Morkies are the popular offspring of a purebred Yorkshire Terrier and a purebred Maltese dog. Both these parents are tiny, non-shedding dogs that stay small. But temperament-wise, Yorkies and Maltese are quite different. So what can you expect in a Morkie?

Most of us assume a mix of Yorkshire Terrier and Maltese dog results in the best of both breeds — a loyal companion who’s smart as a Yorkie, and as loving as a Maltese.  The Maltese can soften the Yorkie’s more aggressive side. Meanwhile, the Yorkie can add more brainpower to the Maltese side. 

But what if the mix results in the worst of both breeds? It CAN happen. The Morkie could be aggressive like a Yorkie and hard to housetrain like a Maltese. That’s why it’s so important you’re OK with the pros and cons of each breed.


The Yorkie

Yorkies are active, bright little dogs with very big personalities. In fact, they need plenty of socialization and training to keep that big personality on track or they can become too assertive and even bossy.

Though small, the Yorkshire Terrier is active, loves attention and is protective of his owners. The Yorkie is no lapdog.

The Maltese

Like the Yorkie, the Maltese features a beautiful, flowing coat – but pure white, no other colors are allowed in a purebred Maltese.

Bred thousands of years ago, Maltese dogs were developed to be pampered lapdogs, and they take that job seriously. They are among the most gentle of all dogs and are sweet natured and affectionate. Maltese are the ideal companion – loyal, vigorous and devoted.

a morkie is half and half yorkie and maltese

How smart are Morkies?

Dr. Stanley Coren is a noted animal behaviorist who has ranked intelligence in dogs on 3 different scales:

  • instinctive intelligence: what a dog was bred for. The Yorkie as bred to chase and kill vermin in Victorian England. The Maltese was bred as a prized lapdog of royalty.
  • adaptive intelligence: what a dog can learn to do for himself. Examples include remembering where treats are kept or how to undo a latch.
  • working and obedience intelligence: what a dog can learn in formal training.

Dr. Coren has tested and ranked all 132 recognized breeds; the Yorkie is #27 which is above average; the Maltese is #59 of 132, or just below average. 

Where would the Morkie rank? Of course somewhere between #27 and #59.

Watch out for Small Dog Syndrome in your Morkie

Whether your Morkie is more Yorkie or more Maltese in temperament, there’s one more factor that can influence behavior, and that’s small dog syndrome.

Not to be confused with Canine Anxiety Disorder, small dog syndrome is a learned behavior. Small dog syndrome, or the tendency for tiny dogs to be yappy, untrained, snappy and generally obnoxious, is not something that is natural or common to small breeds by nature. It’s learned behavior that is brought about by the way we owners treat our toy dogs.

As humans, we are programmed by Mother Nature to coddle and take special care of creatures we perceive as ‘babies.’ No surprise, it’s a biological response, and it’s how our race has survived.

The problem is, toy dogs, with their big eyes and tiny size, bring out that same “babying” tendency in us, even when they are adult dogs. So we keep over-compensating for their small size (carrying them everywhere!) and overlooking bad behavior that we would never tolerate in a medium or large size dog.

The good news is, with some understanding of the roots of the problem and active steps to counteract it, you’ll have a happier, healthier and more centered small dog soon.

The #1 Cause of Small Dog Syndrome

If your toy dog is a pain in the neck, he’s probably suffering from small dog syndrome and the problem originates with — YOU!

What small dog syndrome is NOT

  • it’s not a high-spirited, outgoing dog.
  • it’s not a happy, sociable dog.
  • it’s not a high-personality dog.

How to conquer small dog syndrome?

Remember, your Morkie is:

  • first an animal.
  • then a dog.
  • then the breed – a Morkie.
  • then, and only then, your pet named “X.”

Once you understand your role in treating your Morkie like a little person, not a dog, then you can start taking steps to combat the problem including:

  • stop carrying your little dog all over – do you see a 15-year-old human child in a stroller?
  • don’t let your little dog jump up on you – would it be OK if your dog were a Rottweiler?
  • let your dog know with a sharp verbal correction, incessant barking and yapping are not acceptable. Or withdraw your attention to make your point.
  • don’t let your small dog sit on you to “claim you.” As the owner, you set the time for snuggles.
  • ensure your little dog has his own bed and designated quiet area; a corner or an open door crate works well.
  • don’t encourage hysterical behavior by comforting your dog; just ignore it.