Yorkie Tail Docking: Things to Know & Ways to Do It

Are you planning on docking your Yorkie’s tail? Or are you wondering why the Yorkie you brought home has a stubbed tail?

With its rich and silky coat, the dainty-looking Yorkie is a highly spirited, brave and affectionate dog breed. The small-sized dogs were first used to catch rats in mines and mills. Then, in the Victorian era, they rose to popularity in England because of their unique appearance.

Today, the Yorkie is one of the sought-after Toy breed companion dogs. They also make for good show dogs. 

Maintaining the appearance of a Yorkie is considered essential by many breeders; thus, tail docking has been the norm. But, if you are bringing home a pet as a companion, is there a need to dock their tail? 

Yorkie Tail Docking
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The article will look at Yorkie tail docking, ways to do it, and things you should know before the procedure.    

What Is Tail Docking?

What Is Tail Docking
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Tail docking is the process of docking or cutting off the end part of a dog’s tail. The process should usually be performed using surgical scissors. The puppy should only be a few days old as its tail is still soft. The process is also called bobbing. 

The amount of tail that is cut off depends on the dog breed. For example, a Yorkie’s tail is cut in half, which results in a medium-sized tail as the dog grows. On the other hand, when it comes to the poodle dog breed, their tails are cut between half and two-thirds in length.   

Is Tail Docking Legal?

There is a lot of debate around this subject. Practices like ear cropping and tail docking today are primarily done for aesthetic purposes. However, according to the AKC, these practices are essential to maintain breed character. 

Whether you should opt for tail docking or not is your personal decision. If we consider the legal side, docking is allowed in countries like the US (most states), France, Egypt, Hungary, Mexico, Malaysia, India, Japan, and Indonesia, among others.

In countries like England, Australia, Finland, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Iceland, and Croatia, among others, it is illegal to dock a Yorkie.  

In Pennsylvania, if we consider the US, tail docking cannot be done on a dog over five days old without anesthesia. If the dog is between 5 days and 12 weeks, docking is to be performed by a licensed vet only because of a medical reason. 

How Long is a Yorkie’s Tail?

How Long is a Yorkie's Tail
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If you leave a Yorkie’s tail undocked, they can grow a pretty long tail and have a naturally curved appearance. On average, the undocked dog’s tail will measure between 4 to 7 inches. But, do not be surprised if their tail grows well beyond 10 inches. Docked tails will measure anywhere from 1 to 4 inches. 

Undocked tails can be groomed and styled in different ways. Flag, plume, bottlebrush are a few styles you can explore. But, of course, you could also leave the Yorkie’s tail alone and let it grow long and fluffy. 

What are the Reasons for Yorkie Tail Docking?

What are the Reasons for Yorkie Tail Docking
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AKC recognized the Yorkshire Terrier in 1885. That is a long way back. Thus, we will look at historical and current reasons for docking a Yorkie’s tail.

1. Historical

In ancient Rome, people believed if a long-tailed guard dog contracted rabies, it could quickly spread it to their flock of sheep, hurting their source of livelihood. So docking a dog’s tail was a process trusted to protect the dog from contracting rabies. 

Coming to Yorkies, as mentioned above, they were first used as ratters in mines and mills. So, they would chase around rats in cramped and small spaces. Yorkies naturally have long, feathery tails, and they were considered a risk when digging out vermin.  

The tail could get stuck in fences, between heavy machinery or rocks, or get bitten by the rat. The result would leave the dog with an injury and a lot of pain. Thus docking was considered a better approach.

2. Modern

When Yorkie’s grew popular as show dogs, tail docking was necessary. So, for example, even today, if you want to show your Yorkie in an AKC, CKC, or UKC Conformation event, Yorkies with docked tails are admitted to the event. 

So, Yorkie tail docking is done more for aesthetic reasons. If you are not planning on showing your dog at an event, there is no health reason to cut their tail off. 

Most owners, though, do not get to make that decision. Breeders take pride in selling dogs that conform to AKC standards. It becomes easier to sell the dog off and earn good money. 

What are Different Ways to Get a Yorkie’s Tail Docked? 

What are Different Ways to Get a Yorkie's Tail Docked
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Docking a Yorkie’s tail is a serious procedure and should be performed by qualified and licensed experts. The ideal time is when the Yorkie is between 2 to 5 days old. 

There are two ways to dock a Yorkie’s tail:

1. Constrict Blood Supply

Rubber ligature is a process of tying rubber bands at the mid-section of the Yorkie’s tail. The pressure applied by the bands will constrict blood flow to the top part of the tail. In about 2 to 3 days, the top part will fall off on its own.  

2. Surgical

The second way involves taking your Yorkie to a licensed vet. They will use a tool such as a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut off the tail carefully. The procedure will be performed in a sanitized environment to avoid any infections. 

