It’s sad that tail docking is still acceptable, and in many cases necessary to place in shows. Because it’s painful to dogs, and has the potential to damage their nervous systems, it’s my opinion that this practice is cruel and unnecessary and should be avoided at all costs. I believe it’s animal cruelty, but I understand that’s not a widely held belief. If you do decide to have your dog’s tail docked, please adhere to these guidelines.
The American Kennel Club, or AKC, recognizes tail docking as an acceptable practice. The AKC only recognizes tail docking in the case of certain breeds, as a way of preserving the breed’s character and enhancing overall good health. A veterinarian should always perform the tail docking procedure, as the procedure is both painful and must be performed perfectly to avoid damage to the nervous system.
History of Tail Docking
The history of tail docking begins with the Romans. Rabies was a huge concern for ancient Romans, and they believed that amputating tails and tongues would help combat the disease. In ancient times, some poor people were not permitted to hunt, and therefore would dock their dog’s tails to prevent them from chasing and hunting animals. The most notable reason to dock a dog’s tail was to prevent working dogs from injuring themselves. Sometimes, tails were too long or got in the way, and needed to be docked so the dog could continue working safely.
Performing the Tail Docking Procedure
Over 50 breeds of dog can have their tails docked, but it’s up to the owner whether or not to perform the procedure. I urge you to choose not to do this practice. If you decide to have the procedure done, it should take place within 2 to 5 days of age. If the puppy is young enough, anesthesia won’t be needed to perform tail docking, and the procedure should only result in momentary discomfort. Older dogs may require anesthesia, before their tails can be docked. It’s not recommended to perform the procedure after 8 weeks of age, as the procedure becomes more traumatic as dogs grow.