The Yorkshire Terrier, also known as the Yorkie, is a small breed of dog that originated in England and was originally bred for hunting. Although Yorkies are no longer hunters, they still have some hunting dog characteristics left in them.
Yorkies are brave, curious, small dogs who love to go on adventures. They form a special bond with their owners and are devoted to them forever, but they are distrustful and suspicious of strangers. They are also not fond of other pets and may be aggressive toward them.
And what about children? Are Yorkies good with kids? The short answer is yes, Yorkies are great with kids — under the right conditions.
Yorkies are sweet, energetic, and very playful dogs, but there are a few things to know about them, especially if you have small kids and want to bring them on as new pets into your home.
Let's see how Yorkshire terriers interact with children and whether they are the best pet option.
What to Think About Before Getting a Yorkie for a Family With Children
Yorkies can be a wonderful addition to your family. They are very loving and loyal to their owners, and they enjoy receiving all of your attention. Because of their small stature, they are very adaptable, which means that no living space is too large for them.
Here are some considerations you might want to look into before having this breed of dog in your home with your children.
Yorkies, depending on their personality, can also make excellent pets for families with other pets. Some may be snappy or standoffish around other pets, but the vast majority are very friendly and get along with most other pets. However, Yorkies were bred to be rat-hunting dogs, so if you have hamsters or guinea pigs as pets, avoid getting a Yorkie.
They are hypoallergenic, which means that their fur is less likely to cause allergic reactions. Their small size helps to reduce the likelihood of having an allergic reaction. Yorkies' fur grows very similarly to human hair in that when one of their threads becomes too old, it falls off and a new one emerges.
Yorkies have long, silky coats that need to be groomed regularly to keep them looking their best. Keeping up with grooming can be difficult and time-consuming if you have young children who require a lot of attention and care.
Yorkshire terriers are also notorious for their excessive barking. Again, this should be good news for all dog owners, but not in every case. A dog that barks frequently will easily alert your children to any intruders or strangers nearby, allowing them to take the necessary safety precautions.
Yorkies are occasionally used as watchdogs due to their excessive barking. The emphasis, however, is on the word “excessive,” and as you know, too much of anything is poisonous, even if it is a well-intended bark.
Though Yorkies will gladly sound the alarm and warn your kids of impending danger, their excessive barking behavior makes them unsuitable for young children. Dogs that bark incessantly cause anxiety in children, especially newborns, and infants.
Such barks not only disrupt a child's comfort and peace but also make it difficult for the child to determine whether the bark is intended to warn them of impending danger or not. The good news is that proper training can assist in resolving the issue of excessive barking.
Attention and Socialization Time
Yorkies are intelligent dogs that require socialization and regular training to avoid behavioral issues and ensure their well-being. This takes time, and providing the necessary training and socialization may be difficult if you have young kids who require attention and care as well.
This Yorkie weighs 3 to 7 pounds and stands 6 to 9 inches tall, according to the Yorkie growth chart. They are ideal for families who live in both large homes and apartments. Not only that, but because of their small size, you can take them into places where other dogs are unlikely to be allowed. Yorkies can be carried into stores and sit in the cabin with you on airplane flights rather than being in a crate in the back with the cargo, which may frighten your Yorkshire, making them excellent dogs for families who enjoy traveling.
On the other hand, their small size may make them more fragile and prone to injury from rough play. This is especially important if you have very young children who may not understand how to properly handle a small dog.
Owning a dog, especially a Yorkie, can be costly. Yorkies may require professional grooming and regular vet visits, which can add to the cost of supplies and food. Before committing, think about whether you can afford the ongoing costs of owning a dog.
Warning Signs Your Yorkie Is Anxious and Will Attack Your Children
As a parent, you should be aware of some warning signs that indicate your Yorkie is stressed and likely to attack your little ones. Some of these warning signs are as follows:
While your Yorkie is unlikely to bite your child, he or she may be forced to nip at them. A nip is a soft bite delivered by a dog when it does not intend to harm you. It is a warning to back off, and if ignored, a full-fledged bite may result.
2. Avoiding Eye Contact, Licking of Lips, and Yawning
These are signs that the dog is threatened by your child's presence and is generally uneasy around them. Normally, your Yorkie would try to flee a potentially dangerous situation. When the dog is cornered, it may bite your child.
3. Licking Your Child in the Face
It's natural to dismiss multiple instances of the dog licking your child's face. In most cases, it indicates that the dog is generally pleased with the child and considers him/her to be a pleasant companion.
However, as the dog's owner, you should pay attention to how the licking occurs. Is it done hurriedly? Accompanied by a growl? Is it too persistent? Some lickings may indicate anxiety, and if not closely monitored, Yorkies may bite kids.
4. A Tail That Points Outwards or Upwards
If your Yorkie displays his tail pointed outwards or upwards and wags it stiffly, it indicates that the dog is full of energy. It would be incorrect to assume that high energy means your Yorkie is urging your children to play. Instead, tail wagging may be indicative of an unhappy dog, especially if its ears are perked and its body is still.
