Why do we dock the tails of dogs?

Is the docking of a dogs tails just cosmetic or does it serve a purpose?

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  • 9 years ago
    Favourite answer

    My opinion on docking is that if the procedures is necessary in a working breed because there is a substantive risk of injury and the dogs were breed by a working kennel specifically to have the potential to be sold to work [the potential of a dog specifically bred to work cannot be gauged at the age when it is customarily docked or cropped], then it ought to be professionally done with a local anaesthetic and quick surgical removal of a portion of tail.

    However, in dogs not bred to work the argument that docking is in the breed standard is weak to say the least as superior kennels breed for the whole dog which includes strong working abilities, correct temperament and drives that defines abilities and I don't agree with a surgical procedure because it is the accepted norm and it is unnecessary in a dog bred to be a show/sport companion dog.

    As an example the Dobermann is customarily docked but has a sturdy tail that tapers at the tip and is carried slightly over the back, and not a whip tail and breeds such as the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd Dog are used for the same type of work but undocked because it is the accepted norm for the breeds and in the breed standards. The only tie to function in docking, and it is a loose one, is that an undocked dog has a more friendly appearance, but I doubt the length of a tail would be in the forefront of a person’s mind if a trained PPD had been deployed and sprinting in their direct to subdue them.

  • keezy
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Originally tails were docked for a couple of reasons.

    1) To avoid the tails being injured by the type of activities that the dog were breed to to and

    2) to avoid the "tail tax" which taxed people for each dog that they had but was only put against the tails - as dogs without tails were considered working animals

    Then over time because the tails were routinely docked the character of the tail was not consider in the overall breeding of the animals and the visual look of the tails deteriorated - so many breeds that were historically docked for other reasons now have very ugly tails if they keep them. By the way some breeds have individuals that are natural docks or in other words born without tails.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    In the breeds where docking was customary, there was definitely a reason, originally. Whether the same reasons apply now, is another matter because far more dogs live as pets then they used to. However, WE in the UK cannot legally dock any more, other than for dogs who are going to be working animals, in those breeds where docking applies.

    It was NOT originally done for cosmetic reasons and personally I regret this being made illegal in the UK, much as it should always have been done by a professional (vet) which is why this law was brought in. Too many were being done by novices, with often shocking results. I'd suggest that done correctly, at days old, it is still far preferable to the often needed full amputation that is being needed because of injury to tails.

    Add @ Julie D The only thing wrong with your answer is I didn't have the ability to write it myself!!!

  • 9 years ago

    It serves a purpose, and each normally docked breed is docked at a different length because of that purpose. For and example, the Dobe has it's tail docked short so it can NOT be used as a *handle* for the bad guy, and also as a working dog, it's normal whip like tail can easily be broken and would need to be amputated if that happens. Some of the Terrier breeds are docked longer, as they the tail IS used as a handle to be able to pull the dog out of a hole when it's hunting for vermin. So, if you wanted to know the reason for each individual docked breed, you could Google the breeds history. Docking and the length of which it is docked IS important and not just cosmetic. WHY would a tail be docked if it were ONLY for cosmetic reasons? It wouldn't be. The same would apply for ear cropping in normally cropped breeds.

    @ trueAPBT........just a reminder that tails are DOCKED and ears are CROPPED.

    @ Mama....Thanks! I'll take that as you agree with my answer. lol

    Source(s): Pro docking and cropping.....use to show and breed Dobes.
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  • 9 years ago

    It depends on the breed, and only the foolish and ignorant think it's simply cosmetic, let alone cruel.

    For one thing, it does NOT hurt the dog at all - and it is far less invasive than a spay or a neuter.

    For some breeds of dog, it is done because of their close work with livestock - Aussies, Corgis, etc.

    For some terrier breeds, it is done because they would go underground to get vermin, and needed to be pulled out again.

    For some breeds, their tails are just too thin - and they break easily just by hitting something while wagging it.

    Other breeds were bred to work in grasses that could catch them (also the case with Aussies - being in KS, I have two dogs of other breeds with tails that *have* been tangled by their tail in brush - not a problem for my docked Aussie mix).

    In any case, it is FAR less cruel to dock at birth (no pain) to waiting until the dog breaks/injures their tail and has to have it amputated (very painful).

    And for those who think that it could only be done with working dogs, or that dogs don't work anymore - dogs were bred for working purposes and are still used today - to say they are nothing more than couch potatoes is insulting to their breeds. And since docking is done at about 2 days old, there is no way to separate the work potentials from the "pet" dogs.

    Source(s): PRO-dock.
  • 9 years ago

    Working breed dogs that actually WORK have their tails docked for a reason. However, non working dogs, of any breed? It is done because the human thinks it's cool. They do not stop and consider the dogs tail has a purpose. They use their tails for balance & communication. Other than an actual working dog it is my opinion dogs should have their tails docked for medical reasons only.

  • @So pleased -- hmm.. I have a Doberman with a cropped tail.. I suggest you start watching what comes out of your mouth. So far its nothing but stupidity. The only thing "outdated" is your way of thinking.

    Yes, when cropping was started, it served a purpose. Especially for the Doberman. The Doberman's tail was docked for the work it was created for, guarding. The tail was in the way. It could be damaged while working and cause severe harm to the dog. So..the tail was cropped to protect the dog.

    I will NOT own a Doberman without the tail being cropped. The breed was created with this vision in mind..it it part of the breed's foundations.. You dont like cropping, then dont crop. Grow up.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    In Dobermanns, it created a more intimidating look combined with the cropped ears (They were one of the few breeds actually bred for "protection" type work).

    In many hunting and field breeds, it is done to reduce injury to the tail from burs and brush which can lead to infection.

    In many other breeds it can be done to reduce injury as well.

    The UK use to have a tail tax. Docked dogs were not taxed.

    In some breeds, natural bob-tails can occur. Docking can be done to provide a uniform appearance, although that is less likely of a reason.

    BTW, Dobermanns were NOT cropped and docked to protect their tails from injury. They were originally cropped and docked to provide a more menacing appearance.

  • 9 years ago

    Back then, it was mainly for working purposes such as hunting and guard dog work. Now, its mainly for cosmetic reasons. Many dog breeds have docked tails in their standards. However, there are still some instances when docking is used for work.

  • 9 years ago

    breeds like cockers have very brittle thin tails that are easily broken so the tail is removed to prevent injuries. herding dogs often have their tails removed OR are bred without tails such as the welsh corgie, stumpy tailed cattle dog, and some Australian shepherds. (NOT the australian cattle dog) my biggest pet peve about docking is when i see a ACD with a docked tail it just makes me angery. but in some breeds it is needed.

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