How Long to Dock Yorkshire Terrier Tails

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Generally, dogs use their tails to communicate to humans and other animals. A dog may become nervous or an easy target to other animals if it lacks a way of communication.Tail docking is a term that is frequently used in dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers. 

However, only a few people know the process of Yorkie tail docking and its purpose, and people wonder how long to dock Yorkshire Terrier’s tail. Is having my Yorkshire terrier’s tail docked really important? 

Well, you don’t need to look for the answer elsewhere. Here’s all about yorkie tail docking and all the answers to your question!

How Long to Dock Yorkshire Terrier Tails

If you want to have your yorkie’s tail docked you need to do it as soon as possible. Yorkie tail docking recommends newborn puppies between 24-96 hours or around 1-3 days after birth.

Yorkshire terrier resting on the floor

Yorkie tail docking should be done at a very young age since puppies this young are still developing their nervous system which communicates with their pain tolerance. That way, they can tolerate the pain of the surgical process. Having your yorkie’s tail docked any more than 1-3 days will be painful and should be postponed.

If you fail to get their tails docked during their young age, they can continue with the process when they reach 10 weeks of age which is around 3-4 months. At that age, they can be put under anesthetics, a pain-reducing drug that cannot be administered to puppies younger than 10 weeks of age.

Tail Docking Process for Yorkshire Terriers

Docking a dog’s tail is the surgical process of removing a dog’s tail for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes. This process is famous for certain working breeds like Jack Russell terrier, Yorkshire Terriers  among other dogs and not the Shih Tzu

Historically, in the 18th century yorkies were bred as hunting dogs. An undocked yorkie was known to suffer far more injuries from other dog breeds when hunting. However, you were supposed to pay tax if you owned a yorkie as a pet dog therefore tail docking was done to distinguish working dogs and pet dogs. 

In current times, yorkie tail docking considers medical and cosmetic aspects as well as injury prevention. As for the Yorkshire Terrier breed, tail docking and ear cropping is vital for pet owners who want to fit with American Kennel Club standards.(AKC standards) which require tails docked for dog shows and aesthetic purposes.

Tail Docking Process

If you want to meet the AKC breed standard you can dock a dog’s tail using the following methods depending on its age and your preference.

Methods in Docking a Yorkshire Terrier’s Tail

Method Process Best For
Banding Tying a tight band around the tail to kill off tissuesNewborn and young Terriers
Surgery Using a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut the tailAdult and senior Terriers

Banding Method

This method involves tying a tight band around the dog’s tail. The band exerts pressure on the blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood to the rest of the tail, numbing and gradually killing the tail tissues. Depending on the age of the dog, the tail will fall off by itself after several days.

However, if the dog is older and the tissues are tough, you can consider tying the band to reduce the blood flow and cause a numbing feeling, and then cut off the tail using a sterile clamp and scissors.

Usually, the band method is the safest, and you can do it without the help of a veterinarian or specialist. However, if you don’t have the right tools, it’s advisable to tie the tail and let it fall without cutting off to prevent possible complications and infections.

Yorkshire terrier with ball in his mouth


The second one is through the surgical operation of cutting the Yorkie’s tail off using surgical scissors or scalpel done by a trusted and licensed veterinarian in a sterilized and clean area to avoid infections in the wounded area. However, yorkie tail docking cost is a bit higher while using this method unlike the band method.

Since this is a standard surgical procedure, the vet might opt to use anesthesia to control the dog’s pain during the procedure. That means you will need to follow any instructions related to anesthesia, such as not feeding the dog for around 12 hours before docking.

Usually, this procedure takes around 45 to 90 minutes. Since anesthesia drugs can have significant side effects, it’s advisable to use the method for dogs that are more than 10 weeks old. Note that surgery under anesthesia drugs can cause complications even in older dogs.


Whether you are using the band or surgery method, you should ensure that your yorkie has a short tail stub if you want it to participate in dog shows and competitions. That means the docked tails will stay erect at all times, unlike the undocked tails that fall off due to their natural tail long length.

Yorkie Tail Docking Legality

While there are countries that allow Yorkie puppy’s tail docking to medium length for aesthetic and cosmetic purposes, there are still countries that forbid this surgical process and deem it to be unethical and unimportant for the dog’s health.