5. Snapping and Baring of Teeth
This is one of the most obvious signs of aggression that any dog will display. It's what most dogs do right before launching an all-out attack. If you see your Yorkie snapping and baring its teeth, move in quickly to contain the situation. A simpler solution would be to separate the two, making the dog feel more at ease.
6. Wide-eyed Growling
Growling indicates that the dog is about to attack but is polite enough to warn you first. If a dog discovers something extremely dangerous, it will not growl but will instead attack.
So your Yorkie growling at your child indicates that the child has gotten on their nerves and they are no longer enjoying the show. Most children understand this vocalization and will frequently retreat. However, for younger children who may be unable to understand the message, it is a good idea to intervene immediately and diffuse the tension.
7. Tense and Stiff Body
In most cases, a stiff and tense body indicates that your Yorkie is preparing for a fight. The fight may not be imminent, but if you do not remove your child from the tense situation, the dog may eventually attack.
Tips for Maintaining Peace Between Yorkshire Terriers and Children
Yorkies are a popular breed of dog among parents. It's not surprising given their hypoallergenic nature and adorably small size. However, as with any animal, there may be challenges when introducing them into a family with children. Here are some suggestions to help keep the peace between Yorkies and children:
Never allow your child to ride or play on your dog
You don't want your Yorkie to be hurt by a small child's jump! Allow the children to become acquainted with the Yorkshire Terrier before allowing them to play with it, especially if they are young. Also, keep your Yorkie away from small children while it is eating, and teach them how to approach a new dog.
Allow the Yorkie to become acquainted with your child first
A good way to do this is by allowing it to sniff your child's hand or sitting next to them while you pet the dog. Feeding, training, fetching, and grooming can all help your kids bond with the Yorkie. This will help in the development of a positive relationship between the children and the dog. Yorkies quickly learn to perceive kids as caring and pleasant ‘mini adults'. Playing interactive games together such as bubbles, hide-and-seek, fetch, and tug of war is sure to strengthen the bond between the Yorkie and your kids. This way, your children will learn to treat your Yorkie as a companion dog rather than provoking its temperament. This interaction will make them both feel more at ease around each other in the future.
Teach your children how to approach a new dog
They can start by gently petting its back rather than staring directly into its eyes, which can be misinterpreted as threatening behavior. As a parent, you must demonstrate respect for your Yorkie. Even if you are training your pet and it makes mistakes, never tease, hit, shout, or physically abuse it. This will teach your children to respect your Yorkie's personal space. Yorkies are pleasant to kids if they are pleasant to it.
It's also critical that you teach your children to avoid holding or touching sensitive areas on your dog, such as their face, while they're eating. This is because Yorkies will view this as an invasion of privacy and this can lead to fights with the kids.
Reduce the number of stressors in your Yorkie's environment
Aggression in a Yorkie is most likely caused by certain factors, known as stressors, present in its environment. Your Yorkie is unable to speak, but it can express its stress in a variety of ways. Children may add to that stress, so it is up to you as a dog parent to reduce or eliminate stress in your Yorkie's life.
Consult your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying health issues. You can also use calming medications to help your canine friend relax.
Avoid yelling or screaming
Something to always note is that Yorkshire terriers have very sensitive hearing. Try to avoid yelling or screaming at your kids with the Yorkie around. They are sensitive and will become stressed if they hear such loud noises, which may cause them to growl or become aggressive.
Do not force older Yorkies to interact with the kids
Early socialization is often the key to getting young Yorkie pups used to new scenarios, places, and people. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in older dogs.
Never attempt to force interaction with kids on an older Yorkie, especially if you know it is rough on them. This can be a dangerous thing to do because your pet may snarl at or bite your little ones.
Allow your older Yorkie to interact with children on its terms. Allow time for older, adopted dogs to adjust to their new homes.
If kids from your neighborhood approach your Yorkie while it is out for a walk, gently warn them to back off to avoid bites and other mishaps.
In extreme cases, you may need to muzzle your Yorkie when taking it on walks in kid-friendly areas.
Seek professional assistance
If none of the above suggestions work, which is possible with older Yorkies, you must seek professional assistance. If you are a first-time dog owner, you may not know much about your pet, so seek advice from a reputable breeder or qualified vet.
Work with a trainer or canine behaviorist on your Yorkie. This may not completely get rid of the aggression, in some cases, but it may help some dogs feel more at ease around children.
Conclusion: Are Yorkies Good With Kids?
Yes, for the most part. However, it all depends on the age and nature of the children in question, as well as the socialization experiences and age of your Yorkie.
You can have a well-behaved and loving companion in your household with proper training (for both your children and your Yorkie).
If you intend to bring a companion dog home for your Yorkie, choose one with a submissive personality, such as a labrador retriever. An older, larger dog will pose no problem at all for your Yorkie, as a big paw puppy can cause agitation in your Yorkie by being disrespectful of personal space.
Always keep in mind that dogs and kids may or may not get along. Whether it's a teacup Yorkshire terrier, or any other small dog breed such as a Shih Tzu, Skye terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Paisley terrier, Havanese or miniature schnauzer, keep in mind that each breed has its personality and is unique, and comparing it to your Yorkie can either fail or frustrate you.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Mariana Serdynska/Shutterstock.com.