Are Yorkies Smart? (And How Easy Are They To Train)

The Yorkshire Terrier is a popular toy dog breed. They are known for their affectionate personality and lively demeanor. They are also known for their obedience and quickness to learn.

This article discusses the Yorkshire Terrier’s intelligence compared to other breeds, the different types of canine intelligence, and how easy it is to train them.

So, Are Yorkies Smart?

Yorkies are highly intelligent dogs that are smarter than most other breeds. In fact, they have ranked the 34th most intelligent breed out of 138. Yorkies are undeniably an intelligent and obedient breed, but they are not among the top 10 smartest breeds.

The intelligence of a Yorkshire Terrier depends on the individual dog and other factors such as what they are taught, how much they are taught, and how much attention and mental stimulation they get.

Also, dogs may be more intelligent than what they showed while testing. They may have been distracted, tired, hungry, or are not used to the method you used. While Yorkshire Terriers are an intelligent dog breed, each individual dog varies.

Also, there is more to intelligence than just obedience. Three types of canine intelligence make up a dog’s IQ.

What Are The Three Types Of Canine Intelligence?

There are three types of canine intelligence. The first is obedience, which refers to the success rate of a particular dog breed to complete a known command on the first ask.

The next type is instinctive intelligence, or the innate ability to complete their original intention for breeding. For example, herding dog breeds were bred to herd animals, which requires instinctive intelligence. Dogs are not taught this innate skill. They are bred to just know-how.

The last type of dog intelligence is adaptive intelligence. This refers to the dog’s ability to learn for itself without being taught. A dog that learns from previous mistakes, communicates its desires, and is good at problem-solving is considered to have adaptive intelligence.

Canine intelligence is generalized for each breed. Each individual dog will vary in its intelligence while still falling into the generalized intelligence category of its breed.

What Makes Yorkies Smart?

Yorkies are an intelligent breed because of their obedience and quickness to learn commands and their instinctive and adaptive intelligence.

As for instinctive intelligence, Yorkies were bred to be hunters. They were bred to reach into small crevices. Yorkies would actually participate in hunts. They would burrow underground to chase small mammals such as foxes and badgers. They also hunted rats in mines.

Because Yorkshire Terriers are exceptionally good at hunting, which is what they were bred for, they have high instinctive intelligence.

As for adaptive intelligence, each dog varies. In general, most Yorkies show high adaptive intelligence as well as instinctive intelligence.

Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria

Ph.D. and canine psychologist Stanley Coren developed a way to evaluate and rank dog breeds based on intelligence through his criteria of obedience and quickness to learn.

Some do not approve of Coren’s criteria of dog intelligence because it does not encompass every aspect of intelligence. However, it does provide a good starting point in testing for a dog’s IQ.

Coren’s criteria include the number of repetitions needed for a particular dog breed to learn a new command. The fewer repetitions that are needed for the dog to learn, the smarter the breed is.

The other criterion is the success rate of the dog breed to obey a known command on the first attempt. The higher the success rate of the command, the more intelligent and obedient the dog breed.

Not every dog breed has been tested with Coren’s dog intelligence criteria. Yorkies have been tested and were found to be of above-average intelligence and were ranked in the 34th spot.

Yorkies learned a new command with 15 to 25 repetitions, which is impressive. Most Yorkies obeyed the command on the first try. This means that they are highly obedient and quick learners.

Based on Coren’s criteria, Yorkies are placed in the same intelligence class as Samoyeds, Giant Schnauzers, Dalmatians, Newfoundlands, and Bearded Collies.

(Have you ever wondered whether your Yorkie would like to swim?)

Where Does A Yorkie’s Intelligence Compare To Other Dogs?

While Yorkies are an above-average-intelligence breed, other breeds of dogs are more intelligent and obedient. The top 10 ranking breeds are able to learn a new command with only five repetitions or less, which is three times faster than Yorkies.

The top 10 ranking dog breeds on intelligence and obedience obey the first command with a 95% or higher success rate, while Yorkies have a 70% or higher success rate. They are in the same category as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the Puli.

The top-ranked intelligent and obedient dog breeds include German Shepard, Rottweiler, Labrador, Doberman, Poodle, and Golden Retriever.

How Smart Is A Yorkie Compared To A Human?

It is difficult to compare a Yorkie’s intelligence to a human’s intelligence. Some researchers believe that some of the smartest breeds of dogs are comparable to a two-year-old child in terms of intelligence.

Yorkies are considered a smart breed of dog based on their obedience, quickness to learn commands, innate hunting skills, and ability to adapt and learn for themselves. This is why it is difficult to compare intelligence with humans. The grounds of intelligence are simply too different.

How Can You Test Your Yorkie’s Intelligence?

There are plenty of ways to test your Yorkie’s intelligence. The following are simple tasks you can do or things you can pay attention to about your dog that will tell you how smart your dog is. This is not exclusive to Yorkies; you can test any dog with the following experiments.

