Yorkie Temperament: Are They Good with Other Dogs and Cats?

Adorable as they are, Yorkies can sometimes have a bit of an unpredictable temperament. While they are usually great with their owners and those they become accustomed to, they can often react unexpectedly when it comes to meeting other dogs and cats. So…

Are Yorkies good with other dogs and cats? Yorkies can be great with other dogs and cats. However, by nature, they have a nervous disposition and can show signs of aggression if they feel threatened by others. Early socialization is a huge factor in determining a Yorkies temperament around other animals.

If you are worried about bringing a Yorkie home to meet the furry members of your family – dogs or cats, in most cases there’s no need to worry. Nevertheless, there are some things to look out for and some pointers that may help you along the way. Let’s get into some details and also cover some other typical Yorkie traits to be aware of.

What Is a Yorkies’ Temperament Like?

First of all, here’s an overview of a typical Yorkie’s characteristics to help you better understand a Yorkie’s temperament:

Characteristic / TraitRating
1 = Poor/Low 5 = Excellent/High
Overall Adaptability3
Living In Apartments5
For Novice Owners4
Tolerates Being Alone2
Tolerates Cold Weather2
Tolerates Hot Weather2
All-Around Friendliness3
Affectionate with Family4
Friendly towards Strangers2
Child Friendly2
Easy to train3
Tendency to Bark or Howl4
Easy to Groom1
General Health4
Potential for Weight Gain2

Do Yorkies Get Along With Other Dogs?

A vet once said to us that most Yorkies don’t actually see themselves as dogs at all. It’s almost as though they only consider other Yorkies to be worthy of their attention and time. I can confirm that this statement definitely holds at least some truth.

In the case of our Yorkie, she tends to just ignore other breeds of dogs entirely. That is unless they approach her directly first and then she can get quite defensive and sometimes even growls or snarls. This looks more comical than threatening but it isn’t the desired reaction.

On the other hand, when another Yorkie or similar breed approaches, she tends to be more inquisitive. She may instigate interactions herself while adopting a more friendly attitude.

This illustrates the point that Yorkies are often very selective about the type of dogs they choose to mingle with. That said, given enough time together, they will learn to get along almost any other dog or tolerate them at the very least!

What Kind of Dogs Do Yorkies Get Along With?

Yorkies generally have big personalities that more than compensate for their small stature. Due to their presiding personalities, they are usually more comfortable around dogs that have a more passive and docile nature.

Dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and even Great Danes fall nicely into this category. I myself have a Labrador which I keep alongside my Yorkie.

We got our Lab as a puppy when our Yorkie was already ten years old. Although it did take a couple of weeks for her to come around to the idea of a new larger and more energetic housemate, she got there soon enough.

Now the two get along well together, particularly since our Lab is now past her energetic puppy stage. The two can even be seen snuggling up to one another on occasion.

My Labrador Luna and Yorkie Gemma

The only minor disagreements they have is when my lab unintentionally approaches my Yorkie when she’s eating. This usually makes her grumble a bit but there’s never any real hard feelings.

This proves that while it is better to introduce other dogs to Yorkies when they are still young, it isn’t impossible for an older Yorkie to become accustomed to new dogs.

Socializing Yorkies From a Young Age

For a Yorkie to become comfortable around other dogs and animals, it’s recommended for them to be socialized from a very young age.

One of the key stages for a Yorkies social development is actually at around 8 weeks old. This is when Yorkies first become more aware of their surroundings and good socialization during this period is crucial.

This is also one of the reasons why it is not recommended for a Yorkie puppy to leave their mother and the rest of their litter until 12 weeks.

While they may be physically ready to leave their mother and siblings sooner than 12 weeks, their social development is usually not so advanced, this is sadly overlooked by some breeders.

For more information about when to separate Yorkie puppies from their mother I encourage you to read my article on the subject.

Recognize and Treat a Yorkies’ Aggression Towards Other Dogs

Most Yorkies will do well once they get used to another animal, however, meeting new dogs at the park can sometimes be more challenging.

