If you’ve read other articles on this site, you may have noticed something.
We’re constantly mentioning how intelligent Yorkshire terriers are.
Is there any truth to that?
Or are we just so in love with our favorite breed that we see them as the best at everything.
While I’m sure there is an element of that, Yorkies are actually quite intelligent.
They are not the smartest breed of all (see below), or even in the top 10.
But they are near the top, though not as close as we would have liked.
Keep reading to learn just how smart Yorkies are. We’ll also cover some ways you can promote your pup’s cognitive abilities.
- 1 Are Yorkies Smart?
- 2 How Smart Are Yorkies?
- 2.1 They Are Easy To Train
- 2.2 Ways To Promote Yorkie Brain Function
- 2.3 What Is The Smartest Dog?
- 2.4 What Is The Dumbest Dog?
- 3 Are Yorkshire Terriers Intelligent: Conclusion
Are Yorkies Smart?
Yes, Yorkies are smart. The breed is 34th on a famous list of 135 dog breeds ranked by intelligence. Yorkshire terriers are alert, curious, and quick to figure out what they want, which is one of the main signs of dog intelligence.
Their natural smarts, loyalty, devotion, and eagerness to please their owners make them highly trainable as well.
How Smart Are Yorkies?
According to Dr. Stanley Coren who has studied the intelligence of dogs extensively, canine intelligence falls into three broad categories: adaptive, instinctive, and working/obedience intelligence.
Working/obedience intelligence is the measure of how well a dog performs in obedience task and listens to commands.
Dr. Coren found that, on average, Yorkies need a single command to be repeated 15 to 20 times before they understand and learn it. Moreover, most Yorkies obey the command 70% of the time the first time it is spoken.
Based on these findings, Dr. Coren placed the Yorkshire Terrier at number 34 (tied with the Puli breed) out of 135 dog breeds, on a list of ranking canines by their intelligence.
They Are Easy To Train
Different breeds have different levels of learning. Some breeds are easy to train and others are rather difficult. The Yorkshire terrier falls in the fairly easy-to-train category, despite having a reputation for being difficult to train.
That reputation is due to their short attention span and stubbornness. But you can overcome those if you know how to train yorkies to do tricks, by removing distractions when training, keeping training sessions short, and using positive reinforcement instead of punishment.
It is also interesting to know that female Yorkies are generally a bit easier to train, because they have a slightly longer attention span than males. Is a male or female Yorkie better as a pet? It depends. Read that article to learn which is better for you.
As for the intelligence of a dog, many factors play a role. In the case of Yorkies, the following 4 aspects of their personality and temperament make them easier to train.
It Is In Their Genes
Dr. Coren’s research shows that, like all terrier breeds, Yorkies rank very high in instinctive intelligence. Since the Yorkshire terrier was bred for hunting rats, it has many instincts hard-wired in its DNA.
This is the reason your Yorkie might run after small animals, dig out bunnies and snakes, and even grab and shake anything that resembles small prey.
Naturally, you need to harness this instinctive intelligence properly from the very beginning. If you do it right, you can greatly enhance your Yorkie’s working/obedience intelligence measurement.
Big Dog In A Small Package
The Yorkie might look small, but it has a huge personality! It exudes confidence, vigor, and self-importance. It is also tenacious, feisty, and brave. The AKC has laid these traits out as the Yorkshire Terrier’s breed standards.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see a tiny Yorkie take on a bigger dog, because it often forgets its size! This highly energetic and confident nature makes your Yorkie learn things a lot faster, because of its natural curiosity, alertness, and vitality.
They Are Highly Adaptable
Yorkies are super adaptable and their compact sizes makes them easy to tote around in small bags. This helps your little dog gain new experiences and helps socialize it, making it more confident.
Responsible Yorkie owners make it a point to train, desensitize, and socialize their pets from a young age. This mentally stimulates the puppy, keeping it smart and alert.
