Tail Docking Dogs: Everything You Need To Know


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.

Proponents of tail docking claim that it’s a very safe procedure to perform on dogs (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 dog 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is a “crime against dogs”, and that much of the data that the proponents of tail docking rely on is inaccurate and outdated.

A host of countries and organizations have now completely banned tail docking in dogs, 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 dog owners resort to breeders or veterinarians to dock their dog’s tails.

Many opt to do so themselves via various methods that can easily be learned online, and this is where it gets dangerous.

Reasons Proponents Of Tails Docking Stand By It

1) Rabies

It was (and still is) commonly believed that docking your dog’s tail will decrease the chances of them developing rabies later on in their life.

2) Preventing Tail Damage

Many working dog 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 dog guards, where proponents of this practice claim that dog guards, if left with undocked tails, can be caught by their tails and rendered useless.

Even non-working dog breeds are exposed to many situations at home or during their outside day-to-day interactions that could lead to tail injuries.

Proponents of tail docking claim that by getting rid of the dog’s tail, the risk of injury ceases to exist as well.

3) Hygiene

Many dog owners like to have the tail of their dogs removes so that they don’t run the risk of their tails coming into direct contact with their own poop (or that of other dogs).

With time and if this happens frequently, it can lead to infections in the tail.

So, proponents of tail docking claim that these risks won’t exist anymore if one simply docks their dog’s tail.

4) Hunting

Many dog owners who extensively make us of their dogs with hunting believe that docking their tail increases their speed and strength.

5) Aesthetics

Good ‘ol appearance! One of the most common, if not the most common itself, reason dog owners like to dock their dog’s tails is due to appearance.

People just want to make their dogs 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 dog’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 docking 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 docking 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 dog’s tail, which will lead to extreme pain whenever anything touches the tail.

Even the process 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 dogs 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 dock 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 dog hides its tail between its legs, this is usually interpreted by the other dog as a sign of submission and fear.

And, since dogs can’t differentiate between a hidden tail and a tucked one, your dog 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 dog’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 docking 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 dogs, such as injuries, infections or illnesses that warrant doing so.

1) Amputation

First off, this procedure does not technically fall under the category of “tail docking”. Removing the tale of an adult dog 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 dog’s tail is also a recommended option to go with when your dog is 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 dogs), and your dog is 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, docking young puppies 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 Because Of Their Docked Tail

If your dog is in pain because of their docked 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.

3) Isolation

Dogs with docked tails will often hide from other dogs 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.

5) Redness

The tip of your dog’s 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 dog 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 dog 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 dog has their tail docked, so what happens here?

The nerves of your dog’s 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.

Conclusion On Tail Docking

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.

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 dog just for the sake of improving their appearance?

To sum all of this up, unless your dog suffers from an underlying illness that makes it necessary for you to consider docking your dog’s tail, and unless you’re told about this necessity from an experienced professional in the field, don’t even think about docking your dog’s tail.


  1. Duh nothing like a Mastectomy you idiot. A 3 day old tail is very tiny,n nothing like an adult breast.. Did you or anyone you know have your son circumsized??????? Hippocrates.

  2. I believe my dog has pain from this. Also his tail is essentially paralyzed, there are a few vertebrae there but he cannot move them. It’s very sad that he can’t wag his tail or use it to communicate and he often tries to attack his back end and doesn’t like to be picked up.

  3. I always find it odd that people claim tail docking is unnatural and results in intense pain and grief for the dogs involved – but they have ZERO problems with the idea of subjecting adult dogs to anesthesia and major surgery per neutering and spaying. That’s because they LIKE neutering and spaying and support such major, painful, life-threatening surgery that unnaturally changes a dog in very dramatic ways that were simply not intended to be.

    Guys – you can’t pick, choose, run with the hare and hunt with the hounds on this matter – if you want a completely natural dog, they come with gonads and the ability to produce (GASP!) *PUPPIES*!!!!! So how can you scream bloody murder about some minor cosmetic procedure done at three days of age that doesn’t bother the pup at all but have no problem with a serious surgical procedure that robs Bowser and Buffy of their natural hormones?

