Rated 33rd on Top 100 Smartest Canines, we can assume that the Yorkshire Terrier is fairly intentional about the way they show love and affection. If you already own one of these little dogs or if you are just considering becoming a Yorkie owner, this article will give you a closer look at what makes them so special!
The typical Yorkie is sweet-natured and playful but proper socialization is key to having an affectionate Yorkie. Here, you can educate yourself on the reasons behind their little quirks and the sweet ways they display their affection.
Yorkies’ personalities really start to emerge between their second and third month. It is very important that they are properly socialized during this period. This is key in order for them to develop into more relaxed, affectionate, and loving dogs.
If your Yorkie isn’t properly socialized they may develop some of the following issues:
- Scared of other dogs
- Frightened of other humans and bark at strangers more often
- Unable to play or interact normally with others
- Unable to show affection as other Yorkies do
- Exhibit other odd behaviors
Take that initial period to allow your Yorkie to develop properly, and it is more likely to display these 8 signs of affection and sweetness.
#1 Licking and Face Kisses
This one is not unique to Yorkies, but little dogs are notorious for being face kissers and loving to lick their owners.
The reasons that Yorkies love to use their tongues and lick are:
- Instincts – Yorkie mothers lick their offspring, and this is how their puppies’ bodies are stimulated for circulation. The licking actually helps to keep them alive in those early stages, and it is a true canine-instinct that they don’t release with age.
- They are communicating to you – they are probably telling you that they want attention, need a walk, or they might even just be hungry and smell something good on you.
- Affection – most of the time their kisses are just for affection. They don’t have words, so you can imagine how much more powerful their sense of smell and taste are to them. They want to sniff you and be familiar with your scent for bonding and closeness.
They will read your body language and know if you want more kisses or don’t feel the love quite the way they do at that moment.
Don’t allow the habit to continue if you don’t like the face kisses but just know that it’s just one of the ways they like to show affection. Maybe you could just give in to arm and hand kisses instead.
#2 Leaning on You
This one is quick to sum up! Since they are so small, their little legs get tired easily. Yorkies love to be carried around and may lean against you while you snuggle them close.
This is just a sign that they trust you enough to lean on you and feel protected in your presence. If they can rest easy or fall asleep while you’re carrying them, they really have faith in you entirely.
#3 Bringing Their Toys to You
As opposed to cats that may bring you a dead mouse as a “thank you”, Yorkies will often greet you with a toy in their mouth.
Your pup may be telling you that they trust you with their toys and they are willing to share.
If you weren’t so much fun and made playtime boring or took their toys away, they probably wouldn’t engage you with their play toys as much.
By bringing it over to you, your Yorkie is communicating that they like to spend time with you and are ready for you to throw the ball now!
#4 Gazing at You
Animals use their eyes to communicate all kinds of things. People say that when a dog looks into the eyes of another, it’s a sign of aggression and they are trying to show dominance.
Some also say that for training purposes you should look into your dog’s eyes and not look away before they do in order to assert your own dominance.
Nonetheless, there’s something else going on inside your Yorky’s brain when you look into their eyes.
Oxytocin is a hormone associated with social bonding. It is often referred to as the “love hormone”.
A study was carried out looking at the relationship between oxytocin levels and eye contact between dogs and their owners.
The study found that gazing into your dog’s eyes actually raises oxytocin levels for both you and your dog.
Not only this but dogs with higher levels of oxytocin gaze into the eyes of their owners more, which in turn raises oxytocin levels for the owner, creating a kind of positive feedback loop.
Strangely enough, this effect is actually fairly unique to dogs and humans. Even wolves that have been raised by people rarely make eye contact with their owners and an increase in oxytocin level was not observed in the study.
One trait which is common in Yorkies is that they tend to stare at their owners. Like, a lot! So maybe take some time to share the love with your Yorkie today!
Animal Pro Tip: Do not try this with cats because they actually function in the opposite way. A long stare may be mistaken as a challenge or territory threat. This is why when cats blink at you with the soft sleepy eyes and turn away, it means they don’t feel threatened by you nor do they want to threaten you.
#5 Sniffing Your Behind
A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than that of an average human. All canines do this as a way to meet other dogs and get to know a new stranger by smell.
Their sense of smell is a major part of communication for this species, and they can detect more than you would believe with their snouts!
Their noses carry a special group of sensory cells known as the Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal organ.
These sensory cells specifically detect pheromones. This allows dogs to tell how healthy an animal is, the gender of the animal, their age, and even the way that animal feels (happy, sad, playful).
Can you imagine being able to tell all of this solely through your nose?
Therefore – you should not take this as a sign that your Yorkie is trying to be gross or invasive. They just love you and are trying to learn more about you.
If your nose was 100,000 times better, who knows what you would be smelling! (Probably not butts, gross!) but just let them do their thing and know that it is normal.
It’s not a harmful habit, just a rude one by human-standards. After all, Yorkies don’t have language at their disposal so you’ll just have to give them a little leeway.
#6 Snuggling While You Sleep
This really goes for all animals. If they feel close enough to sleep next to you, in their most vulnerable state – they trust you with their whole heart.
