Yorkie Tail Docked vs Undocked? Facts to Help You Decide

Historically, Yorkshire Terriers had their tails docked short for practical and cosmetic reasons. Today, tail docking is controversial, with some countries banning the practice due to animal welfare concerns. Ultimately, the decision to dock or not is a personal one for Yorkie owners.

The History of Tail Docking

In the past, Yorkshire Terriers were hard-working ratters, and their short, docked tails prevented injuries in tight quarters. As the breed became primarily companion dogs, docking continued largely to adhere to traditional breed standards.

Medical and Behavioral Considerations

Pain and Recovery: Tail docking is a surgical procedure, typically done on puppies a few days old. While anesthesia is used, puppies still experience pain and discomfort during and after the procedure.

Potential Risks: As with any surgery, there are risks of infection or complications. Some studies suggest docked dogs may have altered communication signals, but more research is needed.

Changing Breed Standards: Organizations like the AKC still include docked tails in the Yorkie breed standard. However, a growing movement prioritizes a natural tail, and some kennel clubs are adjusting standards accordingly.

The “Undocked” Trend

More Yorkies are being born with their natural, longer tails. This trend reflects several factors:

Animal Welfare: An increasing number of vets and organizations oppose cosmetic docking, believing it causes unnecessary pain.

Global Outlook: Some countries have banned or restricted tail docking entirely, impacting breeding practices worldwide.

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Owner Preference: Many Yorkie lovers adore the expressive movement and fluffy look of a natural tail.

Caring for Docked and Undocked Yorkies

Yorkie Tail Docked vs Undocked
Image Credit: Byrdyak/istockphoto

Docked Tails: Require basic hygiene and attention during healing. No special grooming is typically needed.

Undocked Tails: Regular brushing prevents matting. Some owners opt for trims to keep the tail neat.

Social Considerations: While rare, a Yorkie with an atypical tail (docked or undocked) may face curiosity or occasional judgment depending on their social circle.

Making the Decision: Should I Dock My Yorkie’s Tail

This is a personal choice each owner must make thoughtfully. Consider:

Your Values: Are you comfortable with a cosmetic procedure for your pet?

Finding a Veterinarian: Some vets won’t dock tails for ethical reasons. If you wish to dock, finding a willing vet is essential.

Purpose and Lifestyle: Will your Yorkie be a show dog where standards matter? Is there a higher risk of tail injury due to lifestyle?

What Do Owners Say?

“My priority is my Yorkie’s well-being. Since docking isn’t necessary anymore, I opted for a natural tail, and it adds so much personality!” – Isabella H., Yorkie Owner

“We plan to show our Yorkie, and keeping the tail docked aligns with the breed standard. We found a reputable vet who performs the procedure ethically.” – William  M., Yorkie Breeder

Expert Insights

Veterinary Behaviorist: Dr. Emily Martin, a specialist in animal behavior, observes: “Tails are a crucial part of canine communication. While we need more studies to be certain, shortened tails could potentially limit a dog’s ability to express themselves clearly to other dogs.”

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Breeder’s Viewpoint: “I’ve seen a definite shift in preference towards natural tails among my clients,” notes Sarah Wilson, a longtime Yorkie breeder. “My focus is on producing healthy, well-adjusted puppies. Whether they have docked or undocked tails is secondary to their overall well-being.”


The decision to dock or keep a Yorkie’s tail natural is complex. There’s no easy answer, but understanding the history, medical implications, and shifting perspectives will help you make an informed choice that’s best for you and your beloved Yorkshire Terrier.

The photo featured below the post headline is Credit: sdominick/istockphoto

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Frequently Asked Question

Is tail docking cruel?
Opinions vary greatly. Many consider it unnecessary for modern companion dogs, while some believe it’s part of breed tradition when performed ethically.

Do docked tails have problems?
Risks of infection or long-term complications are minimal with proper care. Some debate whether docked tails hinder canine body language, but more research is needed.

Are undocked Yorkies accepted?
Yes! Many breeders offer undocked Yorkies. Some countries and kennel clubs are even adapting breed standards to favor natural tails.

How much does it cost to dock a Yorkie’s tail?
The cost varies depending on the vet and location, but generally ranges from $10-$20 for puppies when done with their first checkup. Tail docking in older dogs is more expensive due to the need for anesthesia.

Can a Yorkie’s tail be docked at any age?
No. It’s typically done in the first few days of a puppy’s life and becomes much more complex, costly, and potentially risky for older dogs.

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Does a Yorkie’s tail need special care if it’s undocked?
Mainly regular brushing to prevent matting is needed. Some owners choose to trim the tail for neatness, but this isn’t medically necessary.

Does tail docking prevent injuries?
Historically, it aimed to protect working Yorkies, but this is rarely a concern for today’s companion Yorkies.

Do undocked Yorkies have trouble communicating with other dogs?
Some theorize docking limits tail signals, but more research is needed. Most dogs understand each other regardless of tail length.

Will my Yorkie be judged if they have a docked/undocked tail?
The occasional comment is possible, but most Yorkie owners and enthusiasts are accepting of both.

Are there alternatives to tail docking?
No true alternative exists. Some owners use ribbons or hair ties on undocked Yorkie puppies’ tails for a temporarily similar look, but this is purely cosmetic.

Where can I find a Yorkie with an undocked tail?
Many reputable breeders now offer undocked puppies. Search online for breeders specializing in “natural” or “undocked” Yorkies in your area.