Is docking a dog’s tail painful? A Comprehensive Guide

What are the effects of tail docking?

Does tail docking have any long-term negative effects? Though the evidence is not conclusive, it has been suggested that dogs with docked tails may have underdeveloped pelvic musculature and higher incidence of incontinence. Another possible implication is that docking takes away an important part of dog-dog communication. Since canines convey a lot of information using their tails, dogs may have a harder time “reading” the emotional state and intentions of a dog with a docked tail.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Victoria looked at how tail length affected intraspecific communication in dogs. They placed a robot dog that looked like a Labrador Retriever in an off-leash exercise area and outfitted it with a long tail. When the robot’s tail was wagging, it was approached by other dogs in a friendly manner. When the tail was held upright and motionless, the other dogs avoided it. The next day, the tail was replaced with a shorter “docked” version. The other dogs approached the robot cautiously, regardless of whether its tail was wagging or not.

Tail docking also influences our perception of dogs. A study published by researchers from the University of British Columbia found that canines with docked tails (and cropped ears) were seen as more aggressive, more dominant, and less attractive than those with natural features. Unfortunately, this can affect the popularity and adoptability of certain breeds.

Is it legal in other countries?

Cosmetic tail docking has also been banned in a number of countries including Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Denmark. Several other European countries including Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Austria have also ratified a European Convention that prohibits the cosmetic docking of tails. In the United Kingdom tail docking can only be carried out by a registered veterinary surgeon. The practice is opposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons which describes it as an ‘unacceptable mutilation’.

Studies Reveal That Day-Old Puppies Do Feel Pain

The immaturity at birth typical of altricial species has been linked to an immature and underdeveloped nervous system, causing people to believe that a newborn puppy is, consequently, not capable of feeling pain. Recent studies and advanced knowledge on pain, however, reveal that this is far from being true.

Australian veterinarian Robert K. Wansbrough explains, in an article published in the Australian Veterinary Journal, that anatomical studies demonstrate that pain in day-old puppies would be actually more than in an adult dog due to the way impulses are sent through the puppys unmyelinated fibers. Their slower conduction due to incomplete myelination is offset by the shorter interneuronal and neuromuscular distances the impulse has to travel, therefore, creating greater pain due to the pups undeveloped inhibitory pain pathways. Dr. Wansbrough further explains that cutting through muscles, tendons, nerves, bones or cartilages would result in intense pain to a level that would never be allowed to be inflicted on a human being!

What are the PROS and CONS of docking a dogs tail??