Yorkies’ aggression can be a serious problem. If you find that your Yorkie gets stressed and aggressive in the presence of other dogs, keep a safe distance.

Ideally, you won’t have to do this forever, but until you know your Yorkie can behave around other animals, it is your duty to try to minimize the anxiety and bad behavior that can result.

With most dogs you know that something has rubbed them up the wrong way when they raise their hackles. However, being that Yorkies have long hair, Yorkie owners do not have this luxury.

You can still identify aggression building up toward another dog when your Yorkie is portraying the warning signs as below:

  • Lunging
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Posturing
  • Looking directly into the eyes of the other dog
  • Prickled ears
  • Exposing its teeth

If your Yorkie exhibits these behaviors when another dog approaches on a walk, give them a wide berth until you can be more sure of a positive encounter.

Train Your Yorkie To Get Along with Other New Dogs

Nature and nurture are both important aspects that shape your pet’s personality. Although some dog breeds were fighters in the past, they can still be nurtured as lapdogs and companions.

Dogs, like humans, have built-in traits and behaviors. However, these are not only subject to genetics but they are also linked to the external environment which affects and molds behavior to a great extent.

Finding the right training needs and socialization tactics can work wonders in playing against hereditary traits. Exposing Yorkies to a civilized environment also helps tremendously.

You can try treating your Yorkie’s aggression towards other dogs with some of the following methods:

  • Distraction: The first thing you can do is calmly distract and divert their attention elsewhere when you see the aggression warning signs.
  • Desensitization: This is recommended by many dog trainers. Use positive re-enforcements to reduce the physical distance between your Yorkie and another dog. This helps eliminate the anxiety and fear. Speak to a trainer or veterinarian for more advice on desensitization.
  • Do not punish them physically or yell at them. This may cause them to feel stressed and increase their aggression.
  • Socialize them slowly but frequently. Try to make them feel comfortable around other dogs by increasing their possibilities to make friends. The more dogs they can encounter the better.

Introducing Yorkies to New Cohabiting Dogs

Some of the above tips still apply here but they are really more useful for meeting other dogs out and about.

One of the best tips I can give for introducing dogs to each other around the home for the first time is actually to take them out of the house for a walk together as soon as possible.

For most dogs, walking parallel alongside another dog is far less threatening than being approached head-on, face to face, and in their own territory.

This way they are on neutral ground and heading in the same direction, acting as though they were part of a pack in the wild. I’ve seen this work wonders on a number of occasions with different dogs that previously had “personality clashes”.

This technique is also great if you have an older dog who is more established within your home as they are less likely to feel as though their territory is being invaded by a stranger.

By the time you return home, they will likely be more accepting of the new company. Burning off excess energy can also contribute.

Are Yorkies Good with Cats?

There are definitely varying experiences and opinions out there on this one.

Some people say that Yorkies don’t get along with cats and their behavior toward felines may trace back to their history of being working dogs, specifically bred to kill rats and mice.

I’ll admit that Yorkies, as friendly as they can be with their owners, can be equally territorial, which can cause minor disputes here and there. However, properly socialized Yorkies definitely can and do get along with cats or at the very least will put up with them.

Often you will need to be more mindful of how your cat may react to your Yorkie rather than the other way around…

When we first brought our kitten home, our Yorkie was intrigued by the sight of this cute little fur-ball. However, after about a minute of cute and affectionate interaction, BAM! Our adorable little kitten hit our poor unsuspecting Yorkie right in the chops with surprising force.

Our Yorkie was left slightly dazed but mostly confused by what had just happened. For the next couple of days she was very cautious of the cat and kept her distance.

Nevertheless, the two grew to tolerate each other and we never had any real problems.

In fact, some years later when we brought our Labrador home for the first time, the cat and the Yorkie ran off to the bedroom together and huddled on the bed together for protection and comfort. I guess it helps to have a common enemy!

There are many, many examples of Yorkies getting along well with their feline friends. See the clip below for one.


Our Yorkie also gets on particularly well with our friend’s cat whenever we go to visit them. They often greet each other affectionately and there are never any signs of aggression.

