Tail docking (a.k.a bobbing) is the process of removing a certain part or the entirety of a dog’s tail shortly (most of the times it’s around 2-5 days) after they are born.
So, why are dogs tails docked? Is there anything beneficial about this practice?
Proponents of puppy tail docking claim that it’s a very safe procedure to perform on canines (provided that it’s properly performed by a competent individual and in the right circumstances) and one that saves dogs from dozens of problems down the road as they grow up.
However, and as more and more literature about this issue became apparent, it isn’t the same warm-welcomed practice it once used to be among veterinarians and breeders.
More and more veterinarians, breeders and pet owners are beginning to take a stance against it every day, claiming that this practice is a “crime against dogs”, and that much of the data that the proponents of dog tail docking rely on is inaccurate and outdated.
A host of countries and organizations have now completely banned cutting dogs tails, and it’s widely expected that more and more countries and organizations will follow along in the coming years.
However, the problem is that not all pet owners resort to breeders or veterinarians to dock their canine’s tails.
Many opt to do so themselves via various methods that can easily be learned online, and this is where it gets dangerous.
Why Do They Cut Dogs Tails Off?
It was (and still is) commonly believed that docking dogs tails will decrease the chances of them developing rabies later on in their life.
2) Preventing Tail Damage
Many working breeds out there are exposed to many situations which can get their tail torn and bleeding, which is a painful experience for them, especially when it comes to treating the injury.
Another claim is one that concerns guard dogs, where proponents of this practice claim that these canines, if left with undocked tails, can be caught by their tails and rendered useless.
Even non-working breeds are exposed to many situations at home or during their outside day-to-day interactions that could lead to tail injuries.
Proponents of docked tails claim that by cutting the dog’s tail, the risk of injury ceases to exist as well.
Many pet owners like to have the tail of their dogs removed so that they don’t run the risk of their tails coming into direct contact with their own poop (or that of other animals).
With time and if this happens frequently, it can lead to infections in the tail.
So, proponents of dog tail docking claim that these risks won’t exist anymore if one simply docks their canine’s tail.
Many owners who extensively make us of their dogs with hunting believe that docking their tail increases their speed and strength.
Good ‘ol appearance! One of the most common, if not the most common itself, reason pet owners like to dock their dog’s tails is due to appearance.
People just want to make their pups look better or keep them “up to breed standard”, and think that by docking their tail, they would be doing just that.
Other people prefer to dock their canine’s tails if they are born with an abnormal one/one that has a birth defect apparent on it.
Why Tail Docking Is A Bad Idea
Today, tail cropping is banned in many countries around the world, while other countries have regulations about this in the works.
Veterinarians around the world are increasingly saying NO to tail docking for cosmetic reasons today, and this is a trend that’s only expected to grow larger and larger during the coming years as more and more regulations and laws are put into place and more education on the subject is spread.
Here are some of the most important reasons you might want to re-consider clipping your dog’s tail, especially if there’s no underlying medical condition urging you to do so and you only want to do it for your dog’s aesthetics:
1) Intense Pain
Docked tails can lead to the development of a nerve tumor in your canine’s tail, which will lead to extreme pain whenever anything touches the tail.
Even the procedure of tail docking in and of itself is very painful.
2) Lack Of Communication
One of the most common ways that dogs communicate what they’re feeling to us humans or other animals is through their tails.
If your dog is angry, happy, excited, or is experiencing any other similar emotion that gets their system worked up, they’ll show it very clearly by wagging their tail around.
So, what happens when you cut your dog’s tail? You deprive them of that communication method. Is that really something you want to do?
One very important example in this case is “submission”.
In dog interactions, when one canine hides its tail between its legs, this is usually interpreted by the other canine as a sign of submission and fear.
And, since dogs can’t differentiate between a hidden tail and a tucked one, your furry friend is bound to come off as “submissive” in many encounters, which is something you don’t want to happen as this will only lead to psychological problems for them down the road.
3) Low Possibilities Of Injuries
Enough studies have been conducted on this topic, and they all lead us to believe that the majority of injuries a dog’s tail can sustain in normal circumstances are minor at best and can easily be treated.
