train?

As a working breed, Yorkies have a great deal of mental energy, so games and training are an essential part of their daily routine. Without training, they’re prone to problem behaviours, such as excessive barking.

Training should begin at the puppy stage when they’re receptive and have a strong capacity for learning. Praise, affection, and positive reinforcement of good behaviour are vital.

Whilst they are bright and keen to please, training does take dedication.

Yorkshire Terrier being given a treat whilst on a walk

Are Yorkshire Terriers good family pets?

As loyal and affectionate companions, they can be an excellent choice for families. However, like all terrier breeds, they don’t always mix well with young children – especially active and noisy ones. 

Their strong-willed and dominant personality can also offer a challenge in homes with other pets and dogs. But if they’re introduced from a young age, and given the proper training and upbringing, they can integrate with pets larger than themselves.  

What should I feed my Yorkshire Terrier?

Like every dog, they need a nutritionally balanced diet containing the right amount of protein, fatty acids, fibre, starch, vitamins and minerals. However, Yorkshire Terriers are notoriously demanding when it comes to their food.

The Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier Breed Health range comprises of wet and dry food for adults and tailored diets for all ages. 

Illustration of a yorkshire terrier and royal canin dog food

Precisely balanced diets

As a small-sized breed, Yorkshire Terriers require food which relates directly to their energy requirements and need a diet which contains a higher energy concentration than that of larger dogs. Royal Canin Breed Health products are adapted to meet these precise requirements to support the health of your dog throughout their life.

  • Choosing the right dog