Why do some dogs have long tails
and some short tails?
Most puppies are born with long
tails. Sometimes very rarely, a puppy will be
born with a short tail, for example some corgis
and Australian cattle dogs. Some breeds have
naturally shorter but curly tails, like the
Dogs that are born with long tails sometimes
undergo ‘tail docking’. This means that their
tail is cut off, usually at a few days of age.
In the past, veterinarians did this, but currently
vets are no longer allowed to dock tails. Since
people still want dogs with short tails, some
breeders do the tail docking them selves.
Why do people dock puppies’
The reason most people want their puppies tails
docked is because they are used to seeing these
dogs with short tails, for example, Boerbols,
Dobermans and Jack Russell terriers. Some people,
who take part in dog shows, think that their
dog will look silly with a long tail.
In previous years people did it for reasons
that do not currently apply, eg. They paid less
tax for dogs with docked tails (working dogs
were exempt from taxes and had docked tails
to make it easier for them to work in thick
bush.) and they believed it would ward off rabies.
Today, people have dogs mainly as companions
and these reasons don’t apply anymore.
Why do dogs need tails?
vDogs use their tails to communicate with people
and other dogs. When they are happy and want
to be friends, they wag their tails wildly.
When they are worried or scared, they wag their
tails stiffly to say, “Back off, otherwise I’ll
bite you”. Dogs with long tails can communicate
better, so they get involved in fewer fights
with other dogs and are also less likely to
bite people. The other function of the tail
is to help the dog balance properly. Puppies
with long tails are much more agile than ones
with docked tails. It is easier for a dog with
a long tail to climb, crawl and balance.
What are the problems
for dogs with docked tails?
The procedure to cut off the tails is painful
and traumatic for the puppies. Just because
they are small does not mean that they do
not feel pain. The cut goes through skin,
muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bone and cartilage
(soft bone). It is possible that they never
forget this experience. If the docking is
done poorly, there could be physical complications
like problems with urinating and defecating
and nerve damage that causes pain later on
as the puppy grows up.
Bleeding during tail docking can be severe
and puppies can die as a result. Apart from
the trauma when the tail is docked, dogs that
have short tails encounter problems when meeting
people or other dogs since they cannot use
their tails to communicate and can also struggle
What can I do?
Next time you want to buy a puppy, insist
on a puppy with a natural, long tail. As long
as there are people willing to buy puppies
with docked tails, irresponsible breeders
will continue performing the procedure.
INSIST ON A TAIL OR CANCEL THE SALE.
If you know of a breeder who
docks puppies tails, report him/her to your
nearest SPCA or directly to ZNSPCA
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