Are Yorkies Aggressive? (Causes And Training Tips Included)

When researching dog breeds to bring home, the most important thing to research is whether or not that breed is aggressive. The dog you bring home must be safe for your family, as well as visiting friends and family.

Yorkies are not known to be particularly aggressive. However, this is a generalization for the breed. Each individual dog will vary in levels of aggression. So how do you know if a Yorkie is aggressive?

This article discusses Yorkies and their personalities, whether they are aggressive, signs that they could become aggressive, and how to train your Yorkie to not be aggressive.

Are Yorkies Aggressive?

When most people think of Yorkies, they think of tiny, adorable purse dogs. However, Yorkies are known to have big personalities and sometimes dominant behavior.

While Yorkies are not typically aggressive, they are known to bite and nip playfully as puppies. While this behavior may seem harmless or even cute, you should still take it seriously. As they get older, biting will become a learned habit, and it will be harder to get them to stop.

The Yorkie temperament is mostly energetic with a little bit of feistiness. Even though they are small in size, Yorkies may sometimes pick fights with larger dogs. Training your Yorkshire Terrier well and within the first few months of its life can ensure that it does not become aggressive.

Other than a little bit of mischief, you don’t usually have to worry about aggression in your Yorkie. However, certain things can make a Yorkie aggressive. The more you train them and work with them, the lower your Yorkie’s aggression will be.

(Want to know whether Yorkies are easy or hard to train?)

What Can Make A Yorkie Aggressive?

Particular occurrences can trigger aggressive reactions such as biting, growling and barking. It is important to socialize your Yorkie while they are still young. Training your Yorkie to relate with people and objects by giving them frequent, positive contact will help the dog learn appropriate ways to react.

However, even with proper training and socialization, some dogs will still show aggressive behavior occasionally. This is because Yorkies were bred as hunting dogs, so their aggressiveness in hunting and killing small mammals was rewarded.

Specific things can cause aggressiveness in a Yorkshire Terrier.


When a Yorkie feels scared, it may resort to aggression. When a dog is scared, they will act defensive by increasing the distance between themselves and the perceived threat. They may display other behaviors that communicate to “stay away,” such as growling or barking.

Some Yorkies will display fearful behaviors but will not resort to aggression. A scared dog will try to look small or invisible. It will back away from the threat with a tucked tail and rigid posture. An aggressive dog will try to look large and threatening.

Fear aggression will appear different from an aggressive personality. Dogs that are scared of a perceived threat will growl or bite to protect themselves or their family. It is important to watch out for events that may cause a fearful dog to react with fear aggression.


Like fear, stress may also cause aggression in Yorkies. If your Yorkie is showing aggressive behaviors and doesn’t normally, it may be that they are feeling stressed.

Stressed dogs show specific body language. Dogs that are feeling stressed will pace, “shake off” as if they were wet, whine or whine-bark, and yawn, drool and lick more than usual. Stressed dogs may also shed more, pant when it is not hot, or they have not exercised, and show a different posture than they normally do, like holding their ears back.

Stressed dogs are more likely to show aggressive and destructive behaviors, bark excessively, show over-attachment, or engage in hyperactivity. These behaviors are a dog’s way of reacting to stress.


Fear and anxiety are the most common reasons a non-aggressive dog will show aggression. Depending on the situation, a dog’s anxiety-related aggression may be targeted directly or indirectly.

Anxiety in dogs is caused by fear and separation. New situations and loud noises can cause anxiety in dogs. More anxious dogs will be affected more strongly than non-anxious dogs. Separation from their owners is another major anxiety inducer.

Signs that your dog is feeling anxious include aggression, urinating or defecating in the house, destructive behavior, panting, drooling, excessive barking, restlessness and pacing, and depression.

Dogs feel anxiety that is caused by certain events. Too many of these events can result in serious issues. Dogs with constant anxiety may sometimes show aggressive behavior, even if they do not have aggressive personalities.

Health Problems

Another reason your Yorkie may show signs of aggression is that they have health problems or mental conditions responsible for the aggression. The most even-tempered dog can show aggression with a health problem or mental disorder even with the best training.

Health problems that can cause aggression in dogs include thyroid disorders, brain tumors, neurological problems, and seizures. If this is the case, it is best to consult a vet and treat the health issue. You can not diagnose any of these in your dog, so you need to talk to an expert if you think this is what is causing your Yorkie’s aggression.


Similar to anxiety, loneliness may also cause aggression in dogs. Some dogs get very distressed when they are separated from their owners. When left alone often, they can become lonely.

Loneliness can cause a dog to bark and whine, engage in destructive behavior, and urinate and defecate in the house. Some dogs may become aggressive when they know that their owner is about to leave them alone. Dogs that show these behaviors are telling you that they are not happy being left alone.


Sexual-based aggression is more typical in male dogs. This type of aggression will show itself as your dog mounting or attempting to mount another dog or other people.

