Why Are Yorkies So Mean? Unraveling the Mystery Behind Their Temperament

Yorkshire Terriers, commonly known as Yorkies, are small, affectionate dogs that have captured the hearts of many dog enthusiasts. Despite their adorable appearance, some people have raised concerns about these dogs being mean or aggressive.

If you’re a Yorkie owner or considering getting one, you might be wondering why these little dogs have a reputation for being mean.

It’s important to note that Yorkies are not inherently mean by nature. In fact, they are quite loving and can become loyal companions when properly trained and socialized.

Various factors can cause a Yorkie to exhibit mean or aggressive behavior, including teething, high energy levels, fear, and underlying health issue.

Understanding Yorkie Temperament

why are yorkies so mean

Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, may sometimes display mean behavior, but it’s crucial to understand that they are not inherently mean. Yorkies are actually affectionate dogs with strong hunting and protective instincts.

Their temperament can be influenced by various factors, and addressing those factors can help you to have a more harmonious relationship with your furry friend.

Teething Pain

One possible reason for mean behavior in Yorkies can be their teething phase, which usually occurs when they are between 4 to 8 months old. During this time, they might display aggression due to discomfort.

To alleviate your Yorkie’s teething pain, you can provide them with appropriate chewing toys and keep an eye on their progress.

Anxiety and Fear

Another factor to consider is your Yorkie’s fear or anxiety. These small dogs might show aggression as a coping mechanism to deal with their emotions. It’s essential to recognize the root cause of your Yorkie’s fear and help them feel safe in their environment.

This could involve gradual exposure to new experiences, providing them with a comfortable and calm space, or working with a professional trainer.

Intelligence and Stubbornness

Moreover, it’s essential to acknowledge the strong intelligence and independence of your Yorkie. Their smart nature makes them easy to train, but it may also lead them to be more assertive and display mean behavior if not properly trained and socialized.

To ensure that your Yorkie is well-behaved, ensure that you’re investing time and effort into consistent training and positive reinforcement.

By understanding the temperament and behavior of your Yorkie, you can take steps to manage and mitigate any mean behavior. With patience, compassion, and consistency, you can forge a strong bond with your Yorkshire Terrier and help them unleash their loving and loyal nature.

Factors Contributing to Aggressive Yorkie Behaviour

are yorkies really mean?

Nature and Genetics

Yorkies, like any other dog breed, may display aggressive behavior due to their genetic disposition. Although they are small and adorable, they have a terrier lineage, which is known for being feisty and protective.

Yorkies have been bred for specific purposes, such as hunting rats and small animals. This heritage may lead to aggression in your Yorkie, even if they haven’t been exposed to such situations themselves.

Nurture and Environment

The environment in which a Yorkie is raised and the way they are treated can significantly impact their behavior. Factors such as early socialization, training, and the consistency of discipline play a role in shaping your Yorkie’s personality.

Establish clear boundaries and provide positive reinforcement when your Yorkie exhibits positive behavior. Early exposure to different people, animals, and situations can also help reduce aggressive behavior by allowing your Yorkie to develop proper social skills.

Health Conditions

Aggressive behavior in Yorkies may be caused by underlying health issues. Health problems like brain tumors, seizures, neurological problems, and thyroid disorders can contribute to sudden and unexplained shifts in behavior.

If your Yorkie displays aggressive tendencies and you suspect a medical issue may be at play, consult with your veterinarian to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Addressing health issues is not only crucial for behavioral considerations but also to ensure your Yorkie has the best possible quality of life.

Effective Training for Yorkies

Yorkies, or Yorkshire Terriers, are not mean by nature but are instinctive, and with proper training and socialization, they can bring lots of joy to their owners. This section breaks down some useful Yorkie training principles focusing on establishing leadership, positive reinforcement, and ensuring early and consistent training to develop a well-behaved and affectionate Yorkie.

Establishing Leadership

Establishing yourself as the leader of your Yorkie is crucial for their overall obedience and happiness. Yorkies can be stubborn and can develop undesirable behaviors if they view themselves as leader. To establish your leadership:

  • Maintain a consistent routine for meals, walks, and playtime. This way, your Yorkie will know what to expect and will view you as the source of structure.
  • Always ensure you enter and exit doorways before your dog to assert your leadership.
  • Enforce clear boundaries (e.g., not allowing them on furniture) and calmly correct unwanted behaviors such as excessive barking or chewing.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an essential part of effectively training your Yorkie. Using rewards and praise when your Yorkie displays desired behaviors is a great way to increase the likelihood of them repeating those behaviors. Here are some tips for using positive reinforcement:

  • Always reward your Yorkie immediately after they perform a desired behavior. This helps them to associate the reward with the behavior.
  • Use small, healthy treats or verbal praise as rewards and vary them to keep your Yorkie interested.
  • Gradually decrease the frequency of rewards as your Yorkie becomes more confident in performing the desired behavior.

Remember, repetition, consistency, and starting early are key aspects of training a Yorkie puppy. By using these methods, you will establish a strong bond and effectively set your Yorkie up for success. Happy training!

Influence of Yorkie Breed Characteristics on Behaviour

In this section, we will explore how certain characteristics of the Yorkshire Terrier breed can influence their behavior. By understanding these factors, you can better manage and train your Yorkie to ensure a harmonious living environment.