There are, in fact, more countries that don’t allow tail docking and those that allow it. Before having your yorkie docked, it is important to know whether it is legal to dock yorkie puppy tails in your location. Here are some of the countries that allow yorkie’s tail docked:

  • Egypt
  • France
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand (only allows puppies until 4 days old)
  • Most of the states in the United States of America

Safety Tips and Reminders

Since tail docking is a surgical process that is irreversible in nature, a pet owner should be certain about whether or not they want their dog’s tail docked. Thus, they should understand a few considerations and reminders, along with safety tips about yorkie’s tail docking.

Cute Yorkshire terrier playing on the grass
  • Dog owners should put their dog’s well-being as the main consideration of whether or not their yorkie’s tails docked. Even though tail docking occurs at a very early stage or with anesthetics, it can still inflict pain and discomfort on your Yorkshire Terrier. With that, a lot of countries banned tail docking since it inflicts unnecessary pain on dogs like Yorkshire Terriers.
  • Having your yorkie’s tail docked, however, can have different benefits aside from looking more pleasing to some people. For instance, it helps prevent injuries along with Yorkie tails which can be prone to clumsy and painful injuries as their tails start to grow longer.
  • Tail docking should be done in a sterile and clean environment, especially the first method of using rubber ligatures. If not done appropriately especially on yorkshire terriers, your dog might get an infection and excruciating pain on the docked tail.
  • Avoid wound infection in the docked tail by using sterile items during the tail docking process and wound healing process.
  • Dock yorkie’s tails through a veterinarian surgical procedure, particularly for new dog owners to avoid health issues and infections for Yorkshire Terriers.
  • After the tail docking procedure, it’s best to attentively monitor your dog’s docked tail to detect any infection. This can be characterized by redness, swelling, and discharge along the incision area.
  • Make sure to keep your dog’s environment such as their bedding and bandage of the docked tail clean. This to avoid bacteria that can infect their incision.
  • Always keep an on-call or 24/7 veterinary clinic in your emergency contact for emergencies or in case you want another yorkie with undocked tail for docking

The Best Time to Dock the Tail

Although it’s known that you should dock a Yorkie’s tail when it is still young, it can be challenging to determine the exact age when to do it. In most cases, the best time to dock a Yorkie’s tail depends on the docking method you want to use. 

For instance, if you plan to use the band method, it’s advisable to wait until the Yorkie puppy is around two to three days old before applying the band. On the other hand, if you have an older dog, you might need to use the surgery method. 

However, to minimize the challenges and complications that might come with docking, it’s advisable to do it shortly after birth. Some benefits of docking shortly after birth include:

Recovers Faster

There is a significant change in the environment when the puppy is born. For instance, newborn pups must start breathing using the nose and feed through the mouth. The body is also exposed to the outside temperature and moisture. 

Usually, many changes occur to the newborn’s body to help cope with these sudden environmental changes. 

Some of them are an acceleration in cell development. Typically, this happens naturally to help the body adapt to the new environment and boost the growth rate of the newborn Yorkie puppies. When you dock the dog shortly after birth, accelerated cell development helps the dog to heal faster.  

The Tail Falls Faster

Using the band method means the natural tail will be gradually cut by the pressure exerted on the tail tissues by the band. As a result, the size and toughness of the tissues become the primary determinant of how long the tail will take to fall. 

Keeping in mind that the band will be exerting pressure on the long tail and cutting off the blood supply to the rest of the tail tissues, the dog will usually have an uncomfortable numbing feeling. Usually, this discomfort will be more on older dogs with lively tail tissues.

The best way to minimize the docking period and the associated discomfort is to tie the band when the puppy is still tiny, as the tail diameter is small and the tissues are soft. Generally, tying a band to a Yorkie around 24 hours old generally makes the tail fall after around three days.

Why You Need to Dock Your Yorkshire Terrier?

Although docking might expose your young puppies to pain, discomfort, and health risks for some time during the docking procedure, the following are some of the main reasons you might still want to undertake the tail docking procedure. 

Reduce Health and Safety Risks

Since Yorkies suffer separation anxiety when left alone for long hours, docking their tail shortly after birth helps reduce the chances of tail injuries from banging it on an object when left alone.