While castration and training can help with this behavior, you must be careful. Castration on an aggressive dog can make the problem worse. This is because neutering removes certain hormones that can change a dog’s behavior. It is best to talk to an expert about this behavior before you decide to castrate your dog.

Simply letting your dog mate with other dogs will not solve this problem. It may even make the problem worse.


A dog that has experienced trauma may also show aggressive behaviors. Signs that your dog has experienced trauma include not eating, not defecating, not sleeping, pacing, hyper-vigilance, being easily startled, extreme fear, and sudden outbursts of aggression.

Dogs that have experienced trauma get flashbacks triggered by environmental factors that remind them of the trauma.

Typical trauma for dogs includes being abused, being attacked by other dogs or animals, and when an individual in their life, whether it is a previous owner or other pet, has left permanently (Dogs don’t understand death, but they do understand that someone is missing).

(Curious to know how long your Yorkie will live for?)

Why Is Your Yorkie Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?

There are numerous reasons your Yorkie may be acting aggressively towards other dogs. Even though they are small, they are brave and curious. The best way to figure out why your Yorkie is aggressive towards other dogs is to observe and analyze their behavior.


A dog that is feeling anxious and/or stressed may display aggression. When your dog is exposed to new situations, it may feel anxious. Taking your dog to a dog park to meet new people and animals can be overwhelming and can cause them to behave aggressively towards other dogs.


As mentioned before, sexuality in male dogs may make them show signs of aggression, even if they are not usually aggressive. If your dog is suddenly acting dominant around other dogs, it could be that they are feeling sexually aggressive.


Dogs sometimes behave aggressively towards other dogs when they are scared of them. Dogs that have had a negative experience with another dog are more likely to behave aggressively towards other dogs.

Poor Socialization Skills

Yorkies, like other dogs, need to be properly socialized. This helps them know how to behave around people and animals. If your Yorkie behaves aggressively towards other dogs, it could be that they do not understand the other dog’s behavior or do not know how to react to that behavior.


When dogs bark aggressively at other dogs, it means they are highly reactive. Not all highly reactive dogs will attack. Reactive dogs have formed a habit of reacting a certain way to other dogs.

How To Train A Yorkie To Not Be Aggressive

There are ways you can stop aggressive behavior in Yorkies. You want to focus on training them in a calm and comfortable environment. Make sure you have a happy and positive attitude and avoid scolding your dog.

Socialization And Training

Starting socialization and training when your dog is still a puppy is the best way to reduce aggressive behaviors. Even if your Yorkie is a full-grown adult dog, they can still benefit from socialization and training.

You want to expose your dog to people and other dogs. Don’t force them to interact when they are not comfortable. This can lead to anxiety, which can lead to aggression. Make sure your dog is able to retreat from the situation and keep them at a safe distance where they feel comfortable.

Reward Calm Behavior

Another way to reduce aggression in your Yorkie is to reward calm behavior. For example, you can take treats with you on your walk and reward your dog for behaving calmly. This will help your dog feel less anxious.

Never reward your dog with a treat after it has behaved aggressively. This will perpetuate the aggression and teach your dog that it is not only acceptable, but rewarded.

Keep A Calm Attitude

You should portray a sense of calmness when training your Yorkie. You should also have other people, like children and family members in the house, stay calm and relaxed around your dog. Inform others that they should not encourage aggressive behavior in your Yorkie.

Scolding your dog will only heighten their anxiety. You should also avoid picking them up, which can cause confusion and make them feel defensive.

Consider Obedience Courses

If you feel you can’t reduce your Yorkie’s aggression, you can take your dog to an obedience class. Obedience courses teach dogs acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It will also help them understand that you are their leader and they can’t do whatever they want.

Consider Spaying Or Neutering

If you suspect that your Yorkie is behaving aggressively because of sexual hormones – mounting other dogs, whether male or female, harassing female dogs – consider spaying or neutering them. You should always talk to an expert in dog behavior before you decide to do this.

Spaying or neutering your dog can prevent them from developing hormone-driven aggression issues. This works best if you do it before they reach sexual maturity.

Understand Your Yorkie’s Natural Instincts

Yorkies were bred to hunt small mammals and rodents, so they are naturally inclined to run after prey and bite or attack. Children running and squealing can trigger your Yorkie’s prey drive, which can cause them to bite or chase them.

You must understand your dog’s natural instincts and avoid scolding them for following them. You must also teach others how to behave around your dog, especially children.

Check Your Yorkie’s Health

As mentioned before, health problems can cause aggressive behaviors. If your dog is uncharacteristically aggressive, it may be caused by a mental disorder or health condition. Get your dog to the vet, explain the change in your dog, and get them checked for various health problems.

Things like tooth problems, genetic diseases, loss of vision, and old age can be the cause of your dog’s change in behavior or personality.

Want To Train Your Yorkie With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your Yorkie properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Yorkie completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)

What You Should Avoid Doing

If you know your Yorkie behaves aggressively at times, there are things you should avoid doing. Certain factors and situations cause fear, anxiety, and stress in your dog, which could cause them to behave aggressively.