Unfortunately, it’s often a different story when our Yorkie sees a random cat out in the garden. In which case, her territorial nature reigns supreme. She won’t hesitate to chase them off of the property and she can be quite vocal in her disapproval.

Train a Yorkie to Get Along With a Cat

If your unfortunate enough that your Yorkie is unfriendly or snappy and chases your cat around the house, it will have to be trained out of this behavior.

Your Yorkie will continue to act this way unless you are strict with them and make it clear that this aggression is not acceptable.

As they often like to be the boss or leader of the household, they may think they are in charge which is often the main issue. It is in your hands to help them understand who the boss really is.

Diligently enforcing and asserting your own dominance as the leader and decision-maker in the house can help calm an aggressive Yorkie. This can be done in a number of ways such as:

  • Always eat before your Yorkie
  • Always be the first to walk through doorways
  • Always be the first to go up or downstairs
  • Do not give attention to your Yorkie when you first enter the room or house
  • Do not roll on the floor or lay down in submissive positions
  • Ensure that your Yorkie remains by your side or behind you when going for a walk

If your Yorkie is chasing your cat frequently, you should also ensure that your Yorkie gets enough mental stimulation from day to day.

This can be in the form of walks and exercise like playing fetch. Ensuring they are mentally stimulated will help alleviate their urge to chase your cat for sport.

Pay close attention to your dog’s body language when in the vicinity of your cat. When you see your dog is taking too much interest, immediately try to draw away their attention.

Use plenty of positive reinforcement whenever their focus shifts to anything other than the cat using treats and plenty of praise.

If you have a particularly troublesome Yorkie and you are not intending on breeding them, you may want to consider having them neutered or spayed. Neutering or spaying can help improve your Yorkie’s behavior along with several other benefits.

Do Male and Female Yorkies Get Along?

Generally speaking, Yorkies tend to get on with each other fairly well. but is it sensible to keep males with females?

Male Yorkies are typically more protective (or maybe just possessive) over their other four-legged friends, and so they tend to be more affectionate towards their female counterparts than the females are towards them.

Here are some other general gender differences that can contribute to behavior. Though these are not steadfast rules, these traits are common within their respective gender groups.

Male Yorkie BehaviorFemale Yorkie Behavior
They are steadfast and reliable and have consistent moodsWant to be the center of your attention and affection
They are friendly, and they get along with other pets well tooLike to be the alpha dog and can be “bossy” over their male counterparts
Male Yorkies try to stay close and cuddle with their ownersCan be independent, stubborn and territorial at times
They are more submissive, especially to female YorkiesThey’re hyper-aware (all ears if anything is happening in the house)

Male and female Yorkies absolutely can get along with each other and usually do. However, you can never truly predict that Yorkies will even get along with their own gender at times.

Issues can arise, often down to the female’s more dominant or even aggressive nature at times. This is particularly true if they’ve recently had puppies as they can become very protective over their litter.

Females tend to bond better with their male owners more readily than their male Yorkie counterparts. Nonetheless, many male and female Yorkies do just fine together.

It’s important to note that Yorkies don’t like to be left alone. Having them grow up in pairs of male and female from an earlier age can help them form stronger relationships.

This can be beneficial for both dogs in the long run, particularly if you have to leave them unaccompanied in the house frequently.

Yorkies benefit from any and all socialization while young. If they start as puppies, they are more likely to naturally grow into social adults.

If for any reason, your Yorkies aren’t getting along, their different gender personality traits may give a clue as to what the issue is.

Do Yorkies Take After Their Owner’s Behavior?

It is vital to note that your Yorkie depends on you and your emotions to be happy. If trained properly, they will go out of their way to please you. This can be your greatest training tool.

Research shows that dogs can mirror their owner’s behavior. You can read more about this here.

You can put the effort in to transform that in-built canine behavior and set standards for them to follow. Set a good example. They are likely to follow your actions.

Mark Ingram

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it was informative and useful in some way. I love all of my pets and their care is paramount to me. I hope that my writing will help others in caring for their pets also.

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