Yorkshire Terrier Blog

Are Yorkies Smart? 5 Tips To Improve Their Intelligence

are yorkies smart

When people ask, “Are Yorkies smart?” I have to chuckle. It’s like asking if cookies are better with milk – it’s a resounding yes! These pint-sized pups might not be the Einsteins of the dog world, but they’re definitely not slacking in the smarts department. Often, Yorkies are perceived as merely lap dogs with little to offer in terms of intelligence. This misconception undermines the breed’s true potential and cognitive abilities.

are yorkies smart

Are Yorkies Smart? A few words about their intelligence

They’re tiny, they’re feisty, and they’ve got more brain power than they know what to do with. Yorkies are smart, and it’s not just because they can pull off looking fabulous in a tiny sweater. 

Yorkies have developed a special kind of intelligence. They are fast to learn and easily understand commands. Sometimes they’ll even have a high degree of emotional intelligence, picking up on their owner’s mood.

Comparing Yorkies to Other Breeds

Although not usually regarded as one of the ‘genius’ breeds like Border Collies or Poodles, Yorkies are no slouches in matters cerebral and intelligence. A highly esteemed resource in understanding canine intelligence is Stanley Coren’s 1994 book, “The Intelligence of Dogs.” Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is renowned in his field for his insights into the mental capabilities of purebred dogs, including the Yorkshire Terrier.

His approach to categorizing dog intelligence involved three distinct types:

  • Instinctive Intelligence: This measures a dog’s natural ability to perform tasks it was originally bred for, like herding in Sheepdogs or hunting in Beagles. It essentially assesses how effectively a dog can utilize its inherent instincts.
  • Adaptive Intelligence: This looks at a dog’s problem-solving abilities on an individual basis, without human intervention.
  • Working and Obedience Intelligence: This type evaluates a dog’s capacity to learn from humans.

To gather a broad range of data, Coren collaborated with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). These organizations helped distribute questionnaires to obedience judges, with 199 judges participating. They assessed various purebred dogs, including Yorkies, based on their professional experiences in the show ring. The consensus among these judges was strikingly similar, lending significant credibility to Coren’s findings.

The study categorized 90 different purebred dogs into various intelligence levels:

  • The Smartest Dogs: Dogs in this category usually grasp a new command within fewer than five repetitions and obey a first command with a 95% (or higher) success rate.
  • Excellent Working Dogs: These dogs typically understand new commands after 5 to 15 repetitions and follow a first command with at least an 85% success rate.
  • Above Average Working Dogs: This group tends to learn new commands after 15 to 25 repetitions and obeys the first command around 70% of the time or better.

Coren’s methodology and the extensive input from seasoned obedience judges make this study a leading reference in the field of canine intelligence. Yorkies are placed at 27th out of 79 breeds on the list of the most intelligent dogs. This ranking is based on their ability to understand new commands and to obey a known command on the first try.

Are Yorkies Smart? How To Check It By Yourself?

Testing the intelligence of your Yorkshire Terrier can be both fun and rewarding. Here are some practical ways to gauge your Yorkie’s smarts:

Problem-Solving Tests: Give your Yorkie simple challenges to solve. For example, put a treat under the cup and let your dog work out how to get it. Using more cups, and shuffling them up, can make the game harder. Witness how quickly and smoothly your Yorkie solves the puzzle.

Obedience and Command Response: See how your Yorkie reacts as you test basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay,’ come, or ‘roll over’. After a few repetitions, smart Yorkies usually learn these commands. Alternatively, you can teach them a new trick and see how long it takes for it to sink in.

Memory Test: Test your Yorkie’s memory by playing a game. Hide a treat in a room while they look on, then take them out of the room for five minutes. Bring them back and see whether they remember where the treat is hidden. One with a good memory will head directly to the hiding place.

are yorkies smart

How To Improve the Yorkie’s Intelligence?

1. Playtime That’s Actually a Brain Workout

Using interactive Yorkie toys will reveal you the question ‘’Are Yorkies Smart?’’ When you allow your furry friend to play with toys, he doesn’t only stays occupied but also improves his intelligence.

Give them toys for Yorkies that really make them try. Things like treat-releasing puzzle toys or active, items where there is a reward inside. Such activities involve problem-solving and will sharpen their minds. Hide-and-seek or fetch are also games that make them think and react. These are all very good for mental stimulation.

  • Puzzle Toys: Think of these as brain teasers for pups. They’re like the dog version of escape rooms, minus the panic.
  • Hide and Seek with Treats: Hide treats around your house and watch your Yorkie turn into a furry detective. It’s like a mini treasure hunt!

Dog Carrot Snuffle Mat is one of those toys you can use to make your pooch work for his food or reward. You can hide in each hole a tasty treat and put plush carrots and potatoes on the top.

yorkie  interactive toy

2. School’s in Session: Training Time!

A Yorkie’s mind must be stimulated with training. Begin with simple commands such as sit, stay and come, then move on to more complicated actions. Consistency and patience are the keys. A diet of short, and daily training sessions for your Yorkie produces better results than one of long, sporadic ones. Treats, praise and other forms of positive reinforcement will help your Yorkie approach the learning process eagerly.

  • The Basics: Teach them sit, stay, and all that jazz. It’s like kindergarten for dogs.
  • Show Off with Cool Tricks: Once they’ve got the basics down, teach them some snazzy tricks. It keeps their brains sharp and your friends impressed.

3. Socializing: Doggy Networking

One important part of a Yorkie’s development is socialization. Allowing your Yorkie to get out and experience different environments, people, other animals will help build adaptability and social intelligence. It makes them not only brainier but also better mannered, less anxious about going to unfamiliar places.

  • Playdates with Other Pooches: Letting your Yorkie hang out with other dogs is like their version of going to the mall. They learn, they play, they gossip (probably).
  • React and Play: Get toys that react to your dog’s actions. It’s like having a video game for your Yorkie!

4. Adventure Time: New Places, New Smells

  • Travel Buddies: Take your Yorkie to new spots. It’s a whole world of smells and sights – like doggy Disneyland.
  • Let ‘Em Lead: During walks, let your Yorkie explore. It’s their version of scrolling through social media.

5. Brain Food: You Are What You Eat

Yorkies also need proper nutrition for the sake of cognitive function, as do humans. A diet with the right balance of essential nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, is easier to support brain health and cognitive function. The best diet for your Yorkie’s age, size and health condition can be decided after consulting with a vet.

  • Omega-3s: These are like brain steroids (the legal kind). Think of them as your Yorkie’s version of a morning coffee.
  • Water, Water, Everywhere: Keep them hydrated. A thirsty brain is a slow brain.

Entertainment: Beyond Fetch and Nap

Keeping Yorkies entertained is like trying to keep a toddler busy – you need creativity. Here’s the scoop:

  • DIY Agility Course: Turn your backyard into a mini obstacle course. It’s fun, and it makes for some hilarious Instagram content.
  • Doggie TV: Yep, they’ve got TV shows for dogs now. Perfect for when you’re out, and Fido needs to Netflix and chill.

Yorkies: Smart, Sassy, and Full of Surprises

To wrap it up, Yorkies are smart – like, ‘figure out how to open the treat jar’ smart. They’re more than just cute faces and stylish fur coats. By giving them the right kind of mental and physical stimulation, you’re not just making them smarter, you’re making them happier. Next time someone wonders if Yorkies are smart, you’ll have more than a few anecdotes to share.

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