Regardless of the way, a Yorkie’s tail is docked in half. This results in their tail standing erect. As the dog grows, its tail can be 1 to 4 inches long. Anesthesia is not used during the procedure as it is considered a risk for young puppies.

Also Read: 8 Causes of Pink Discoloration on Dog’s Lips

How to Care for a Yorkie with a Docked Tail? 

How to Care for a Yorkie with a Docked Tail
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Your dog might experience varying levels of discomfort and pain after the docking procedure. Therefore, it is best to monitor their behavior for the first few days. 

The surgical area should be kept clean and dry. Wash their bedding and make sure the surrounding area is clean as well. Look out for symptoms like redness, swelling, or blood discharge as they point to an infection. 

Do not let them sit on the tail. If the puppy’s mother is around, they should not be allowed to lick the little one’s tail. 

If the Yorkie shows apparent signs of pain and distress, take them to the vet to get the tail checked.

Can an Adult Yorkie’s Tail be Docked?

You might have to dock an adult Yorkie’s tail due to an injury or other medical reason. However, appearance should never be the reason to dock an adult dog’s tail.

In an adult dog, their nerves and bones are fully developed. This makes the docking procedure complicated. Also, the dog will have to be put under anesthesia, or the pain will be unbearable for them.

Anesthesia brings along its own set of risks. For example, some dogs may experience mild vomiting while recovering, while other dogs could suffer life-threatening issues like stroke or cardiac arrest.

This is why it is vital to have a medical reason to dock an adult Yorkie’s tail. Also, do not attempt docking on your own. Instead, it would be best to take the dog to a qualified and licensed practicing vet.

Is Tail Docking Painful for a Yorkie?

Is Tail Docking Painful for a Yorkie
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Tail docking is highly controversial. Some organizations claim the procedure causes little to no pain. And there are studies and anecdotal evidence which claim otherwise. 

The idea behind docking early is that the puppy will feel pain, but because they are not entirely alert, they might not recognize the extent of the situation. Therefore, putting a puppy through the pain because they will not remember it does not seem like a good enough reason.

If the breeders do not follow proper procedure, use unsanitized tools, or do not perform aftercare, it could impact the puppy’s health

The procedure is considered inhumane by large sections of society and thus banned in many countries.    

What are the Risks Involved with Tail Docking?

What are the Risks Involved with Tail Docking
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A Yorkie’s tail is important as it helps them balance and communicate their feelings. Apart from the pain it experiences during the procedure, let us look at some other risks that come with Yorkie tail docking.

#1. Communication Barriers

Wagging tails can convey a lot of emotions. You can understand if your dog is happy, sad, curious, afraid, or angry with its tail and other non-verbal body signs. However, a Yorkie with a docked tail may have difficulty communicating with you and other dogs. It could also affect the bond you share with your pet.  

#2. Nerve Tumor

The Yorkie could develop a nerve tumor after the docking procedure. Whenever you touch your dog’s tail, it will cause them pain. It could also contribute to aggressive behavior in your dog. 

#3. Joint Issues

A docked tail could cause imbalance and affect a dog’s mobility. They could end up favoring one side while walking or running. This unequal distribution of weight and undue pressure could lead to joint issues in the future. 

What Other Breeds Get Their Tails Docked?

Apart from Yorkie’s other dog breeds that get their tails docked are:

  • Doberman pinschers
  • Poodles
  • Rottweilers
  • Schnauzers
  • Irish terriers
  • Cocker spaniels
  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Viszlas

Should You Get Your Yorkie’s Tail Docked?

Should You Get Your Yorkie's Tail Docked
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If tail docking is legal in your region, you should ask yourself if it is worth putting your pet through the pain and risks involved. 

Docking is primarily done to give your dog a neat and clean appearance. It is done for cosmetic purposes. For example, docking might be necessary if you plan to show your dog at events.  

Breeders argue that docking is performed to save the dog from injuries. But according to research, tail injuries are uncommon. If they do occur, they can be treated and healed. 

As most breeders will dock a Yorkie’s tail in the first 2 to 3 days, you will never have a chance to make a different decision. People usually pay a deposit for a pup in an expected litter and let the breeder know clearly they do not want the puppy’s tail to be docked.  

Most people do not even realize they have a choice for practices like ear cropping and tail docking. These practices are a norm in the pet sector, but they are not necessarily right for your pet. 


Yorkie tail docking is a procedure wherein your dog’s tail is cut by half its length. Ideally, it should be performed on puppies younger than five days. If tail docking is done on an adult dog, the vet will put them under anesthesia as the procedure is painful.

Tail docking today is done for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes. If you are not participating in a dog show, you can let your young Yorkie’s tail grow long and fluffy. 

Tail docking comes with risks such as pain, infection, communication barriers, aggressive behavior, and life-threatening issues related to anesthesia. So, give priority to your pup’s health before you consider docking their tail.  

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