Yorkies are also assertive and playful and love to chase small prey. If playing in your home’s backyard with their tails long, they may collect debris or amass feces around their tail. Docked tails help ensure that the Yorkie is clean on the backside.

Requirement for Competitions and Dog Shows

Different organizations have regulations governing which dogs are allowed in the shows. For instance, organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) will want the dog’s pedigree to confirm that it’s purebred before allowing it to participate in the competition. 

Additionally, the AKC has a policy of preserving the health of Yorkies and reducing risks of injuries, one of them being tail docking to medium length. As a result, a shortened tail gives your Yorkie a mark of identity, and the AKC might allow it into the dog show as long as it has a good pedigree.

Enhanced Compactness and Tail Appearance

Keeping in mind that most reputable breeders will dock Yorkies’ tail shortly after birth and major Yorkie clubs such as the American Kennel Club recognizes a docked tail as a mark for purebred Yorkies, you might need to dock your dog if you want to take pride in it as a purebred Yorkie. 

Also, Yorkies are generally small dogs, measuring around 6 to 7 inches tall. That means most people keep them for companionship and not protection. That means you might want to carry your Yorkie in a handbag or purse when traveling for camping trips or walks in the park.

Usually, an undocked tail tends to affect the compactness of the dog, and the Yorkie might feel uncomfortable in a purse or handbag. The small size of the Yorkie also tends to make it have undesirable looks with a high-riding long tail.

Why Some People Oppose Docking?

Although docking helps improve your Yorkie’s health and overall looks, the following reasons make some people oppose the docking procedure.


Generally, dogs use their tails as a counterbalance by placing the weight of the tail on the opposite side of the tilt when making movements. This helps to improve the dog’s motor skills, especially when running or walking along a narrow path. 

Keeping in mind that Yorkies might be spending most of their time indoors, balance is an important aspect when climbing stairs, chairs, or other pieces of furniture. Usually, docking interferes with the dog’s mobility and might cause accidents, such as the dog falling off the chair when trying to climb. 

Joint Problems

Considering that Yorkies are generally small, they are prone to obesity and joint problems such as luxating patella, where the kneecap slips out of its groove. 

Keeping in mind that the natural Yorkie tail helps to distribute the weight, a docked tail causes weight imbalance, increasing the chances of this condition, especially if it’s obese.

This problem can be painful and affect your dog’s mobility, hindering the companionship you need when going for long walks or hiking. It can also be challenging to control the dog’s weight once the luxating patella develops, as you can no longer take the dog for exercise.


Yorkies have strong territorial and protective traits, and any traumatic experience can lead to aggression. Keeping in mind that docking is extremely painful, especially to dogs several weeks older with fully developed nerves, it can be a traumatic experience for the dog.

This can trigger aggressive instincts, especially in an adult dog that can keep memories. However, you can avoid aggressive behavior by docking the dog when it’s around 24 hours old, as the nerves are not yet fully developed, and the pain is minimal.  

Communication Issues

Yorkshire Terriers are generally affectionate dogs, and they will want to relate with you and communicate their feelings. Since they don’t have speech like humans, they tend to use their tails to express their feelings. 

For instance, they can wag their tails towards the right to express their feeling of excitement and happiness, like when they see you after a long day of loneliness or when you start preparing bowls for food and water. 

On the other hand, they can wag their tails towards the left when they feel anxious, such as when they see you holding the car key and preparing to leave. Usually, docking affects this communication, making it challenging to recognize the dog’s feelings.


Related Questions

What Does a Docked Tail Look Like on a Yorkie?

A Yorkshire Terrier’s docked tail typically looks one-quarter of its regular length. Thus, they still retain about three-quarters of the natural tail.

Can You Dock a Yorkie’s Tail at Any Age?

You can dock a Yorkie’s tail at any age. However, you must consider the age if your pet has underlying medical conditions.

What if I Notice Lumps On My Terrier’s Docked Tail?

It’s best to take your pet to the veterinarian if you notice lumps on your Terrier’s docked tail. These bumps can be warts, cysts, or infected sebaceous glands.


Tail docking of Yorkshire Terriers should be done as early as 1-3 days in either one of the two methods. Additionally, put rubber ligatures until half of the tail is cut off or surgically remove it with a veterinarian’s help. If not done immediately after birth, docking your yorkie’s tail should be postponed until it achieves an age of 10 weeks.