Dog Tail Docking

Tail docking is the procedure that removes a considerable part of a dog’s tail. This procedure is common in some breeds such as Rottweilers or Dobermans. There are debates whether this procedure is humane, not having any medical purposes. While some animals are tail docked for hygiene and health purposes (sheep, for example), in dogs the tail docking is only used to improve the look of the dog, so it's like a cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic Surgery for Dogs

Dogs can get cosmetic surgeries to improve their appearance. A lot of owners decide for tail docking, if they have certain dog breeds. A short tail is considered more aesthetic in breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers or Jack Russells.

Advantages of Tail Docking

  • A short tail can be a characteristic feature for certain breeds and your dog may look unusual even if he has his full natural tail.
  • If a dog gets a shorter tail, he is considered to be better looking. Show dogs of certain breeds have their tail docked.
  • Dobermans are considered to be fiercer without a tail.
  • In some dogs that are used for hunting, tail docking can have advantages, as the tail may get caught and make noise, warning the prey away.

The dog will not be in a lot of pain, as the procedure is performed while the dog is very young (a few days old). The dog’s tail is made up of small bones. When the dog is only a couple of days old, the bones are not properly developed, so the removal of the tail can be performed without cutting through the bone. The vet will tie a string around the dog’s tail and this will restrict the circulation of blood, so after a few days, the tail will fall off.

Not having a long tail will not scar your dog for life and will lead to no physical problems. However, you must ensure that the tail docking is made by a certified vet with experience.

Disadvantages of Tail Docking

The dog’s tail is used as a means of communication with other dogs. A wagging tail indicates that the dog is happy or excited, while a tail between the legs signals fear. Having the tail removed will prevent the dog from expressing his fear or joy through the movement of his tail. However, dogs have other means of communications and they can adapt to using their voice, ears or the entire body.

The tail docking is only used for aesthetic purposes and will not make your dog healthier. In sheep for example, tail docking is used to maintain the animal's cleanliness and health.

There may be complications to a tail docking that is not performed properly. The cut may affect a nerve and paralyze the dog for life. Cutting though a bone can be very painful for the dog and may scar him.

If you have a dog from a breed that gets tail docked, you should consider both the pros and cons of the procedure.