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Yorkie Intelligence – Are Yorkies Smart Dogs?

Yorkie Intelligence - picture

Many people want to determine the intelligence of their dogs.

In most cases when the dog owners are searching for resources on the topic for the dog intelligence there are articles that generalize for the breed

but as with every living being – everything is unique and individual.

So you can read some articles about the Yorkie intelligence, however, how accurate they would be – we cannot say.

Probably you will read the same all over again: “If the dog is easy to train then you have a smart to a very smart dog”.

Does this sound informative and accurate enough to answer the question “Are Yorkies Smart“?

Yorkie intelligence – What are the Facts?

In this guide, we will check the actual facts based on professional opinions and that way you will be able to determine how smart is your dog compared to other dogs and breeds.

The resource of our guide is one of the most respected on the topic – the book “The Intelligence of Dogs” by Stanley Coren who is a professor of psychology.

Coren worked in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia and is well known in his field of work and with his findings of the intelligence of the purebred canines.

Coren has a three-stage method to define the intelligence of the dogs:

1. Instinctive.
2. Adaptive.
3. Working and obedience.

The first stage is about the ability of the dog to perform the task it was bred to do.

For example, the Sheepdog is connected with the herding, the Beagle with hunting and so on.

To put this in other words, it is about the dog’s ability to perform certain aspects that are considered to be instincts and strong urges genetically transferred in the bloodline.

The second stage is all about the capability of the dog to solve problems on its own.

Professor Coren tested as many different breeds as possible, of course including Yorkshire Terrier.

He got help and did the tests with the cooperation of the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).

Over 200 judges took time to evaluate the purebred dogs that they have judged during the years.

The final results were analyzed by Coren and he found that they were quite similar for all of the judges involved.

The Results..

Due to the same results regarding the intelligence of the dog and the professionals involved in the tests – the findings are considered as top resources on the topic.

There were 90 different purebreds listed out and they were grouped into different categories of aptitude:

The first category is for the smartest dogs.

Every breed in this group has a general understanding of new commands with less than five repetitions and the dogs obey the first time the command is given almost always (95% or higher).

The second category is for excellent working dogs.

The breeds in this group generally understand new commands after 5 to 15 repetitions and they obey the command from the first time in most cases (85% or better).

The third category is for above average working dogs.

The dogs in this group can learn new commands after 15 to 25 repetitions and obey the first command most of the time (75% or higher).

Canine Intelligence – Where the Yorkies are standing?

Often the small dogs are not considered to be some of the smartest ones, but the Yorkies are an exception.

In a matter of fact from 90 different breeds, the Yorkies are placed at the 27-th spot in the third category of the above average intelligence.

To summarize, this means that the Yorkies can learn new commands after 15 to 25 repetitions and once a command is learned they can obey it in 70% of the time from the first word.

This puts the Yorkies in top five of the smart pooches equal to the Puli and one place behind the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Other small breeds ranked above are the Pomeranians, Papillions, Miniature Schnauzers and Schipperkes.

However, bear in mind that this is a sweeping statement.

You can be sure that there are plenty of Yorkies that can be a lot smarter and can learn new words or commands after only five repetitions.

Others might need more than a couple of days to learn new stuff.

Factors that slow down the learning process

Actually, there are many things that can block the learning process for Yorkies.

Among them are distractions, the teaching method of the owner, the state of the dog (is it hungry, tired, etc.) and so on.

Despite the fact that Yorkshire terriers are not ranked very high, they are pretty smart.

They can bond very quickly with their owners, they are protective and can be relatively easy to housetrain if your training method is right, and just for a couple of weeks a Yorkie can learn a lot of stuff.

If you expose your Yorkie to new learning elements – it will be able to learn more.

But if you leave the dogs alone at home most of the time, there is almost no learning stimulation and small chance to absorb something new.

If you give your Yorkie lots of attention and socialization with other animals and humans, spend time to learn and practice new commands and skills

you can be sure that your dog will be a lot more intelligent than others.

Bred to work

The roots of the Yorkies are indeed from the working class. Actually, the Yorkies were bred to catch rats and in the 19th century were used in the clothing mills to get rid of those vermins.