Size and Personality

Despite their small size, Yorkies possess a big personality. They are known for being affectionate, bright, and playful. Due to their tiny stature, they tend to develop a feisty temperament and a bold attitude, which might be interpreted as “mean” by some people. These little dogs won’t hesitate to stand up for themselves or protect their territory.

History and Breeding Purpose

Yorkies were originally bred to hunt rats in textile mills during the 19th century. Their hunting instincts and protective nature were desirable qualities for this purpose. However, these traits can sometimes lead to aggressive play and behaviors that may be interpreted as “mean” by people who are unfamiliar with the breed. Ensuring proper training and socialization can help to mitigate these aggressive tendencies in your Yorkie.

Breed-Specific Traits

  • Barking: Yorkies are infamous for their persistent and shrill barking, which can be traced back to their territorial instincts. They use barking as a means of protecting and guarding their home, and may show aggression towards perceived intruders.
  • Independence and Courage: These small dogs are highly independent and courageous, often displaying ferocity when faced with potential threats. This level of confidence can sometimes be viewed as “mean” if not managed properly.
  • Energy Levels: Yorkies are energetic and active. If not given proper physical and mental exercise, their energy can manifest as destructive or aggressive behavior.

As a Yorkie owner, it is essential to understand these breed-specific traits and behaviors so that you can provide the appropriate training and socialization to maintain a balanced and happy relationship with your furry friend.

Signs of Aggression in Yorkies

Yorkies can exhibit aggressive behavior for various reasons. By understanding the signs of aggression, you can identify the potential causes and take appropriate steps to help your Yorkie overcome them. This section will discuss the vocalizations, body language, and unwanted behaviors that may indicate aggression in your Yorkie.


One of the key indicators of aggression in Yorkies is their vocal behavior. When your dog displays aggressive tendencies, you may notice the following:

  • Loud and persistent barking: This may serve as a warning or an attempt to assert dominance.
  • Growling: A Yorkie may growl to express frustration, fear, or anger.
  • Snarling: Snarling is a more intense form of growling, often combined with showing teeth, and is a sign that your Yorkie may be prepared to bite.

Body Language

A Yorkie’s body language can also convey aggressive intentions. Pay attention to these signs:

  • Stiff, raised hackles: The hair along your Yorkie’s spine may stand up when they feel threatened or angry.
  • Ears pinned back: This can indicate fear, anxiety, or aggression, depending on the context.
  • Direct and prolonged eye contact: Intense staring can be a sign that your Yorkie is challenging or feeling threatened by another dog or person.
  • Tail held high and rigid: A stiff, raised tail often signifies arousal, alertness, or aggression.

Unwanted Behaviors

In some cases, a Yorkie’s aggression may manifest as unwanted behaviors. These can include:

  • Biting: An aggressive Yorkie may bite to protect themselves or assert their dominance.
  • Snapping at the air: This behavior, called “air snapping,” can be a warning sign that your Yorkie may bite if the perceived threat continues.
  • Guarding resources: If your Yorkie becomes aggressive around food, treats, toys, or a particular area, this could be a sign of resource guarding.
  • Excessive chewing: While teething may be the cause for some Yorkie puppies, excessive chewing can also be an indicator of frustration or anxiety.

By recognizing these signs of aggression in your Yorkie, you can help address and manage their behavior, ensuring a happier and healthier relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do Yorkies often show aggressive behavior?

Yorkies may exhibit aggressive behavior due to their instinctive nature and small size. They were originally bred to catch rats, which required a certain level of aggression. However, a Yorkie’s aggressiveness can be mitigated through proper training and socialization from an early age. Ensuring your Yorkie is well socialized and exposed to various situations can help prevent aggression.

What factors contribute to Yorkies being stubborn?

Yorkies can be stubborn for several reasons, including their intelligence and innate assertiveness. They are intelligent dogs, which can make them independent thinkers and sometimes resistant to training. To counteract this stubbornness, be patient, consistent, and use positive reinforcement during training sessions.

How can one address a Yorkie’s neediness?

Yorkies are known for developing strong bonds with their owners, which can sometimes lead to neediness and separation anxiety. To address this issue, gradually teach your Yorkie to be comfortable with being alone. Start by leaving them alone for short periods, and gradually increase the duration. Additionally, providing toys and puzzles can help keep your Yorkie engaged and mentally stimulated during your absence.

What makes Yorkies difficult to potty train?

Potty training a Yorkie can be challenging due to their small size and higher energy levels. However, with patience, consistency, and a properly established routine, Yorkies can be successfully potty trained. Be sure to reward your Yorkie with praise and treats for using the designated potty area, and try to keep their daily schedule predictable.

Why do some Yorkies snap at people?

Some Yorkies may snap at people out of fear or because they feel threatened. This behavior can be remedied through proper socialization and desensitization, exposing your Yorkie to a variety of people and situations in a controlled and safe manner. Building trust and communicating calmly with your Yorkie can also help reduce this behavior.

What causes aggression towards other dogs in Yorkies?

Aggression towards other dogs in Yorkies can be caused by various factors, including fear, territoriality, and lack of proper socialization. To minimize aggression towards other dogs, introduce your Yorkie to different dogs gradually and in controlled environments. Regular leash training, obedience classes, and positive reinforcement can also help curb aggressive behavior towards other dogs.