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Do Yorkies Have Tails? (Why Some Do & Some Don’t)

Do Yorkies even have tails? A simple question arises much confusion among owners.

After all, when you see a Yorkie, the image that springs to mind is that of a tiny dog with a silky coat, pert ears, and… a short tail?

That’s what I’ll clear up in this article. All the answers to your questions are just below! Let’s get started.

do yorkies have tails

Do Yorkies Actually Have Tails?

Yorkies have tails. They are born with tails just like any other dog.

However, due to a procedure called Tail Docking, it’s uncommon to see Yorkies with their naturally grown tail.

This is why you often see Yorkies with tiny tails.

Thankfully this is slowly changing, but up to now, most Yorkies have docked tails.

Tail docking has been around for hundreds of years but is slowly losing favor. And we’ll explain why just below.

Traditionally, many Yorkies have their tails docked shortly after birth, which is why it may seem as if they don’t have tails at all.

However, if the Yorkie wasn’t to have their tail docked, it would grow much longer than you usually see.

Natural vs Docked Tail

Let’s delve into the difference between a Yorkie’s natural tail and a docked one.

Natural Yorkie Tail Example

natural yorkie tail photo

Yorkie natural tail length: 4-12 Inches

A Yorkie’s natural tail is medium-length and covered with the same type of silky hair as the rest of its body.

When the dog is alert or excited, the tail is generally carried higher and may curl over the back. It’s an adorable sight that adds to the charm of these sprightly canines.

Docked Yorkie Tail Example

docked tail yorkie photo

Yorkie docked tail length: 2-4 Inches

Docked tails, on the other hand, are quite short. They usually consist of two to three vertebrae and stand upright, adding to the distinctive silhouette of the breed.

They’re so short that people often call docked tails: “nubs”. As it’s essentially what it is.

Tail Docking In Yorkies: Why?

Tail docking is a practice dating back to when Yorkies were primarily working dogs, used for hunting rats in mills and mines in Yorkshire, England.

At first tail docking was thought to help their working performance:

The idea was that a docked tail would minimize the risk of injury in these cramped, hazardous environments. Additionally, it was believed to increase the back strength, speed, and agility of the dog.

Then, tail docking become a part of the breed standard:

As Yorkies transitioned into companion animals, the docked tail became a breed standard and a recognized feature of their unique appearance. Nowadays, it’s due to this reason that tail docking continues. Explained more below.

Tail Docking Is Controversial

It’s crucial to know that tail docking is a surgical procedure and not without controversy.

Pups might feel the full extent of the pain:

While it’s generally done within a few days of a pup’s birth, “before the nervous system is fully developed”, there’s ongoing debate about the potential for pain and discomfort.

Many experts have come out against this stating that the puppy’s nervous system is already far well developed enough to feel pain, thereful making this a potentially traumatizing ordeal for the pup.

As with any surgical procedure, there are also risks associated with infection or complications.

Social skills become impaired:

Additionally, it’s now accepted that tail docking has far more negatives than positive. One most notable is the ability to interact with other dogs.

Dogs use their tails as an important signal to express their body language and how they’re feeling. Experts have revealed that dogs with docked tails have a harder time successfully mingling with other dogs because of this.

Though it’s still possible, it’s just harder for them.

It’s nothing but looks:

Most yorkies aren’t catching rats in mills and mines anymore, they’re family pets.

So why is it still done?

The AKC (American Kennel Club) has a part to play in this. Considered the go to bible of all things breed standard, they have it stated: “Tail: Docked to a medium length and carried slightly higher than the level of the back.” Source

Due to this, many breeders still go ahead with it because they want to be selling puppies that adhere to the AKC standard.

Only unless you specifically tell the breeder, well in advance (before the pup is born), that you don’t want the tail docked, it’s likely they will do it.

Docking Process

The docking process typically involves a vet and takes place when the Yorkie pups are between 3 to 5 days old.

At this age, the Yorkie’s tail bones are still soft, and the nervous system is said to not fully be developed, minimizing the pain they feel.

The vet will place a ligature (a piece of thread or rubber band) around the puppy’s tail at the point where the tail will be docked.

The ligature cuts off the blood supply, and the remaining tail falls off after a few days.

As we move forward, Animal welfare organizations like ASPCA and the AVMA and a growing number of veterinarians worldwide are increasingly opposing non-therapeutic docking (where it’s done for cosmetic reasons or breed standards, rather than medical necessity).

Tail Docking Is Becoming Less Common

Interestingly, the trend of docking tails in Yorkies is on the decline.

Many countries, including Australia, most of Europe, and parts of Canada, have banned cosmetic tail docking.

Even in areas where it’s still legal, many breeders and owners are choosing to let their Yorkie’s tail grow naturally.

The shift is primarily due to changing attitudes towards animal welfare and a greater understanding of a dog’s behavior and communication methods. The tail, after all, plays a crucial role in how dogs communicate with each other and their human companions.

Last Thoughts: Summary

In summary, yes, Yorkies are indeed born with tails. However, the tradition of tail docking often gives the appearance of them having short or almost non-existent tails.

With a shift in perceptions and an increasing focus on animal welfare, the trend of tail docking is becoming less common, and we may be seeing more Yorkies proudly sporting their natural tails.

Whether you’re a fan of the docked look or prefer a natural tail, it’s essential to remember that the tail doesn’t make the Yorkie. Their delightful personalities, boundless energy, and loyalty are what truly define these remarkable dogs.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.