If you are interested you can check this article: Yorkie Origin and History

So in this case being bred to do a certain work the Yorkies have bigger intelligence because we know that the working dogs are highly trainable.

According to Coren a good trainer can indeed accomplish big things with dogs with this level of intelligence and the breeds with a working mindset can be trained easily.

Are Yorkies Smart?

Are Yorkies Smart - picture

There are a lot of small things that you could do yourself to check if your pet has above the average intelligence.

1.) If the dog remembers commands without any refreshing trainings – you can be sure that it is an intelligent one.

So if months and even years have passed since you have trained your Yorkie to roll over but it still remembers and does the command – this is great news for you.

Of course, there is always a chance for your dog to forget something, but you can test it by giving it more commands.

2.) If you go to the pet store often you probably saw one some complicated dog puzzle toys.

Here  is an example:

TRIXIE Dog Activity Flip Board, Level 2, Interactive Treat Puzzle Game
  • INTERMEDIATE LEVEL FUN: The Flip Board - Level 2, puppy puzzle is a fun...
  • CHALLENGING YOUR PUPS MIND: The Flip Board is an interactive treat puzzle game...

But what you may not know is that these toys are very interesting and entertaining becasue when your dog perform a certain thing the toy release a treat

and that way it stumulates your pup to play more and to perform even more complicated things.

If your Yorkie can handle these puzzles this can mean only one thing – the dog have great problem-solving skills.

Of course, if you do not want to invest in these puzzle toys you can be creative and do your own games. For example you can hide treats in your home and see how long it will take for the dog to find them.

3.) Is the dog snuggling in you if you are upset or just had a rough day?

If your Yorkie gently touches your elbow with its nose it is not just your imagination! The intelligent dogs indeed can understand your mood and how you feel and of course as your best four-legged friend they come to calm down and comfort you.

So if your Yorkie is cuddling – this is for a reason and not a random thing.

4.) If you can see that your dog is acting more actively or needier when you are going out somewhere –

this proves that the Yorkie is observant and have the intelligence to know that something is happening.

And be sure that the dog knows that you are going somewhere and that it will be alone or at least without you for a certain period of time.

5.) The dog knows how exactly to get your attention.

It might be by rubbing up against you to be scratched and petted or by giving you a paw for a handshake or high five or even by exposing the belly for some loved tummy rubs –

these are signs that the dog wants your attention and of course it knows how to get it.

6.) Most dogs are ready to play and will return a ball if you throw it.

But If you see that your dog is bringing a ball or another playing toy to encourage you to play – this is another sign that it can make an association between the objects and your attention.

For you, this might not seem like much but for a dog, it is very impressive.

7.) Of course, if you see that your dog is mastering basic commands and training quickly – this is another marker of intelligence.

If you show your Yorkie something new and it instantly understand it and starts doing it you can be sure that you have a smart than the average canine.

8.) Another thing showing intelligence is if your dog is manipulating you successfully.

So if your Yorkie is getting everything it wants – whether it is getting food by whining at the empty dish or by going for a walk after it comes to you with the leash – these signs show good indication for intelligence.

For some people, it might be like the dog is training them like they are training the dog.

9.) If you see behavioral changes in the dog when you are taking it for a ride – this probably means that it recognizes the surroundings.

So for an instance, if you are driving the Yorkie to the park – it might get excited but if it recognized that you are taking it to the veterinarian – it might be afraid.

10.) When you decide to test the intelligence of your dog do not forget the natural abilities of the breed to assess its own level of smartness.

An example of this is a bloodhound that will always have a better sense of smell than another breed – in this case, it would be unfair to compare.

But no matter how intelligent is your Yorkie – do not forget that it is one of your best friends and so are you.

How Smart are Yorkies – IQ Test for Dogs

If you wish to do an IQ test to check your dog’s intelligence – you can follow the one below which is based on a series of memory challenges and problem-solving tasks.

The way your Yorkie responds and reacts to these will help you indicate its level of general intelligence and comprehension.

The challenges include the following:

1.) Towel over the head of the dog.