4) Loss Of Balance
Your puppy’s tail is one of the most important factors that help them maintain their balance while moving around, so removing part or all of their tail will result in imbalance problems.
When Should I Dock My Dog’s Tail?
If you’ve read this far and are still considering clipping your dog’s tail, then you should ask yourself why exactly you want to do that.
Truth be told, there are certain medical conditions that warrant tail docking in canines, such as injuries, infections or illnesses that warrant doing so.
First off, this procedure does not technically fall under the category of “tail docking”. Removing the tail of an adult canine is not docking anymore, it’s amputation.
When your dog suffers a traumatic injury where it’s almost impossible to properly heal their tail and get it back to its normal condition, amputation of the tail is advised.
Amputation of your pet’s tail is also a recommended option to go with when they are born with an abnormality in their tail which negatively affects their day to day physical motion or one that substantially increases the risk of them injuring it.
2) High Risk Of Injury
If your dog has previously injured their tail many times, and you can’t change the variable that’s often leading to this injury (which is most often the case in working canines), and they are deemed by an expert and professional in the field to be at a much higher risk of continued future tail injuries than other dogs, then docking their tail might be an option you must go with, for their sake.
What Do I Do If My New Puppy Is Docked?
Owners of new, young puppies must know that if their new puppy has been docked, there’s a very high chance that this has been done illegally.
Anyone who deals with any dog breeder that gives them a docked puppy with no valid medical reason of doing so must be reported to the ISPCA in order to be prosecuted for the criminal act they have done.
Yes, puppy tail docking for no valid medical reason of doing so is a criminal act and must be reported. So please, don’t take this lightly and do your part!
Signs Your Dog Is In Pain Due To Their Docked Tail
If your pet is in pain because of their cropped tail, and trust me they will be, they will show many signs, most common of which are the following.
1) Searching For The Tail
Puppies will still chase their tail and search for it, not fully comprehending that it’s gone because they’re sensing pain from that area.
2) Constant Physical Contact
Your dog might rub the area their tail was in against something like your furniture.
Your pup will often hide from other canines and family members, often preferring to be isolated from the rest of the crowd
4) Potty Problems
Even if your dog is fully potty trained, you can expect to see many frequent accidents occur because they’re feeling pain from their cut tail nerves.
The tip of their cut tail will often become red when it’s hurting them.
6) Sudden & Unexplained Movements
A dog feeling pain from their cut tail will often move in sudden forms, where they could jump around out of the blue or run away even though nothing has happened.
This is because a canine with a docked tail will often feel sudden pain from the cut tail which startles them and leaves them not knowing what to do to make it go away.
7) Behavioral Changes
If you notice your dog is showing some serious behavioral changes, such as increased fear, whining, yelping, signs of depression, etc .. then this could very well be due to a psychological trauma they are now suffering from because of the constant pain which they don’t know how to make go away.
8) Tail Biting
Tail biting happens especially during moments where your dog is greatly excited/happy about something.
And, one of the most common times this happens is when you come home and they see you after a long time.
So, what happens exactly? Your pet sees you after a long time, gets overly excited and, as should happen in non-docked dogs, they wag their tail in excitement!
But, your canine has their tail clipped, so what happens here?
The nerves of their cut tail are stimulated, which leads to a sudden, staggering pain in that area that makes your dog want to bite that area to cut off the pain from it.
Check out this video to see how tail docking works and it it’s really something you want to put your precious dog through.
As we clearly saw in this article, your dog’s tail is a very important part of their life and, if it weren’t, they wouldn’t all be born with one. So, why are dogs tails docked still?
Sadly, till this day, tail docking is still practiced on hundreds of thousands of young puppies all over the world, which will negatively affect the rest of their lives.
Think about it for a second, is it really worth inflicting all this physical pain and psychological trauma on your canine just for the sake of improving their appearance?
To sum all of this up, unless your pup suffers from an underlying illness that makes it necessary for you to consider docking their tail, and unless you’re told about this necessity from an experienced professional in the field, don’t even think about docking your canine’s tail.