Tail Docking In Dogs
Docked dog tails
Over the last few decades there has been an ongoing debate about tail docking. Some people feel it is necessary, others think it’s cruel. The BVA and the BSAVA have been campaigning against non-therapeutic tail docking for decades. In the past, certain breeds would traditionally have docked tails, for example, gundogs such as Weimaraners and Pointers, Rottweilers and some terriers.
In 2006, tail docking was made illegal under the Animal Welfare Act. You don’t see many dogs around these days with docked tails. Although it is illegal, there are some exceptions to the rule. A dog is allowed to have a docked tail if it is for medical reasons, if they are born with it or if their owner can prove they are a working dog.
Some people feel that working dogs are more likely to injure their tails because of the things they have to do whilst working. By having their tail docked they are less likely to catch it, cut it or even break it on things. Tail docking has been banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Working dogs however can have docked tails, but there are some very strict rules. They need to have it done no older than five days old and it needs to be performed by a veterinary surgeon. If a vet agrees to dock a tail they need to check evidence proving that the dog is in fact a working dog.
The owner or breeder must produce a letter from a land occupier verifying that the dog works on their land or have a gun licence. Once the tail has been docked the vet has to sign certificates which show the dog was docked and microchipped as the law states. You are also not allowed to show a dog with a docked tail in any dog shows where the public pay a fee to enter.
Dogs convey a lot through their body language, and one of the key areas of their body they use for communicating is their tail. You can tell whether a dog is safe to approach by looking at the position and movement of their tail. Dogs use their tails to signal to other dogs whether or not they want them to approach. Dogs also use their tails to help them balance. As well as the welfare concerns that come with tail docking, these are also reasons why people feel dogs need their waggy tails.