This challenge is pretty self-explanatory – you will have to throw a towel over the head of the Yorkie and see how long it will take to get it off.

2.) Hide a treat under a towel.

Pretty much you will have to place a treat under a towel on a surface and see how long it will take for the dog to find it.

3.) More difficult treat under a towel.

In this challenge, you will have to place the treat in a gap that can only be reached with paws and not with the muzzle.

Cover it with a towel and see how long it would take for the Yorkie to find it and get it out.

4.) Treat hidden in a cup.

You can use a couple of different cups.

Let the dog watch when you are hiding the treat under a cup. Then remove it from the room or at least make sure that it is not watching, move the cups and let the dog guess in which cup is the treat.
These challenges are making the standard dog IQ test stated in the Coren’s book.

Is this dog intelligence test an accurate measure?

Some breeds have instinctive intelligence which is based on the skills that come with the breed.

For example, the Greyhounds and Wolfhounds have natural abilities which help them in the sight-based challenges.

Bloodhounds and Beagles have great noses and it is expected for them to excel in sniffing and scent-based challenges.

But the learning intelligence involves task, environment and social learning as well as language comprehension.

These skills can be developed and taught.

There is no type of strength or skill that can really indicate if one dog is more intelligent than another

because it would be pretty naive to compare the intelligence of for example renowned math scientist and renowned artist – these are simply different types of intelligence.

As like a human can be creatively, emotionally, mathematically and much more ways of intelligent, it is the same with the dogs.

So it might be slightly unfair to claim that this or other dog intelligence tests are accurate measures for the canine intelligence,

they certainly help us to evaluate the general intelligence and skills of the dog and get a decent assessment.

A Deeper look at the intelligence challenges

Towel over the head

For this challenge, you can use a large towel or a small, light blanket.

Just cover the dog’s head and see how long it would take to get itself free.

Before starting with the challenge we can suggest to let the dog smell the towel or the blanket – that way it will not get scared of it afterward.

If you are ready to proceed just gently toss the towel or the blanket over the head of the dog. Make sure that the whole head is completely covered.

Now just time your dog and give it some points based on how long it took to remove the towel from the head.

The point system should be the following:

• 3 points for 30 seconds or less;

• 2 points for 31 to 120 seconds;

• 1 point for more than 120 seconds or does not succeed at all.

• 0 points if the dog does not try to get free at all.

Treat under a towel

To perform this challenge you will have to hide a dog treat under a towel and of course, time how long it would take the pup to find it.

Show the treat to the Yorkie before you hide it.

Then just place it on the floor while the dog is watching and then place a towel over the treat and start your timer.

Now just see how long it would take for the dog to find the treat.

Again, give it some points based on the time.

The point awarding system should be the following:

• 3 points for a result of 30 seconds or less;

• 2 points for 31 to 60 seconds;

• 1 point for more than 60 seconds or try but fails;

• 0 points if the dog does not even try.

More difficult treat under a towel

Next up is the more difficult version of the treat under a towel challenge.

It is pretty much the same but you will have to place the treat in a gap that the dog can only access with the paws and not with the muzzle.

So pick or create a suitable gap low to the ground.

Make sure that it is only reachable with the paws of your dog and nothing else.

For a gap, you can use the under section of a couch or you can build one by using a wide plank and pair of books (just weigh down the plank for the safety of your dog).

The next step is to place the dog treat in the gap and make sure that the dog is watching you.

Then just cover the treat with a towel.

Of course, the main thing here is to make sure that the dog cannot reach the treat with his muzzle or anything else than his paws.

Now just encourage the dog to get the treat and time it.

The point awarding system should be the following:

• 4 points if it succeeds within two minutes with paws;

• 3 points if it succeeds within three minutes with paws;

• 2 points if it fails within three minutes but uses the paws;

• 1 point if it fails and uses only the muzzle;

• 0 points if the dog does not even try.

Hidden cup treat

The last challenge is where you test the memory of your Yorkie by placing a treat under a cup and see if it can remember in which cup it is.

For the challenge to be as accurate as possible – use non-smelly treats.