In the wild, wolves and other wild dogs choose to sleep in small, confined spaces with their fellow pack members. So, it’s easy to see why your Yorkie may choose to sleep curled up next to you on your bed at night.
Since dogs are pack animals, they have evolved to be socially dependant, rather than cats for example, who can be quite the opposite.
Dogs need to bond with others and receive plenty of affection to feel secure.
Some of the signs your Yorkie isn’t getting enough affection from you is if they:
- Seem withdrawn or less engaged
- Are lethargic and lazier than usual
- Stop eating or aren’t eating as much
- Aren’t playing with their toys
If you notice these behaviors you can see if committing some bonding time will help them feel better again. Some extra cuddles and playtime can go a long way.
If your pup is acting this way for a prolonged period however, you should get them to your local veterinary clinic for a checkup as they may have a serious health issue.
#7 Barking at Strangers
While this may seem like an odd way to show affection, when your Yorkie is getting mouthy with strangers, they may have your best interests at heart.
This is a very common behavior for little dogs. Yorkies are particularly territorial as well, so they tend to be extra protective of you, your home, or anything else that might belong to you.
While they are not ever going to grow large or strong enough to protect you physically, what they can do (and often do) is protect you by alerting you of any potential threats.
If you have a Yorkie or another small dog, you may notice they:
- Bark at anything that passes outside your home
- Bark at other dogs when you’re out for a walk
- Bark at other humans when you’re out for a walk
- Seemingly bark at nothing at all
If you want to change this instinctive behavior, it can be done, although it can be a bit tricky. Nevertheless, a little training never hurts, check out this resource from the humane society for how to get your dog to stop barking.
If they only bark a little, this is obviously harmless. Just know that it’s one way of them saying that they love you and they don’t want anything bad to happen to you!
#8 Following You Around
Lastly, your Yorkie may trail you like you’re a yummy snack. You may think, ‘did I leave a burger in my pocket? Why are they on me like white on rice?’ but in truth they’re just following you because they love you.
Of course, there’s every chance that you may smell like meat, but it’s more likely that they just feel safe by your side and want to be with you always. There’s a reason dogs are referred to as ‘man’s best friend’ after all!
Yorkies may not be the best at reading body cues or knowing if you need some alone time. They can get separation anxiety if left alone too often, so try to make them your focus during bonding times like walks and play time.
Fun Facts You May Not Know about Yorkies
Now that you understand more about their love languages and style of affection, let’s cover some fun facts about your little Yorkie that you may not have known!
- These pups were bred to catch rats and vermin in underground tunnels and mines. If you pull out a mouse toy on a string (usually intended for cats), you’ll see some of those instincts still alive in your Yorkie. You can even enter them into the non-competitive AKC Earthdog Test, which the Yorkie breed is eligible for. The test is used to help you determine how good of a hunter your pup really is!
- The original book by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, depicts Toto as a Yorkie. This isn’t anything more than an assumption but quite a likely one being that the illustrator of the novel’s cover art, W.W. Denslow, actually owned a Yorkie himself.
- Yorkie’s are tomboy-spirits! This may not be obvious because of their purse-sized, doll-like cuteness, but these little buds of energy are nicknamed, ‘the tomboy toy.’ They love to play, using their agility, and moving those little legs! Give them an obstacle course or something a little gritty, and they probably won’t snoot their noses at it. Who knows, maybe this is why they tend to bond deeply with men, despite their reputation of being a ‘girl’s dog.’
- Yorkie hair is actually very similar to human hair! Like the poodle, they actually have hair as opposed to fur. Being that it’s closer to our strands, it is recommended to brush them often to avoid tangles and knots.
- During WWII, there was a Yorkie named Smoky that actually saved soldiers’ lives by getting a communications cable through a very tiny drainage pipe. Saving the day and saving lives, Smoky is considered the first true therapy dog as she would visit war hospitals to cheer up wounded soldiers. You can actually see memorials honoring Smoky. There are six in the U.S. alone, including the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog in New York.
Tips on Caring for a Yorkie
Some general tips for the breed to keep in mind as a Yorkie parent are:
- Yorkies can be a bit snappy towards young children that handle them roughly. Yorkies are normally very peaceful though, so if they are not being mishandled, they shouldn’t nip. They can get along quite well with other dogs and cats, so cohabitating with other animals shouldn’t be a problem.
- Since they are so tiny, if you live in a cold climate, this breed will probably need some kind of Winter-wear! Not only is this unbearably adorable, but it will save them from shivers and chills.
- Keep in mind that Yorkies were not bred for lounging; they were bred to work. Just like hunting dogs or herding dogs, certain breeds truly live to have a purpose. Like humans, they need to be stimulated mentally and physically. Getting them outside for walks, giving them toys and games to challenge them, or any task that can give them a goal is very useful for this breed.
You need to be sure your Yorkie is getting everything they need for a full and happy life. This includes:
- Bonding time with you
- An established routine
- A stable environment
- Mental stimulation
The author, Ben Williams, said, “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” Puppies are a form of therapy and dogs are proven to make us happier.
Appreciate your little Yorkie for all that they are and offer them the affection they deserve! they’ll give it right back to you tenfold.