Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tail Docking! Ouch!

Okay, well, today I am going to talk about puppies getting their cute little tails chopped off.  This is another yucky subject, but I think someone needs to speak up for these puppies.  So here goes.

First I will talk about why people dock puppy tails, and I do have to admit that there are a few more good reasons for docking tails than for cropping ears.  Which is still not saying that it is a nice thing to do to a dog.  But tails and ears both stick out and can get hurt when dogs are hunting or fighting.  So that is one reason for cutting them off.  Hunting dogs that have to go through a bunch of brush and thorns and stuff can get their long tails hurt.  So maybe having a shorter tail makes sense for hunting.  But of course there is no good reason for using dogs to fight each other.

A long time ago in the past, people used to dock dogs' tails because of really weird ideas that these people had.  One of these ideas was that dogs with docked tails would not get rabies.  And another idea was that dogs with docked tails couldn't run as fast, so if you docked your working dogs' tails, they wouldn't go chasing off after rabbits when they were supposed to working.  But here's the funny thing:  other people thought that dogs with short tails could run faster, so they docked their dogs' tails because of that.

And then in some places, people got taxed for every dog they owned unless the dog was a working dog.  So they cut all their dogs' tails short to make them all look like working dogs, so they wouldn't have to pay the tax.  And sometimes people got taxed on the length of their dogs' tails, so of course it was cheaper for them to have dogs with short tails.

But anyway, getting back to tail damage, some dogs wag their tails so hard that they hit them on stuff and make them get all injured at the tip, and this is called "happy tail."  If a dog has "happy tail," sometimes it is very hard to get the tail healed up, so at least part of it has to be amputated.  This happened with Dali, the first greyhound foster we had here.  He was always banging his tail up and then he would get blood all over the walls, and Mom would have scrub the walls and bandage his tail, and every time we thought his tail was healed up, he hit it on something, so the whole thing started again.  But after Dali had about 3 inches of his tail cut off, he finally got healed up.

Another reason for docking tails is because it keeps a dog's butt cleaner if his tail is shorter.  This is especially true for hairy breeds, like Yorkies and Old English Sheepdogs.

And the last big reason for docking tails is because it is in the breed standard, which means that there are lots of show dogs out there who have not been bred to have nice-looking tails because the tails are always cut off.  So this is a problem for breeders.  And it's hard for dogs that usually have docked tails to compete with undocked tails for the reason that everybody is used to the way the breed looks with the docked tail.

There are lots and lots of breeds that usually have docked tails in the US, and here are some of them:  Brittany, German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Boxer, Doberman, Rottweiler, Schnauzer, Airedale, Aussie, Fox Terrier, Jack Russell, Brussels Griffon, Poodle, Yorkie, Schipperke, Bouvier des Flandres, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and some others that I'm too lazy to put in the list.

Tail docking can be done in a couple of different ways.  One way it to put a really tight band sort of thing on the tail when the puppy is between 24 and 96 hours old.  This band cuts off the blood to the end of the tail, and then after about 3 days it falls off.  I couldn't find a photo of puppies having their tails docked this way, but here are some lambs with bands on their tails.  I didn't know that lambs got docked tails, too, but now I know.

Another way of docking is to cut the tail off with surgical scissors.  At least, when veterinarians do it, they use scissors.  Sometimes people do it themselves and use knives or nail clippers or stuff like that.

People who are in favor of tail docking say it doesn't hurt the puppy or cause any stress.  I read one article online that said some pups even sleep through the procedure and go back to nursing right after it's over.  Other people say it is animal abuse.  A study in Australia was done that counted all the shrieks and whines from the puppies when their tails were cut off.  Anything that involves shrieking and whining sounds painful, if you ask me, and I'm quite sure I wouldn't want my tail to be chopped off.

In Europe, there's a group called the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, and it prohibits tail docking.  Several countries have signed on to this convention.  The UK has not signed on yet, but they made some laws so that only veterinarians could dock tails.  In the US and Canada, lots of dog tails are still being cut off.

Here's a photo of a Rottweiler with a nice, long tail.  I think it looks very handsome, and I'm not sure why anybody would want to cut off a tail like that.

Also here's an English Cocker Spaniel with an undocked tail.  This seems like a look that people could get used to if they would just try.

Of course, curly tails are the best-looking tails of all, so I hope nobody ever decides to start cutting off basenji tails!


  1. Hey there!! Sorry I've been out of touch for awhile...busy, busy! The past 30 minutes or so, I've been ready the past blogs that I've missed. I showed Dodi and Di pictures of the tail docking, and both cats kept rearing back.....so I guess that isn't something they are interested in having done!! Having had Vizslas in the past, I do know about docking, and I was also told it's necessary, especially for hunting dogs. From the other blogs sounds like your mom has been VERY BUSY...hope things calm down for her. I also hope your Aunt LaDean/LaDene(sp) sorry I forgot how it's spelled, but I hope she is doing better for her sake and I know her cat is more than ready for her to come home!! Time to go do a few other household chores (ugh) but wanted to say hello!!
    Love, AP

  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    I was starting to worry about you, but now I know you are still alive and everything, so I'm not so worried. My mom has been really busy, as you know, but we think things will slow down soon because Aunt LaDene got out of the hospital yesterday. Tell Dodi and Di that they shouldn't worry about tail docking because nobody does it to cats, except that some cats are born without any tail, like Manx cats, for example. Sometimes dogs are born without tails, too.
    Your friend,

  3. Ok I still hate tail docking for no reason. If the dog is actually a working well its not as bad but I still wouldn't do it. When it comes to normal healthy pets docking their tails is pointless. It makes them look stupid and its all unessasery prosedures and stress.