They Are Eager To Please
The Yorkie is inherently a loyal dog that is highly dedicated to its humans. Its loyalty and natural eagerness to please its owners make it highly trainable. Add to that the fact that the Yorkie loves to eat. If you use tasty training treats, your pet will be willing to do anything for you!
Ways To Promote Yorkie Brain Function
There are several ways to promote or enhance your Yorkie’s brain function. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to stimulate your pup mentally.
Training From Puppyhood
Yorkie puppies are like little sponges that mop up everything you teach them. The earlier you start your pup’s training, the more trainable it will be later in life.
Like human babies, your Yorkie needs healthy brain foods. Feed your little dog a high-quality kibble fortified with omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Puppies especially need long-chain omega fatty acids like DHA and EPA to enhance their brain development.
Exposure To Various Experiences
In other words, socialize your pup. Get it to play with other (vaccinated) dogs, and allow it to meet and greet people. Take it out on trips to the beach, mall, etc. Expose it to different sights and sounds.
Provide your Yorkie with interesting dog puzzles, treat dispenser, obstacle courses, etc. The popular dog puzzle from Nina Ottosson (the second one listed on that list we just linked to) has received rave reviews from pet owners and is known to keep dogs entertained and stimulated.
In addition to daily physical exercise, provide your Yorkie with mental stimulation through continued training and learning. Progress from one command to another. Remember to praise your dog and use positive reinforcement methods only. We have a number of articles on training your Yorkie to do tricks, like our post teaching you how to train a puppy to give paw.
What Is The Smartest Dog?
Herding dog breeds like Border Collies and German Shepherds are considered some of the smartest dogs.
A Border Collie named Chaser recognized over 1000 words in its lifetime and holds the title of the world’s smartest dog. Other Border Collies have demonstrated similar intelligence abilities from time to time. You can see Chaser show off in this video.
German Shepherds have also earned the reputation for being intelligent, courageous, and loyal. In fact, America’s first guide dog was a female German Shepherd named Buddy who helped her blind owner Morris Frank safely travel throughout the country.
Another German Shepherd (also named Buddy) saved his owner Ben Heinrichs when their house caught fire – and was awarded the medal for bravery for his courageous act.
German Shepherds also make the best police dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and even military dogs. They are excellent herders and not only herd cattle, but also protect them from predators like wolves.
Poodles are also considered extremely intelligent dogs. They are a highly trainable breed and combined with their hypoallergenic coats, they make one of the most popular dog breeds in the USA. They are also graceful, noble, and kind. The standard poodle is considered far more manageable and trainable than miniature and toy poodles.
What Is The Dumbest Dog?
Stanley Coren’s studies revealed that the Afghan Hound is one of the dumbest dog breeds. This has given the breed a bad reputation. There are even jokes floating around about them like: Which dog breed is the easiest to clone? The Afghan Hound, since it has so few brain cells.
There is a general consensus that hound breeds like Basset Hounds and Afghan Hounds have problems obeying commands. They show reluctance to come when called. They are certainly not considered as easy to train as the terrier breeds.
All this has given the bloodhounds and sighthound breeds the reputation of being dumb. However, hound dog breed owners might tell you otherwise.
Hound dogs are dignified, aloof, and sensitive. Their tenacity and unflappable focus are often mistaken for stubbornness. In reality, they are independent dogs that make excellent guard dogs.
The Afghan Hound is especially known for its nimble leaping and hunting skills. And sure, a Basset Hound might not be able to herd sheep like the smart German Shepherd, but it is darn great at tracking rabbits, treats, and, yes, even criminals!
Are Yorkshire Terriers Intelligent: Conclusion
Yorkies are well above average when it comes to intelligence. They may not make top the list of canine intelligence, or even make it in the top 10 list, but this breed is still pretty smart.
That makes them easier to train than most, although you do need ro know how to overcome their stubborness and short attention span. Both have resulted in a reputation for being hard to train.
Yorkies are also extremely loyal and protective. If you have a Yorkie as a pet, it will defend you and your property against anything. That said, they tend to get a bit too clingy, so you have to watch out for that.