From the outside looking in, the German Shepherd and the Yorkshire Terrier dog breeds could not be more different.
How on earth could a GSD and a Yorkie ever get along?
Yet underneath the surface differences, both the German Shepherd and the Yorkie, as Yorkshire Terriers like to call their pint-sized pups, hail from the same species.
Both are Canis lupus familiaris, the modern dog descendants of ancient wolves.
But understanding this fact doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to predict whether a German Shepherd and a Yorkie will get along. We are going to take a comprehensive look at this complicated issue right now.
Do All Dogs Get Along? Understanding the GSD and Yorkie Perspective
No matter what breed (or even what species) you are working with, there are never any guarantees that two animals will get along well.
In fact, the same holds true for human beings! The reasons why we may like one person and not like another person can be hard to figure out.
Just as not all dogs get along just because they are all dogs, so too can you not count on a German Shepherd and a Yorkie getting along just because they are both dogs.
A great many other factors can influence whether there is enough room in your family for both a Yorkie and a German Shepherd. That is exactly what we will talk about next.
Can a German Shepherd and a Yorkie Ever Get Along?
All it takes is watching this short, sweet video of a German Shepherd and a Yorkie playing tug-of-war to see that yes, GSDs and Yorkies can definitely get along.
While the video maker didn’t share the background of these two dogs, it is clear the German Shepherd is very protective of and accommodating towards the Yorkie.
What the German Shepherd and the Yorkshire Terrier Breeds Have in Common
It can be fun to learn more about the history of different dog breeds. As we mentioned in the introduction here, on the surface the GSD and the Yorkie look absolutely nothing alike.
The German Shepherd looks like a dog that is built for all work and no play. The Yorkie, in contrast, appears to be built for all play (or rest) and no work.
But when you spend some time reading through the American Kennel Club (AKC) official breed overviews for the German Shepherd and the Yorkshire Terrier, it quickly becomes apparent these dogs are more alike than different.
For starters, both are working dog breeds through and through, even though only the German Shepherd looks the part.
The Yorkie was bred to work on board ships and on farms as exterminators by eliminating rats and other rodents. These dogs are tireless workers and are actually remarkable athletes. But you won’t usually see that unless the Yorkie is wearing a short haircut.
The Yorkie, like the German Shepherd, is both very intelligent and nearly fearless. These dogs have earned medals for their work alongside human soldiers in wartime.
The movie “Angel in a Foxhole” is based on the true story of one heroic Yorkie named Smoky who received many awards for bravery in battle, including the Purple Cross. You can watch the touching trailer for this movie in this video.
Will knowing that both the German Shepherd and the Yorkie actually have similar temperaments and work ethics mean that it is more likely these two dog breeds will get along?
Not necessarily. But it can help you remember that since both dog breeds are wired similarly in many ways, they may have the same socialization and training needs while they are getting acquainted.
Why Might a German Shepherd and a Yorkie Not Get Along?
There are a number of key reasons that can influence whether or not a German Shepherd and a Yorkie will get along or not.
Early and ongoing socialization is missing
If you grew up in a family with siblings, you may have had days where you all got along well and days where everything your siblings did annoy you.
This is very normal and it is part of the socialization process of all young humans.
As luck would have it, this is also part of the socialization process of all young canines.
All that to say, if your German Shepherd and your Yorkie dog come into the family at the same time and grow up together, it is much more likely they will get along in adulthood.
But if you already have a German Shepherd and you decide later on to add a Yorkie to your family, your GSD may have a different opinion about whether the new addition is welcome.
You add a puppy to a home with a senior dog
Even if you decide to add a GSD and a Yorkie to your family at the same time, if one is a puppy and the other is a senior dog (doesn’t matter which breed is which) you may be heading for trouble.
A young puppy will be eager for play and interaction, tireless and often all sharp puppy teeth.
A senior dog, on the other hand, is slowing down and may be less likely to take kindly to the high energy and excitability of a little puppy.
There is a gender mismatch
Sometimes two dogs will get along with one another against every prediction to the contrary.
But it is equally common to see two dogs decide they don’t like one another for no apparent reason.
One reason this might happen that is easier to understand has to do with gender.
Male GSDs are more likely than female GSDs to be protective of “their” things and even “their” people. They may be less ready to accept a new dog into the family.
When it comes to Yorkshire Terriers, however, just the opposite tends to be the case. As this Yorkie breeder explains, overall, male Yorkies tend to be more stable and less moody as well as more affectionate.
Gender issues in companion canines can be made worse if one or both adult dogs is not fixed (neutered or spayed). You are more likely to have problems if you have two adult male dogs that are not fixed (regardless of breed).
How to Ensure a German Shepherd and a Yorkie Will Get Along
If you have your heart set on owning both a German Shepherd and a Yorkshire Terrier, is there anything you can do to help make sure these two dogs will get along?
There is nothing that can absolutely guarantee that two dogs will get along, unfortunately. Sometimes two dogs just don’t like each other and you have no idea why (here again, this is quite similar in people).
But there is a lot you can do to lessen the risk that a GSD and a Yorkie won’t get along. These tips will still work regardless of whether you are adding a Yorkie or a GSD to your family.
1. Introduce the two dogs several times before you bring the second dog home
Ideally, not only do you want to schedule several meet dates before you bring your new dog home, but you want to do this before you even make a commitment to rescue or purchase the second dog.
This way, you have plenty of opportunities in a neutral setting to see whether the two dogs seem to be willing to get acquainted and play.
2. Bring your existing dog outside to meet the new dog on neutral territory
Suddenly bringing a new dog into your existing dog’s home can be jarring. For best results, have the first meet at home outside on more neutral turf.
Also, be sure that each dog has a handler. Don’t try to handle both dogs and the introduction all by yourself.
3. Take both dogs on a short walk first before going indoors
By taking a walk together before you enter the home, you give each dog a chance to check the other out and adjust to the other’s presence before going indoors.
4. Take both dogs indoors together at the same time
This is where you really want to have two handlers. You want to try your best to enter the home at the same time with both dogs. Be sure to have treats and positive reinforcement ready during this step.
5. Remove all items your current dog feels territorial about and supervise all interactions
You definitely want to create a neutral area inside the home. Because of the great difference in size, supervise all interactions until you are sure it is safe to do otherwise.
By learning everything you can about each dog breed and going slow with your introductions, you will have the best chance to see your German Shepherd and Yorkie get along.