This Friday Fun Dog Facts – Do Own a Dog with a Docked Tail?
The practice of docking (amputating a portion of a dog’s tail) may actually originate as far back to Roman writer Lucius Columella’s (A.D. 4-70) assertion that tail docking prevented rabies.
Docking was also believed to strengthen the back, increase a dog’s speed, and prevent injuries when hunting.
At one point in England there was a tax levied on un-docked working dogs. It became customary then for people to dock their dog’s tails to avoid the tax. The tax was lifted in 1796 but that didn’t stop the practice from continuing.
Today, dog’s tails are docked to prevent injury, in the case of injury, and for aesthetic reasons.
I’ve personally owned two dogs whose tails were docked. Sam, a Samoyed mix, was my first dog. He lost a good portion of his tail after chasing a car (this was years before I was a professional trainer of course!) After surgery he was left with about 8 inches of what we called his white flag.
Jasmine, my doberman, came to me with the traditional docked tail. Her type of tail docking is done when puppies are fewer than 10 to 14 days old – usually without anesthesia.
Opponents to this procedure believe that most tail docking is done only for cosmetic reasons and that it causes unnecessary pain to dogs.
It certainly does sound cruel. But after questioning my veterinarian he explained that when he docks puppies’ tails he’ll pick one pup up from the litter. It cries. He removes the tail and puts it back with it’s litter mates. The puppy stops crying. He believes that these pups never even notice what’s happening.
But are we affecting dogs more than just physically by removing their tails? Some people believe that by removing a dog’s tail you are limiting its ability to communicate with other dogs. Certainly dogs communicate with body language and the carriage of the tail and speed of it’s wag are components to that.
All that I can say is that neither of my dogs, Sam nor Jasmine, seemed to have any repercussions from their missing tails. They were never sensitive on their back ends, had absolutely no problems wagging, and seemed to communicate their wishes just fine with me.
What are your thoughts on tail docking? I’d love to hear. Please comment and share below.