The first thing is to make sure that your dog understands that the treat is under a cup.

As your Yorkie watches you, place the treat under a plastic cup and lift it to show once again where the treat is.

Repeat this process at least a couple of times to be sure that the dog perfectly understands that the treat can be hidden under a cup.

Now just place three plastic cups on the floor and place a treat under only one of them.

Make sure that your dog is watching you in the process.

If you want to make this more difficult you can even mix the cups in front of the dog. If not – just make sure that your dog knows under which cup is the treat.

Bring the Yorkie out of the room for under a minute and then bring it back.

Now just tell the dog to find the treat.

The scoring system should be the following:

• 2 points if it selects the right cup on the first try;

• 1 point if it finds the treat within two minutes;

• 0 points if it cannot find the treat at all.

The results from the challenges

You can add the points from every challenge and check the score to see how your dog did it and how intelligent it is.

If the score is 11-12 points – you can be sure that your Yorkie is very smart… a doggie genius.

If the score is 8-10 points – again, you have a smart dog.

For a score of 4-7 points – you have an average dog, which is not bad at all.

If the score is 1-3 points – your dog can be considered silly but loveable.

If you get 0 points you might ask yourself if you tested a real dog or a stuffed one :).

Understanding the results

If you found out that your dog is very smart and can be a pack leader in the intelligence department – you can be excited for a reason.

But if the dog is not the genius that you hoped for – do not be bummed.

After all, do not forget that these intelligence tests are not such a fair measure as it is not quite fair to evaluate a human being with an IQ test because there are so many different areas and levels of intelligence.

No matter the result you should love your Yorkie the same way as you did before the tests.

How to improve your Yorkie’s score

Of course, there are a couple of things that you can try to improve your dog’s score and make it more intelligent with time.

Let us give you a couple of tips if you would like to try that.

1. Treat these challenges like a game and make them fun for your dog.

After all, if your Yorkie is not interested in the challenges it will not even try to complete them. So encourage it and make it excited about doing them.

2. Use high-value treats.

Some dogs might not participate in the challenges just because they do not like the offered treats.

So to stimulate your Yorkie you can use high-value dog treats, for example, cheese or something else that you know your dog loves.

3. You can boost your dog’s brain by using some treat-dispensing puzzles.

They will challenge your Yorkie and as a reward for the puzzle solving skills, it will get a treat.

If you are interested you can see our article about the best toys for Yorkies.

4. Wait for a puppy to get older.

Bear in mind that young pups under a year will not be mature enough to fully understand the challenges.

So for fun, you can try the tests with your pup, but the results will be the most accurate when the dog is over a year old.

5. Practice some “hide and find the treat” games.

That way you can improve your dog skills.

Start with easy to find places and then you can progress and move to some difficult ones.

6. Keep practicing different IQ challenges with your dog most of the time – you can be sure that the intelligence will be greatly improved.

7. Last but not least: Training your Yorkie is always a good idea – You shuld start with the basics as soon as you get your dog.

Basic Yorkie training

You can begin your Yorkie training as soon as you bring the pup in your home. Of course, you can start with the basics – the first lesson can be an introduction to the house.

Make sure that the Yorkie will get familiar with where the water and foods are, where is the sleeping place, and even where is the potty place.

However, potty training might take up to a few weeks so be patient and consistent.

You can also proceed by training the Yorkie not to bark so much, especially at an early age. That way you can be sure that it will not irritate your neighbors.

After all, the barking is instinctual behavior and some Yorkies might have excessive barking so they need some training to stop that.

During the early training use commands from one word.

The intelligence of the breed and their loyalty means that your dog will do very well with obedience or agility training and with other activities to keep it entertained.

Some of the Yorkies can be a little bit stubborn so it is very important to show them your dominance from the beginning of the training.

If you do not do it you risk the dog to not listen to you.

Secondary training

Once you complete your Yorkie’s basic training there is no reason for you to stop.

You can continue with some easy commands like, sit, stay, roll over and so on.

Once your dog master these you can proceed with more complex things and tricks like giving a salute, limping or even giving a high five.

Last update on 2021-04-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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