    Tail docking should only happend if the tails needs to come off due to injury or infection. If thats the case it should definatly be done by a vet. I know a Rottie x whos previous owners attempted to dock her tail them selfs and now she has less then a stump left for a tail and it also got infected. Its a shame because she is a beautiful dog.

  4. I've never liked tail docking, but I'm glad that because of your blog I now know some of the historical reasons for it. I don't think a dog in normal health should have to get their tail docked...and I'm glad my mom has let me and my sisters keep ours! Tails are very useful for expressing yourself, like when you want to say that you are happy or that you are sorry or that you are only the omega dog of the pack and would never think of being dominant over anyone! And of course they are great for keeping your nose warm when you're sleeping.

    -Brechin, a black lab in IL

  5. Dear Brechin,
    I am glad you read my blog and that you agree with me on the subject of tail docking! You are totally right about the expressiveness of tails and also that tails help keep your nose warm. I forgot to mention both those important points in my blog entry, so I'm glad you brought them up. I'm also glad that you didn't have to get your tail docked because a lab would look really weird without a tail!
    Sincerely, Piper

  6. i have a co-op placement at a vet hospital and i had to watch a puppy have its tail docked. I find it impossibly hard to believe that the puppy experiences no discomfort, because the puppy we delt with was screaming and shrieking and it was very hard to watch---the best word i would use to describe what it looked like is barbaric. I really disagree with this whole idea of tail docking.

    1. Got a question for all you males out there? Were you circumsized as a baby? Did it hurt? Do you remember it? Are you now tramatized from it? was just wondering?

    2. Thank you for asking!

      First, lest get the question straight. That's circumcised. Circum (around) + CISED (cut).

      The answer to your question is yes. It wasn't until right the time my mom died when I was 29 that I realised what it was that I was remembering, so I never got to talk to her about it.

      For the first 25 years of my life I had reccurring nightmares of losing a body part or faculty. Every time I woke up, I would thank God profusely that I (unlike my mother, who was was completely crippled from the waist down from the age of eight) had a complete, normally functioning body, and thought I would never want to live if any such thing ever happened to me...

      Eventually, I learnt to train myself to recognise the dream as such, and then divert my attention to more pleasant dreamworld material, thanking God for protecting me, and moving on without even waking up....

      Meanwhile, as a small child, I had a strange memory. I remember my parents waving me bye-bye with stupid looking grins on their faces, as they disappeared from my sight, and as I descended into a world of white. The way I remembered it was that when I was a baby my parents put me in a giant blender, like the white one in the kitchen.
      So, once I was old enough to speak, I asked my mom, "Mommy, why did you and [Daddy] put me in a blender?"

      She looked at me quizzically and said, "What are you talking about, honey? We never put you in a blender."

      Me: "Oh."

      Until my adulthood, I never figured out what that memory was all about. I just figured that what I remembered was really a dream that I mistook for a real event. Clearly what I was remembering was my being carried away from my well-meaning parents on the way to the circumcision room. I probably passed out at the operation, because I only remember being whooshed away. And my mom died without ever hearing about the blender and my matured perspective of it.

      I have since encountered or heard from more and more men with their own memories of infant circumcision. For example, one Jewish intactivist said he had a memory of being eaten by a goat. Why should that be any surprise?

      Psychology Today has a lot to say about this subject. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/myths-about-circumcision-you-likely-believe

      Don't get me started on the painful chaffing of the glans, the painful cold, the hair on my shaft, the ED, etc. You can look it up because men are speaking out everywhere. But to get back to your question about trauma and memory.

      I said I had recurring nightmares till I was 25? What happened? That was the year I woke up to the horrific nightmare of reality, that all the penile and sexual problems I had were a result of one irreversible mutilation that I so desperately wanted to believe had had no effect on me. And this nightmare never goes away and the god I had been praying to all my life for protection from harm was exposed in my mind as non-existent.

    3. D'oh! I wish I could edit what I posted. That's Let's start...

      And I'm with the author on cropping tails. In fact, I'm sharing.

    4. Thank you so much for sharing your story and memories. You've made an excellent case for the basic barbarity of our deliberate mutilation of babies or of puppies or of any other living creature. Maybe someday people will come to their senses and stop doing it (but I'm not holding my breath)!

  7. Dear Anonymous,
    I'm glad you feel this way about tail docking, because it's the way I feel, too! I can't understand why it wouldn't hurt a puppy, even a very young one, but some people like to think that the puppy doesn't feel anything. I would like to cut off those people's tails and see how they feel about it! Hahahaha!

  8. Hi

    I have recently read your blog but I have to say that you did not say eney thing about an undocked tial but you still made a very good point.

    I am agianst animal croulty and i think that even a working dog gous not derserve to have its tial docked the owney reason i would do it would be for a medical reason.

    I have got many pets and one of them are 2 dogs which really love and one is a 2 year old ladrador and the over one is a bichon frise cross 4 years old and both of which have got there tial and even thow one has come from abreeder (my labrador) and my other dog from a rescu centre who was from an animal hourder and the rspca came and got him and rescud him(my bichon frise).

    I have amny pets and this may not concern no one and maby no one cares but I never change my views on docking a dogs tial.

    sorry if this was to long lol lol lol