Why Are Dog Tails Docked?

Docked tail Cover

When it comes to strong and working breeds, you must have noticed that either their ears are short or their tail is cut off, or even both. This comes as a big surprise to most people, when they get to know that no breed is born with a docked tail, each dog with a docked dog undergoes surgery shortly after its birth. It has been a norm for thousands of years now, and you’d be surprised to know the reason behind it.

Why Are Dog Tails Docked?

The surgical removal of the tail is known as tail docking, it is either done by using a pair of scissors or tieing a rubber band tightly to block the blood flow, causing the tail to fall itself, and there are over 70 breeds of dogs that undergo this surgery. Shockingly, this is not done for medical reasons, but purely done for cosmetic purposes, and that’s the sole reason why not all the breeds are docked because people just don’t like the look of some dogs with cropped tails.

History of Docked Tails

The first recorded incident of a docked tail goes back to the Roman empire, where shepherds thought that cropping the tail of a dog prevents rabies, and people kept believing that to be true for some years. Later on, hunting dogs’ tails were docked to prevent any injury by thorned shrubs. In the 18th century, a tax law was passed for dogs that stated working dogs wouldn’t be taxed. Authorities distinguished working and non-working dogs based on their tails and knowing humans, owners of non-working dogs started docking their pets to avoid taxation.

Rottweiler with tail

A Rottweiler with tail intact

Following that, a reputed publisher, published a book by the name of The American Book of the Dog that stated cropped ears and tails are the proper dog look, which led most owners into believing that docking tail is important. Unfortunately, this is still the present mindset of most dog owners.

The Downsides of Tail Docking

While the sole reason to perform such a thing for cosmetic purposes is sickening enough, but there are true downsides to it.

Tail rubber band

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

  • Excruciating Pain: The people who are in favor of this process claims that it is good for a dog’s health and doesn’t cause any pain as the nervous system of the dog isn’t fully developed yet, but that just isn’t the case. There are studies and evidence that show that a puppy’s nervous system is completely developed at birth, and they have similar pain receptors as adult dogs. Also, this surgery is performed without anesthesia. Unfortunately, the tail consists of tendons, muscles, highly sensitive nerves, bone, and cartilage, severing through any of this, causes intense pain, and during this puppies produce a high-pitched cry which further proves that they are in tremendous pain. Furthermore, the wound continuous to hurt until it is fully recovered, and it can also lead to chronic pain in dogs.
  • Communication Hindrance: I’m certain that you already know that dogs are unable to communicate verbally, their barks and growls are not meant for communication. In reality, dogs use their tails to convey their emotions and state of mind. The position and moment of their tail indicate aggression, friendliness, playfulness, or even warning signs. Therefore, by cropping their tails, dogs are left at a disadvantageous position, as they would be misunderstood by other dogs and humans. Being socially misunderstood impacts dogs psychologically as well. [1]RSPCA

Thankfully, there has been much uproar about this being animal abuse, and this led to many nations banning both ear and tail cropping. Countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and many other European nations have all banned this procedure under the animal cruelty act, and only a registered veterinarian can carry out this procedure, and only for medical reasons.



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