When did it become illegal to dock dogs tails UK? Simple and Effective Tips

It is an outdated practice that involves cutting or crushing muscle, nerves, and bone without anaesthetic in puppies under 5 days old. Evidence indicates that it inflicts significant pain on puppies and deprives dogs of an important form of canine expression in future life. In addition, poorly performed docking can cause chronic pain.

Tail docking and the law in England and Wales (more on Scotland below)

  • Tail docking was banned in 2007 in England and Wales following the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Read the section on tail docking here.
  • In England puppies can have tails docked if they are one of the following listed breeds: HPR breed of any type or combination; spaniel of any type or combination of type; terriers of any type or combination of type.
  • In Wales cross breeds cannot be docked, only individual pure breeds.
  • A vet has to confirm the breed and see the mother of the litter before the dog is docked.
  • Legally only a registered vet can carry out tail docking.
  • Puppies will be issued with a signed certificate by the vet who carried out the procedure.
  • Puppies must be docked before they are five days old. This is because bones are still soft and the nervous system is not yet fully developed.
  • Leave plenty of time to organise docking with your vet, before the whelping date.
  • The vet will ask you to sign a statement confirming that the dog whose tail is to be docked will be used for one of the following: a) law enforcement; b) activities of HM Armed Forces; c) emergency rescue; d) lawful pest control; e) the lawful shooting of animals.
  • Once the five-day time limit is up, the puppies cannot be docked.
  • When did it become illegal to dock dogs tails UK?

    Tail docking of dogs in Northern Ireland – an overview

    Following a consultation in 2012 on tail docking with effect from 1st January 2013, under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, it will be illegal to dock the tail of any dog in Northern Ireland or to take a dog elsewhere to be docked.

    There are exceptions with regard to the following working dog breeds; spaniels, terriers and any other breeds used for hunting, pointing or retrieving, or any combination of these breeds.

    It is not an offence for:

  • a veterinary surgeon to dock a dog’s tail for the purpose of medical treatment; or,
  • an individual to dock a dog’s tail for the purpose of saving a dog’s life (where it is not reasonably practical for the procedure to be carried out by a veterinary surgeon).
  • A veterinary surgeon will require evidence to be provided by the owner or a representative of the owner. The veterinary surgeon may then dock a dog of the relevant breed not more than 5 days old. The evidence required is:

    a) The dam of the dog, or a veterinary certificate if the dam has died since whelping,

    b) A completed statement (section 1 of the tail docking certificate), signed and dated from the owner of the dog or their representative (A certificate is included in the schedule of the regulations and can be downloaded below);

    c) One of the following:

    i. police identification, ii. prison service identification, iii. HMRC identification, iv. Evidence that the owner or agent or employee of the owner most likely to be using the dog will be using the dog for lawful pest control, v. A current firearm certificate issued to the owner of the dog or to the agent or employee of the owner most likely to be using the dog for work in connection with the lawful shooting of animals, vi. A letter from

    aa) a gamekeeper; bb) a land occupier (or their agent); cc) a person with shooting rights; dd) a shoot organiser; ee) a club official; or ff) a person engaged in lawful pest control,

    stating that the breeder of the dog whose tail is to be docked is known to him or her and that the dogs bred by that breeder have been used on his or her land, on his or her shoot or for pest control.

    It is important to make sure that you take all the evidence with you when you visit the vet. Upon receiving the evidence the veterinary surgeon will complete section 2 of the tail docking certificate.

    Dogs which have been docked must be micro-chipped before the dog is 8 weeks old at the same veterinary practice which carried out the tail docking procedure. If the veterinary practice has ceased to operate, the dog may be taken to another practice and the reason for the change in practice must be recorded on the certificate. The owner or representative of the owner must sign and date the section 3 of the tail docking certificate before the dog is micro-chipped. Section 4 of the certificate is completed by the veterinary surgeon.

    The law on showing docked dogs in Northern Ireland

    A dog whose tail has been wholly or partly removed before 1 January 2013 may continue to be shown at all shows in Northern Ireland for the remainder of its natural life.

    A dog whose tail has been wholly or partly removed on or after 1 January 2013 may not be shown at any shows in Northern Ireland where the public are charged a fee for admission, irrespective of where the procedure took place.

    However a dog whose tail has been wholly or partly removed legally may be shown at an event where the public are charged a fee but only for the purpose of demonstrating its working ability and not for the conformity to a standard.

    Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

    Click below for the Welfare of Animals (Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012. NI Docking of Working Dogs Tails Regulations

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