Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Tail Docking! Ouch!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of course, curly tails are the best-looking tails of all, so I hope nobody ever decides to start cutting off basenji tails!