You must be wondering, why does your Yorkie not have a full-length tail? All Yorkies are actually born with a tail. But at some point in their lives, their tails are partially removed (docked). And the reasons for that might surprise you.
Just why is your Yorkie’s tail docked? The #1 reason, according to breeders and veterinarians alike, is for aesthetic purposes.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), Continental Kennel Club (CKC), New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) require that all Yorkies’ tails are docked, in order for a Yorkie to be considered as a breed standard.
Let’s dive deeper into this controversial topic.
Why Do Yorkies Have Their Tails Docked?
Docking refers to the process of removing part of the tail of a dog. It is common with small dog breeds like the Yorkshire terriers. With Yorkies, the procedure is performed when they are newborn pups. At this age, they have less of a developed sensation of pain and heal quickly which makes it the safest time for the procedure.
It is a very controversial procedure with strong points for and against it. In America, it is common practice to dock Yorkie puppies.
Here are some of the main reasons why:
To Meet American Kennel Club Standards
The American Kennel Club requires that Yorkie terriers have their tails docked to medium tail length. This leaves a short tail stub that raises slightly above the level of the back. It is considered a marker for the breed and is particularly important for Yorkies in the show dog scene.
This is one of the main underlying reasons behind the popularity of tail docking in Yorkies both in and out of the competition world. The long and high-riding tail of an undocked Yorkie is considered undesirable in terms of visual appeal. This is mainly the case with long-haired doggies. Shortening the tail gives the dog a more compact and appealing look.
To Protect From Hunting Injuries
Yorkies were initially bred and are still occasionally used as hunting dogs. Those with undocked tails tend to suffer more tail injuries, especially when retrieving in shrubbery or holes. As a result, owners prefer to spare their dogs the pain and just shorten it to a manageable and less accident-prone length.
How Do You Dock A Yorkie’s Tail?
Docking a Yorkie tail is not a very difficult procedure and with the right tools, this procedure can even be done at home. You just have to get the timing right and select the best procedure for your situation. These decisions determine the outcome directly as despite being simple, things can go very wrong for your beloved Yorkie pup.
When it comes to timing for docking your Yorkie’s tail, the newborn period is the safest and has the highest success rate. It is advised that the procedure is done between 2 and 5 days since birth.
At this age, they are strong enough to handle the procedure as opposed to doing it on the first day of life. This is also when it is least painful as their nervous systems are still immature and not very sensitive. If you miss this window, you can still have your Yorkie’s tail docked but your choice of procedures is different.
When it comes to the procedure itself, you have two main methods to choose from:
The first is the simple banding method. This is where you tie a piece of sanitized rope or a band tightly around the tail at the point where you want to cut it. This cuts off the blood supply to the lower segment. In time, this dies and falls off. This is so straightforward that it is often done at home and is best for newborns who heal faster.
The second option is to get the tail docking done professionally by a vet. This is usually done under anesthesia and involves surgically removing a portion of the tail. While it can be performed on newborns, it is more often than not reserved for older Yorkies.
When Do You Dock A Yorkie’s Tail? What Age Do You Dock A Yorkie’s Tail?
The most common age at which Yorkies get their tails docked is when they are newborns. This ranges from 24 hours of life to about their 5th day after birth.
As earlier mentioned, both banding and surgical procedures may be employed in this age group. Here are a few perks of getting it done this early:
It Is Essentially Painless
It takes about 2 to 4 weeks after birth for Yorkie puppies to go through neurodevelopment. When they are born, their sensations, except for their sense of smell, are pretty weak. This includes hearing and touch sensation to pain. This means that though it hurts a little, it is much less painful to have it done at this age than much later when their nerves start to mature.
The Tail Is Smaller
The tail of a newborn Yorkie is tiny which makes this the perfect time to dock it. If you tie the band tight enough, the tail should fall off within 3 days as there is much less width and length for the process to work through.
It Heals Really Well
Newborn Yorkies go through a growth spurt and have very rapidly developing cells as they try to adapt to their new environment. Docking the tail at this time allows you to take advantage of this for faster and less problematic healing.