Empty Water Dish

One way to test your Yorkie’s intelligence is to determine what your dog does when their water dish is empty. A dog that lays down next to it and doesn’t bark or communicate to you does not show high intelligence. A dog that barks to get your attention is considered smart, and a dog that picks up the bowl and brings it to you is considered highly intelligent.

Identify Toys By Name

Another test is to see how many toys your Yorkie can identify by name. This means that when you call out the name of a specific toy, they bring you the correct toy. If your dog can’t bring you any correctly, they did not score well in the intelligence task. The more your dog can bring, the smarter they are.

How Many Repetitions To Learn A Command

You can also judge a Yorkie’s intelligence by determining how long it takes them to learn a command. If the “sit” command took months of consistent training for your dog to learn, they are of average intelligence. A dog that learned it in three months is smart, and one that learned it in less than two months is highly intelligent.

Remembers Routines

If your Yorkie is on a routine, for example, you take them for a walk at the same time every day, determine what your dog does around that time.

If he doesn’t realize it is time for a walk, your dog is of average or below-average intelligence. If your dog gets restless about that time, they are smart. And if your dog picked up his leash or acknowledged the leash and waited by the door, they are highly intelligent.

Communication Skills

If you find that your dog easily communicates their needs and desires and even shows expressions of their mood like frustration or excitement, they are a highly intelligent dog.

How 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!)

How Easy Is It To Train A Yorkie?

Yorkies are easy to train. Yorkies are naturally intelligent and are known to be quick learners. They do best when they get plenty of attention from their owner, as they are a very attached breed.

Yorkies are among the most highly trainable dog breeds because of their innate intelligence, ability to learn for themselves, adaptability, obedience, and ability to comprehend human behavior. They are also highly trainable because they were bred to work. Working breeds are easier to train than other breeds.

However, just because they are intelligent and obedient does not mean they are easy to house-train. The Yorkshire Terrier prefers the indoors. Therefore, they are reluctant to be house-trained. Yorkies tend to prefer the home environment and do not like to go out alone, so they can be difficult to potty train, especially in the cold.

If you live in a cold climate or an area with rainy seasons, a Yorkie may not be the best breed for you, especially if you are not willing to put in the time to train them and work with them.

Are Yorkies A Good Breed To Own?

Yorkies need a lot of mental stimulation, so they do not engage in destructive behavior. In this sense, their intelligence makes them harder to take care of than less intelligent breeds. While intelligence is important, you should not pick which dog you get based on intelligence alone. Temperament and personality are also things to consider.

Even though they are thought of as pampered purse dogs, they are competitive, passionate, aggressive, and self-reliant. They are not submissive dogs, so they may not be the best choice for families with young children. They make better companions for older people.

Yorkies make great pets for those with medical issues or senior citizens who would do best with a small lapdog. Their small size makes them great for carrying around, walking on a leash, or sitting on your lap.

They are an excellent choice for someone looking for an affectionate lapdog that prefers the indoors. They are also hypoallergenic!

Do Yorkies Need Mental Stimulation?

If you own a Yorkie, you must meet all their needs, including mental stimulation. If you don’t have the time or energy to train and work with your Yorkie, you can also provide toys and puzzles for mental stimulation.

Toys and puzzles keep your dog entertained and test their adaptive intelligence. Some ideas for toys and puzzles to keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated include the Outward Hound Interactive Plush Toy, the StarMark Bob-a-Lot, and the Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle.

What Should I Teach My Yorkie?

If you are bringing home a new Yorkie, the first thing you should teach them is where their food and water will be kept. Once they learn their new home and get familiar with where they will be sleeping, you can start house-training them. With patience and consistency, house training will take only a few weeks.

Try to use simple commands while your Yorkie is still a puppy. Start with basic commands such as sit, lay down, stay, shake, etc. You can also take your puppy to obedience classes to learn basic commands. This will also allow them to experience new things and socialize with other dogs and people.

After your Yorkie has learned basic commands, you can continue training with more complicated commands like roll over and play dead. It is best to continue teaching your Yorkie tricks, as they need a lot of mental stimulation.


In general, the Yorkshire Terrier breed is intelligent. They tend to be protective of their owners and bond quickly with them. They are also quick to be trained and can remember what they are taught for a long time.

Yorkies are a quick-learning, highly adaptable, innately intelligent breed of dog. However, this breed may not be the best for you if you are looking for an outdoorsy dog that gets along with bigger dogs.

They are also not a good choice if you travel or will not be home often to shower your Yorkie with attention. They are an affectionate, loyal breed that gets very attached to their owners.

Even though Yorkies are intelligent, they prefer the comfort of home and the indoors. They also hate being outside alone and fear getting wet. These factors combined make them a difficult breed to house-train.

In general, Yorkies make a great pet, as long as you are willing to put in the work and give them the attention and mental stimulation they need.