Putting Them In Stressful Situations

One thing you should avoid doing when you know your dog is aggressive is putting them in stressful situations. Providing a quiet and stable environment is the first step to reducing aggression in Yorkies.

To improve your dog’s temperament, prepare your environment in a way that will relax your dog and make them feel comfortable. By doing this, your dog will respond by being calm and less aggressive.

Scorning Your Dog

Your Yorkie’s aggression is likely being caused by extreme anxiety or stress. If your dog is suffering from these problems, you shouldn’t scold them. This can make the problem worse.

To promote the desired behavior in your dog, you want to use positive reinforcement, not negative reinforcement. This will help your dog feel more comfortable around you and provide the right learning environment.

Letting Your Dog Continue Aggressive Behaviors

You should avoid letting your dog continue aggressive behaviors. It is crucial to proactively train your dog. Letting your dog do whatever they want will send the message that they are in charge, not you. This can lead to dominant and aggressive behavior.

Dogs are bred for obedience. They typically comply with commands as long as they understand what is being asked of them. Taking 15 minutes out of your day to train your dog will help your dog adjust their behaviors the way you want.

Remember to give your dog small rewards when they do well. Keep a calm and positive demeanor when training your dog so that they feel comfortable and happy.

Stressing Your Dog

You know your dog’s personality, so you know what makes them feel stressed. If you know that your dog reacts aggressively when they feel stressed by specific situations, it is important to avoid those stressful situations.

For example, if your dog feels stressed when there are too many people or too many strangers, keep your dog away from this situation, so it does not feel stressed. Also, if your dog feels stressed around children or toddlers, put them in a different room or in their crate to avoid aggressive behaviors.

Ignoring Your Yorkie’s Needs

Your Yorkie has needs and desires that must be met. This doesn’t just include food and water. Make sure your dog is getting enough attention, exercise, mental stimulation, etc. A dog whose needs are met is less likely to behave aggressively.

Thinking Of Your Dog As “Harmless”

A dog that behaves aggressively, even if it is rare, is never entirely harmless. Even though your Yorkie is small (The average Yorkie weighs seven pounds.), they can still cause harm to others by biting or scratching. And even if they have never been aggressive towards you, they may still be aggressive towards others.

You must take aggressive behaviors seriously. Even though their bites may not hurt and they couldn’t really harm a larger dog, you should still work to reduce these aggressive behaviors. A small dog growling may seem cute and harmless, but growling is a dog’s way of warning others that they are feeling aggressive.

Also, when other dogs sense that your Yorkie is feeling aggressive, they may respond by challenging your dog or even attacking them. This can cause your Yorkie serious harm, which is another reason to train your dog to be less aggressive.

Do Yorkies Bite Their Owners?

It is possible for Yorkies to bite their owners. They bite for many reasons. And while it may not hurt, you should still take it seriously. Yorkies biting and nipping can become a problem if left unchecked.

Yorkies bite their owners for the following reasons:

  • Territory protection – they want to protect their space or possessions
  • Fear – they feel threatened by you
  • Pain – they bite as a protective mechanism when they are in pain
  • Lonely – they are asking for attention/to play
  • Learned behavior – they learned to bite with their siblings. If your Yorkie is still a pup, they think nipping is normal behavior.

How To Stop Yorkie Biting/Nipping

There are two methods you should begin doing as soon as you notice your dog biting or nipping.

First, pull back your hand. Say “ow” or “ouch” in a firm tone. Use the same word and tone each time your Yorkie bites you. Remember not to laugh or continue playing when they bite. They need to learn that this behavior is unacceptable.

If the first method is not working, you can try another method. This involves ignoring your Yorkie for five minutes after they bite you. Don’t talk to them, give them toys, or interact with them. Resist eye contact, cuddles, and kisses when ignoring them. This will eventually modify their behavior and keep them from biting.

Yorkies are a small breed, but they are still assertive and dominant. Even though they are not an aggressive breed, Yorkies may sometimes behave aggressively. Every dog has a different temperament, so you should watch out for signs of aggression such as growling, barking, showing teeth, and mounting other dogs.

As soon as you notice warning signs of aggression – growling, barking at someone directly, showing teeth, or mounting – you need to remove your Yorkie from the stressful situation. Yorkies typically only behave aggressively when they are scared, anxious, or stressed.

The best thing you can do when you notice your dog behaving aggressively is to train them actively. Don’t let them continue their aggressive behaviors. You don’t want to scold them. Instead, use positive reinforcement to teach them acceptable behaviors.


Proper training and socialization are the keys to reducing aggression in any dog. The younger the dog is, the better. Without appropriate training and socialization, Yorkies may end up being habitually aggressive towards people and other dogs.

The most important thing to remember is that treating your dog’s aggressiveness takes time. They need your dedication and patience to learn acceptable behaviors. Follow the steps and tips in this article to train your dog and learn what triggers them to behave aggressively. Avoid putting your dog in situations you know will cause them to show aggression.