Dog Tail Docking Procedure (Step-by-Step)

Tail docking process cover

Did you know that no dog is born with a docked tail? That’s right, even the breeds that most people think are born with a short-stubby tail have undergone surgery to give them this look, and it is solely done for cosmetic purposes. You must be thinking, what exactly is Tail Docking?

What Is Tail Docking?

Tail Docking is the surgical removal of the tail (or a segment of it), sometimes, it is performed due to medical reasons to remove tumors, however, mostly, it is carried out for cosmetic purposes. Tail docking is performed shortly after the birth of the puppy and is a straightforward procedure.

If this procedure is carried out for medical purposes, it is called Caudectomy, and comparatively, this can be complicated. Only certified veterinary surgeons are allowed to perform this surgery.

Dog Tail Docking Procedure (Step-by-Step)

Tail docking is performed 5-6 days after the birth of a puppy. There are one of two ways that this procedure is carried out. While both of them are painful, the second method is just plain cruelty.


  • Begin by cleaning and shaving the tail, as hair could infect the wound.
  • Followed by that, anesthesia must be administered to numb the pain, unfortunately, most breeders don’t use it.
  • Using a scalpel blade, cut straight through the tail.
  • Once the amputation has been made, there is minimal blood flow, but it must be restricted.
  • Use bandages to heal the wound and avoid it getting infected.

Rubber Band Method

Tail rubber band

A puppy’s tail is tied with rubber bands to make it fall

  • In this, a rubber band is tightly tied to the tail of the puppy.
  • Followed by that, one can only wait as it takes 3 days to a week for it to work.
  • After constricted blood flow in the tail for many days, it eventually falls off.

In the rubber band method, puppies are in constant pain, and veterinarians do not recommend this practice whatsoever. It does dock the tail, however, it leaves you with a tormented puppy with an infectious tail.

History of Tail Docking

As all the trends and practices that started regarding the dogs, Romans are also responsible for this, however, they started this for medical purposes. Rabies was a serious and fatal disease until the late 1800s when a French chemistry teacher, Louis Pasteur, cured a boy bitten by a rabid dog, and thousands of years ago, Romans thought that cutting the tail of the dog will make their dog immune to rabies. Fortunately, it was established that tails don’t have a link with rabies.

Ancient breed tail dock

An ancient breed used by Romans

Later on, hunters started docking their dogs to protect them from injuries via thorned shrubs or the large game. In the 18th century, the English government passed a tax that domesticated dogs will be taxed unless they are used for work or hunting, and the way authorities differentiated between two types was based on their tails. If dogs were docked, they were considered as working-class hounds, now, as you can imagine, there was a tsunami of owners who initiated docking their adult dogs to avoid taxation. Thankfully, the law was eventually overturned.

People would’ve stopped docking their pooches if it wasn’t for a reputed publisher to publish The American Book of the Dog. It stated that a docked tail and cropped ears are the proper looks for a dog, and since then a docked dog is considered prestigious among humans.

The Downsides of Tail Docking

Unexpectedly, there are huge downsides to this procedure.

Puppy amputation

A puppy is being prepped for tail docking

  • Pain: As briefly mentioned previously, most breeders do not opt for anesthesia or pain-numbing medicine while performing the amputation, this results in puppies shriekingly crying in pain. As their tails consist of muscles, highly sensitive nerves, tendons, and cartilage, upon severing them they experience excruciating pain that lasts for multiple days and in some severe cases, throughout their life.
  • Communication Block: It is a huge misconception that dogs communicate verbally, in reality, dogs use their ears and especially their tails to convey their emotions. As soon as their tails are amputated, they are placed at a huge disadvantage, as they cannot express themselves anymore, even worse, they could be misunderstood by other dogs, resulting in unnecessary attacks.
  • Psychological Trauma: While people in favor of this surgery claim it doesn’t have any psychological effect on the dog, sadly, it is observed that dogs experience depression and anxiety after this procedure.

For these reasons, it has been a controversial process and has been frowned upon all around the world. That’s why it has been banned in numerous countries like Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and many other European nations.

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