    • Are you serious?
      I’m against docking and cropping, they are unnecessary and done only to please the breeders/owners as their dogs will “look like the real deal” or “natural”. Winkie, would you rather have a dog that is uncontrollable, unpredictable and possibly aggressive to other dogs and have the possibility to develop CANCER and infections in the uterus? Neutering and spaying change the animal, true, but they also protect it from known infections and diseases, much unlike docking and cropping.
      I will spay my dog IF it is necessary so that her behaviour won’t cause herself extra stress when in heat and so that she won’t get a bloody infection in her insides. I will never, ever dock or crop a dog because of superstitions or because of “The breed standard says so *snort*”.
      “Minor cosmetic procedure” which doesn’t help the dog in any way. They prevent the dog from expressing his or hers NATURAL feelings, where as spaying and neutering, while taking the hormones that may cause behavioural problems (which can lead to psychological problems, mind you) , probably will help the dog live a happier life without the risk of an actually serious injury to his/her insides. Also spaying and neutering is always done under anesthesia and the dogs are admitted painkillers. Tail docking? Not so much as they are only babies. (Imagine cutting the hands off of a baby, basically the same thing with docking tails.)

      • Twink, have you actually read the case studies about spaying and neutering? The ones carried out by scientists? I have, when I was copiously researching the issue to decide whether or not to neuter my most recent dog. (Background info, I have spayed/neutered every pet I ever had)

        Perhaps it would suprise you to learn that recent studies have shown spay/neuter in both males and females actually significantly increases cancer rates and behavioral problems. Maybe because, as in humans, these hormones play an important role in physio-psychological well being and development?

        This article has a link to the study that was done on viszlas, but the article in general is well with the read:


  4. THe author is incorrect in that tail docking is illegal. Debbie is right this author is off her rocker with her information. Like it fell right of the Trumps lap or twitter account’

    • @Nancy – Tail docking might be illegal in Ireland, this woman is referencing the ISPCA to report it. Here in the USA it is not. In fact it’s required to meet AKC breed standard for certain breeds like my Rottweilers.

  5. Hmm. I fall on both sides of the line on this one…

    Personally, I’d like to see the breed standard for dogs changed to allow natural tails, and would prefer a tail for most breeds (with some exceptions, boxers for instance, look super cool with their long, somewhat curled tails, but are a breed that is notorious for chronic, painful problems with happy tail. If a tail will need to be removed for health, it is kinder and less problematic to remove a tail early before full nerve development).

    However, it most certainly is not illegal as the author stated. I’m not sure where they got that piece of misinformation, because they didn’t cite their sources, but that’s just, completely and utterly false. Vets here in Washington state routinely perform this surgery. And I don’t think a liscenced vet would be allowed to perform tail docking if it was illegal. In fact, it is illegal in most of Europe and that is why the breed standard was changed in those countries… It would be changed here if it were illegal. But it’s not.

    At the end of the day, if we want to do away with docking then the breed standard has to change first. Responsible, ethical breeders follow the breed standard. Period. They don’t pick and choose which rules to follow and which not to. A good breeder is involved in showing/finishing their dogs, especially breeding stock and a major fault would result in not docking a tail on a required breed. I’d be very wary of any breeder who picks and chooses what parts of the breed standard to follow and what not to follow.

  6. I picked up both of my Yorkie’s as rescues in 2007 after both of my kitties died of old age at 17 yo. My Parti-Yorkie(poodle and yorkie mix) has a tail, and he’s so expressive with his tail. My younger dog looks like a full bred 100% yorkie and came with no tail, just a cute little stump. I can go both ways on the looks of the dogs, but I do prefer the Parti-Yorkie being able to expressive himself with a wiggly tail. At night when we’re asleep and the lights are off I can ask the older dog if he is OK, and I get back a “thump, thump, thump” so I know he’s good. The younger dog has to yap at me to let me know he’s OK. I have to “read” my two dogs differently and the one without a full tail shows me a really waggly butt when he’s happy and that stump goes so fast he looks like he could fly away using it as a propeller. I feel sorry for the one pup having gone thru the pain of docking, he has my sympathy, and I wish they’d never abused him like this. I’ve never seen him in pain about it, I think he’s OK at age 14,l see no tail chasing, no biting at the stump. He’s just so spoiled, and everything is good in our part of the world.

  7. @Nancy – Tail docking might be illegal in Ireland, this woman is referencing the ISPCA to report it. Here in the USA it is not. In fact it’s required to meet AKC breed standard for certain breeds like my Rottweilers.

  8. I watched a baby yorkie being docked on utube. As soon as its tail was being cut it expressed serious pain and its cry became a scream. Therefore, I will not dock my new born yorkies. I wanted to cry when I seen how terrible that video was. I immediately stopped watching it. Torture.


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