Docking can also be done later in life if this initial window is missed. The best time here is after 10 weeks of life when the surgical method is the best option. At this age, they are strong enough to handle the procedure and the medication involved including anesthesia.
Should I Dock My Yorkies Tail?
To dock or not to dock is one question that breeders and owners still debate about all over the world. And with the wealth of pros and cons on each side, it is easily understood why you might be having a difficult time deciding.
The answer is that it depends. You need to consider several factors when making this huge decision as there is no going back after you do it. First off, consider the age of your Yorkie.
Also, do factor in other things like local breeding and grooming regulations and the reasons why you want to have the procedure done if you are seriously considering it.
If it is a local requirement to have the tail of your Yorkie docked, then absolutely go for it. When done right, it is a relatively risk-free and cruelty-free procedure that both you and your dog will benefit from. Just make sure to get the timing right to avoid any complications.
However, if you are raising your Yorkie in a place where docking is strictly prohibited then it is best to avoid it. The last thing you want is to get in trouble for trying to give your best bud a fresh new look.
You should probably also avoid it if you are dealing with an older and sickly Yorkie. They do not recover as fast and they can feel pain pretty intensely. You will definitely need anesthesia, which will add up to the cost of the operation.
Moreover, they are going to be aware of their missing tail, and they may start to throw tantrums and bark at you, and no amount of your Yorkie’s favorite treats may ever heal this scar. You wouldn’t want that.
After all, is said and done, it boils down to personal preferences and regional regulation. If you are not restricted by your environment in any way and have no plans to participate in any kind of dog show, we will recommend you not to dock their tails at all.
As mentioned before and here we are emphasizing again, docking Yorkie tails is purely for aesthetic purposes. It has no benefits whatsoever. It is not going to make your Yorkie smarter and easier to train, neither is it going to make your Yorkie stronger to fight off common Yorkie health issues and skin problems.
Likewise, docking Yorkie’s tail has no negative effects either. It is neither going to stunt the growth of your Yorkie, shorten their lifespan, affect their sleeping habit, mess up their heat cycle and pregnancy, nor make your Yorkies more prone to potty accidents.
Yorkie Tail Docking Cost
The price you will have to pay to get your Yorkie’s tail docked depends on a lot of factors.
The first is the procedure you go for. With the simple banding, it can be absolutely free if you are skilled enough to do it yourself. In fact, the only investment you may have to make is that of a clean piece of thread.
However, you should not do this if you are not sure exactly what you are doing to avoid negative consequences like an infection. No amount saved is worth the health and safety of the furry little friend.
Therefore, in order to avoid the risk, it is best to get a professional to take care of it. You could have it done by a breeder or licensed groomer with the skill for the job. In this case, banding to dock a Yorkie will cost you between $10 and $20 depending on their rates.
If you opt for the surgical route, the price tag goes up a little. This is mainly because the procedure often involves anesthesia. It is also sometimes combined with other newborn or older puppy Yorkie checkups. In this case, the price is usually around $100 for all the services but may be higher or lower depending on your vet.
In a nutshell, it is not a very expensive procedure. In fact, timing again plays a role in helping you save some money. So, if you do not want to spend too much then just get it done as soon as possible with the simple and cheaper procedure.
Is Tail Docking Painful To Puppies? Yes, it is; but not a lot. When done in their first few days of life, the puppies are spared from unbearable pain by their immature nervous systems. However, docking on older Yorkies or the use of surgical methods may sometimes make the process painful. Infections also cause a lot of pain for the little one.
Is It Cruel To Dock A Dog’s Tail? Yes and no. If done properly, docking your Yorkie’s tail will not cause them any pain or harm in general. In this case, it is a cruelty-free process with nice aesthetic perks and may even help prevent injury in the case of hunting dogs. However, if the procedure is done improperly, it does end up being cruel as the doggy is exposed to unnecessary pain.
Is Tail Docking Legal? This depends on the country. In America, it is not only legal but also expected as part of regional regulation for breeding and grooming of Yorkies. So you can have it done without any trouble. However, in other countries including the UK and Canada, it is prohibited. Just do your research on the laws in your area and you should be fine.