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10 Reasons Why Yorkies Get Aggressive

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Despite their cute and innocent looks, some Yorkies can be aggressive, yappy, and downright mean. Whether you’re a proud Yorkie parent or have had a run-in with one, you might have seen some barking, biting, nipping, and even attacking.

Even with good socialization and training, there are times when your Yorkie’s aggression seems to come out of nowhere.

Since aggression is a common issue with Yorkies, I’ve listed 10 reasons why they might get aggressive. Let’s dive in!

Black Yorkie puppy wearing scarf around neck.

1. Genetic Predisposition

Most dogs aren’t born aggressive, but some breeds have a higher tendency to show aggression due to their genetics. While Yorkies aren’t usually aggressive by nature, over-breeding or genetic quirks can make some more reactive, anxious, or fearful than others.

But more often than not, a Yorkie’s environment has a bigger impact. If your dog is often stressed or lonely, they might start acting out aggressively to show their frustration.

2. Teething

From 4 to 8 months old, Yorkies go through teething, which can be pretty uncomfortable for them. This pain and discomfort can lead to biting, nipping, chewing, and some mean behavior.

It’s normal during this phase, but you can help by giving them chew toys and treats.

Something I used to do with both my human babies and puppies is to wet a clean washcloth, put it in a baggie, and freeze it. Let your teething puppy chew on the cold cloth to relieve discomfort, but keep an eye on them to prevent choking.

Freezing their teething toys can also help soothe their gums.

3. Lack of Socialization

Yorkies might have a reputation as lap dogs, but they get bored and crave interaction. Socializing your Yorkie from a young age is crucial because some may already tend to show aggression toward strangers.

If you don’t introduce your Yorkie to new places, people, and other dogs, they might act aggressively out of fear or discomfort.

Barking yorkie on grass.

4. Territorial Nature

They’ll protect whatever they think is theirs, like their home, people, toys, and food. You might see your pup act aggressively when visitors come over or when they feel their territory is threatened.

Your Yorkie might also get jealous if they see you with other dogs. This type of aggression doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dominant; they might just be scared or unsure how else to react.

5. Insufficient Exercise

If your Yorkie isn’t getting enough exercise, they might become aggressive. Without enough physical activity, they can get over-excited and frustrated, leading to behaviors like barking, nipping, biting, and growling.

To prevent this, make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise every day. A tired dog is a happy dog!

6. Medical Conditions and Pain

Sudden aggression when you touch your Yorkie could be a sign of pain or an underlying health issue. Yorkies are prone to various health problems, including skin infections, eye problems, and dental diseases.

If your pup is in pain, they might lash out when you try to handle them. Regular vet visits are important if your Yorkie shows aggression without an obvious cause.

7. Fear and Stress

Fear and stress are common reasons for Yorkie aggression. This can be triggered by new pets, loud noises, thunderstorms, or interactions with strangers.

You might see this type of aggression during walks when your dog encounters other dogs, or when strangers come to the house. If your Yorkie shows signs of fear or stress, handle the situation calmly and try to remove them from the stressful environment.

A Thundershirt can help calm them during fireworks or thunderstorms.

Yorkshire terrier puppy behind a fence looks at the street with a sad face.

8. Loneliness

Sometimes you have to leave your Yorkie at home, but it’s not good to leave them alone for too long. Yorkies, in particular, are prone to separation anxiety because they love being with their humans.

Dogs are pack animals and need to be with others, whether that be other animals or their human family.

When left alone too long, they can become stressed and bored, leading to aggressive behaviors like chewing, barking, and nipping. If you have to be away for more than 3-4 hours, arrange for someone to check in on them, take them for a walk, and give them some attention.

Improper Handling

Experts don’t recommend leaving your Yorkie alone with young kids. Yorkies are small, and kids might unintentionally scare them. Children might not know how to handle these pups gently, and Yorkies dislike rough handling.

Your Yorkie might bite or attack if they feel threatened by kids’ rough play.

Unfamiliar People and Animals

Yorkies can act wild and mean toward strangers and other pets. They might feel threatened or think someone is invading their territory. However, with proper socialization and training, you can teach your pup to behave calmly around strangers.

Yorkie on fur blanket wearing red sweater.

To Wrap Up

Yorkies can get aggressive for many reasons, from stress and fear to jealousy and the need for attention. It could be a natural behavior, a medical issue, or just a sign of discomfort. Identifying the cause of their aggression is the first step to fixing it.

By understanding what’s behind the behavior and taking the right steps, you can help your Yorkie become a happier, more relaxed companion.

Cathy signature with Yorkie drawing
    Blond woman holding a Yorkie and Chorkie sitting outside

    Cathy Bendzunas

    Dog Blogger, Former Dog Groomer

    I have adored Yorkies for well over 50 years. As a young adult, I began to show and breed them. Now, I just write about them and have several in my little pack of small dogs.

    I have had dogs all my life and have trained as a dog groomer. I also have been a kennel worker, worked in a pet hotel through PetSmart, and still am a pet sitter.

    Check out my bio for more information about me.