A spunky, confident dog who has no idea they’re a handbag dog, the Yorkshire Terrier will take on terrifying beasts like the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, and the mail van without backing down. They’ll chase down that squeaky tennis ball or dust bunny tirelessly.
But will Yorkies kill mice? Just how tough is this tiny terrier? Can you trust them around other small household pets? Or do today’s Yorkshire Terriers prefer to chill out and relax with their owners on the couch? Let’s explore just how boisterous and pugnacious this diminutive dog really is.
Are Yorkies known for killing rats?
The Yorkie was bred as a companion dog in the past. During the Industrial Revolution, Scottish workers brought a dog called the Paisley or Clydesdale Terrier with them on the trains, to sit on their laps and keep them company. Though a much larger dog back then, these dogs were crossed with other dogs until they somehow slowly shrank into the teacup or handbag Yorkshire Terrier we know today!
However, ultimately, the Yorkshire Terrier’s main big historical use was to catch rats around the factories, textile mills, and coal mines of Scotland and Yorkshire.
This is obvious – the Yorkie can still be observed barking at and chasing small animals and toys today. They are alert dogs, too, and will bark to tell you if anyone comes to the door. And yes, they may even channel their ancient instincts and kill small animals.
Is the Yorkie a lap dog?
Yes, the Yorkshire Terrier could be called a lap dog. They are a people-oriented dogs, always up for a cuddle on the couch or a play with the ball in the yard. This is thanks to their past as a companion dog. The Yorkshire Terrier has had centuries to learn how to snuggle up to their owner perfectly. In fact, the Yorkie is so sociable that some Yorkies develop separation anxiety.
Yorkies are also small dogs though they themselves often don’t seem to know this. Weighing from 4 to 6 pounds, according to their AKC breed standard, and standing at 8 to 9 inches, the Yorkshire Terrier is the perfect size to curl up in anyone’s lap.
This coupled with the fact that their sleek yet thin coat means Yorkies don’t appreciate cold weather, even to the point of developing low blood sugar, means that spending most of their time in your lap is the perfect place for a Yorkshire Terrier!
What is the purpose of a Yorkie?
As we touched upon above, the Yorkshire Terrier has historically had two main purposes in their life: catching mice and cuddling up to their owners. Though you’ll still find plenty of Yorkies doing these two things at any given time today, modern Yorkshire Terriers have all sorts of purposes.
That silky coat means that many people breed and adopt Yorkshire Terriers in order to show them. Of course, when they’re not at the dog show, these Yorkies live as pets. But their obedience makes Yorkshire Terriers an excellent show dog.
Their obedience and sociability mean that loads of Yorkies excel at canine sports like Agility, too. Though their small size means they’re pooped after just one sprint around the course, Yorkshire Terriers pick up on commands quickly and are motivated to carry them out well for their favorite person.
This obedience paired with a Yorkie’s alertness also makes the breed a good guard dog. Even with zero training, your Yorkshire Terrier will tell you when someone passes by your door – especially if they’re walking another dog!
However, the Yorkie’s main purpose is, above all, to keep you company and provide you with daily snuggles. This is the main skill they’ve been honing for hundreds of years, after all!
Are Yorkies intelligent?
Yes, the Yorkie is a highly canny pooch! In 1994, a professor of psychology from British Columbia by the name of Stanley Coren carried out a massive study on canine intelligence. Stanley came up with 3 distinct groups of intelligence: Instinctive, Adaptive, Working and Obedience.
Of the 90 different breeds that ended up being included in Stanley’s study, the Yorkshire Terrier breed came in at 27. What this means is, the Yorkies surveyed obeyed a new command after 15 to 25 repetitions, on average. That being said, this sample definitely included plenty of Yorkies who were hungry, tired, distracted, stubborn, or who weren’t motivated enough by the treat offered at the time!
Many owners say that their own Yorkshire Terrier generally responds to commands given at home after just 5 or less tries, while other Yorkies simply aren’t interested in obedience training or pointless commands, but will thrive at other canine sports or will happily learn skills that benefit them, like barking at the door to the yard, or bringing you their leash! Every dog is an individual, after all.
Another way in which the Yorkshire Terrier is smart is their companionability. Many owners will tell you of how their Yorkie simply seems to just intuitively know what mood they’re in, and how to comfort them and make people happy. This isn’t a surprise when you consider the Yorkshire Terrier’s long past as a companion dog or lapdog.
Are Yorkies good with kids?
Since Yorkshire Terriers can be alert, loud, and intolerant of even the slightest rough handling, how does the breed do with children? Well, Yorkies are obedient and are all too happy to do as a child says if they’re playing tug-of-war or fetch together, for example.
Yorkshire Terriers will even sit still and play dress-up! However, kids who may pull on a Yorkie’s hair or accidentally hurt them should be kept away from the Yorkshire Terrier, who will likely snap without remorse.
Yorkies are also a small dog, unable to tug the leash out of the grasp of even the smallest person. This means most children should do fine with walking a Yorkshire Terrier. They can be a jealous dog, though, and may dislike new children being brought to the house.
A Yorkie definitely won’t get along with the family hamster and will chomp down on even a remote control car if they catch up to it, too. As well as this, their Terrier personality makes them unlikely to relinquish a toy unless something they deem equal is offered. But their spunky personality makes them an excellent friend for many kids!