Yorkie Tail Docking

Yorkie Tail Docking

The subject of having your Yorkie’s tail docked is a highly controversial one. Here in the US, the American Kennel Club (AKC) allows the tail to be docked up to a medium length per standard. However, many countries around the world prohibit this practice.

If you’re considering docking your Yorkie’s tail, here’s what you should know about the practice.

Is Tail Docking a Yorkie Legal?

The largest and most respected dog club in the USA is the AKC, and they allow for Yorkshire Terriers to have their tail shortened to an average mid-length size.  

The ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council), the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), the NZKC (New Zealand Kennel Club), and the UKC (United Kennel Club), however, have totally outlawed the practice of tail docking Yorkies.

Yorkie with undocked tail

Yorkie with undocked tail

Most Yorkie breeders practice tail docking on their puppies to make them more desirable to potential owners. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals are also against this tail docking practice on Yorkies and have passed many laws to bring an end to this practice. Since 2007, many countries around the world have prohibited this age-old practice of tail docking a Yorkshire Terrier.

In the U.S., only the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland have set any restrictions on the tail docking procedure. In Pennsylvania, tail docking is only lawful so long as it’s performed under anesthesia and within the first five days of the puppy being born. The state will also allow the procedure to be performed within the period of 5 days and 12 weeks if an authorized vet considers it medically necessary. In Maryland, the tail docking procedure can be done at any time, but must be done under anesthesia.

Outside of the United States, at least 25 countries have banned tail docking including the United Kingdom, Australia, Scandinavian nations (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland), Canada, and Germany. Some countries make exceptions for working dogs, however.

What Is Tail Docking?

The practice of docking a Yorkshire Terrier’s tail is a procedure in which the natural tail of a newly born puppy is cut short by amputation. This shrinks the Yorkie’s tail to about half its natural size, resulting in a more medium length tail. Docking methods like this can cause discomfort for the young pup if it were to stand its tail upright.

Should You Dock Your Yorkie’s Tail?

Yorkie with docked tail

Jersey – Courtesy of Nadine W.

There are no concrete reasons or evidence to suggest any beneficial reason, health-related or otherwise, you should have your Yorkie’s tail docked, besides perhaps if you were to have your pup participate in a dog show or other competition. If you live in one of the aforementioned countries where the practice is outlawed and you did wish to enter a show, it is obviously still forbidden. If you did, however, wish to enter your Yorkie to compete for AKC, ANKC, CKC, NZKC, or UKC conformation events, you will be required to have your pup go through the docking process.

Most frequently, breeders perform the docking procedure on a Yorkie so that it qualifies for the AKC, and other dog clubs, required standards for dog shows. The reason for going through this change in dog’s appearance is solely for cosmetic purposes; there is no other difference between a docked and undocked tail.

The only other reason to have your Yorkie’s tail docked is if it’s a working dog rather than a pet. A docked tail can help prevent injuries to your dog’s tail while it’s catching small animals in burrows, which is what Yorkies were originally breed for.

Some prospective buyers of Yorkies are taken by surprise when they discover the prospective dogs have already had their tails docked, losing their option not to support the process. Make sure to check this with your breeder if you go about buying a puppy rather than finding a rescue Yorkie(recommended).

If you would prefer your Yorkie not to have had its tail docked, there is often the option to put a deposit down on one particular Yorkie puppy and give the explicit instruction to keep its natural tail. Such preferences are not out of the norm as there are many owners today with natural, undocked Yorkshire Terriers. Due to the large number of countries with strict laws preventing tail docking, undocked Yorkies are becoming even more common, even in places where tail docking is legal. A recent survey found a 60/40 ratio of docked to undocked, concluding that today, nearly half of registered owners leave their Yorkshire Terriers tails undocked.

When and How to Have a Yorkie’s Tail Docked

Yorkie with docked tail

Sophie – Courtesy of Dawn M.

The procedure of docking your Yorkshire Terrier’s tail can be done in one of two ways. First, a rubber band can be used to compress the blood supply to your dog’s tail for a few days. If done correctly and accurately the tip of the tail will fall off in about three days without any difficulties. You can’t do this beyond the age of a few days old. DO NOT do this to an adult Yorkie.

Alternatively, an experienced vet can cut the Yorkie’s tail with a surgical scalpel. The qualified vet will only perform this procedure on a puppy that is between two to five days old. No anesthesia will be given at this age taking into account the potential health risks involved for the young pup.

When these docking procedures are carried out correctly, your pup should only experience a little discomfort. The reason for executing the docking procedure so early is so that the young Yorkie is yet to develop a full nervous system, so pain from the procedure will be reduced. If the procedure were to take place later in your pup’s life, they would endure great pain, and it would be considered significant surgery. Nevertheless, if you still need to get your Yorkie docked past the first five days, it is best to wait until your Yorkie is at least ten weeks old. In this instance, the vet will use anesthesia on the dog before docking the tail. Really though we highly suggest you don’t put your adult dog through this procedure.

In rare cases, an undocked adult Yorkie may need docking if it suffers a serious tail injury.


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